|"The Art of Protest" photo by Stefan van Drake (2011)|
You could smell violence and hate in the air.
But there was also a festive atmosphere--at first--as Hungarian ultra-nationalists (think skin heads) prepared to scream obscenities at homosexuals and their annual Gay Pride Parade.
|"Attitude" photo by Stefan van Drake (2011)|
Often dressed in black garb, armed with attitude and some masking their faces to avoid police surveillance, which appeared everywhere, about 250 protestors (and my innocent and curious Self) found ourselves "kettled," completely closed off by police and portable fencing.
|"Symbols of Hate & Intolerance" photo by Stefan van Drake (2011)|
The gay pride paraders, however, only showed up two blocks away as they circumnavigated around the source of their angst (the kettled ones).
You could only vaguely see the colorfully ballooned buses and drums beating their cadence of pride.
The ultras, as I call them, realizing they were cordoned off, surrounded, decided instead to take their anger out on the police.
About 100 charged the police line.
One antagonist chided police, face to face, only a couple feet from the cops. And he persisted in this banter for at least 10 minutes.
Finally, one of the police had enough and decided to let fly with his nifty canister of pepper spray.
|"Police on Parade" photo by Stefan van Drake (2011)|
I got more than a small whiff of it.
The crowd immediately fell back.
The intended target of the police action fell to the ground in front of me, his face burning red and eyes watering.
Others also quickly succumbed to the nasty stuff.
The fiesta of hate dissolved quickly once the parade turned towards the Buda side of the Danube.
I saw only one arrest.
Cops chased a protester close to where I was standing, scuffled with him, and three riot police dragged him off to the waiting paddy wagon across the street.
Men of all ages, however, vented anger at the police.
I talked to a young Hungarian university student, who told me that since 2006 when riot police bloodied scores of people in an anti-government rally, few people trust the police.
|"The Art of Protest II" photo by Stefan van Drake (2011)|
The art of protest morphed into performance art, the costumes, the chants, the signs, the flags, the usual manifestations of discontent.
|"Spanish life stilled," photograph by Stefan van Drake (2009)|