One of the three options posted Tuesday evening was a march between University Square and Cotroceni (Presidential) Palace, and this was the one that was clearly leading Thursday evening, when the voting ended. This led to plenty of justified complaints, seeing as the President doesn’t exactly have anything to do with the current or even future developments when it comes to this project and the fact that we protested there during one of the previous Sundays should have been enough if it’s simply a matter of proving that we haven’t forgotten that he was a very strong and vocal supporter of this project and the company behind it while PDL was still in power and he was calling the shots, so going there again is, at best, a waste of time. As such, the number of regular protesters from here who decided to go to Brasov instead, to support those who had been having problems with the gendarmes there for the past few weeks, increased, and Alina was one of them, which meant that the action groups were more or less on hold and, as far as I’m aware, no fliers were printed and the march was only actively promoted on-line.
Tenth Sunday march: Though the listed event time seemed to keep changing for some reason, it was clarified in comments and, eventually, also in the description and cover image that the plan was to start gathering, once again at the statues, at 5 PM, a comment also mentioning that we should start marching at or after 6 PM. I can’t tell you how many were there at 5 PM, however, seeing as this time I only arrived around 5:30 PM myself, but at 6:20 PM, when we did start marching, apparently very suddenly and rather unexpectedly even for the known activists, I’ll say we were around 2000.
The fact that the march was announced as being short but ended up being particularly long and the route seemed made up as we went along meant that people dropped in and out and plenty of times the column stretched on more than it should have, the density being particularly low as many became unable or unwilling to maintain the otherwise good pace set by those at the front. As such, our numbers increased and decreased several times, it was next to impossible to determine when the peak was, and making accurate estimates at any one point was rather difficult as well. Still, nearly all protesters who dared to try that evening, myself included, said we were around 3000, while most mainstream media sources seemed to agree on around 2000, though a few limited themselves to “over 1000” and one even to a laughable 500. By Monday, I did see a few protesters adjust their numbers to 2500 or even 2000 as well, but most stood by their original estimate and, seeing as I had plenty of good opportunities to make mine as I was searching for good spots to take some more pictures from, I’m tempted to do so as well.
Back to the march itself, it should also be noted that the gendarmes returned to the tactics used two weeks before, reminding us that blocking a public road is punishable by fines and announcing that they won’t join us if we decide to march on the street. Those with cameras were there, plenty of them obviously still not wearing the blue vest they’re actually required to wear, as were the negotiators, the one who appears to be the leader apparently getting a message and saying he’ll need to talk to Vlad after a warning once again stating that what we’re doing is illegal was heard from a car belonging to the Gendarmerie that showed up behind the column as we started moving, but otherwise I didn’t see or hear anything unusual and the next time we bumped into gendarmes was when we reached Cotroceni Palace, around 7:10 PM. Admittedly, I somehow forgot to check the time then, but I know that by 7:20 PM we were already moving again and I believe we only spent around ten minutes there, some protesters even saying they thought it was only five, those who’re set on only protesting against the President only being granted a short amount of time to get it out of their system without wasting the day for the others who saw little real reason to be there at the time.
The next destination was the Regie Students’ Complex, once we arrived in the area the chants being aimed at getting the students living there to join us. Seeing as students clearly know what’s going on and those who give a damn don’t need us walking past their window and calling them to come out in order to do so, the whole thing seemed quite embarrassing to me, but others decided that we should also stop there for a while, and we did so shortly after 8 PM. Once again I have to admit I forgot to check the time when we stopped, but we probably spent around 15 minutes sitting there and were finally moving again by 8:20 PM, after Alex made a banner saying “indifference kills”, which was held near the head of the column as we briefly went through a part of the Complex itself. That led to some disagreements regarding the direction to take at one point and one person said he had eggs thrown at his feet from above, others confirming that they saw the broken eggs, but otherwise most students seemed content taking pictures and filming, some admittedly cheering and waving but likely not enough to make up for those who looked bored or even somewhat annoyed.
After returning to the road we had been on before entering the Complex, we started the long way back, with the next stated destination being Unirii Square. Gendarmes also showed up again shortly after that, telling us to stick to two lanes of the road but not trying to hold us back in any way. The chosen route also had us walk past the Parliament, but the only notable event that took place as we did so was that we moved aside to let an ambulance pass, seeing as otherwise we didn’t stop and merely passed by Constitution Square at 9:35 PM before finally reaching Unirii at 9:55 PM. Once there, some wanted to stop, others kept telling them to keep going or even simply continued walking, but the matter was settled after somebody walked into the crowd and lit some torches, which led to some plainclothes officers and, later, to uniformed police stepping in. As a result, after some rather tense moments, the rest of us left the mess behind and headed towards University Square.
For the first time, the march didn’t end with occupying a square, since the gendarmes were waiting for us in large numbers and had already blocked access towards the intersection, but our own numbers had already dropped well into the hundreds by then and therefore we might not have been enough to even try, plus that people were certainly quite tired after such a long march, so we simply turned first left, then right, and reached the statues at 10:15 PM while avoiding any confrontation. I later heard that some did walk away from the group and tried to take to the street, but they were left alone by the rest of us who wanted to end the evening peacefully and quickly gave up. The gendarmes continued to be wary for a while, however, and those who tried to leave quickly found the access to the underground passage blocked, but those of us who waited around a while longer, eventually took a couple more group pictures and started leaving after 10:40 PM, when the call was made to do so, found the way clear.
Returning to the Unirii Square incident, it must be noted that the guy with the torches and the girl that was with him were not protesters, all reports clearly stating that they came from the park when we were already in the Square. What is true is that plenty of protesters did take their side, the girl’s in particular, especially after uniformed police stepped in and I believe some pepper spray was used, but most of those hadn’t noticed what happened before and simply reacted to seeing people taken away. Admittedly, a few did continue to try to defend the girl even after the information spread, but most labeled them as agitators at that point and walked away, some less verifiable reports that I saw even mentioning that a brief conflict started between some protesters and another group that approached moments later, a group which the two possibly belonged to.
Overall, it was a rather exhausting evening, the numbers were lower than ever before, I personally don’t think we had any real reason to stop in either of the two places where we briefly did so and, whether staged specifically for this purpose or not, the Unirii Square incident completely managed not only to ensure that we didn’t occupy any square, but also to convince a fair number of those who had made it that far to scatter even before reaching the statues. However, it was another march, and a particularly long one at that, during which we proved that we are completely peaceful and can be trusted, not causing any sort of incidents while the gendarmes weren’t with us and, under the circumstances, having the wisdom to avoid any confrontation when they were. As such, it could have been better, but it could have also been far worse, and what matters most is that we once again proved that we’re not giving up. Despite everything, despite even our differences and disagreements, there are still a few thousand people in this city willing to unite for a cause, and that is this movement’s greatest success.