The mass red shirt rallies organized to topple the Thai government have now started. Today, red shirts from provinces surrounding Bangkok took part in mini rallies in their local areas. Tomorrow, they will march into Bangkok to be joined by countless thousands of red shirts from every region of Thailand for the big rally starting on Sunday.
These are pictures that I took of the red shirt rally in Samut Prakan this morning. There was an estimated 4-5,000 people there. The rally started at the City Hall area where the people listened to speeches. They then paid respect to the statue of King Rama V. I believe they were doing this for good luck as tomorrow they will be heading into Bangkok.
These are some of the red shirt security guards that surrounded the mobile stage. They were protecting the red shirt leaders. They all wore special id cards because there have been reports of people pretending to be red shirts in order to cause damage to their reputation.
Some of the red shirts posing in front of the statue of King Rama V. Everyone was very friendly and relaxed. There was no danger here at all despite reports from the government that the rallies might turn violent.
The red shirts are paying respect to statue of King Rama V. In the background is the provincial hall. The entrance was blocked off by police wearing riot gear. THe red shirt leaders announced that the Governor must be on their side as he let them rally at the City Hall Plaza.
They next left the city hall to parade through the town to the City Pillar to again wish for good luck on their journey tomorrow into Bangkok. Here they are passing the police station and the courthouse. Both of them had riot police guarding the entrances. However, there was no danger.
They must have blocked traffic for about an hour as they marched through town. I was running on ahead of the parade. Some shopkeepers quickly closed up shop. Maybe worried of potential violence as we have been brainwashed by the government. One classic Western movie scene I saw was a mother running out from a shop house and shouting at her young child to get in quickly.
Along the way we passed Bangkok Bank. Last week two branches in Samut Prakan were bombed. The police here were guarding the entrance. Maybe expecting problems. But, again, the parade passed by with no incident.
We were posting live from the rally and parade on various sites. Mainly on Twitter @RichardBarrow. But, I also managed a couple of moblogs at www.mythailandblogs.com. You can also see several hundred pictures over at www.paknamphotos.com. We are now about to leave to go to the big red shirt rally at the Stadium in Bang Phli. We will post live pictures via twitter.