21 June 2008

Funk the Police

Just one more reason why I love DC as a place to live and work: Here we have a random incident, witnessed during my brief circuit from office to liquor store to bus-stop, after work on Friday.

Vermont Avenue: Looked like the youth protest group FUNK THE WAR was holding another march action. A group of maybe fifty young white folk was heading north from the direction of the White House. For a workplace neighborhood, Farragut West beats the hell out of Capitol Hill for these kinds of things.

As is my habit when I see stuff like this, I stake a claim on a nearby corner, pull out the camera, and wait. What the hell, something interesting might happen. It looked like the Funkers had been corraled into a very tight group by a team of blueshirt chaperones; DC's Finest.... Presumably this was to keep 'em out of traffic as much as possible. But the group seemed intensely packed-in, practically stumbling over each other's feet. At L Street where I was, the march turned east.

And conveniently, here it went a bit wonky. Looked like one of the escorting coppers knocked over a couple of marching folks (middle of the crowd in the shot above).

Accident or no? Tensions mount! Aiee!

And there followed that deliciously electric pause. Before the shouting began. Some of these kids seemed more experienced than others at such protests and confrontation. Some were reactively timid and pensive, while their seasoned companions launched fists and bellowing madness against the cops for felling one of their own. The cameras came out, held aloft from within the mob. And the barking frenzy got louder.

Middle fingers thrust into cops' faces, the crowd hurls verbal abuse at the Blueshirts and chants of SHAME! SHAME! SHAME! as the cops stood, consulting whatever little rule-books they have implanted in their brains: what to do in situations like these...

Any War-Funkers out there? What was this scuffle all about? Was it an accident gone weird, or was it the work of some evil bastard with badge and holier-than-thou complex?

It was a lively distraction, anyway. Reminded me a bit of my own younger days in this town (insert wobbly flashback effect here). I think Positive Force DC still exists, but what about No Business As Usual? Are them cats still around?

The effectiveness of street actions is debatable, but when you're involved, there can be a tremendous sense of importance and passion. I still have fond memories of the "Punk Percussion Protests" against Apartheid, outside the South African embassy in the late '80s. Deadly serious but fun as well. Perhaps it's that tiny splash of "fun" that keeps the "deadly serious" from spilling over into rage and riot. But finding the right balance can be damn near impossible.


Reya Mellicker said...

For a workplace neighborhood, Farragut West beats the hell out of Capitol Hill for these kinds of things.

Are you sure about that?

IntangibleArts said...

Well, yeh. Granted. There was that glorious summer a few years back when the GOD HATES FAGS people were camped out near the north end of the Capitol compound. And the Supreme Court building was always good for a bit of street theater. But so far, I've found a bit more consistent action at Peace Park. Something about that darned White House...