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Secret Service stalks peace protestors thru DC streets

DC Antiwar | January 16 2006

"On Friday, January 13, 2006, activists with the DC Anti-War Network (DAWN) called for an action at the home of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld; however, when scouts for the action reported lights off, the group put in pre-arranged plans for a street meeting to choose a new location, which turned out to be the home of Vice President Dick Cheney, at the Naval Observatory, . .. An adventure of cat and mouse ensued with Secret Service and Pentagon Police pursuing the DAWN protesters.

Activists from DAWN met outside the Woodley Park Metro as Secret Service bike police and Pentagon police circled the group. As they circled, the group put in place pre-arranged plans to meet and change course. The group marched north on Connecticut Avenue. This confused the police, who expected the group to march south toward Rumsfeld’s home on Kalorama. One bicycle officer followed the group for a time on Woodley but tailed off when the group climbed a steep hill. From there, the DAWN group walked quietly to the home of Vice President Dick Cheney.

At Cheney’s house, the DAWN group set up on the side of the street in front of his house, where they began making noise, banging pots, and yelling things like "Jail Cheney!" and "Impeach, Indict, Incarcerate!" It took 15 minutes for Secret Service to come out and confront protesters. When they did, the Secret Service asked the standard, “Who is your leader?” Eventually, after a couple minutes, one protester chose to talk with police and recorded a conversation with them, which will be published. Protesters stayed for awhile to many cheers from motorists on the road.

After a while of loud yelling and noise, the group suddenly became quiet, lighting candles and singing traditional peace songs. This behavior baffled the Secret Service, who followed along, as protesters moved south down Massachusetts. There were at times upwards of 7 or 8 officers trailing the slow moving group that had switched from boisterous yelling to a period of quiet singing. At the edge of the Naval Observatory, another of the group began confronting the Secret Service asking why they were following us, what their names were, what their badge numbers were. He states in his report that he recognized the officer who had at one point been tailing us from Woodley Park. The protester asked who gave orders to follow us. There was some confusion among officers about what was happening. The secret service officer asked at one point, "Do you have any permits?" The protester responded, "I don’t need a permit." He asked again, “Do you have any permits!?” The response was, "Don’t play that game with me; I know darn well that I don’t need a permit." The officer said, "I was just asking." [...]

3 cars were tailing the group on the dark side streets near Dupont Circle. As we headed down Phelps, the same protester who confronted the Secret Service at the Naval Observatory called the NBC-4 newsroom. . .

As the interview continued for half a block, this protester walked up to the officers. It turned out one of the police tailing us was Pentagon Police. It’s not clear why Pentagon Police, who we had not seen since the very beginning of the action, were around for this part of it. The protester asked who he was and why he was there; the officer refused to say. Other officers covered up their badges. What was more baffling was that the person in NBC 4’s newsroom became frightened (or that’s the assumption) and would not say his name even though he was asked between 7 and 10 times, according to this protester’s report. At this point, still on Phelps, one of the Secret Service officers got out of his car, which led to a round of verbal sparring between the Secret Service and the protesters. The Secret Service officer at one point said that he was there to “control” us. It’s not clear what he meant by that. He went on to say that he was giving us exactly what we wanted by giving us attention. In truth, we’d rather that Secret Service agents didn’t exist at all. . . By overreacting to nonviolent protesters who merely were expressing dissent, they did expose the fear of dissent that exists in society. [...]

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