I Went Down to the Demonstration

Repost from 3/15/09

To get my fair share of abuse. Singin’, “We’re gonna vent our frustration. If we don’t, we’re gonna blow a fifty-amp fuse.”

–Jagger-Richards, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”

YES, THIS LEDE WAS written before I went to the Cincinnati Tea Party at Fountain Square. But then, I’m not pretending neutrality; I’m biased in favor of the event’s success. And, man, was it!

Here are some overview shots. From the northwest corner (where I came in).

From the Fifth and Vine entrance to the square (at the southwest corner).

From the Fifth and Walnut entrance to the square (at the southeast corner).

From the northeast corner, near Sixth and Walnut.

From near the north (Sixth Street) entrance to the square.

And a glitchy panorama taken from a spot near the Via Vite restaurant, which is in the NW corner of the square. The panorama app seems to have gotten confused by the vertical lines of du Bois tower. Go figure.

The first thing I noticed, besides the fact that the venue was packed a half-hour before start time — unheard of in Cincinnati; Cincinnati audiences are ALWAYS late — was the incredible variety. Far more than at your typical ’60s antiwar protest or its heirs, successors, or assigns of the modern era. And an age range from grammar schoolers to seasoned citizens. I would bet that the only common denominator is that everybody there has a job or is in a household supported by someone(s) with job(s). Productive-Americans on the hoof.

The second thing I noticed was the smiles. Everybody seemed upbeat, friendly, cheerful. And polite. I bet there will be less trash on the square than for other gatherings, too.

Then there were the signs. I have been noticing in pictures from other Tea Parties around the country how anemic the signs seemed. Written in small letters with fine-tipped Sharpies. Too small. No contrast. Type not bold enough. And I was half-planning to do a designer’s seminar on how to do signs right — so they’ll be visible to passing traffic, so they can be read from fifty yards away, so that they’ll show up in photographs and news footage…

You know what? I think a lot of other people noticed, too. Check it out.

Some of my favorites (though by no means all).

Of course, any time you try to bring about change, you want it to be both substantive and lasting. I was pleased to notice that Graeter’s confectioners took an entrepreneurial stance. I should also mention that it’s been heard recently that Graeter’s is going national. Better ice cream than Haagen Das — just so you know.

The signs on the counter read, “No Tea Today,” and “Out of Tea.” Heh.

And I found reason to hope for the future.

None of the teenagers I saw looked to me like they were there unwillingly, or were bored with it all. In fact, they reminded me of myself and my contemporaries at similar events (albeit from the other end of the political spectrum) in the ’60s. This young lady looks like an intrepid citizen journalist. I’d love to see her blog. I’ll bet you she has one and it gets big traffic.


And there was only ONE counterprotester I saw. She was treated with good — albeit mocking — humor. She was chanting OH-BAH-MA! and waving some kind of a tract around. Gotta give her props for moxie.

But she was far outweighed by the Cute Kid with the Snarky Sign.

We the Little People.

See you April 15!

Update: I’ve read estimates of the crowd as low as 3,500. I’m here to call BS on that. Compare the crowd shot at PowerLine with the shot of the empty square at Wikipedia. The two shots are valuable inthis regard because they were taken by different people at different times, but from roughly the same perspective.

“Official” estimates of crowd size are always off. I don’t know why, and will not attempt to place blame. But they are. I have participated in operations where money was on the line (big money), to count crowds from aerial photographs. The police estimates were always off by wide factors. I’m telling you, my estimate of 7,500 is conservative. However, the shot that’s posted at PowerLine is detailed enough that, in the original camera shot, someone could distinguish individual heads and count them. My bet is that the organizers’ estimate of “over 5,000” is quite conservative. But whatever: the “unofficial” police estimate of 3,500 is bunk.

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