Monday, April 23, 2012

Philly Phreedom Rally

I woke up the roosters Sunday April 22, 2012. My alarm was set for 6am, and my internal alarm went off at 5am. My first thought was cool, you still have an hour, then at 5:01 my adrenaline level was too high to stay horizontal. I jumped out of bed, let the dog out (yea, it was me), suited up, and left the house to arrive at Independence Hall at 6:45am. Drove around the city for a bit and parked at 7am only to be joined by Jeff Douglass less than a minute later.

After our 8:00 volunteer meeting, we got to work setting up the vendor tables, chairs, the barricades, and the stage. Once we knew our team had it all under control, a few of us headed over to the Interstate Drafthouse, which was opened exclusively for our VIP brunch. The list of attendees included local, and imported activists like Julian Heicklen, Karen Kwiatkowski, Larken Rose, Rob Fernandes, Jim Babb, Danny Panzella, Michael Scheuer, Jordan Page, Tatiana Moroz, TMOT, Fernando Antonio Salguero, and a laundry/terror watchlist of others.

The vibe, the conversations, and the relationships built at the brunch could have been enough to call it a monumental, successful day, however, we were only getting started.

A text message from Adam Kokesh was our cue to head over to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia for what was to be THE greatest END THE FED rally to date. If they stay open after this one, I'll be amazed.

At 11:00 hundreds gathered at the Philly FED bank to hear powerful messages from Adam Kokesh, Scott Davis, Marc Scaringi, Larken Rose, and Karen Kwiatkowski. The speakers delivered their messages from the back of an army truck draped with END THE FED and Ron Paul banners. The Veterans for Ron Paul, and hundreds of END THE FED'ers turned their back on the Federal Reserve Bank, and marched away from it to metaphorically leave it behind them.

While the vets and the sound money activists were busy storming the streets of Philadelphia, thousands started to pour in at the rally on the lawn at Independence Hall. At this point all our vendors were set up, including LeBus Bakery who provided free muffins and pastries!

Jordan Page and Tatiana Moroz were just finishing their sound check when Market St started to shake. A cadence echoed down the street which was tough to make out, at first it sounded like a winter wind, until it got closer. "END...THE...FED! END...THE...FED!" I ran to the microphone to prepare the crowd for what was about to storm the lawn. Hundreds of soaking wet END THE FED marchers joined thousands of soaking wet Ron Paul supporters (which is typically one and the same).

Tatiana Moroz kicked off the event with an incredible performance for what she described as a crowd "standing in a monsoon freezing their patriotic butts off!" After her set was finished, I had the privilege of introducing Jordan Page to the crowd as the man who gave me a life-saving atomic wedgie. Jordan opened with the star spangled banner, and closed with his rendition of Pink Floyd's "The Wall."

Just about every section of the day on its own, the VIP brunch, the END THE FED/veterans march, the concert, would have been enough to satisfy most. The fact that they were all stacked on top of each other, strategically timed for all to attend, laid the groundwork to earn the hyperinflated word "epic."

I had the honor of playing the role of MC for the day, and I gotta say, I loved every second of it. The crowd was incredible despite being cold and soaked by the pouring rain, all 4,300 of them. Even my mom who, like me, hates the cold and the rain, braved the storm to stand in the crowd with broken arm (ok well she stood inside the barricade under a canopy, c'mon she's my mom, what do you expect).

The first speaker I got to introduce was the head of the CIA's bin Laden unit, Michael Scheuer. Michael is known for pulling zero punches when it comes to his take on US foreign policy. If I'm going to take anyone's word on the danger of US's interventionism, it's probably going to be that of a high ranking CIA intelligence officer. To know that Michael endorsed Dr. Paul's foreign policy speaks volumes. For those who have had a solid grasp on the real dangers of US foreign policy, Michael's speech was a breath of fresh air. Those still learning may have gotten a bit of a heroic dose of truth. Either way, Michael's message was powerful.

Next speaker on deck was James Padilioni, Jr. James won the Student of the Year award at this year's international Students for Liberty conference. He delivered an incredible, inspiring message that served as an inspiration to the rest of the young people in the crowd that they too can stand up and be counted.

I brought Jordan Page back up on stage to play "Light of the Revolution" getting the crowd ready for Dr. Paul's entrance. We were visited by PA Senator Mike Folmer and NJ Senator Mike Doherty who stopped by to endorse Dr. Paul as the next president of the United States. Halfway through Sen. Doherty's endorsement, a black SUV backed up to the stage and the crowd just erupted. The eruption rippled from the stage all the way through to the back of the crowd. "PRESIDENT PAUL! PRESIDENT PAUL! PRESIDENT PAUL!!"

Dr. Ron Paul took the stage in the cradle of liberty with Independence Hall as the backdrop of his speech. The first thing out of his mouth was "Well it doesn't look like there are any sunshine patriots here!" As expected Dr. Paul captivated the crowd with his words. Wearing jeans and a polo shirt, Ron Paul gave a speech that was hand written on old school notebook paper, which he only used for reference. Every so often I had to pan the crowd to be reminded of how amazing this whole day had turned out. 4,300 people stood to hear the message of liberty and barely noticed the rain getting stronger as the day progressed.

Truth be told, I think it's safe to say that most of the crowd has heard his speeches over and over. They didn't need to stand outside in a storm. They could have easily sat at home, stayed dry, and watched clips online, but I believe everyone was there for a reason. To prove to the world that nothing can stop an idea whose time has come. To prove that there are at least 4,300 people willing to stand outside in the pouring rain in support of that idea. To prove no matter how hard the mainstream media tries to keep Ron Paul out of the spotlight, the people are willing to sacrifice just to be able to say "4,300 people stood out in the pouring rain to support a man championing that idea." The idea, the message, the driving force behind it all, is that our freedom, our rights, are worth preserving at all costs...including a case of the sniffles for a few days.

The day was topped off by our after party, held a few blocks away. The course of events throughout the day will be remembered forever, however, the conversations, the connections, the networking, and the relationships that stem from interaction between attendees is what keeps this movement going. Some stayed all night, some stayed for a few minutes, but everyone who was there will remember the vibe forever.

I got a chance to talk to Dr. Paul and while we were talking, a member from his security team said to him "Just so you know this is Mike Salvi, he organized this whole day." Ron turned to me and said, "well you get an A+ for the day...wait, it rained...make it an A minus!"

I'll take the A- for now, but we have to figure out a way to top this event. I know it'll only happen if Rob Pepe and Jim Babb are right there with me like they were during every step of this one. I will say it's already in the works, stay tuned.

"Today was epic! Thank you so much for the opportunity! You guys pulled off a bad ass event, rain and all!"
-James Padilioni, Jr.

"Thank you so much for today, thanks for being like a kid on Christmas, and thanks for being a real man and telling 4,000 people that I gave you an atomic wedgie. Awesome day!"
-Jordan Page

"Philly Phreedom rally left me with an even more solidified faith in the Liberty movement...I was so proud of my new friends and instantly felt a bond that cannot be broken!"
-Tatiana Moroz

"[That was] the best "rained out" march and rally I've ever seen!"
-Adam Kokesh

-Ron Paul

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