Washington DC Typical of the Katrina experience, no one came to the 400 ACORN members in DC, the members went everywhere to find them. Organizers should make a note: it takes a long, long time to get 400 members through security metal detectors entering Congressional office buildings. Luckily, the weather was cold, but clear, and after 24 hours or more on buses coming up from Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Georgia, people seemed to almost like a little time outside to clear their heads.
We were getting a lot of information, some of it was good stuff, but this trip was all about the money, and the members were making up chants right and left that made it unmistakable that they knew the question, and demanded the answer.
The first meeting with representatives from the Small Business Administration set the tone when 1/3 of the room held up their hands indicating that they had been turned down for SBA loans already. Many of them were holding pictures of their flooded and destroyed houses.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was supportive. Congresswoman Maxine Waters raised some eyebrows on whether people were ready to stay and go to jail until the President did right.
Importantly, a delegation of 40 met with David Paulison, the Acting Director of FEMA. He agreed to appoint a liaison to work with ACORN and its members to cut through their problems, but on the policy side the meeting sloughed through questions and the variety of ways that a governmental bureaucrat can say “no” or “maybe.” They don’t get it, because they won’t and can’t get it.
Picketing the White House gave the members a little tourism experience, but our voices were lost in the dark. A vigil in Lafayette Park was moving, as many testified, read poems, and sang, until the AFL-CIO opened its doors to welcome the full delegation with some encouragement and respite from a long day after a long night before another long day to come.
February 9, 2006
Read the article on the ACORN Rally in DC published on the front page of the Washington Post