What I Saw In Union Square At My First Syria Strikes Protest

What I Saw In Union Square At My First Syria Strikes Protest

This was my first time. I was kind of expecting to be disappointed—you hear a lot of things about your first time out. All the excitement, the pictures, the tweets from people who’ve been there, done that. I’m talking about going to a protest, obviously.

Suspecting there’d be antifa black bloc types there, I wanted to blend in, so I donned my new chucks, real leather jacket, and a nice grey sweater, since it was cold. Looking like an extra from a wintertime version of “Grease,” off I went to Union Square to observe my first protest.

These guys did not allow their chess game to be interrupted. True pros.

There were lots of speakers, and they didn’t exactly lay out their bona fides prior to taking the mic. One was still very upset about Agent Orange use in Vietnam. They liked to chant stuff like “U.S. imperalist is number one terrorist.” The speakers paused after what they thought were applause lines, but I think this was the crowd’s first time too, because the pauses between applause break and applause were at least eight months pregnant.

There was a guy with a boom box who said he was from Brazil. Based on his jump suit and boom box he could have said “from the ’80s” and I would have believed him. I’m not sure what his deal was, but he was starting scuffles.

The antifa’s were there, scarves and all. Very scary! (Not really). Like pubescent kids trying to look serious. If I didn’t love my own cooking (and I’ve been on a real pasta kick lately) I could have fit right in.

There was all kinds of literature! Everyone wanted to hand me papers. It was really nice, but perhaps harmful to the environment. Lots of trees were killed for these. I didn’t read them, but I think their design work could use some help—think they’re hiring?

There were also pins. I didn’t get a pin, though, because they were less generous than the flyers people.

I only saw one costume, but I thought he worked pretty hard on it. Unfortunately, his sign wasn’t as creative as his Statue of Liberty skull mask.

The message seemed to be that all American interference is terrorism and Donnie is a very bad man for not letting those refugees in. One speaker did mention Libya as a thing that happened and was bad. Although she didn’t mention President Obama by name, I assume she must have meant to implicate him. I don’t entirely disagree with their stance, but some of the connect-the-dots theories people were floating—such as that Israel did 9/11 to kill Islam—were a bit too hottake for me.

The media had formed a perimeter and made the protest seem like a BIG DEAL. It really wasn’t, though, since the attendees counted maybe a hundred. If they weren’t college-aged kids (some looked like high schoolers) they looked homeless. It was part little social event for the kids to chant and feel like they matter and are super duper informed and part old folks with their flyers, zines, and pins thinking the ‘60s never ended.

They did seem to think that gassing children is bad, although it seems they just wanted the United States to just relocate them all, and let Assad keep the place.

Now someone get me my Big J journo badge. I want in the clubhouse.

Matt is a graphic designer and comic book artist based in New Jersey. Previously, he worked in DC. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbatt. You can pre-order his crime graphic novel, "Indoctrination, on >Amazon and check out his work at Task & Purpose and Free the People.
Photo Matt Battaglia / The Federalist
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