Saturday, June 4th, people danced in the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. None of these people were arrested. In some ways, this could make the Dance Party at TJ’s a success. This is, essentially, what some people set out to do, just dance. I have my own opinions regarding what happened this weekend that I will share. I was not there just to dance.
As I arrived a few minutes late (the entrance to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial had been closed and roped so there was only one way to enter the memorial), I noticed a large array of police vehicles lined up outside the event. There was a nice sized bus ready to take away activists as well as a roughly 10 officers lined up next to their respective rides (there were a plethora of rides, everything from horses to segways to motorcycles). Each motorcycle had a riot helmet hanging off the handlebar and each helmet was hanging on the same side, gleaming in the sunlight. I found out later that had I arrived at 12:10 instead of 12:05 I wouldn’t have been allowed inside the memorial at all as someone made the decision to close the Thomas Jefferson Memorial to everyone a few moments later.
This was my first time at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. Although I have been to Washington D.C. on plenty of occasions, I rarely get to explore the city and there’s no denying that the memorial’s location is a bit off the regular path. Heading up to the memorial I could hear people yelling and cheering (and naturally I walked past signs that said “High Noise Level”. As I looked up the steps for the first time, I was overwhelmed by the size and scope of the Thomas Jefferson statue. He appeared ready for whatever events took place.
As I headed up to the under the large domed roof I could see that the dancing had turned into simply people circling around the statue. There were a few people dancing on the steps and simply watching. Inside most people had their cameras out. In fact, very few people did not appear to be videotaping everything around them. Every police officer looked around them and saw a wall of cameras.
A camera is every bit as dangerous as a gun if not more so. A camera may not take lives but it can certainly destroy them.
I want to focus for a minute on the group that was at the Dance Party. I have been to many protests and rallies. Most are organized by a particular group and may be bi-partisan but it’s mainly one particular political party with a small spattering of activists from other political parties. This flash mob of dancers included people wearing Mises and Rothbard shirts, people wearing Code Pink shirts, people with Gadsden flags, and a man with a sign that told people to arrest Dick Chaney before arresting him. I knew I was at the right place when someone asked me if I was wearing the Rearden Metal Replica Bracelet.
So, the wall of cameras was up watching and live streaming the event as I watched people “dancing” around Thomas Jefferson. Cue the police in riot gear and the SWAT teams. The display of power was ridiculous and uncalled for. None of the activists were violent, they were simply showing their disdain for the law which prevents dancing under the watchful eyes of the Dancemaster in Chief.
The police line up and start pushing people back towards the steps of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. There have been fences put up so that the only way to exit is single file. At the base of the steps you hear engines revving. A line of motorcycle police roll up outside all coming from the same side. From the other side of the memorial you see police riding up on horses. It’s official, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial has been closed to the public because people were dancing inside.
This is where my … interpretation of events differs from everyone else’s (or at least everyone else that I spoke to). I heard one man walking down the steps yell out “The People WON!” and everyone cheered. These were the people that were there to dance. I have a different opinion. I don’t think “The People” won at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.
“The People” were shoved down to the steps. The memorial was closed down due to people dancing. No one was violent. No one I saw was offensive. They were just dancing. Dancing is not a reason to close a monument. One man was searched because he wore a trench coat. A friend of mine was shoved because he asked for a badge number. The Thomas Jefferson Memorial was surrounded by SWAT and desecrated by horses (who had their defecations left behind by their riders) because people weren’t allowed to celebrate and honor a man in their own peaceful and non-offensive ways.
I heard people say “Why do you care so much about dancing?” and “Why can’t you just dance outside?” These were the people that just didn’t get it. Somewhere, Thomas Jefferson is screaming.
I am glad that I went to the Dance Party at TJ’s, but I am so sad that going was a necessity. I am also sure that this is just the beginning. Hopefully, one day, America will be free…