Thursday, January 11, 2007

"If you ain't here to dance, stay the hell out"

I was on the other side of the wall of people from where the speakers were, but that line came through clear as a bell, much to the approval of many hundreds of marchers immediately surrounding me.

Loyola Avenue at noon.

Many hundreds. I say that only becuase I never got a clear look at the whole of the crowd. Everywhere I looked there were many hundreds. I'd stop and let the line go by, and there were more many hundreds. CNN reports upwards of 1000, but after seeing that march stretch out for over five city blocks in length, I'm willing to put the number a little higher. From where I was standing, even the temperature increased due to the press of the bodies.

At the foot of Canal Street

I got to Harrah's about 11:05 am. The motorcycle police cordon & the news helicopter got my attention first, followed by the din of the crowd of many hundreds was already forming up. I ascended to a higher vantage point to look down Canal Street in time to see more placard carrying groups heading towards us. Crowds could be seen assembling on the sidewalks and looking out the windows of buildings above the street.

One of several banners.

Getting underway, the sea of marchers rolled up Canal Street scattering photographers out in front and to the sides. Bystanders started out holding up cameraphones. Just before the first turn at Peters Street, another group of marchers, this one coming down Canal, folded into the main body.

Then, as we made the second turn (onto Poydras?), marchers started telling the bystanders to 'come on' and 'let's go' and the bystanders, many in suits and ties, some with mohawks and Doc Martins, just joined in. I saw Ashley Morris roll by with his snare drum. I jumped off to the side of the street and realized I could see neither the head nor the end of the column.

Outside City Hall there is a large grassy area, and thank goodness for that, because it was filled with New Orleanians. Camera crews, having staked out the locale, had the best positions, and had put their sattelite trucks in what would become the center of the crowd. There was a PA system set up right outside City Hall, but the majority of the crowd, being noisy as crowds can be, had a hard time hearing the proeedings from the other side of what appeared to be a wall of humanity. People were up on walls, and some folks took to climbing trees to get a better vantage. Eventually, and I've never seen this before, an absolute hush came over the crowd to better hear the speakers.

(More on this tonight)

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