I even made a sign:
(It turns out that Karl Rove attended the same high school my dad and I both attended, and was a sophomore when my dad was a senior. Mr. Tolman taught government and Model UN, and my dad remembers him fondly as a good teacher and a "democratically-minded individual." A dozen or so of my dad's ex-classmates who were at the protest corroborated his opinion of both Mr. Tolman and Mr. Rove.)
Shortly after I arrived and found gooeyduck, police closed off the southbound lanes of third west in front of Pioneer Park, for no apparent reason. (If protesters had been going into the street I would have understood, but they seemed to be staying within the park boundaries or crossing intersections on green lights.) Some protesters hurled challenges to them to open it up again. One police officer, scowling fiercely, stalked up and down the street aiming a small video camera on a tripod at the crowd. An intimidation tactic? I sure wasn't ashamed to be there.
After some time, they opened up traffic again, and I briefly joined the crowd that circled the intersection of third west and fourth south with their signs. Some drivers honked and cheered, some scowled and gave us the thumbs-down, some hollered praise or hurled insults from their open windows.
At 1:30 or so, the mayor himself arrived and talked about some of the bad decisions of the Bush administration and the bravery and sacrifices of the troops. When he finished, many protesters left, but a couple hundred marched down to the Salt Palace.
There, we chanted "this is what democracy looks like" and "for the troops, against the war," to the beat of a couple of drums some hippie kids brought. We were heckled by veterans going from the Marriott across the street to the convention: many glared and pursed their lips, some muttered insults, a couple of groups defiantly sung "God Bless America" (but their singing petered out in confusion after I joined in :~)). One woman body-slammed me, but I stood my ground and let my elbow drop hard on her flabby shoulder, and she passed. You would think that with all of the recent cuts to veterans' benefits, we would have gotten more sympathy, but protests like this sadly tend to make people see in black and white.
After a while, I wanted a new sign:
I have a job.
I'm a responsible, informed citizen.
And I vote.
STOP DISMISSING US WITH YOUR STEREOTYPES
WE DO HAVE BRAINS BEHIND THESE SOUND BYTES
(And my dad's proud that I'm here!)
I ran into my aunt and cousin, who I was surprised and pleased to see. Finally, at 3:30 or so the demonstration petered out and Dad picked me up. My upper arms were sunburnt and I felt physically and emotionally exhausted, but I'm still glad that I went.