Protestors critical of Obama policies, say he continues legacy of predecessor


While thousands filled the National Mall around the Capitol building where President Obama is sworn in for his second term, a smaller crowd gathering at Meridian Hill Park is largely critical of the president and his policies.

Dissent against the status quo and entrenched power emerged as the theme of the rally organized by the Arc of Justice Coalition (@arcofjustice13). Overall, there was a consensus that Martin Luther King’s birthday was more important than the Inauguration, and rally speakers often referred to him rather than the President as an example to follow.

Speaker Jean Athey of Peace Action advised listeners to ignore the “sanitized” version of King, and instead remember that King was a revolutionary and radical who made people angry. “He knew what he was doing was dangerous,” she said.

He took on the three major issues of the day: racism, capitalism, and militarism, she said. These goals closely resembled the issues raised by the protestors at the rally, which included drone warfare, military spending, loss of civil liberties, and the corrupt influence of corporation on the political system.

Protestors carried four full-size model drones down 14th Street as they made their way toward the White House.

Ladd Everitt, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

Update: Not everyone had negative things to say about President Obama. Ladd Everitt of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence pleaded with ralliers to support the President’s new gun control legislation, proposed in the wake of the Newtown shooting.

“Whatever grievances you have, lay them down for a few months. Obama’s gun package is the most important initiative put forward in American history. Finally we are going to reduce gun violence in this country.”

He explained that the gun industry is combating declining sales by persuading people that they must arm themselves 24/7 and accumulate more and more weapons, including assault weapons.

“This is comprehensive reform to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people,” he said. “We have to seize this opportunity [while] the President is putting the full weight of the White House behind it.”

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Inauguration Day: Obama 2.0

Image by DonkeyHotey

Mainstream media cameras will be directed solely at the Capitol, the Mall and the Inaugural Parade route today–sites of carefully coordinated pomp and circumstance.

But there will be much more going on in Washington, DC on Inauguration Day besides tributes to power. And the citizen journalists of DC Media Group will be on the ground providing alternative coverage all day long.

Our website brings together real-time updates from all correspondents–livestreams, Twitter feeds, blog posts and more–at dcmediagroup.info.

There will also be continuous updates on the Facebook page and @DCMediaGroup. Ustream is featuring DC Media Group livestreamers on their front page under the heading “Citizen Reporting the Inauguration.”

Code Pink flash mobs Union Station

Code Pink descended on Washington, DC’s Union Station today to deliver a message about stopping the spread of weapons and reducing U.S. militarism abroad. Sporting funky pink costumes, Code Pink activists sang and danced in the main hall of Union Station, even more crowded than usual with travelers arriving for Inauguration Day. Security was also at the max.

While entertaining the crowd, Code Pink interspersed antics like dancing a can-can with a serious message. “End gun violence now, end drone violence now,” they chanted. Many of the songs and remarks were addressed to President Obama. “It’s been 10 years, it’s time to leave Afghanistan and end the war on terror,” said Code Pink founder Medea Benjamin.

On the morning of Inauguration Day, Code Pink will join a coalition of progressive organizations in a rally at Malcolm X Park, then march down 14th Street.

More photos of the flash mob are here.

And video highlights by @organizerx:

Slapping Medicine Man

The 1491s, a Native American sketch comedy group, were in attendance at the American Indian Society Inaugural Pow Wow. Sociological Images praises their “skewer[ing] of popular representations of Native Americans and their various cultures.”

The group recently released a new video featuring footage of 1491s member Ryan Red Corn dancing at the Santa Fe Indian Market interspersed with shots of visitors to the market and examples of appropriation of Native cultures, all set to Irving Berlin’s “I’m an Indian Too,” from Annie Get Your Gun. It’s a great send-up of the whole Native-culture-as-fashion-statement trend:

My favorite video is “Slapping Medicine Man,” above. Will Slapping Medicine visit Washington, DC too? A few politicians need to schedule an appointment.

Photos from the American Indian Society Inaugural Pow Wow are here.

 

Fighting for a dream still unfulfilled

The shadow of Martin Luther King, Jr. looms large over inaugural weekend. The holiday celebrating Dr. King happens to coincide with Inauguration Day. A new King memorial resides on the Tidal Basin on the opposing side of the National Mall from the spot where the 44th President will take the oath of office on King’s own Bible.

The Inauguration takes place of course in the nation’s capital, the District of Columbia. The residents of the majority-black District aren’t living the full-color version of King’s dream. The District’s license plates say, “Taxation without Representation,” and for many, obtaining statehood for DC is a campaign for full citizenship. “We have been a colony of the rest of the states of this country,” said a speaker at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Walk, which celebrated the civil rights hero on January 19. “We need to become a state, the state of New Columbia.”

Statehood wasn’t the only thing on the minds of marchers remembering Dr. King. The event kicked off in Anacostia, an area of Southeast DC which suffers significant social and economic problems. With high unemployment, half of all its residents collect food assistance, and household income and wealth stagnate at the bottom of the pile in a city that ranks as one of the highest in wealth inequality.

It perpetually competes for resources. For example, the community is resisting the proposed closure of 15 schools in the District, which they claim disproportionately affects black residents.

Another speaker decried that, while the declining violent crime rate was a good trend, 88 murders in the District in 2012 “is still too many.” Several others assailed the high incarceration rate of young black men–one in three black men will do time in their lifetimes–as a devastating indicator of racial inequality.

Martin Luther King Jr said, “Let us be dissatisfied.” Black communities like Anacostia are communities is distress, not because of the moral failings of individuals or certain cultures, as conservatives claim. It’s because the structural edifice of our society remains racist.

State of Freedom

Freedom Plaza, January 2013
Freedom Plaza, January 2013

Freedom Plaza was the site of the Occupy Washington DC encampment.  Since it’s on the Inaugural parade route approaching the White House on Pennsylvania Ave., you’ll find an occupation of bleachers there today instead of tents.

Freedom Plaza, December 2011
Freedom Plaza, December 2011

DC Media Group: Journalists working for you

Members of the DC Media Group contemplating American media
Members of DC Media Group contemplating the distraction of American media

If you’re interested in the events surrounding the 2013 Inauguration but don’t want to tune into Mainstream Media repetition of soundbites and paeans to pageantry, there’s an alternative for you. DC Media Group, a collective of independent online media sources, will be covering events and dissents of the 2013 Inaugural from a grassroots perspective–on the ground in real time, livestreaming, blogging, photographing, tweeting and more.

Cool Revolution is honored and inspired to be collaborating with these talented and dogged citizen journalists. I’ll be working alongside @GenKnoxx, @Rousseau_ist, @Sikk412, @johnzangas, @OCCUPYCARLISLE and @organizerx. We’ll be contributing to and supported by outlets already producing incredible work–Other Possibilities Network, We Act Radio, and DC Mic Check.

Special thanks to @OPNinfo for setting up our website DCMediaGroup.info, the hub for all livestream feeds, Twitter streams and much more (including updates to Cool Revolution).

You can also find a calendar of events, photos and regular updates on the Facebook page.

And you can look forward to more alternative news coverage and creative, thoughtful journalism from DC Media Group following the Inauguration!

Update: Livestreaming host Ustream highlights the livestreamers of DC Media Group on their Inauguration Central page!

Citizen streamers will hit the ground in Washington, D.C. to document the Inauguration as they see it. Raw, unfilterd and real. Expect rallies and protests, scenes of massive crowds and of course, the unexpected.