Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tip for Protestors

As I was walking to the Metro from work today, I noticed several police cars, including a K9 unit and a paddy wagon, parked outside the Capitol South Metro station and Cannon House Office Building. I saw them from about a block away, and wondered what the heck was going on. When I got up close, I saw that it was a protest - a bunch of folks across the street on the steps of the Capitol Hill Club with a huge banner saying something about John McCain. I ignored them, and headed towards the Metro escalators, when an old lady pushed a flyer towards me. Normally I keep walking and don't look - my sunglasses help - but she said something that caught my attention.

"Would you like to know why we're protesting?"

Well, uh... yeah! Actually I would!

In my experience, protestors or petitioners with literature usually say things like "Would you care to join us today?" or "Please support our conservative cause!" I frequently hear "Excuse me, do you have two minutes for the earth?" That last one really ticks me off. Even if you ask about my pet issues, climate change and social justice, I'm liable to try even harder at ignoring you if you pull that one. I mean, yes, I do have two minutes for the earth, but that doesn't mean I have two minutes for YOU. Isn't it rather arrogant of you to claim that you speak for the earth and your political opponents do not?

But this lady didn't ask any of those. She asked, "Would you like to know why we're protesting?" Well yes, yes, of course! I've been been wondering what all the hubub was about for the past block! So I took a pamphlet, not to encourage them or help them or learn more, but just to find out what was going on around me. I haven't taken a pamphlet in years, and given that I've been splitting my time between our nation's protest capitol and an activist-happy secular northeast university smack dab in the heart of 18 different presidental campaigns and the myraid of special interests that follow them, that's saying something.

And I wasn't the only one. I noticed a BUNCH of people reading green flyers on the train, far more people than usually take such brochures.

So a tip to protestors: there's you're in, even more than grabbing a prime location. Just ask the passersby, "Would you like to know why we're protesting?" They'll take your literature. Even if they don't give a rat's butt about helping you out, they're at least interested to know what's going happening on their daily commute.

For the record, the group in question today, which I only learned because I took the brochure, was the ADAPT Community. They advertise themselves as a "disability rights group" who want more access and inclusivity for "people with disabilities," primarily the freedom to stay out of nursing homes.


Jordan said...

So I'm guessing they were supporting McCain because the Navy considers him "disabled" due to the permanent injuries he received under torture at the Hanoi Hilton?

Nathan Empsall said...

Not so much. See the next post.

janinsanfran said...

ADAPT supports disabled people. Period. I remember fondly when they blocked the doors of the Clinton HQ in San Francisco in 1992 because the place was not wheel-chair accessible.

Great advice to protesters -- many nowadays don't seem to know that having an explanatory paper handout needs to be part of bothering to do an action.