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On Thursday after work, I went on an evening run through my neighborhood. The police had blocked off the Wilshire exit off of the 405, due to anti-war protesters, and I was curious to see what was actually going on.

The air was slightly cool, with only a hint of sea-fog blown in by the winds from Santa Monica. (Here at the Farthest West, there is always a reminder of the ocean, always a reminder of the crashing waves.) The sky had begun to turn purple, studded with the stars bright enough to survive the setting sun and Los Angeles. A good evening to stretch the legs and run, even without the potential of seeing an interesting sight.

News helicopters were in the air, diverted from their normal activity of monitoring car chases and freeway conditions. Some hovered in the sky to west of my home; some circled the area looking for a good shot, flies looking for a place to land on a carcass. (Pardon the bitterness of that analogy. Helicopters had interrupted my precious beauty sleep over the past couple of nights.)

I ran west along Wilshire, down the hill, past the sentinal office buildings of Westwood. There were some people on the sidewalks, almost less than normal, I thought. Some people were just the late-working, still in the suits and dresses, heading home after a long day in the cubicle farms. There were some people with rolled-up signs, walking to the Federal Building, where the main protest was taking place.

As I got to the corner of Veteran and Wilshire, near the center of the action, I was surprised to find that I didn't even need to slow down. There were many people, yes, but it was not shoulder-to-shoulder crowds. There were some largish banners, and I think that there was an area for speakers. It might be that I was there too early. The protesters themselves seemed to have varying enthusiasm levels. Some were just standing around, looking perhaps a bit embarrassed or amused. Others were waving signs or chanting. Many were young, perhaps UCLA students. I wondered why they got so excited about this particular war.

It appeared to have been planned well. The police barricades were in logical areas, directing traffic along side roads. There was even a medical tent set up along Veteran, south of the main protest area. As the breath pulled raggedly in and out of my lungs, my sweat-filled eyes gazed at the medical tent, and I wondered idly if they would take walk-ins that were not affiliated with the protest.

I turned west on Santa Monica Boulevard, and dodged the traffic. Westwood (heading north) was backed up with cars, and many of the normally-quiet sidestreets had commuters trying to find clever ways around the closed areas of Wilshire.

As I turned north, on Selby, near the Mormon Temple, and returned home, I thought several things.

  1. It was a very pleasant night.
  2. Protesting the actions of the government is simultaneously a youthful thing, and a very American thing to do.
  3. I never want to be in the position of defending or supporting the mostly-evil against the mostly-good.



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