Cockburn isn’t much for parades, but one happened to pass him by on Thursday when protesters with the Center for Popular Democracy rallied to overturn the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

For a while, Cockburn walked alongside the protesters, watching as people in blue vests herded them along until they reached an intersection, where they promptly sat down. Cockburn, being the exquisite legal scholar that he is, deduced that this was illegal. And the demonstrators knew it too. The event was intended as a “mass civil disobedience.” Once sat down, they enjoyed chants, songs, and generally...

Cockburn isn’t much for parades, but one happened to pass him by on Thursday when protesters with the Center for Popular Democracy rallied to overturn the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

For a while, Cockburn walked alongside the protesters, watching as people in blue vests herded them along until they reached an intersection, where they promptly sat down. Cockburn, being the exquisite legal scholar that he is, deduced that this was illegal. And the demonstrators knew it too. The event was intended as a “mass civil disobedience.” Once sat down, they enjoyed chants, songs, and generally being arrested by the police.

One particularly excited speaker said into the microphone:

Together we gather full of righteous indignation, threatened by a radical minority… who will erase our bodies…to subjugate us to appease their god. Do not be deceived. The god they worship is not a [words unintelligible] one. Our opponents, fueled by a passion for control of our bodies, control of our bedrooms, and control of our minds. We cannot allow this madness to continue. We must not destroy democracy. We will win together; we will knock on doors… we have nothing to lose but our chains!

Cockburn noticed that a phone number had been written in Sharpie on the arms of many of those wearing blue vests. He asked one of them, a twenty-nine-year-old volunteer named “Steve,” what the numbers were for (the rest wouldn’t talk to him). “Steve” (only in quotes because he gave Cockburn a fake name) said that it was a jail support number for bail money. The blue vest people were volunteers who could call legal representatives and spring the others.

Normally what would happen at such a protest is that the demonstrators would be arrested for “incommoding” (inconveniencing the public) and given a citation. Yet bail money had already been saved up for this event.

Cockburn called the phone number he saw on the arms, which turned out to be a hotline for the DC Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. This hotline was reserved specifically for the protesters being arrested, or for reporting the arrests of the protesters.

Upon informing them of Cockburn’s journalistic intent, the dispatch said, “We don’t talk to journalists.” Were these lawyers working pro bono (free of charge) to create a revolving door of release for pro-choicers? Cockburn can only wonder.

This entire protest was thus staged from the beginning. It was planned and coordinated by the Center for Popular Democracy. It was staffed by church volunteers (some from the ELCA Lutheran Church of the Reformation). The lawyers had their hotline. There was no risk involved. No one sacrificed anything. It was more like a free concert. The live music and chanting were the only interesting parts. The only losers were the police, who had to redirect traffic and deal with these people.