Thousand March in Silver Lake Prop 8 Protest–Equal Rights, Good Manners Prevail
Over seven thousand protesters filled Sunset Junction, the heart of Silver Lake, still the center of hardcore, funky, old school gay Los Angeles–though the past decade’s influx of straights has raised the cry of "Get rid of the baby-daddies and bring back the leather daddies!"
Saturday night Silver Lake was vitalized, vivified and electrified as thousands came "out of the bars and into the streets" from all over Southern California to protest the passing of Proposition H8 and the banning of same-sex marriage. By the time I got the protest one large group had broken off and started marching along Hyperion towards Hollywood, but helicopters overhead and sirens still filled the cool evening air as at least a thousand voices raised in unison from the distance.
I was unprepared (okay, not totally–I had an iPhone and Flip video camera) for the sight of two trucks of LAPD in full riot gear and phalanx of foot soldier riot cops, plus fifteen equine officers in their battle regalia. Oh noes, the riot ponies!
Seriously this was freaking nearly out of control intense. I was on the police side of the action, west of the intersection of Vermont and Hollywood, able to watch the crowd straining to continue on their march as a wall of blue stood inches away ready to stop them, with vast numbers of uniformed and armed back-up holding firm for a city block.
Gay, straight black white–Marriage is a civil right! What do we want? Equal rights ! When do we want them? Now! Let us through! Let us through! Let us through! yes we can! Yes we will!
Members of National Lawyers Guild and the ACLU legal observers in neon green baseball caps were in conference with members of the LAPD and the crowd as tension mounted–then lead officer spoke through his bullhorn, announcing that the Department of Transportation was setting up traffic cones and clearing the way for the marchers to proceed west on Hollywood to join their compatriots at Hollywood and Highland.
And the crowd cheered and chanted back:
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Yes, teh gheys and their supporters were chanting "Thank you" to the LAPD as the riots cops turned away, squad cars dispersed and the horses trotted away, leaving a faint smell of manure behind. It was so civil, so nice and so deeply heartfelt. The LAPD has really been making a huge effort to be cool with all demonstrators since the May Day Melee in McArthur Park, and Saturday night showed that work is paying off. The crowd was outraged over Prop H8 and impatient to march, but not angry at the police or looking to be arrested to make a point. They wanted to speak out and been seen and heard; this issue is about civil rights and Constitutional rights, respecting them and getting them–arrests won’t do that.
While it was tense, it was more the tension of having to wait than the tension that a beat down was about to happen.
Still, it took over half an hour before the crowd–which at times grew restless, throwing out shouts of "Bullsh*it! Bullsh*it! Let us through!"–received the go ahead and with whoops and shouts, surged legally, peacefully, and loudly out onto Hollywood Blvd behind a truck mounted sign that flashed "Stay on the west wide of the road" with a squad of motorcycle officers and an paramedic van bringing up the rear.
Equal rights! Equal rights! Equal rights!