Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Adventures in Activism

I had another first yesterday! My first participation in a hearing being disrupted by a protest!!

Day 1 of the Special Session kicked off in Olympia yesterday, and I was there, ready and willing to participate in a House Ways and Means committee hearing on the budget. After driving around for nearly a 1/2 hour looking for parking, I made my way to the Cherberg buiding. Crossing the campus, I was amazed by the amount of people there, buses, 3 different rally points, and about 1,000 people on the steps of the Capitol listening to John Lennon.  I had an amazing testimony written to present, and found myself standing next to a fellow colleague, among many other familiar faces. The room became filled, which is quite normal for a Ways and Means hearing. Frank and I (my colleague) made mention that the turnout was smaller than expected though. We spoke a little too soon. Shortly after they announced that a second room was opened up for overflow, the halls started to sing with "Let Us In, Let Us In".... Then, came pounding on the doors.

In this video you can hear over the chattering of the people in the room, the rhythm to the pounding on the door. I will say, some of my videos are quite shaky. Not just from the overdose of caffeine, but I will admit I was a little nervous. Being inside that room, hearing the noise outside, I really did think that at any moment a crowd was going to burst through the door and trample all of us calm people like a heard of elephants. So yes, they are a little shaky!

Let Us IN! (Click on the blue links for Videos)

Shortly after that, from the back of the room, came a crowd of people, chanting, and yelling. One demonstrator who was leading the way, was shouting "Mic Check", to which the crowd repeated everything he said.

"These Cuts will hurt kids,  These Cuts will hurt families, These Cuts will hurt Educators". He went on for probably about 5 mins. Here's a 2 min video of the protest.  This video ends in the leader of the demonstration calling for a Citizens' Arrest of the Legislature, complete with handcuffs.

Citizen's Arrest

Tax the Rich and Save the Poor!

The hearing ended up being shut down because of the State Fire Marshal coming in and declaring the building over occupancy. So....

The crowd headed outside, where they stood outside the window, chanting, complete with a drum circle, "Save Higher Ed", and "You say CUT BACK, we say FIGHT BACK!".

This is them walking away momentarily. This is hard to hear, but they are saying Save Higher Ed. You can bet your next child, when I go back to the Capitol later this week, I will have my GOOD camera with me!

Save Higher Ed

 It was an absolute amazing demonstration of the power of a united voice. I was happy to be standing there, watching this demonstration unfold before my eyes, and was very proud of what they were doing. However, they could have done without some of the expletives, and threats to legislators. Some of the legislators, you could tell were intrigued, some of them were just straight up irritated. I wasn't irritated at this display, until it postponed the hearing, it didn't start for 40 minutes after the regularly scheduled time. There were 183 people signed up to testify on behalf of Public Safety, Healthcare and Education. What a turnout! I can't wait to see what the rest of this session holds!

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