Several Arrested as Million Mask March Returns to Washington, DC

Washington, DC — The annual Million Mask March returned to the U.S. capital city on Saturday, November 5, drawing hundreds from around the country in protest against war, state surveillance, wealth inequality, poverty, and a long list of other grievances.

Hundreds affiliating themselves with the group Anonymous and adopting the anachronistic personage of Guy Fawkes, staged their 7th annual protest. The march wound through Washington, DC, and stopped at key government and corporate buildings.

The Million Mask March commemorates Guy Fawkes Day, which has been celebrated in London for centuries. Fawkes, who was sentenced to be hanged for his involvement in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605–a plan to blow up the House of Lords– jumped from the scaffolding, committing suicide before the sentence could be carried out.

Anons gathered in the shadow of the Washington Monument as the sun rose and walked to the White House, but they were obstructed by barricades erected for preparation for the January 20th presidential inauguration. They were met by dozens of Secret Service who confronted them in a tense standoff, but there were no arrests.

Protesters surround front door of FBI building, several arrested./Photo by John Zangas
Protesters surround front door of FBI building, several arrested./Photo by John Zangas

As they passed a homeless man in Lafayette Square, they showered him with donations and food. One youth gave the man a bud of marijuana. In response, the man said he would gladly give back all of his money for it. They also did the same for a homeless woman nearby.

As the march meandered unpredictably, it passed the Trump International Hotel, which has become a hotbed for protests since it opened in September. Several dozen surged into the lobby but were escorted out by security. At they were ejected, several vandalized a free standing sign by the entrance. (See video.)

The march then went across the street to the J. Edgar Hoover FBI building where tensions escalated further. DC Metropolitan Police arrested several for disorderly conduct after they tagged the street with spray paint.

The situation was de-escalated by one youth at the bull horn, who asked everyone to remember their “message of peace.”

The march nearly doubled in size as more joined along the way to the U.S. Capitol Building. Access to the Capitol was also barricaded due to preparations for the Inaugural speech and parade.

There the group was met by a team of about 100 U.S. Capitol Police officers in riot gear, who blocked access to the Capitol grounds, but there were no arrests.

Why March?

There were a variety of messages and reasons given for participating in this year’s march.

“We’re very unhappy with the way things are going, the environment, the corruption of a system without control, has gotten out of the hands of the people,” said Bell Jordan from New York.

U.S. Capitol Police in riot gear block marchers./Photo by John Zangas
U.S. Capitol Police in riot gear block marchers./Photo by John Zangas

Kevin Blanch, a key organizer for the march, said that the Million Mask March is in the spirit of Guy Fawkes and a way to give grassroots activists to get out into the streets. “The Million Mask March has become an international day of protest, and the [Guy Fawkes] mask has come to symbolize that,” he said.

Several others voiced concerns with the election and topics such as the environment and military spending.

“We are fighting everything from corruption to fiat currency to GMOs,” said Vanessa, who did not give her last name.

As of 5 pm, the march was still going after eight hours, passing the Washington Monument for the third time. Several were carrying a banner which read “Water Is Life” and “#NoDAPL,” intended as a message of support for the indigenous people’s uprising in North Dakota against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

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