This is Political Street Theater

"This is political street theater."

“This is political street theater,” the organizer said, as men stripped down in front of the White House.

It was a demonstration of the cruelties inflicted upon the Palestinian people by Israel, complete with a woman playing the role of a soldier in green with a Star of David patch on her chest.

It was a frigid day, with a brisk wind. Men and boys, evidently volunteers, took off everything but their underwear and had their hands secured behind their backs with white plasticuffs. The sound of crashing bombs played over a speaker. The faux soldier walked down the line of men issuing instructions.

Belatedly, the organizer issued a trigger warning. “Parents, if you have kids, you might want to remove them. What happens next may be upsetting.”

I had seen enough. Leaving, I watched as a man dressed as Spiderman with a keffiyeh around his neck approached. Was he part of the street theater, too?

And aren’t all demonstrations in a sense street theater? Earlier at the March for Gaza, I talked to a guy with an Irish flag and a Sinn Fein shirt. Too young to remember the bombings committed by the terrorist group, he said that he was there to return the support that Palestinians had provided to the Irish in “our struggle.” He was American.

Also at the march was Nadine, who comes to every anti-fascist march and is known for her huge “Trump Indicted” banner. I first met her when she tangled with the trucker convoy remnants known as the 1776 Restoration Movement. Photo editors love her for her passion and strong visual sense; I’ve seen pictures of Nadine in Politico, ABC and everywhere else. She was carrying a banner reading, “Never Again, For Whom????”

Earlier in the week, I participated in my own form of political street theater, going to the US Court House, where Trump was making an appearance in his Presidential immunity case.

It was cold and rainy but I wanted to be there, having missed the freak show in August when Trump was arraigned. I was biking across the Netherlands at the time, and stayed up late in my hotel room to watch this scene of American dysfunction on CNN. It was surreal to recognize Nadine and her huge banner in the live shots.

No one is above the law

This time, on a dreary Tuesday morning in January, there was hardly anyone there. Except for Anarchy Princess, waiting in line with her umbrella. She was there for the Trump appearance and the sentencing of a January 6er.

“Have you seen the chuds?” she asked.

I hadn’t, it evidently being too early in the morning for Trump supporters.

We had just seen them a couple days earlier, on the anniversary of January 6th, where the Freedom Corner crowd held a rally by the Justice Department and then attempted to march to the Capitol.

Their continued stupidity astounds me. Rather than rallying on Pennsylvania Avenue, where every other group demonstrates, they held their demonstration on a side street, with almost no pedestrian traffic.

Being a dedicated chud watcher, I arrived at the start time of the rally – 1 PM – where a dozen or so January 6th supporters stood on a traffic island in the middle of the road opposite the Department of Justice. It was awkward, with their only audience being me and a counterprotestor.

They didn’t have a sound system, allowing them to be blasted out by Patricia Eguino and her death metal screams of “TRAITORS!”

Patricia Eguino yells "TRAITORS" at pro-J6 demonstrators in Washington, DC

No signs either. A few tourists wandered by on their way to the Natural History Museum and asked me what was going by. I told them – they support January 6th – and they were repulsed.

This was poor street theater.

The weather was unspeakably miserable – 35 degrees and raining. I left to get a Guinness.

The march, a gaggle of people with American flags, continued to the Capitol, surrounded by an envelope of police.

And then they got big mad. The Capitol Police wouldn’t let insurrectionists march to the Capitol on January 6th.

The tie-ranny!

A hilarious clip to watch as you’re sitting in a bar with a beer and a Shepherds Pie.

The unstoppable Eguino had continued to trail them with shouts of “TRAITORS” following them all the way around the Capitol in a punishing rain-drenched slog.

Anarchy Princess then popped up, the mere presence of their antagonist and her rainbow umbrella enough to send the J6ers into paroxysms of rage. They think that the Capitol Police work for her.

This was political street theater live-streamed for me to watch from the comfort of a warm bar.

Clips, photos, memes and stories from the protest soon made their way online, as people joined in the mockery of the fascist fail march.

That is why political street theater matters, for these visuals enter and influence the debate. They inspire others. They get people to show up on rainy days to counterprotest. That is why they matter.

Author: Joe Flood

Joe Flood is a writer, photographer and web person from Washington, DC. The author of several novels, Joe won the City Paper Fiction Competition in 2020. In his free time, he enjoys wandering about the city taking photos.

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