With protest entering its third day in good spirits, even police officers raise the odd smile as they hold the line
A protest targeting a secretive meeting of powerful international leaders entered a third day Saturday, with numbers swelling well into the hundreds.
Clear skies and pleasant temperatures made for a picnic-like atmosphere as a mix of Ron Paul supporters, members of the 9/11 truth movement and a smattering of Occupy protesters gathered outside the Westfield Marriott hotel in Chantilly, Virginia where members of the Bilderberg group are meeting.
The demonstration has been growing in numbers since early in the week, with Saturday being the most well-attended day of action by far.
Scores of protesters gathered at the entrance of the hotel, launching into a chorus of jeers each time a vehicle suspected of carrying Bilderberg attendees entered or exited the property.
"Get out of our country," yelled one. "Traitor," screamed another.
Breaking from the dishing out of verbal abuse, demonstrators took it upon themselves to light-heartedly tease the dozens of police officers ordered to keep them off the site of the meeting.
One young man with a megaphone initiated a "who's got the flattest flat-top among our law enforcement" contest. When the crowd decided upon its champion even a few officers were seen chuckling at their co-worker's expense.
Down the road another group of protesters gathered outside the chain-link fence surrounding the Marriott's perimeter.
With the hotel in sight just a few hundred yards away, demonstrators broke into a chant of "murderous scum", "treason" and "we are aware."
As the noise and chants continued to escalate, the fence bowing with the weight of the protesters pressed against it, roughly a dozen police made their way through the trees to stand between the crowd and the building.
One young man yelled to the police: "We are not the criminals, the people in the building are the criminals."
Protesters view the annual off-the-record Bilderberg meeting - which draws dozens of influential figures in finance, national security and politics – with suspicion. Some go as far as to suggest that those invited plan the establishment of an oppressive "new world order".
"Honk if you hate the new world order," protester Steve Miroy yelled by megaphone to a passing car.
Miroy, who described himself as "British by birth and a rebel by the grace of God", was the only protester who was visibly armed, proudly sporting a Colt 357 Magnum in a leather holster on his waist.
A Virginia resident since 1973, Miroy said: "If Virginia seceded tonight I'd be back here tomorrow with a gray uniform on."
He added: "These people rule the world. It's Satan's kingdom, they're the human form. They're really bad people."
Miroy attended the demonstration in garb adorned with the Gadsden flag, an emblem adopted by many within the Tea Party movement.
But the protest marked the gathering of a diverse cross-section of contemporary US activist movements.
Chris McCarron stood outside the fence surrounding the Marriott with a 99% flag, an overt nod to the Occupy movement.
For McCarron, who participated in Occupy protests in Colorado, the motivation for attending the rally was simple: "A shadowy group of rich people gathering together, making their plans for the world; I'm not going to sit on my ass and let them do it. They're gonna hear my voice."
McCarton hoped the movements could find common ground and come together.
"It was funny, earlier today me and a Tea Party guy, we threw our arms over each other like 'Hey, here we are, we're working together on this."
"We're all kind of protesting the same thing, just different segments of it," he said. "Whenever we can we should get together."
[Flickr image of police watching Bilderberg protests, via markn3tel.]