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Briefing Report: Tea Party Movement Briefing Report:
9/12er - Tea Party - Tax Payer Protest
March and Rally Held In Washington, DC September 12, 2009


On September 12, 2009 "hundreds of thousands" of fed-up Americans converged on Washington, DC to protest their government's mishandling of our economy, to show their dissatisfaction with overall wasteful government spending in general, and to express their feelings of utter frustration with the current administration's head long plunge toward socialistic policies that the protesters believe will further erode cherished American freedoms.

Having been there, and taken part in a small side effort of my own, I believe I have some important factual information to share. This won't be my complete account of what took place that day, but it will cover some very important points.

I had printed up, specifically for the 9-12 march, almost 4,000 copies of the Declaration of Independence on Parchtone Document Paper. On the front side I had printed a reduced copy of the original Declaration itself. I then modified it by adding three additional lines in the lower left hand corner that would allow a modern day patriot to sign along side our "Founding Fathers". The addition read as follows:

Join the Founders !
Date Signed:__________

On the reverse side I had printed the entire Declaration of Independence in an easy to read type style. I wanted the recipient to have an actual readable copy of the entire Declaration. My hope was that by reading it, and identifying with the concerns of those early patriots, that the reader would be inspired to want to add his/her signature along side those of our 'Founding Fathers'.

As for myself, I can't read the Declaration of Independence without recognizing that the "train of abuses" our ancestors suffered at the hands of their political masters (in their case British abuses) is not dissimilar to the 'train of abuses' we currently suffer at the hands of our political masters today (in our case Politicians who fail to adhere to the substance and meaning of our Constitution).

My wife and I, along with a few friends, took these printed Declarations to the 9-12-09 March on Washington to hand out for free to as many marchers as we could reach. Kristine and I personally gave out well over 3,000 copies. Our friends had the balance of the Declarations and they handed out approximately 400 - 500 copies between them.

As this kind of activity was not entirely new to us, we were quite at home in distributing the Declarations at the DC Protest March. A little over twenty years ago, I led an effort that resulted in collecting over "one million" patriot signatures with our "Sign on the Constitution" project, for the State of California, during the Constitutions 200th Anniversary "Bicentennial Celebration" in 1987.

The point of mentioning the above is to affirm that people really do want to show their patriotic support for America's Founding Principles as set forth in our Country's Founding Documents. And, I relate the following to demonstrate that that same energetic support is 'alive and well' today as represented by those who attended the 9-12-09 March on Washington, DC. What we experienced at this "9/12er - Tea Party Protest" was exciting, a bit emotional and honestly somewhat difficult to fully express, but here goes.

Kristine and I got to the event shortly after the march down Pennsylvania avenue had already begun. We weren't late, the march actually started early because the volume of participants exceeded the capacity of the staging area at Freedom Plaza (this according to the D.C. Police). The planned start time was 11:30 AM. The actual start time was 9:40 AM. That was my first emotional linkage to the days events. I expected a large turnout, but this was truly more than expected.

We merged with the marchers, near 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, for the 1-1/4 mile trek to the Capitol and began to hand out as many Declarations as possible while marching along side everyone else. I quickly realized that wasn't going to be good enough. So Kristine and I split up. She turned herself around, right in the middle of the street where she was standing, and faced the marchers now coming toward her. She just started handing out Declarations to those that passed by her.

I grabbed the back-pack containing the bulk of the Declarations and turned and ran as fast as I could down the sidewalk. I got ahead of as many marchers as I could (which was an event by itself, because the marchers were not only filling the entire roadway, but spilling over onto the sidewalks as well). I stopped just short of the Capitol where Pennsylvania Avenue comes to an end at a parking lot on the west side of the Capitol Building.

I then did the same thing as my wife. I turned myself around and stood in the middle of the street facing, what seemed to me to be, "100's of Thousands" of marchers coming toward me with "100's of Thousands" more now behind me who were already in position and gathered around the Capitol for the rally. I then just began handing out the Declarations to those still marching toward me.

I yelled out like a 'circus ring master'. "Free Declarations of Independence" "Sign one Side - Read the other Side". The reception was overwhelming. I soon had marchers gathering around in flocks just waiting to get their copy. I had marchers on the far side, who had passed me up, coming back and asking for a copy. I had marchers who had received one copy returning to ask for an additional copy to give to a friend or family member. I had marchers thanking me over and over again for what we were doing. I even received a number of blessings from some of the marchers.

At one point a young lady, carrying a recording device, stopped and interviewed me about what I was doing. She claimed to be from an Eastern European news agency. I haven't heard that my interview made it to any news outlets, but she sure was interested in what brought all the Marchers to Washington, DC.

They, of course, came for a variety of reasons specific to their own concerns. Suffice it to say, they all felt our government is out of control in one or more ways and they were willing to take a stand and demand that it be brought back under control. They were asking our government to be ethical and 'Constitutionally Responsible' in all its actions.

By the time we were finished passing out all our copies of the Declaration of Independence we were pretty much at the tail end of those reaching the Capitol. The crowd was so large, and densely packed, there was really no way for us to get anywhere near enough to the podium/stage area in order to clearly see and hear the rally speakers. We just moved in and out and around the outer edges of the crowd.

One advantage to this turned out to be getting a wonderful view of the innumerable array of home-made signs that were being held high by the attendees. You can do a quick on-line search for pictures and videos of this event and get an idea of the 'sign-making' ingenuity of the protesters. I have included only a couple of links below to try and give you the flavor of what was happening.

I also note that though the crowds were very vocal, I saw no one who could be classified as unruly. Their protestations could be poignant, but not hateful. After the event I saw a news story that featured a couple of protesters who would certainly be considered out-of-line, but they were the rare exception. Most of the demonstrators were friendly and many seemed actually shy.

Bye and large they came not knowing what to expect. But, for the most part, what they found was a camaraderie with new friends who shared their ideals. And, here is an interesting side point. They weren't trashy. They actually left the rally in pretty decent looking condition.

Now I wish to raise the controversy over the number of participants that actually attended the march and rally on 9-12-09. You should know that no one will ever be 100% certain of the actual number in attendance. There are a number of reasons. The first is the fluidity of movement as we marched down Pennsylvania Avenue. There is a terrific video, by the way, of that movement taken atop one of the buildings as we passed by. It is a time lapse video that only lasts a couple of minutes. You can see it on YouTube here:

By timing the length of the march, accounting for the width of the street, and estimating the proximity of one individual to the next, you can come up with an approximate number of marchers. I have seen it estimated that between 400,000 and 700,000 participants actually marched along Pennsylvania Avenue that day. But that is not the end of it. It is really only the beginning.

Remember, the march started over an hour and a half early due to the enormity of the crowd. Had I not needed to be in the march in order to hand out our Declarations, I could have just as easily gotten to the rally at the Capitol by another, quicker route. And, many additional thousands did just that.

The Metro Rail, like those in other large cities, runs underground in DC and riders get off and make their way to the surface at different points along its route. The Metro is the number one method of transportation for getting visitors into and out of Washington, DC and it was packed that day and backed up for hours.

Some, of the many Metro riders, therefore, are not included in any of the pictures taken along the march route, nor could they be represented, in any other picture, until after they got top-side and made their way, as late as they would be, to the rally at the Capitol Building.

How many late participants fell into this category is conjecture, of course. What we do know, for a fact, is that there were many late arrivals to the rally due to over crowding on the Metro Rail that day. Why there were not enough trains running to accommodate the expected crowds is another matter that we won't be able to go into here. Suffice it to say, there were a large number of late arriving rally attendees that have not been fully taken into account.

I have attended a number of major rally's in Washington during my twenty-five years of living in this area. For example, I was at the 1983 - 20th Anniversary rally that commemorated the original "1963 Washington Civil Rights March" (the one where Martin Luther King gave his inspiring "I have a dream speech" of twenty years earlier). The official 'National Park Service' estimate of attendance at this 1983 event was 'three hundred thousand'.

Also, My wife and I, and all nine of our children, participated in a large Pro-Life rally that was held in D.C. The estimated attendance for that event was 'two hundred thousand'. And, I have been to several of the "Rolling Thunder" rally's that are a main stay of Memorial Day celebrations in Washington. The estimated attendance for these yearly rally's varies between a 'couple hundred thousand to several hundred thousand'.

The National Park Service no longer makes available their 'crowd estimates' at Washington events due to the controversy they always seem to engender. You can bet the bank on it. All event sponsors are quite certain that 'their event' had more people in attendance than the official Park Service estimate. So, we can't look to them for an official attendance count of the September 12, 2009 March.

We have to make do with the much less reliable estimates of the news media, event organizers, Fire and Police Departments (always unofficial), and/or other interested parties making their best guesstimates from their limited exposure. So here is mine. The 9-12-09 March/Rally was, to me, clearly larger than any of those I mentioned above.

Around Washington we hear of estimates as high as 'two million' and as low as in the 'ten's of thousands' that converged on Washington that day. I feel comfortable in saying you can confidently throw out both the high and low estimates. I would have to bet it was in the 'upper hundred's of thousands' range.

From a half million to three-quarters of a million isn't a bad showing. In fact it is enough to make the White House staff shake in their boots. Why they might even go all out to discredit anyone who would report such a finding. After all we're not supposed to be real, we're just 'AstroTurf'. And, of course, Fox news isn't a real news organization either. Who knows, maybe we're all on an enemies list.

J. Steven Hales
Patriot Theme Blog
Washington, DC
email the author


This YouTube video is a quick overview of the rally portion at the Capitol Building (2 min.):

This YouTube video is a quick overview of the rally and the march down Pennsylvania Ave (4 min):

This Video is the C-Span coverage of the entire rally portion at the Capitol (2 hrs. and 50 min.):

This YouTube video shows a time-lapse view of the march down Pennsylvania Ave (2 min.):


This is a great panoramic shot of the 9-12-09 Rally at the Capitol

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