Talk of the plaza

Two main topics consume the conversations of Washington, D.C.’s Freedom Plaza today. Whether through announcements, group assemblies or personal chatter, most cannot help but consider two large issues: moving forward from an unsuccessful protest at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum and action plans after midnight.

Yesterday afternoon marked the weekend’s largest October2011 protest march through Washington, which ended with an attempted entry into the National Air and Space Museum. Though security guards and pepper spray stopped demonstrators, the mission aimed to highlight the Museum’s drone exhibit and its glorification of military executions at a public institution.

Museum security action has caused a great deal of controversy, even among those who marched. Several conflicting stories have raised questions about whether the security guards or demonstrators initiated force. Regardless of this controversy, many media networks published stories about the event without acknowledging the debate.

As someone who studied journalism for four years, I appreciate the media’s role in raising awareness and teaching about world issues. However, reading articles that scream bias about a controversial movement I participated in has given me first-hand look at the media’s ability to confuse statements and choose sides. Below are two of the many articles I read about yesterday’s protest. I applaud the Sun-Times for the reporter’s noticeable attempt to remain neutral. I cannot say the same for MSNBC.

Chicago Sun-Times: “D.C. Museum Closed After Protest Pepper Spray Used

MSNBC: “Washington’s Air & Space Museum Shut After Protesters Storm In

Conversation last night and this morning has included action steps regarding this Museum march. Options discussed include returning to the Museum for another attempted protest, challenging the Museum for using pepper spray against a nonviolent demonstration, and continuing to spread the October2011 message while remaining positive in the public eye.

(*Video taken by fellow October2011 demonstrator Nathan Schneider)

October2011‘s permit to occupy Freedom Plaza ends at midnight. Action plans for continuing this movement with no permit makes for another hot discussion item among demonstrators. Occupy D.C., a group modeled after the Occupy Wall Street protests, has also been active this weekend in Washington’s McPherson Square. Conversation leans toward a merge between October2011 and Occupy D.C. efforts, which would involve the two moving forward in solidarity. However, this is still in discussion.

While the word Occupy has begun uniting groups of demonstrators nationwide, words of action have focused on this other commonly used, powerful statement: Solidarity.

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