‘Round About Midnight Protests

This was the 11th day of the Romanian protests against the Rosia Montana project and after I had been out of Bucharest for a few days, I arrived at the protests “venue” a bit afraid. On 8th of September, there was a huge march (about 15,000 took out to the streets), but the Facebook barometer showed less activity in the last three days, so I was expecting very few people.

Anyway, I was wrong, as there were still enough people not to make the protesting landscape look desolate. A few hundreds, lets say. Keeping the enthusiasm on a long term and ensuring continuity is not easy, but these protests are starting to gain more identity capital and culture is one of its main features.

Bridge over troubled waters

A guy called Vlad announced on the megaphone that there would be a saxophone concert on the next day, while on Saturday there would be a street festival taking place. Introducing these concerts represents not only a touch of beauty and extra emotions, but also a bridge between the protest days, as it creates anticipation and it makes the protests more eventful.

After announcing the concerts, the crowd started shouting “we want culture, not cyanide (“Vrem cultura, nu cianura.”)

‘Round About Midnight

Another feature of these protests is that they are taking place quite late. I mean if you leave your home at 10 pm planning to head to Universitate and you’re a bit afraid you may have missed the whole protest, no need to worry. The street is still full of people, bottles and noise long after the last metro stopped.

At about midnight, Vlad (the guy with the megaphone) asked everybody to hold a moment of silence to show the police there is no need to repeat the previous day episode, when they made the people leave the street, after a quartet concert had taken place.  Somebody suggested dedicating that moment of silence to the 11th September attacks. Then Vlad said “let’s applaud the gendarmes”, which was a good move, because a lot of the policemen (especially the younger ones) couldn’t help smiling. Flattery never fails.

After everybody leaves

After this short silence intermezzo, Vlad shouted GALAGIE (=noise), a word with a history here at the protests. During the first day of the protests, a homeless boy called Ionut was screaming with huge enthusiasm and joy “galagie” and it seemed that it got quite popular and engaging, as everybody reacted with applause and shouts when they heard Galagie during the 11th day of the protests.

People also applauded when Vlad (the guy with the megaphone) introduced Ionut as the one that coordinates the volunteers who collect the garbage from the streets after everybody leaves.

It was funny when Ionut got really close to a guy sitting next to me, on the street. The guy was meditating, doing yoga or something and Ionut started playing his drum really close to the guy, right in front of him, hoping to get a reaction. But the guy didn’t move or changed his expression and Ionut had to give up.

An old, fat, funny looking guy, called Freddie, probably also a homeless, got the megaphone and adapted the “We will rock you” tune to “Noi nu vrem cianura (we don’t want cyanide)”. Everybody sang along.