This will be quite the multimedia post as I have plenty of material to go with my observations.
The parade of unionistas was slated to begin at the Navy stadium, so there were staging units set up at that location.
Buses were ready to take the protesters down to Lawyers Mall.
We also parked at the stadium but we opted to take the city’s shuttle downtown. Our little band arrived onscene about 4:30, and a few hardy protesters were already there.
There were instructions given to us by organizer Ann Corcoran, mostly dealing with where we would be placed. Once the street was barricaded, we could go off the sidewalk.
We were shunted off to the side, adjacent to the House of Delegates office building. Meanwhile, the unions were busy getting their site built.
They also had their own security, dressed up in fluorescent orange vests.
By 5:30, people were beginning to congregate in Lawyers Mall. Remember, we were placed well behind and to the side of the venue.
But the busses dropped off some protesting teachers and others where we were standing. It made for some interesting interaction.
This video was shot when the Baltimore City teachers arrived. Notice how the union security positioned themselves, watching our group.
This was our message, in part.
And while they had preprinted Astroturf signs in varying colors, mostly saying “Keep the Promise,” we had more creativity. Here’s a series of our posters.
This lady was two-sided.
Pictures convey a message too.
So do socks.
We are a union too?
But some of their side had a little creativity too.
In the last picture, the gentleman was talking to an enterprising high school reporter who was collecting a lot of information from both sides (he had been among our group earlier.) Needless to say, there was a lot of media there.
That crew from WJZ in Baltimore alternated sides between theirs and ours. But if you got passionate, they would find you. Watch this.
This guy was a squeaky wheel as well. I think he was in my Baltimore teachers video above.
I even got my picture taken by AOL News (see update below.) They interviewed our side too, so we can’t complain too much about the amount of coverage.
And we are pretty media-savvy to boot.
In case you’re wondering where all the people came from, bear in mind that busses continually arrived and dropped off 50 or so people, like this group.
By 6:00 Lawyers Mall was comfortably full.
But the main group arrived a little after 6. The picture is the front of the parade, while the video is about 8 minutes’ worth of them passing by.
The lady with the upside-down sign amused me, but the number of kids was disheartening. Talk about being used as props.
Once they arrived, the speakers started (not that we could see or hear anything from our vantage point) and the two sides were separated. That’s where some of the fun I detailed above began.
Aside from words, though, there was no violence. There was even some capitalism among union ranks, like this guy selling buttons.
I have Wisconsin solidarity – I stand with Governor Walker.
Nor was it just a button seller. There was someone pushing hard-line socialist books (took the picture but it didn’t come out) and at union events it also seems the LaRouchites come out.
He was passing out a flyer talking about a general strike and return to Glass-Stegall laws, along with exhorting us to combat the British conspiracy. Yeah, those people are sort of nuts so it was just the right element for them.
And while it wasn’t as bad as other rallies, there was plenty of trash!
You know, no one got us a chicken sandwich for dinner! Sounds like a sweet gig – maybe that’s why they got several thousand. Gee, you would think the Koch brothers would have plied us with free food.
But the biggest question I have yet to hear the answer for is: what was the promise? It’s unfortunate that the unions and government colluded to tell workers the gravy train was never-ending but the money isn’t there. We can’t provide 40 acres and a mule, either. And our message was clear: “state workers yes, unions no.”
As a matter of fact, if the teachers were upset about how they’ve been treated in our recent budgets, they have only one person to blame: Martin O’Malley. In Maryland, try as they might, Republicans can’t cut the budget because the Democrats control the purse strings – our budget maximum is set by the governor and any Republican ideas for frugality don’t make it through the Democratic-controlled General Assembly. So if teacher pensions are in trouble, they are blaming the wrong people and party.
In all honesty, we knew we would be horribly outnumbered: the old game show 1 vs. 100 had nothing on this. Surely some on the other side were in it for the free food, and others thought they were making a point or even sticking a thumb in the eye of the TEA Party. But all the bloviating doesn’t change the reality that we are simply out of money. Raising taxes isn’t the solution because the returns will constantly diminish – just look at what occurred when we enacted the “millionaire’s tax.” Instead of raking in millions, we lost money.
But take away the free food and bus trip, and I wonder how many would have still shown up to stand up for an outmoded system that has outlived its usefulness. We drew several dozen people to speak our minds without any of those advantages, and may have done better had the protest occurred on a weekend. (A lot of those who might be on our side were also in Annapolis, but they were present for the March for Life. One of those riding with us came for that specific event and didn’t stay at our rally.)
One final aside: I was told that Delegate Maggie McIntosh, a strong backer of the gay marriage bill, lamented the demise of the bill and compained that if six additional Republican delegates hadn’t been elected last year the bill would have made it through. More proof elections mean things and our votes make an impact, even if we have a small minority in the General Assembly.
We had a tiny minority yesterday evening, too, but the truth and facts are on our side so we will eventually prevail. It’s only a matter of how much damage is done beforehand.
Update: the camera indeed caught me at the rally. Thanks to photographer Teresa McMinn of AOL News for the link, and don’t forget to read the coverage from the Annapolis Patch.