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America Supports You, “Freedom Walk”
|| 9/11/2005 || 7:17 pm || 1 Comment Rendered || ||

Today Angela & I took part in the America Supports You “Freedom Walk,” and I must say that we definitely celebrated our freedom….

read my account:

The original plan was to get a group of friends together to create a human banner using our shirts to convey the single message. The Department of Defense sponsored America Supports You, “Freedom Walk,” explicitly outlawed signs and banners (where is the freedom of speech there?) so we were going to circumvent this “rule” by using our shirts as our collective banner.

Angela & I had planned to get together on Saturday night to work on our t-shirts but because we were unable to secure a large group of friends to spell out N-O-W-A-R. When the morning arrived, we separately jotted down some slogans on our shirts and then met up at the Foggy Bottom metro stop to ride to the Pentagon together.

Upon arriving at the Pentagon we saw that there were a lot of people who had already picked up their free t-shirts for the march the day before and were wearing them to the march. We had our subversive shirts on underneath our clothing to make sure we were allowed in to the march.

Walking around the Pentagon to the entrance of the rally area was quite interesting. There were armed personnel on the rooftop with binoculars surveying the entire area making sure nothing bad was happening.

This security measure seemed important, yet when we went to the gates to obtain our shirts and show our registration, the security measure sincerely appeared to be only for looks….

First off, my registration was never checked. I had the print out with me, and offered to show it to the people working the check-in area, but they declined to look at it, and just handed me the “Freedom Walk” shirt.

Secondly, when we finally made our way to the security checkpoint, we were not frisked, nor was my bag check thoroughly. The officer just looked in the main compartment of my bag and didn’t ask me to move any of the items inside. I normally keep a Swiss Army knife on me at all times, but today I opted not to bring it, yet would it have mattered? There wasn’t a metal detector or a pat down, just a wink and a nod from the officers. Enjoy your freedom!

insensitve kids
After arriving at the rally point, the march had already begun and we walked over to the gates near the start of the march. There we found some members of Mayday DC who had brought markers and were tagging their new shirts with their own subversive messages. After seeing what they had wrote on their shirts, Angela suggested that we distance ourselves as far as possible from them.

Being 9/11 and day that is still a touchy subject for many Americans, these anarchists had written some of the most cruel and rude messages on their shirts. “Soldiers who frag their officers are our heroes,” and a couple other offensive slogans (check the pictures I took).

I wrote this on DC Indymedia:

As a fellow dissenting freedom marcher, I felt that the protestors who had “Soldiers who frag theirs officers are my Heroes” and “Support troops who shoot their officers” written on their shirts were quite tackless and overtly abrasive
In fact, that had to be the worst messaging I’ve ever seen come from protestors in the Washington, DC area.

While I support your dissent, I sincerely felt that supporting violence is the most horrific and misguided attempt at activism one can do.

Why be flagrantly agressive to people who might have had loved ones who died on 9/11? Or have children in the military who are following the orders of Rumsfailed?

To convey such a message of violence, is not only insincere, it’s immature, and hurtful. This is not how the anti-war message should be portrayed to the world.

If you are for peace, ideologically promote it, and be it.
Otherwise you are a hypocrite.

insensitve kids

Angela had written on one side “While my heart goes out to those who died on 9-11, a War on Terror is still Terror,” and on the other “Support the Troops, Bring them Home.” On my shirt, I only wrote on the front side, “Support the Troops, Bring them Home,” and “No Blood 4 Oil.”

As we started to march and distance ourselves from the other protestors, who already had a security detail following them, we decided to take off our shirts to show the roughly 4,000 marchers our feelings about the war, and more importantly the bogus PR stunt the Bush administration had pulled off by correlating 9/11 with supporting our troops in Iraq (which had nothing to do with 9/11!).

No one really gave us any comments about shirts while we marched. Prior to getting away from the other protestors, we heard marchers yelling at them for their insensitive shirts. Angela and I just held hands and walked as fast as possible so as many people as possible would read our backs (when marching, few people look backwards to read the fronts of shirts!).

4 thousand people

At the one media checkpoint, the only one along the march route where the media was allowed to be present, we were stopped by a man named Juan Carlos, who stated he was from the AP (I somewhat think he was lying and was actually a DIA agent stopping protestors so their picture could be taken and potential domestic terrorist files started), who wanted to interview us about why we were wearing what we were wearing. We spoke with him for a good five minutes, and about the time we were finishing up, the other protestors (above) had caught up and decided to come over to Juan to be interviewed. While we were asked, they just showed up, and it annoyed me that they said they were with us, while they technically weren’t.

The media checkpoint was right at the start of the memorial bridge, and I must say that Angela & I definitely made this part of the march memorable!

About midway across the bridge we noticed an SUV brigade slowly moving across the bridge on the left side. I told Angela that I bet it was Donald Rumsfeld because I heard that he spoke at the morning rally.

We passed the SUVs and noticed a hub-bub coming from the right side of the bridge. I flashed a look over to Angela and we both started walking a notch or two faster. It was Rumsfeld ahead… I eventually reached the secret service agent behind him and started to pull out my tiny Canon Elph- he looked at me in panic! I snapped the picture of the back of Rumsfeld’s head, within arms length, directly behind him- it was the last photograph my camera took.

We kept quiet the entire time. I handed the dying camera to Angela so she could square up for a shot of me in front of Rumsfeld. The idea that flashed through our heads was that if we were going to get his attention, we have to face him. So I started making my way around the secret service agent on my left, by going around him to his left, at that point the other secret service officer on my right, who panicked with the camera, saw the back of my shirt and started to push me out of the way, knowing that I was up to no good.

At that point, just past the agent and in 3 feet in front of Rumsfeld, I yelled, “Donald Rumsfeld, you should be fired, you illegally invaded a nation without an exit strategy, Shame on You!

Angela proceeded to yell at the man as well, but I didn’t hear what she said because a different plain clothes secret service agent had his hand around my neck and was saying, “You are coming this way with me to the side of the bridge,” I responded with, “It’s cool, I’ve said my piece (peace),”

He brought me over to an African American plainclothes agent. I shook his hand and asked what his name was– Reggie. The other agent did that point- two fingers pointing to the eyes, then one finger pointing back at the subject, non-audibly saying, “Keep your eyes on him.” And he did for the rest of the March…. As we continued on our way, with Reggie about 10 ft behind us, two reporters came over to Angela & I. One was from the AFP and the other was from the Washington Post. I spoke with the AFP reporter (which turns out that I am only degree away from through close friends) about what we were up to, and what had just transpired.

While our names were not used, I did find this AFP report:

But at least two protesters wearing T-shirts with messages opposing the war in Iraq managed to take part, though they were closely followed by US Secret Service agents.

We spoke with the reporters for a few minutes and made our way to the end of the march.

There were some of my loosely affiliated activists holding signs along the perimeter of the march and I saw a “freedom marcher” throw a (free) bottle of water at them. Apparently one of them even got punched in the stomach… When we arrived at the concert area before having to hear Clint Black’s “Iraq & Roll” (gag). We left the grounds and made our way back to the metro by way of 23rd St. We gave a police officer from Honolulu directions to the Police Officer Memorial. We said our goodbyes at the metro and met back up at the Adams Morgan Day festival. We handed out thousands of Operation Ceasefire flyers…..Then went to an Operation Ceasefire meeting…. Without a doubt the best post-9/11 I’ve ever had.

#UPDATE#
The French AFP report uses our names!

source:
http://www.ledevoir.com/2005/09/12/90209.html

Deux manifestants anti-guerre ont réussi à montrer leur différence, au milieu de cette marée de t-shirts du Pentagone.

Nikolas Shiller, 24 ans, et Angela Giacometti, 29 ans, se sont déguisés en «pro-Pentagone», en enfilant le vêtement. Ils l’ont ensuite retourné. «Soutenez nos troupes et ramenez-les à la maison», pouvait-on lire sur celui d’Angela. «La guerre n’est pas une réponse. Pas de sang pour du pétrole», a écrit Nikolas. Le manifestant affirme avoir pu s’approcher du secrétaire à la Défense Donald Rumsfeld, qui a pris un long bain de foule, pour lui dire «que cette guerre était illégale».

Un peu après, une femme s’est approchée de Nikolas: «Vous êtes dégoûtant», lui a-t-elle crié, pleine d’émotion et de rage, en lui rappelant que des «soldats meurent pour sa liberté» de parole.

……which roughly translates to:

Two anti-war demonstrators were able to show their difference, in the midst of this tide of t-shirts Pentagon.

Nikolas Shiller, 24, and Angela Giacometti, 29, were disguised as “pro-Pentagon, pulling on the garment. They then returned. “Support our troops and bring them home” could be read on that of Angela. “War is not the answer. No blood for oil, “says Nikolas. The protester says he could approach the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who took a long walkabout, saying “that this war was illegal.”

Shortly after, a woman approached Nikolas: “You’re disgusting, ‘she cried, full of emotion and rage, reminding him that” soldiers are dying for freedom “of speech.


Related Activism Entries:



Post Title: America Supports You, “Freedom Walk”
Post Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in: Activism, Agence France-Presse, Bridge, Commentary, French, In The News, News
Last edited by Nikolas Schiller on 9/11/2009 at 6:03 pm



  1. I told this story twice to new sets of people tonight…and, I have to tell you that i had a HUGE smile on my face as i was re-capping the event! It was a highlight of my life…and the company that I shared it with made it all the more beautiful! THANK YOU for having this significant moment with me!!! it is forever ingrained in the memorabila noggin fo sho!

    peace babes….or at least we can only hope ;)
    ~a~

    Comment by admin — 10/16/2005 @ 4:30 pm

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  • thank you,
    come again!