Melanie and I joined two local groups in a counter-protest today near the Pro-amnesty “March for Dignity and Respect” on the closed National Mall. Then we headed down to the event organizers claimed would bring in tens of thousands of participants. Even with a top-name band playing – Los Tigres del Norte – they had a few thousand at best.
Just before the “March” two local pro-enforcement groups held a press availability a block away. Local affiliates for ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, Univision and Telemundo interviewed the group leaders as did some print reporters. The rest of us held up large signs for passing traffic to see, like No Amnesty and Honk.
Quite a few motorists obliged us including a DC patrol car and an unmarked federal SUV (they flashed their “blues” to make sure we knew they were law enforcement). A number of pedestrians stopped by to lend their support, too. One from the Department of Justice said he was “horrified” about this pro-amnesty event on the Mall. Not one of Eric Holder’s favorites, I imagine.
The area was obviously a drop-off point for Members of Congress who planned to speak at the “March” or just wanted to be seen on stage. A golf cart would whisk them to the event (a whole block away) and bring them back. For a while, a car containing Calif. Rep. Janice Hahn and Alabama Rep. Terri Sewell parked right in front of our No Amnesty signs.
They were likely waiting in line for the VIP golf cart treatment but I suspect they were not happy to see us. And it seemed like they grew more uncomfortable each time a car or bus would honk their approval. Just desserts, if you ask me.
One of the Park Police went out his way to stop by and thank us for taking a stand. He told us the Administration forced Park Police from 30 locations around the DC area to work the “March.” He was worried about people needing emergency help at those locations because no one would be available.
Walking down to the “March” I could see this was a very expensive undertaking. Very elaborate stage. Numerous towered speakers around the perimeter. And a massive Jumbotron for those at the rear. Of course, pro-amnesty groups have been recently bragging about all the money at their disposal for the amnesty push. That was certainly evident today.
“Tens of thousands” were expected so a block-long line of porta potties was set up and several tents offered free water bottles.
But Melanie discovered that the organizers didn’t pay for these accommodations. The Park Service did. Which means you did. The Park Police also brought in 8 horses in case they needed crowd control.
That seemed like another waste of taxpayer dollars, though, because the crowd was just enjoying the music and the day.
I worked my way through the crowd to get a sense of how many were in attendance. It was clear that a number of the participants were bused in from elsewhere. The union banners listed their states. The unions – SEIU, AFL-CIO, LiUNA and others – were certainly out in force wearing their signature orange or purple t-shirts. Their members made sure the participants received prepared rally signs and American flags.
The area near the stage looked densely packed. Then I realized the crowd had moved forward to see the performers.
Moving toward the rear, the crowd thinned out pretty quickly. One picture I took shows the event could have accommodated a crowd several times larger.
I didn’t stick around for the final speeches, including one by Rep. Luis Gutierrez. He was supposed to lead the crowd in a march down to the Capitol building. Probably just as well. I had heard enough for one day.
I know they’re trying to make the case for amnesty and more family-based immigration. We strongly disagree. But I can’t understand why the Administration would force taxpayers to underwrite this event or give the pro-amnesty groups special treatment. None of us can forget the spectacle just last week when WW II vets were barred from their memorial.
Did you know the Administration justified allowing this event to be held on the shut-down National Mall on the basis of the First-Amendment? To do that, they had to “retroactively” determine that the vets had a right to visit the WW II memorial. That’s just unconscionable but so is pushing amnesty instead of working to ensure that every citizen and legal resident that wants a job has one.
VAN ESSER is the Manager of Membership Services for NumbersUSA
Updated: Wed, Oct 9th 2013 @ 11:41am EDT