It's 5:40 p.m. in Washington, D.C., and protesters have shut down the intersection of 15th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. They are staging a "die-in," with dozens of marchers lying in the middle of the road, memorializing Mike Brown and Eric Garner, two unarmed black men killed by police this year. They are angry and they want justice. But amid chants of "If I can't breathe, you can't breathe!" and "Who shuts shit down? We shut shit down" another sound reaches us from the nearby White House Ellipse. There, a very different sort of event is happening: the ceremonial lighting of the National Christmas Tree. "This is what democracy looks like!" shouts the crowd as an upbeat rendition of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" plays in the background. At one point, the protesters fall quiet as the operatic vocal group The Tenors sings "O Holy Night." Then it ends and they're back to marching, singing "We Shall Overcome," and yelling at the many members of the press (myself included) to put down our cameras and join them.
A second demonstration is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Mount Vernon Square, and I would not be suprised if this group made its way to join the protest there. I'll post photos of the action later tonight—or you can check out my Twitter feed for live updates, including lots of pictures, right now.
UPDATE: Photos and video of the action are here.
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