A close encounter of the Sarah Brady kind
Meeting Sara Brady...
by Doc Zox
Control's Rally to Celebrate Changing their Name
There are several ways to predict weather the wind is blowing your way in the fetid swamp of DC...For me its parking.
On Thursday I did an early morning block tour of the area around the Ronald Reagan Building
and discovered very little evening-legal street parking.
Most of the area becomes "no parking" during rush hour. I figured I would have to unload my car on a street corner and seek out a 6 dollar an hour garage.
My car was loaded down with a full complement of TRT rally gear:
- 3x5 foot poster on foam core
- 25 11x17 rally signs on bamboo sticks in a dufflebag
- 3 handbells
- digital camera & lots o batteries
- 5 inch marching snare drum
- a big cooler of ice & bottled water
My plan was to meet the TRT at Freedom Plaza and unload.
On my earlier recon mission to alert the Federal police of our rally plans,
I discovered that Freedom Plaza has metered parking till 6:30. The PITA factor was about 6.
I left my office at 4:30 and navigated DC to the RR building on PA avenue. The Plaza was parked in, but as
I inched down the block I spotted a single open parking space!
The blessings of the Parking gods were upon me!
I exited my car and across the plaza, I see my team mates. PITA factor is at 1! We unloaded the car and walked the block down to the Rally point at around 5pm.
On my earlier mission, I was advised that we could set up in front on 14th street,
so we trundled on down to the offline fountain in front. Upon arrival a Federal cop in Blue appeared and escorted us back off the plaza.
We were told that we could set up across from the parking garage entrance. Basically, we were moved off of federal property
Earlier in the day I was told that the RR was a public building and we were allowed access to the building as long as we did not bring rally signs in.
It appeared that HCI had rented the hall and their dollars were setting the standards that we were working with.
I would advise future rally organizers to get a better read on the legal boundaries of the rally sight.
Sans rally permit, we should have been allowed to walk the Public sidewalk in front of the building, but the police would not allow us this
We unpacked and deployed our signs, flags and banners. The bullhorns were powered up and we started ringing our handbells.
Our signs were scrutinized by most folks walking past our event. We handed out some literature, and spoke with a few curious tourists.
After a while, I decided to test the waters, so I took my camera and walked over to the front door and went in.
They had a sign in area and some white shirted police. I took some snaps and
demonstrated the camera for one of the cops.
Across the entrance to the lower atrium there was a quilt hung and several dweeby guys in blue suits asking for tickets.
I walked past one and walked towards the mezzanine overlooking the lower atrium.
The dweeb asked me for a ticket and I told him that it was a public building and
I kept on walking and taking pictures. He followed me as I took pictures of the nearly empty hall. I had expected to see News people interviewing VIPs but
I did not see any press. Another guy showed up in plain clothes and he told me I
had to leave. Since he did not identify himself as LEO, I ignored him and kept shooting just to annoy him.
I had hoped to walk past the atrium and weave over to the PA avenue entrance but the new guy blocked my path.
I reversed course and went back to the receiving area. Mr. Plain Clothes escorted me out and put his hand in front of my camera lens.
I left the building and Mr. PC tried to herd me back to our rally. I walked the opposite direction and made him follow me around the plaza for a bit.
One of the nice things with a digital camera was that I was able to immediately brief Team on screen.
More freepers arrived at 6pm and we kept up the chants bell ringing and drumming.
One of the TRT guys wore a blue dress shirt & slacks & a TRT ballcap. He would go on smoking breaks over at the building
entrance and speak with HCI guests. He walked in the front door easily slipped past the Blue suited HCI ticket guys
and explored the hall. He spoke with several guests on the main floor and told them that he would never register or give up a gun.
He went back in later and waited in the registration line. He said his name was James Madison, funny thing they didn't have his ticket and they did not understand the reference!
Back on the line we kept up the din and had a few honks from passing vehicles. Occasionally an HCI guest would come over to look at us.
A lady that looked like an HCI employee came by with a point & shoot camera and took a few snaps...At 8pm we cleaned up and the police dispersed.
We schlepped our stuff back to my car and Eight of us headed over to TGI fridays and had dinner.
We walked back to my car at 10pm and I thought it might be a good idea to return for the late show at RR.
Four of us grabbed 3 hand bells and some signs and headed out. At about a block away we started ringing, we walked past some Black Tie
folks and we walked the front of the 14th street side. We turned around and walked back and
I saw 4 uniformed cops arriving. The captain was pissed and he told us that he had allowed us to protest earlier but that we had to leave.
We asked him why and continued ringing at the exiting vehicles from our old rally location.
A green Chrysler minivan pulled up and a tipsy Sara Brady rolled down the window...