Posts Tagged ‘Washington DC’

Supreme Court Upholds Health Care Reform 2012

Friday, June 29th, 2012

June 28, 2012

On the last day of the Supreme Court’s term for this year, everybody in Washington DC knew that its ruling would be announced on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), as the national health care reform law is officially known.

So an hour before the Supreme Court released its 193-page decision, in what has become a ritual before important cases are resolved, the sidewalk in front of the court was packed with protesters, bystanders, Tea Partiers, community activists: a host of pro and anti Obamacare people. A circus-like atmosphere prevailed as belly dancers, a plastic Jesus statue, and costumed Revolutionary War soldiers flooded the sidewalks. It was almost impossible to walk through the densely packed crowd.

Republican Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann was the big draw for the conservative partisans, exciting the crowd and whipping Tea Party activists into a frenzy. Advocates supporting the law carried signs reading “Moving Forward > Supporting Our Care” and “Medicare For All.”

Sometime after 10am, reporters dashed out of the courthouse to awaiting TV cameras. Moments later CNN and Fox News misread the first pages of the decision to declare that the crucial Individual Mandate part of the Affordable Care Act was struck down. But the crowd in front of the Supreme Court found out quickly the law was, in fact, upheld. Very few people expected that the drama would play out as it did, that the mandate would stand and that Chief Justice John Roberts would side with the law in a landmark decision.

–Lucian Perkins


Occupy May Day 2012

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Facing Change photographers document May Day Occupy rallies and marches in New York, Washington DC, Chicago, and Oakland as tens of thousands of people took to the streets amidst heavy police presence:

Occupy Wall Street activists staged a May Day Rally calling for a general strike in memory of the history of May 1st as a day dedicated to workers’ rights. Photograph by Andrew Lichtenstein /

Oakland, California

There were many different agendas coalescing together for the May Day protests in Oakland: Immigrants’ rights activists, labor marking the historic holiday, and the Occupy movement seeking to rejuvenate itself.

A large peaceful crowd marched through most of Oakland, but small groups of anarchists engaged in petty vandalism, spraying paint on bank windows and confronting the police, who responded with tear gas. Media attention focused on these incidents, detracting from the real issues.

The longshoremen shut down the port for a day. The nurses are on strike. Those facts were overshadowed by tear gas and street theater.

–Andrew Lichtenstein

About 75 Occupy Chicago protesters held sit-ins outside at two Bank of America branches. Photographs by Carlos Javier Ortiz /

Chicago, Illinois

On a rainy, sweater-wearing day, about a thousand people gathered in Union Park and the two miles to downtown. It was a holiday atmosphere, culminating in a sit-in of activists at Bank Of America branches.

Immigrant rights advocates chanted in Spanish: “Hey Obama! Escucha estamos en la lucha!” (Hey Obama! Listen, we’re in the fight! – “we” meaning the Latino immigrant community and its significant votes.)

Chicago is hosting a NATO summit later this month, and more protests are expected with President Obama and world leaders present.

–Carlos Javier Ortiz

Occupy DC protesters at Malcolm X Park (Officially known as Meridian Hill Park) for a day of music, games, and speeches. Photograph by Lucian Perkins /

Washington D.C.

A small group of several hundred demonstrators met at Malcolm X Park, two and a half miles from the White House, and festively walked through neighborhoods. In the park, there were guitars and games, including “Corporate Pin-the-Donkey” in which a blindfolded protester pins a board with stickers of companies.

It was a low-key day, and the protest reached the White House at 6:30 in the evening. Along the way, curious bystanders took photographs and some shouted their support.

–Lucian Perkins

Between Broome and Spring Streets, Lower Manhattan. Photograph by Alan Chin /

New York, New York

Drizzling rain in the morning threatened to dampen the turnout in New York City, but the sun came out by the early afternoon and 20,000 people marched from Union Square to Wall Street in one of the larger protests nationwide.

Demonstrators gathered at Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan, and staged protests at the Bank of America, Time Warner, Fox, and hedge fund companies. Another group crossed the Williamsburg Bridge from Brooklyn, and were joined by a hundred Black Bloc anarchists. They carried a large “Fuck the Police” banner, and clashed with the NYPD on Houston Street, several were arrested. The police covered one bloodied protester’s head and face with a sweatshirt in an apparent attempt to prevent him being photographed in this condition. Some photographers were harassed by protesters as well as the police, as tensions rose on all sides.

Nonetheless, the predominant feeling, as elsewhere, was celebratory rather than confrontational. The crowd danced in Union Square as musicians performed onstage. Protesters wore costumes and colorful banners. The parade down Broadway was orderly, high-spirited, and stretched for a mile.

The Occupy movement may struggle to define itself in an enduring way after unexpected early success and police repression, but it quietly proved on May Day that peaceful protest can be determined and widespread in the face of violent incidents and short attention-spans.

–Alan Chin and Anthony Suau


There have been at least 7,106 documented arrests in 114 U.S. cities as of May 1, 2012 since Sept 17 2011. On May 1st :

Occupy City

No. of Arrests


5/1/2012 Seattle 8 Violence, arrests at Seattle May Day protests Link
Portland 12 Arrests in early Portland May Day protest Link
Oakland 25 25 arrests in Oakland May Day protests Link
Miami 3 Occupy Miami protesters march; three arrested Link
New York 30 In New York, a final May Day march ends at Wall Street Link
Philadelphia 2 2 Arrested in Occupy Protests Link
Los Angeles 13 At least 13 arrested in L.A. May Day protests Link
Albany 23 Arrests mark Occupy’s return Link

Occupy DC Eviction 2012

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Washington DC
February 4, 2012

Early Saturday morning, the U.S. Park Police entered McPherson Square, only two blocks from the White House. Their stated mission was to remove the large tarp that OccupyDC had placed over the statue of General James B. McPherson. It had been raised to protest the announcement that the ban on camping in federal parks would be strictly enforced.

Previously, the relationship between the encampment and police had been generally good; protesters were given some leeway. But the authorities reversed their position after pressure from Republican Congressional leaders directed by Rep. Darrell Issa of California, ironically the wealthiest member of Congress with a net worth of over $450 million dollars.

Initially, Occupy DC cooperated with the Park Police and agreed to dismantle the tarp and have their tents inspected. In exchange, several Occupiers would be allowed to monitor these inspections. The police divided the park into quadrants and systematically started this process. But as the hours wore on, word spread from the monitors that the police were removing tents that passed code as well as ones that did not.

The demonstrators became upset, and when the police moved to another quadrant, Occupiers tried to block them. Violence then erupted throughout the day as officers continued to tear down tents and cart away bedding and protesters’ belongings, some with trash and dead rats.

By early evening, when the Park Police approached the last section of the park and moved in to clear out the Occupy Library, many protesters decided to make a last stand. They proved no match for the police who charged in, some on horses, and others on foot carrying shields and clubs. A few injuries and 11 arrests ensued, including one officer who was hit by a brick, and the arrest of photojournalist Jerry Nelson. As the Occupiers were pushed out onto K Street, they stood in a cold drizzle of sleet and rain, their numbers dwindling. Bewildered, they watched their camp being further dismantled.


Federal Shutdown Avoided 2011

Saturday, April 9th, 2011

Federal Shutdown Avoided

After weeks of contentious negotiations between the House and the Senate, a deal was reached to avert a shutdown of the Federal government within an hour of the midnight deadline on Friday April 8. But this achievement only sets the stage for an even tougher battle in September when the House is expected to challenge the 2012 budget as well.

Obesity, Washington DC 2010

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

Facing Change for Empreinte Digitale and French TV

What would our Founding Fathers think if they could look down from their monuments in Washington DC and see that 63% of the American people looking up are now overweight and that nearly 30% of them are obese?

My long-term project on obesity begins here, partly because a manipulation in the country’s original laws and institutions has contributed to the epidemic. It is in Washington that federal subsidies of corn syrup led to the low cost of processed foods that now dominate our store shelves and an increase in drink size like Big Gulps with little associated expense. It is here that the food industry has effectively fought labeling and a ban on advertising junk food to children. It is here that an industry gone wild has made billions off a population unaware of the staggering costs to their health that their diet entails.

But it is also here where the problem may be solved. Non-profit organizations are taking a stand and threatening lawsuits as a way to fight back. For example, the Center for Science in the Public Interest is advocating taxing sodas in order to pay for obesity’s rising health cost and it is threatening to sue McDonalds for enticing children with free toys to buy their highly addictive food.

From here my project will go deeper into Washington and out into the country to document a growing movement trying to stem the tide of this already dangerous epidemic. We will encounter a DC charter school that is **** their students how to grow food and serving them only fresh and organic produce. And we will visit Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital where a physical therapist, who herself weighed once 300 lbs, has dedicated herself to saving children from obesity.

In chronicling this crisis, my project will ultimately address the question: how far is our society willing to go to abandon our sedentary lifestyle and fast food diet that are now ingrained cross-generationally.