Liars and Tyrants and Bikers, OH MY!

Trip Start Feb 15, 2010
Trip End Feb 14, 2011

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Where I stayed
Wal-Mart (Hartford, CT)

Flag of United States  , Connecticut
Thursday, April 15, 2010

Today I visited Hartford, Connecticut.  After parking, I was gathering my camera equipment when four fire trucks, a handful of police cars, and an ambulance all shot past me over the course of two or three minutes.  Once I had exited my car, I could see that all of the emergency vehicles had gathered just a couple of blocks down the street.  Obeying the little string of curiosity that was tugging me in that direction, I checked my camera and headed towards the scene.  Fortunately, there was no great tragedy unfolding before my eyes when I arrived, and already the firemen were climbing back aboard their trucks and preparing to pull away.  I certainly wouldn't wish any tragedy on anyone, but if there is something notable occurring, I believe it is always advantageous to have a photographic record.   

My next destination was the Museum of Connecticut History.  It was housed within another government building and was not a large or lavish museum and seemed in dire need of renovation (or at least someone with a few new ideas), but it did have a few unique artifacts and interesting (though poorly presented) information.  The museum is also home to the Colt firearms collection, a large assemblage of the different weapons and prototypes produced by the Colt company that was once located in Hartford.  Unfortunately, this amazing collection of impressive and historic weapons that played a huge role in shaping our country, was displayed in the most simplistic of ways.  The weapons were all simply laid out in cheap-looking glass topped display tables that were scattered about the small, plain, white-walled, room they were in.  There was no semblance of order to the display, and I personally think such an amazing collection deserves a much better presentation than what it has currently received.  Just my opinion, but perhaps the Museum of Connecticut History should consider seeking a new curator?

After leaving the museum, I walked across the street to the Connecticut State House.  With many of the capitol buildings, I'm never quite sure which side was intended to be the front.  I often find myself walking around the entire perimeter because the most picturesque side is often not the side with the street entrances.  Upon walking around to the opposite side of this building, I encountered a crowd numbering in the hundreds.  Many were carrying flags and signs proclaiming the President is a liar or a tyrant, that Congress should be impeached, and other such sentiments.  It did not immediately occur to me that it was April 15th, tax day.  I had stumbled onto a Republican Tea Party Rally.  As I am always interested in the thoughts and ideas of the people and cultures I encounter, I decided to stick around and see what these events were all about.  I was still overseas when most of these activities were getting started, and I didn't know a whole lot about them.  I occupied myself with listening to the various speakers as well as the members of the crowd, while taking some photographs of the event.  What surprised me a little was the defensive nature of the participants and their eagerness to pounce on innocent little photographer me.  All those who did confront me were very in my face and wielding an accusatory tone as they asked me who I was and what my photos were for.  Once I told them that "I am just a traveler who has never been to a rally and I'm taking photos out of personal interest," most would retreat back to the crowd, but a few didn't quite buy that story, and all would keep a lingering stare on me as they slowly turned away.  Others, of course, were very kind and friendly people who were more than happy to share their viewpoints with me and let me take my shots. 

At one point during the rally, a gentleman (if he could be called one) arrived with a sign proclaiming that Tea Party members were the equivalent of KKK members.  He was kept at the furthest edge of the crowd by the capitol police officers, but he obviously began to draw the attention of nearby crowd-members.  A few set about to harangue the heckler, as others pleaded with them to just ignore him as if he were a misbehaved child begging for attention.  At one point, the Rat Pack Motorcycle Club (gang) that was acting as security for the event, moved en masse to surround the sign-bearer and block him from the rest of the crowd by making of themselves a formidable wall of leather and overgrown facial hair.  Shortly after, they were handed various flags to bear, almost entirely blocking the man from view.  The occasional person leaving the event would still wander over to "chat" with the heckler, though, and that was enough to keep him around.

The event was still going, but the crowds numbers had noticeably decreased.  I decided to join those wandering away and made my way back to the other side of the building.  There I entered and explored the interior of the capitol building before departing. 

Back in my car, I continued eastward to Providence, Rhode Island, and stopped to take a few photos of the illuminated Rhode Island State House before going to park for the night.

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