The past few weeks, I have been doing protests on the corner. As a result, I have been asked a lot of questions about my protests. I originally called them claim a corner, then occupy a corner, then random acts of protest. I have been asked where it came from, if it is in coordination with anybody, and a lot of other things. So, I am going to try to explain.
First, where did it come from. I spent half a year screaming for people to be in the streets protesting, then I took a year off to run for office, then I spent 6 months screaming for people to be on the streets protesting. I found out that if 3.5% of the population were on the streets regularly, any government will fall. So, I screamed as loud as I could on social media. Lots of other people were doing the same. “We should be in the streets.” “We have to protest. This is awful.” I even created a hashtag, #FeetToStreet. And some people tried to organize protests. But nothing came of them. And lots of people gave me lots of reasons why they couldn’t protest, but everybody else should. And there was precious little I could say, because I wasn’t in the streets myself. When my grandchildren ask me after our country has fallen to these autocrats, what did I do to stop it, I had no answer.
I looked at the protests going on at the detention center, and even attended a couple. But I had a basic problem with that. One is it was so far away, and at night, when I hate driving and parking was hard. The other is that all the protests I saw were in areas where most of the people are known to be progressive. Or at least not conservative. And it wasn’t my community. I have always believed that to be effective, you have to go into the lion’s den. And Douglas County is the lion’s den.
I asked myself, why not organize a big protest in Douglas County? And the answer was obvious. Organizing big protests is not one of my skills. I can organize a big aerospace program. I can move data. But people are not data. And big protests require permits. Not my skill set. But you know what? Standing on a corner with a sign, that I can do. I saw this group called Stand in Every Corner, and I thought, I can do that. But when I tried to sign up on their website, it wouldn’t take my information. But the idea worked for me.
Originally, I called it Occupy a Corner. But then I decided to call it Random Acts of Protest. I checked, and just showing up on a corner, not getting on anybody’s property, not having throngs there, did not require a permit. You can just show up. So I decided, I would just show up. And I would invite people to join me. I was going to do Thursdays, but Eiko said she could and would do Tuesdays, and showing up on a corner with someone was less intimidating than showing up alone, so I decided to do Tuesdays. As I was pondering this, I was going to protest kids in cages. Then as we were pleading with Jason to come out in favor of impeachment, my sign was going to say, Impeach Trump (or something to that affect). But then Jason came out for impeachment hearings and Gilroy happened, and as I was still processing Gilroy we had El Paso and Dayton, and I knew I had to protest guns. I saw a meme on line that GOP = Guns Over People and I knew my sign had to say No More Guns Over People. I was protesting the proliferation of guns, and Douglas County is the place to do that.
So at the first RAOP (shorter than always typing Random Acts of Protest) there were, at the peak, 8 people. I was floored and delighted. And Katrina said she would get some started in Parker. The Sunday after my first protest, there was a protest in Parker. And at my second protest, there were 5 people. In both cases, there was response from people driving by. People honk, raise a thumb, shout, wave. And some disagree or disapprove. That is ok. Those are the people I most want to see us.
At the last occupation, a young woman came up to us with tears in her eyes, saying thank you for doing this. She said she had given up on anybody doing anything or even caring. Kathy (the archetypical you could only dream of having a mother like this mother) took her back to her car and gave her information on how to contact the Democratic party and Young Dems. Another young man came up, and we talked, and he told me he had some bills he wished would get passed. I told him about our commissioner candidate and our house candidate and told him to look into their campaigns. He said he would. So we can do outreach standing on a corner.
The next question is am I organizing this? The answer is not exactly. Or sort of. I decided to occupy a corner and invited anybody who wanted to join to do so. I will continue to do that. I also encourage anybody else who wants to occupy a corner to do so and invite people to join. My dream is to have 5 or more people occupying at some time or another 20 corners. I have been asked if I can do another day, because Tuesday does not work. I will continue to do Tuesdays, but I would be happy to do another day as well. Because my time is not as important as making a statement. Let me know a day that works and let’s pick a corner.
I have been asked aren’t you taking a risk? At first I thought I might be, then I realized that in our community, I probably am not. Yes, when I first get there and am the only person there, I feel like I am either a fool or an idiot, but not like I am in danger. But even if I am, it has to be done, and I am the one who has to do it. My children are grown, my career is behind me, and now the contribution I can make is what eensy weensy thing I can do to save this country I worked an entire career to protect.
My next occupation is next Tuesday at the post office corner. I would love to see anybody there who is willing and able. When I say able, you do not have to be able to stand in the heat for 2 hours. I bring a chair and sit a lot, because the hot sun affects me. I would also love to see someone organize something in other locations. I would love to see someone involve the high school students who were so passionate at the Never Again rally last year. I would love to see weekend rallies for people who are driving home during rush hour and can’t be on a street corner.
I thank everybody who has been so supportive. I especially thank the people who show up and join me. I welcome anybody who has an inclination to be there.