By now the stories coming out of the "One Nation" rally in D.C. are familiar: a mosaic of Republican vilification, trash-strewn knolls, and discredited claims that the rally's attendance exceeded that of Glenn Beck's 8/28 rally. But what may not be known is that One Nation hosted other rallies across the country to coincide with the one in D.C.
The largest such event took place in Los Angeles. And while the location was different, the message, the players, and attendance discrepancies were all present at the West Coast event too.
The local ABC affiliate reports the crowd pushed 5,000. But a first-hand account by David Dayen puts that number in question: "I’m terrible at estimating, but I’d put it at 1,500 people."
But while the number of attendees is in question, the make-up is not. Dayen described the crowd as "labor-heavy," adding, "I saw members from SEIU, ULTCW, UAW, CWA, USW, AFSCME, CSEA, UFCW and AFTRA ... along with representatives from Organizing for America."
That mirrors the D.C. rally, as our own Meredith Jessup describes it: "Within minutes one becomes quickly acquainted with the landscape’s color scheme: red shirts = CWA union members; light blue shirts = teachers union members; dark blue shirts = auto workers; and, of course, the infamous purple shirts of the SEIU."
The message was similar too. "We are here today to fight for good jobs for everyone, a secure home, justice for all people and quality education for our children,” Dayen quoted one SEIU leader as saying. In addition, he quoted a gay rights activist who he said "typified the views of the speakers: "I’m 23, undocumented, queer and unafraid,” said a UCLA student named Diego. “Can our country risk losing students like me?”
Unlike Glenn Beck's 8/28 rally, Dayen noted that signs were a staple among the crowd's faithful. "My favorite sign said 'TEA: Tax Executives a Lot,' Which actually spells TEAL, but I’ll give the sign holder the benefit of the doubt."
But confused signs didn't seem to quell the enthusiasm of the rally's organizers. Activist Wyatt Closs summed up the event in the Huffington Post by quoting a press release: "[T]housands of Californians gathered in Los Angeles for a 'Day of Action' meant to re-energize and inspire 500,000 Californians to go the polls in November, and in 2012, to fight for the change most Americans voted for in 2008."
"A beautiful giant collage art piece," Closs added in his description. He praised the celebrities in attendance, including Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Danny Glover who he said "rocked it and told the truth." That truth included a tirade against "bosses" and "species annihilation":
As the event wound down, Glover implored the rally's attendees to "continue to fight for the change we voted for in 2008."
It remains to be seeing if Glover's charge will be answered. For now, while quick to praise the rally, Closs seems reluctant to label it a sign of things to come. "[W]hat was missing were many of the smaller moments that really signal the possibility of something dynamic being able to unfold for the progressive community," he wrote, and later asked, "will this spark rekindle the spirit of hope we felt in 2008?"