Carl Rochelle: Watching, hearing the protests outside the high court
CNN Correspondent Carl Rochelle is covering the protests outside the United States Supreme Court in Washington.
Q: Give us a sense of what it's like outside the U.S. Supreme Court for this historic hearing?
ROCHELLE: It is loud and noisy. There's a lot of enthusiasm and emotion. Just because of the logistics of where I'm standing, I'm on the Gore-Lieberman side of the protests. What the police have done is, they've divided this group right down the center. They've put up a fence down the middle, keeping the Gore supporters on one side and the Bush supporters on the other side. That's probably a smart thing to do.
The demonstrations have all been peaceful. Everyone is very emotional, and a lot of people believe very strongly in their opinions out here. It's almost turned into a political rally, with songs and cheers and different slogans of support being chanted.
Q: About how many people are out there?
ROCHELLE: From what I can see, it looks like more than 1,000 people. It's easy to say hundreds are here, but I'm sure there are over 1,000 people. My guess is that it's somewhere between 1,500 to 2,000. I'm wedged into one corner and can't see everything around, but there are lots and lots of people. I think there are more people here than when the previous case was held a little over a week ago.
Q: What are some of tactics you're seeing? What are the chants and what do the signs say?
ROCHELLE: They say, "Stay out of Florida." The biggest thing I hear is, "Count the
votes! Count the votes!" What's happening on the other side -- the Bush side -- I don't quite know, because I can't hear them. But I'm sure what they're saying on that side is that Gore is trying to steal the election.
One of the things that I did see on the Bush side earlier in the day was that somebody had brought a mule in. (A donkey is the Democrats' symbol.) The person was actually parading this mule around through the crowd. One other thing that I've seen, which I didn't see at the last protest, was a group with police whistles. They all get together and blow the whistles.
There are people with megaphones. It seems like everybody who could get to Radio
Shack bought a megaphone.
Q: How many people from the public were actually allowed inside the courtroom?
ROCHELLE: They only allowed a small number of people inside. I think there are 50 public seats. There are other seats for journalists, lawyers and members of Congress. There was a long line of people from the public who wanted to go in. What they did is they put time limits on how long people could go in ... and sort of rotated it, so that more than just one group got to take a look to see what went on in the court.