Saturday, June 23, 2018

Playdate Protest Debrief

Playdate Protest Action Guide

That's the important part, right there-- how you can do what we did.

But here's what we did, because writing it down makes it feel more real and important, and I need that right now.

(I struggle with my ego and also with maintaining privacy, and whether I should share what I'm doing in this post-Trump/scarier world, but then I remember how scared I was the first time I crossed the police line to bring donations to Occupy Wall Street... fear is fear, and protesting my government's actions is scary whoever is president. ...I've never been good at hiding, so I'm going to embrace that and shout instead.)

Tuesday I got a PM from a friend, linking an invitation to parents (of young children) who wanted to take direct action with their children. There was a vague assurance that it was low arrest risk, but in that moment my main response was YES. It absolutely helped that I recognized one of the organizers' names as a mutual friend of a parent I met through Occupy Wall Street. But I think if Chucky Cheese had offered me a Direct Action response to the mounting horror I would have listened with an open mind.

There was a virtual meeting Wednesday night where they described what the plan was, and gave everyone a chance to ask questions and offer resources. ("What's your name and what are you bringing to this?" everyone else said lovely things like "strength" and "passion"... I don't even know if I have a sense of humor left, so I said "Ricola".)

I picked up ProtestKid (who is now ProtestTeen, I guess...) from school early, and even then we were a little late to everything. But late is better than never! (This is my mantra when people who have been fighting longer, harder, or more efficiently side-eye me, or I feel myself starting to side-eye people who have been apolitical up until now.)

#solifuckingdarity, whenever we get to where we're going.

We met up with the larger group, and I realized that most people already knew at least one other family there. That was hard-- I don't want to minimize anything, here, because I want You The Reader to know that you might show up and not know anyone and you still should stay. You still (really really) matter.

They wanted us to go inside in small groups of 7-10 people. I could have maintained my Cool ProtestMom diffidence, but instead I turned to the mom with a stroller next to mine and asked if we could join her group. And she said Yes, and that made *so much difference*. (Thank you, StrollerMom, wherever you are!) Suddenly it wasn't just me and ProtestTeen and ProtestTot against the world. I had another adult (I had 4 other adults, because she had come prepared with a posse. Smart StrollerMom!) keeping an eye on the small people, and that lowered my cortisol levels to manageable levels.

Lesson learned/reinforced: Make friends with strangers at protests. It is crucial.

There was a technological glitch, so instead of heading to the ICE office when we got a group text, they changed plans on the fly and said "try to get there by 3:15"... 

Things don't always happen as planned. It's not a failure, it's just different.

Our strollers slowed us down through the metal detectors, so we were late again. OTOH, ProtestTot is too huge for me to carry, and too young to join in the shouting ("I no like 'Fight the Power'" he said, the last time I asked him to punch the air on demand) so I needed the stroller. And I couldn't take many photos, because he was busy playing Peppa Pig's Paintbox on my phone. But you know what? We were there. That's what matters.

(And other people took pictures, and other people had cute babies to hold and charming children to hold relevant signs. It takes a village to raze a fascist regime.)

We were far from the center of the direct action, because of being slow-- that meant we were next to the DHS (Yes, Department of Homeland Security) cops when they arrived. They mostly lounged against the wall, because there were a lot of livestreamers and no one wanted to be That Guy who arrested a white baby on TV. But they did enforce the "no sitting on the floor because it's a fire hazard" rule and when ProtestTeen asked about that the cop did start to lose his temper "I'll make you the first one out the elevator" so that was a little alarming.

But we stayed there until the office closed at 4 pm, and we people's mic'd our demands (That children and parents be reunited. That families belong together) to each other and the folks at the ends of the hallway. We sang, we drew on paper butterflies, and we slowly left in our groups back to the lobby on the ground floor where we sang some more and played with playdough.

We left the building and reunited with the parents and children who were unable to go inside. (Whether because they couldn't get there in time, or because they couldn't risk any arrest at all, no matter how small.) They drew on the sidewalk and held signs and sang, just like those of us inside. They, too, had DHS cops, but they had more exits so were as safe as anyone is.

ProtestTot was getting restless (he had heard someone say "Ice cream" and decided that was the only thing in the world that mattered. He gets his lungs from his mama.), so we left-- but first I said goodbye to the folks who had been our group-- it's important for closure and so that no one thought we had been disappeared. It's good manners, too.

And then we went home.

ProtestTeen says, "I'm glad I went."

Yeah, me too.

I hope you can come with us next time.


No comments:

Post a Comment