I had the pleasure of attending a get together where Cindy was the guest of honor the evening before the protest. While there I mingled with a lot of people I'd first met on the way to the DC protest. When Cindy arrived she did so as she apparently always does with little fan fare. I am struck by her un-celebrity. I've never met someone so salient who seems so unaffected by the attention that accompanies the spotlight.
On the morning of the protest my mom and sister arrived at my apartment complex only a block away from the protest in downtown Greensboro's Governmental plaza. Both my mother and my sister were confined to wheelchairs. My mother temporarily my sister permanently. We took Davie to Washington Street and Washington to Greene Street. At Greene Street we were turned away by a congregation of people calling themselves Eagles but whose cries sounded more like those of chicken-hawks. We then attempted to enter the plaza from the Washington Street side where there was a wheelchair access ramp but we were turned away this time by aggressively rude police officers. The police were out in force and in numbers that seemed disproportionate to the crowds gathered. None of whom could provide a cogent rationale for not allowing us access to the protest. We continued to Eugene Street where our progress was again blocked this time by a fire hose connected to a hydrant. Next we made our way to the Market Street ramp only to be waved off again by police. Finally after walking all the way around the plaza we made our way to the protest proper. Once there we were treated to good music and numerous speeches. Fairly or unfairly none of these speeches were kind to Democrats. The speakers included representatives of the communist party, green party, UNC-G's ad hock anti war group, a young member of the Nation of Islam and a student at NC A&T a labor organizer, an Iraqi-American, A cute little Palestinian girl who read a touching poem, Cindy Sheehan and finally Terri Johnson. Before she spoke Cindy spoke with the media on the steps next to me. I took note that she remembered my name. She was patient with the reporters and listened to my mom and sis. Cindy spoke well and the crowd loved her. After Cindy was Terri who recounted her experience exiting the military on family day. Her talk was informative and touching. There is more information available about her and the event including pics here. The event ended without any violence or arrests. When I returned home I found oddly that the most balanced coverage of the event was on WGHP a Fox affiliate who after doing the interview with protesters and counter-protesters the accurately quoted an Elon University poll that showed anti-war sentiment clearly in the majority. Thanks for reading.
UPDATE: Apr. 24, 09:35:30 PM EDT In the above writing I noted some concerns about the protest since then I've had a chance to talk with the Captain of the Special Operations Division of the event and in a phone conversation this evening addressed many of my concerns.
Me This was a march and I did not show up for the march and thus was not funneled into the access point. It was my responsibilty to read the materials or seek them out and I did not.
Access points/Separation Given Greensboro's history with protests and counter protests a police presence and restriction of access to the opposing groups makes sense.
The fire hose blocking the side walk. He said they could and should have put up ramps over it.
Directions/signage is the responsibility of the event organizer and not the city (this is also true of the port a johns).
Police presence The 150 number seems right although he would not confirm it. The ratio seems high. I told him that it seemed like a "show of force" He explained that he'd calculated the number of police needed based on estimates made by the respective organizers. the World Cant Wait folks mildly underestimated turnout on their side. his estimate for actual turnout for our side was 450. The eagles however, for their part wildly overestimated their turnout. given the estimates he had to work with the police presence seems understandable.
I hope this presents a more complete view of the protest than my initial diary had done.