The threat of a shut down of the federal government put a crimp in protests planned for DC, but it didn’t shut them down. On Tuesday, October 8, 10,000 people came to demand immigration reform. Backed by major unions, the rally and march had been in the works long before anyone thought a small group of Republican House Members would force the federal government to close in order to compel a delay in the start of the Affordable Care Act.
As the clock ticked on passing a continuing resolution to pay federal bills, permits were in place and everything was set to go. Several hundred people had signed up to be arrested at the foot of Capitol Hill in order to demand that the bill passed by the Senate in June be voted on in the House. Plans were thrown into turmoil when the deadline passed and numerous federal employees were told not to report to work on October 1. Parks all over the country were closed, including the Mall. There is no fence to actually keep people off the Mall, but the shutdown did affect uses requiring a permit, such as the erection of a sound stage. Rally permits were revoked at the last minute.
The organizing committee didn’t cancel the rally; instead it negotiated with the National Park Service and the US Capitol Police, whose personnel were among those furloughed. At the last minute, it was agreed that events could go on, including the planned civil disobedience at the foot of Capitol Hill, with some adjustments.
For many years civil disobedience in the nation’s capitol has been negotiated and choreographed somewhat like a stage play. Fifty years ago, when large protests resumed in DC after a hiatus of several decades, such actions were spontaneous. Police cracked down to discourage future disruptions. This did not work. It just made the cops look bad. The resulting court cases, both criminal . . .