Friday, January 12, 2007

Torches & Pitchforks

"This is your last chance to deal with rational people."

As the Column wound its way towards City Hall, I got a text message from fellow Hurricane Radio contributor, SAWB. I had been texting him brief updates ("Hundreds here, more coming..." & "Thousands Now."), and his message: "Do they have the torches and pitchforks yet?" remains in my inbox.

The torches and pitchforks, it would seem, were edited out. But that didn't stop the speeches from being of first rate rabble rousing quality. You can even listen to audio of all the speeches here. (Reasonably work safe, but with volume spikes from crowd noise) HT: Schroder) They are all the good stuff you may not see on the news.

Being a diverse group, some of the things said from the stage were greeted with catcalls and boos (one being a strange segue into a 'we need Christianity in the schools' in the middle of a speech that angered several people where I was standing), many of the things with raucus applause and pounding drums. I just wish I could have gotten closer.

While standing outside City Hall, you couldn't help but notice some of the windows on the building collecting city workers on break, and photographers. I wonder how many of them wanted to be with everyone downstairs? I wonder how many were worried about torches and pitchforks? Looking down on a crowd now estimated to be between 3000 and 7500 really angry and determined citizens, I wonder what I would have thought.

I couldn't see at the time, but the Mayor was standing right next to the speakers as they let him have it with both barrells. I even heard he wanted a chance to speak to the rally, but organizers would not let him. As the rally began to break up, I heard someone over the PA announce that the Mayor would not be speaking, that this was the People's Press Conference. Amen to that.

After that, it appeared that everyone was rolling down the French Quarter for lunch, but I had to get back Uptown to get to work, so I went that way. The march and rally absolutely dominated conversation on the radio and at work and at the bar I went to after work. Everyone I spoke to was proud of their city, in a way they may not have felt for some time. It was really like the pathology had changed, like just having the rally and putting several thousand people together in a few days time, like just having that outlet for those hours and talking about it later gave people I spoke with the kind of dose of hope that keeps you going. The hope that says, things will get better, because if they don't, I got several thousand friends who are ready to get into the streets if necessary and make things better.

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