‘10 Million Man March’ Recruits Several Hundred to Overthrow the Government

They came. They saw. They didn’t quite conquer.

A protester carries an historic flag during a 'tea party' demonstration against taxes in Lafayette Park across from the White House on April 15, 2009 in Washington, DC. Coast-to-coast demonstrations against Obama's big-spending economic stimulus package are promised for the day that is also the deadline for filing federal income tax returns. The protests are named after the 1773 Boston Tea Party in which disgruntled Americans rebelled against British colonial taxes, an iconic moment in the path to US independence.
National Journal
May 16, 2014, 12:40 p.m.

Re­tired Col. Harry Ri­ley planned to take over Wash­ing­ton on Fri­day.

So the Flor­ida nat­ive in­vited con­ser­vat­ives from all over the coun­try to join him in a protest in the na­tion’s cap­it­al — and stay there un­til Pres­id­ent Obama; Vice Pres­id­ent Joe Biden; Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id and Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell; House Speak­er John Boehner and Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi; and At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Eric Hold­er all vol­un­tar­ily stepped down from of­fice. Ri­ley es­tim­ated that between 10 mil­lion and 30 mil­lion pat­ri­ots would join him in the ef­fort and stay un­til the bums, as it were, threw them­selves out. Need­less to say, the me­dia was skep­tic­al.

But on Fri­day morn­ing thou­sands of lawn chairs stood in the tacky, taupe mud fa­cing a massive stage with pro­fes­sion­al sound equip­ment, sur­roun­ded by fresh white tents and a few scattered med­ic­al out­posts as the tem­per­at­ure began to rise and the clouds that dumped rain on Wash­ing­ton the night be­fore began to part. Everything looked set for a ma­jor rally, one that would get at­ten­tion — but that was for the George Wash­ing­ton Uni­versity com­mence­ment, slated for Sunday morn­ing.

Ri­ley and a couple hun­dred self-styled pat­ri­ots stood yards away, on the hill­top above the base of the newly re­opened Wash­ing­ton Monu­ment wav­ing both Amer­ic­an and “Don’t Tread On Me” flags. Their signs en­cour­aged Con­gress to im­peach Obama and raged in care­fully drawn cap­it­al let­ters about “LIES” sur­round­ing the at­tacks on the U.S. Con­su­late at “BENGHAZI.”

Two hun­dred people or so, largely white and near the age of re­tire­ment, milled around among a few scattered col­lege-age kids, many of whom donned Guy Fawkes masks. A group in mil­it­ary fa­tigues — the most pop­u­lar choice of dress at the gath­er­ing — held up a large cross for at­tendees to sign, while the rest of the group seemed happy to walk around and chat. They hailed from all over the coun­try, with rep­res­ent­at­ives from Hawaii and Alaska, no less. Many said they’d met “the col­on­el,” but re­ports of his where­abouts and at­tire were con­flic­ted.

And that was it, for a while. The rally left a bit to be de­sired or­gan­iz­a­tion­ally with the of­fi­cial web­site dir­ect­ing par­ti­cipants to a vague loc­a­tion of “the mall” on Fri­day, May 16, with no lis­ted time. Oth­er me­dia out­lets re­por­ted that the gath­er­ing would take place out­side the White House and the crowd spec­u­lated that some of their flock may be down there on Pennsylvania Av­en­ue. A group of about 30, mostly men and mostly vet­er­ans, stood about a mile away near the Air and Space Mu­seum, check­ing Twit­ter for clues about their com­rades’ where­abouts, but con­fid­ent that the rally would find them. An­oth­er couple hun­dred gathered at the Ar­ling­ton Na­tion­al Cemetery be­fore ul­ti­mately mak­ing the long march up to the Monu­ment.

As the march­ers ar­rived, a cheer went up in the crowd, their num­bers hav­ing reached to the up­per triple di­gits. Shortly after, a wo­man who in­tro­duced her­self to Na­tion­al Journ­al only as “Momma Bear” from San Diego, Cal­if. — but whom oth­ers called “Terri” — stood up on a low wall with oth­ers hold­ing large yel­low signs and pulled out a mega­phone.

Momma Bear told the crowd she had re­cently come from Cliven Bundy’s ranch, where she and sup­port­ers from all over the coun­try gathered to help fight off the Bur­eau of Land Man­age­ment and re­turn the Bundys’ cattle. And, she told them all, the Bundys fed each of them two meals a day.

She later told Na­tion­al Journ­al that she had long mon­itored the situ­ation in Nevada, but that a re­port from the site In­foWars, which was foun­ded by con­spir­acy the­or­ist and 9/11 truth­er Alex Jones, and an ac­com­pa­ny­ing You­Tube video show­ing BLM of­ficers sick­ing a dog on a preg­nant wo­man had fi­nally in­spired her to drive up to the ranch to help out. She stopped at the Bundys’ place on her way to Wash­ing­ton and plans to take her two daugh­ters there when she re­turns.

The Bundy epis­ode res­on­ated strongly with the crowd, but the biggest driv­ing force for the at­tendees, based on the con­tent of their speeches and signs, was the Benghazi at­tack. Sev­er­al of the pro­test­ers said their an­ger with the coun­try’s lead­er­ship began years ago, but the vi­ol­ent at­tack in Libya in 2012 and the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­sponse to it was what lead them to get act­ive.

For Ri­ley, who said he’d been out­raged for “dec­ades,” it was the gov­ern­ment shut­down that moved him to­ward ac­tion. “The gov­ern­ment de­cided that they were go­ing to close all the me­mori­als here, the WWII vet­er­ans couldn’t get to the me­mori­al and a couple months later I was pen­ning an­oth­er rant and I said why am I do­ing this? And [I] put this mis­sion on and put it on the web­site and it grabbed legs ba­sic­ally from grass­roots Amer­ica,” he said.

Des­pite tak­ing con­trol of things at Wash­ing­ton Monu­ment, Momma Bear said she is in no way af­fil­i­ated with Ri­ley, but offered that someone needed to take the lead in or­gan­iz­ing the group. She took the lead quite lit­er­ally half an hour later, in­form­ing Ri­ley that the group was march­ing down to the Air and Space Mu­seum and they needed him to lead the charge. When a po­lice car drove up later in the day, Momma Bear or­gan­ized a group of young men to pro­tect Ri­ley, shout­ing: “Sur­round Col­on­el Ri­ley! Sur­round Col­on­el Ri­ley!” It turned out that the car was just passing by.

And so with a call-and-re­sponse of “im­peach” and “Obama!” the group, now numbered near a thou­sand, wen­ded its way down the hill and along the Mall, to a shady area out­side the Air and Space Mu­seum.

There, oth­er mega­phones ap­peared seem­ingly out of thin air and a ro­tat­ing cast of vet­er­ans and tea-party sup­port­ers spoke to the crowd, many in­vok­ing God and cri­ti­ciz­ing gov­ern­ment over­reach and over­spend­ing. But des­pite early me­dia re­ports, the protest was peace­ful and those gathered were re­spect­ful. The speak­ers re­peatedly re­minded the crowd of the power of peace­ful protest and, aside from a single sign in the crowd com­par­ing Obama to Ad­olf Hitler, the rhet­or­ic was civil.

“We were at the Bundy Ranch and we did the push­back and we got a peace­ful res­ol­u­tion. I think we can do it peace­fully and we need all hands on deck,” Momma Bear said.

As for Fri­day’s turnout, the num­ber gathered on the Mall hadn’t topped 1,000 by mid-af­ter­noon, nowhere near as many as Ri­ley thinks they’ll need to be taken ser­i­ously. “We re­cog­nize that politi­cians re­spond to num­bers. If we don’t get 10 mil­lion or 20 mil­lion or something like has happened in oth­er places, then they’re go­ing to ig­nore us like they have in the past,” Ri­ley said.

But he, Momma Bear, and oth­ers said they were not dis­cour­aged. Giv­en the rain and work sched­ules, they fully ex­pect their group to mul­tiply through the week­end. And they’re com­mit­ted to stick­ing around.

“As long as it takes,” Momma Bear said. “Let me see, today is — Fri­day. In two days is my son’s birth­day, in 11 days is my oth­er daugh­ter’s birth­day and — no, 10 days is my oth­er daugh­ter’s birth­day. And in 18 days is my oth­er daugh­ter’s birth­day and her gradu­ation [is] a day after [that], from high school.”

Asked if she’s really will­ing to miss those events for the rally, Momma Bear nod­ded vehe­mently. “Yeah.”¦ What am I go­ing to give them if I can’t give them a coun­try that works for us?” she asked.

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