Yesterday’s protest was just the beginning of something, in large part because the gendarmes made sure of it, using tear gas all day instead of extracting the few troublemakers, and eventually beating up even peaceful protesters after shit really hit the fan late in the evening, just minutes after I left. But this won’t be a protest report, but just a very quick personal post, since I’m going back there today and I guess a new series of protests just started, so there won’t be much time for writing.
Got up at 3 PM yesterday, and also had to walk to Victory Square, since dad was using the metro card. So I had to rush, which also caused me to hit my head, fortunately not badly, on the corner of the table after picking up something that fell when I got a plastic bag, just to have it with me in case I’ll need it, and then I struggled to tie my shoes and put an ice cube there sort of at the same time, eventually keeping the cube under my cap for those few moments until I actually left, which was after 5 PM anyway, actually seeing 5:08 PM when I checked my phone just after I walked out of the building. That meant there was no way I was going to get there at 6 PM, as I originally intended, but thought 6:30 PM would be fine as well, not expecting many people to be there so early. Yet quite a lot were there at 6:20 PM, when I reached the area, needing to first go left and around, since a gendarme told me to do so. And it was a while longer before I actually got back to the Square to stay, since I first went to the toilet, some distance away.
Once back in the Square, I started wandering around and taking pictures, actually taking almost 250 in total, which has to be by far the most I ever took at any event. Unfortunately, I had left the image size on small on the auto setting and only realized it after I used it to take a picture using the flash, after it got dark and I had switched to manual for the regular pictures. Admittedly, you can still pretty much make out what’s in those pictures, and this is also what allowed me to take so many pictures using only two pairs of batteries, one of them used before, but there are a few pictures I sure wish I’d have taken with a better resolution, in particular those taken from a TV station’s platform, which I climbed on while they seemed to allow it. It was just after 8:10 PM then, so still quite early, but later on I wasn’t really seeing people on those platforms anymore, only some climbing part of the way and stopping at some point, so I didn’t try again. Did try to get on the truck that’s brought there and used as a stage by those who bring the sound system, but I got pushed back by a guy, so I guess that wasn’t allowed either unless you were one of them or someone approved by them.
Pretty much the only time when I got in the “hot” zone was rather early in the evening, but even so I caught some whiffs of tear gas, since it had started being used hours before I got there and it kept being used, canisters being fired as well. Did manage to take a handful of pictures before getting out of there though, since I didn’t actually get that close to the line of gendarmes. Got close to them in other parts, but things were calm there, and in general I tried to keep safe, being very careful even when I was getting back to the middle of the Square. Caught a few more whiffs of tear gas even so, when I did that, and when I also saw flares I quickly turned around and walked in the opposite direction. Some were just staring at the flares, saying they were fireworks and looking as if at a show, while many were sitting down when tear gas was fired, even though that doesn’t help, possibly quite the contrary. There was actually an odd moment when I was quickly making my way away as the wind was bringing tear gas over and had to weave around and even pretty much hop over others, as nearly everyone seemed to be sitting down.
At 10 PM I was on Kiseleff, just where it starts, and managed to see something on my phone about people gathering across the Square and talking about a march, which seemed like a good idea to me. But I had to be very careful as I made my way around, also looking for a few more signs to take pictures of, and when I finally got to the corner, past Antipa, and was trying to assess whether I could attempt to cross into the “hot” area, I saw a wave of people heading my way. So I made haste ahead of them, until I saw a guy with an interesting sign heading the other way and I tried to go after him. Couldn’t catch him though, and soon enough I felt the reason for that wave of people, so I gave up on taking a picture of that sign, crossed the road and headed the other way again. Remember checking the time and seeing that it was past 10:30 PM already. Tried to turn around and go back after a while, when things seemed better, but there was more tear gas just as I was approaching the Square again and I caught the worst whiff of it then, forcing me to turn around again.
Since by then I was already considering doing that, I kept going until I could turn left on the next road, then made my way around to eventually return to the Square, at 10:45 PM. So it can be said that it took me 45 minutes to cross the Square. And then 15 more before I actually left, since I made my way around with some care, taking a few final pictures, and walking away at exactly 11 PM, after admittedly just standing around for the last few minutes. It was quite clear that something nasty was coming, but based on the flow of people and the positioning of the gendarmes I was estimating 30 more minutes until it’ll happen… Yet it seems that it happened only a few minutes after I left, when a few assholes beat up two gendarmes left behind by the others, and at 11:10 PM, or 11:11 PM according to their own statement, the gendarmes moved in to clear the Square, triggering street battles that lasted into the night.
It was after midnight when I got back, seeing some things about violence in the Square on the way, including a guy who stopped to watch the news on his phone somewhere between Obor and Iancului. And passed another guy with a t-shirt I recognized from the protest just before Iancului, so I wasn’t the only one walking a long way. But it was only after I actually got back here that I learned what had actually happened, and was still happening. Also had a brief annoying exchange with dad, then quickly went through the pictures, posted them, and rushed to make something to eat, since it was past 1 AM by then already. And it was about 5:20 AM when I got in bed, and quite a while longer before I managed to fall asleep… Only to be woken up by dad drilling and cutting stuff before noon. In fact had woken up earlier, I think at 10:50 AM if I remember correctly, to pee, so I’m not even sure I had properly fallen asleep again when he woke me up. So now I’m heading back there, to who knows what will happen this evening, on too little sleep… And without having taken any of the recommended defensive measures. And without enough batteries to take anywhere near that many pictures again.