Monday, February 16, 2015

Wisconsin 101: Land of a lot of protestors but even more thinkers

My friend D decided she is a bad protestor. I think she is a good protestor: she is actually concerned with what she might be saying and protesting.

You may be aware that there have been some protests in Wisconsin in the past few years.

It has not been fun for me. I cannot speak for the rest of Wisconsin, but I would much rather live in a place that is never in the news. I would rather not get into politics here, either, but I will just say that the cause would have to be very near and dear to my heart for me to actually attend a protest.

1. I don't think they solve anything
2. I have better things to do with my time, like goof off

(Yes, you are probably thinking I am a horrible person who would just twiddle my thumbs about slavery, but let us remember that it was not protests that ended slavery but war. So much for those who say that war is never the answer. It depends on what the question is. And I would totally - I hope - have opened up my house as a stop on the Underground Railroad, which actually accomplished something. Don't we all hope we would do the Right Thing under bad circumstances? Most of us will never know, I suppose. What if you were confronted with bad circumstances and did the Wrong Thing? Would it haunt you forever?)

Anyhow,  I would be a horrible protestor or, if you think like I do, a good protestor.

D went to a protest recently about Dontre Hamilton, a man who was sleeping in a park in the middle of the day and who was shot by a cop who went to investigate. The cop was fired for how he approached and patted Hamilton, but no criminal charges were brought with respect to Hamilton's death.

Side note: Since when is it illegal to sleep in a park during the day? And if it is illegal, really? Being a homeless person otherwise minding your own business and sleeping in a public space is illegal? I have a big problem with what happened - first, the tragedy that Hamilton is dead and second, the fact that a cop was even bothering with a homeless man sleeping in a park. (And you Starbucks employees who called the cops on Hamilton? What were you thinking? Have you been able to wash the blood off your hands yet?)(I am pretty angry about this whole thing.)(The issue of the actual shooting becomes more complicated, but the fact remains that Hamilton never should have been bothered in the first place.)

D's church is associated with the church that Hamilton's family attends, so she thought she would go watch the protest on the day that Jesse Jackson was going to be here. Stand there. In solidarity. Be part of the crowd, even though it was a cold December (or January?) day in Milwaukee, when nobody wants to be outside.

Be a watching part of the crowd.

Not a doing part of the crowd.

But when she arrived, people started handing pins to her.

"I'm not sure I agree with what this pin says!" she thought to herself as she discreetly tucked the pin into her purse.

People tried to hand banners to her.

"I'm not sure I agree with what this banner says!" she thought to herself as she held her hands up and smiled in gentle refusal.

The protest started. D was interested in standing on the sidewalks to watch, offering her presence as her support of the family.

But the crowd surged. And the crowd moved. And the crowd stopped.

In the middle of the intersection.

Of a main street.

Downtown.

"This is illegal!" D thought. "And unsafe!"

She edged her way out of the crowd and returned to the sidewalk, where she wanted to observe.

But then Jesse Jackson started a call and response.

Which would

have been

OK

except

he was calling out

just

sentence

fragments.

"I can't repeat a fragment!" D thought. "What if I don't agree with the rest of the sentence?"

And so she remained silent.

But she stood there, in solidarity, and witnessed.

My friend D is fabulous. That, my friends, is how one attends a protest: not mindlessly, but mindfully.


2 comments:

Marsha said...

Thinking . . . especially thinking before speaking, or committing to a cause . . . almost a lost art. Nice to hear that it is still being practiced.

John0 Juanderlust said...

A mindful protestor is a far rarer thing than a mindless protestor.