500 Funkers Take DC; Reclaim US Treasury

Guest-authored by Judy B & Claire B; photos courtesy of Ben Droz and Joseph Huff-Hannon.

Funk that, get off it! This war is for profit!

On Friday, March 19th, the Iraq War’s 7th birthday, we gathered with over 350 students and activists from around the country at Farragut Square, decked out as cheating politicians and Lady Gaga look-alikes. We started a massive street dance party to protest the Obama administration’s continuation of the wars in the Middle East and Central Asia and the unchecked environmental damage caused by war profiteers. “Congress and the Obama administration are cheating on young people with the corporate criminals and war-makers who are wrecking our future. We’re caught in a Bad Romance,” explained Howard University student activist Brian Menifee.

No System but the Sound System!

Two bumping speakers and a mobile sound system blasting dance music brought the funk for this sunny day street party against the empire. We started the party in the middle of Farragut Square with throngs of energetic, flag-waving young students and activists. Reporters from news networks like NBC, CNN, and ABC showed up with cameras and microphones, asking to speak with organizers and involved students. Then we took to K street carrying homemade banners and signs that read “Drop Coal, not Bombs!” and “Refuse, Rethink, Rebuild.”

Who's Streets? Our Streets!

At our first stop, we delivered a heartfelt breakup message to the American Enterprise Institute. Funking our way to a second stop, the Armed Forces Recruiting Center, an anonymous paint-filled projectile soared through the air and smashed against the AFRC window, plastering it with yellow paint (and yielding one arrest). The energy was still high, folks still kicking up their dancing shoes, except at this point the police attempted to keep us on the sidewalks and out of the streets by flanking our crowd on either side.

We stopped by the Chamber of Commerce and delivered another break-up letter in chanting sing-song. From there we kept shaking out booties across town until we reached the Department of Treasury on 15th and G Street. After stopping in front of the building and making a few respectful comments, we feigned a walk-away and starting retreating. While the throngs of cops were distracted by the turn-around, two brave funketeers scaled the first floor of the Treasury and raised a banner that read “End the Wars, Fund our Future”. The cops did a double-take and waited a few minutes before racing up to arrest these two protestors, the crowd angrily chanting “Let them go! Let them go!” (though the police didn’t comply).

A group of students linked arms and sat down together, refusing to move from the steps of the Treasury. The rest of the crowd sat down with them and held the space in observance of those arrested. At this point, obscene numbers of cops had showed up to oppress our right to assemble and protest nonviolently. They actually arrested a couple of folks who stepped off the curb into the street. The funketeers entertained the throngs of “justice enforcers” by orchestrating a funky soul train on the sidewalk.

From there we made our way back to the Peace of the Action Camp, where Food Not Bombs delivered yummy grub and we gave each other hugs and backrubs. A total of 8 people were arrested today, so we convened to figure out how to support them. Most of them are being released tonight.

This is what Democracy looks like!

At the end of the day, Funk the War brought student groups together from the DC area and around the US. The protest was a funk-filled action to re-establish radical infrastructure in DC and re-energize young activists.

Even though the action today felt like its own epic story, it’s really just the beginning of a collaborative radical resistance to empire.