Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The First Anti-War Protest Rally In Sugar Land, Texas Since . . . When?

I have no idea. People have been pretty low key about this country going to war. Really, not since Vietnam has anyone but dyed-in-the-wool peaceniks had much to say about our wars. But here we are in Triple-A Craaazy Sugar Land, Texas, where neocon nut jobs are behind every Boulder and Bush (pun intended), and we had us a real anti-war protest in front of the Sugar Land City Hall.

Nancy Henstschel, a local activist, was the organizer. Her protest rally was in concert with anti-war protests being held all over the country today at 5 PM, sponsored by MoveOn.Org. I promoted the Sugar Land rally on my blog. I went. I was hoping to see some familiar faces. Instead, I met a bunch of new ones.

When I arrived I found a group of 6 people sitting in iron chairs in front of “Ben and Jerry’s”. Everyone was talking about the veto, about Bush, about Cheney. Another couple arrived and as a group of 8, not including one blogger (me) and a freelance journalist covering the event for the Fort Bend Star, we all marched over to the fountain in the center of the square and they began to make noise. Journalist and I hovered taking mass quantities of photos, the best of which are to be found at the bottom of this posting.

Nancy brought a gong. It was big and very loud. Other noise makers included a ranch triangle and an air horn.

That no one showed up to watch or participate was not a surprise to me. Nancy and I talked about it later. People here in Bush Country are afraid. They’ve been made to be afraid by the Bush Regime, and are also afraid of having their neighbors see them protesting a war.

Strategies changed. If no one would come to them, they would go to the people. At the far end of the square is a T intersection. They parked themselves there and made noise again, but this time to passing traffic. Things got a little more rowdier. A noticeable increase in the frequency of gongings occurred. The group started a chant: GONNNNNG!!!Bring our troops home!” GONNNNNG!!!

Several individuals approached the group to offer support. These people, Nancy rewarded with one of those fluorescent light bulbs that are as bright as regular incandescent bulbs, but use up far less energy. One young woman stopped by, picked up a sign and joined in. A father and his little girl approached. The father, in answer to his daughter’s question, which must have been “What are they doing, Daddy?” said, “That’s a protest.” She was invited over to give the gong a whack, and she did, then buried her face in Daddy’s shoulder. An older gentleman in a business suit was trying to take a picture from the far side of the street. He walked closer – probably has a camera like mine. He was invited to come and get a close-up, got his light bulb and admitted he was against the war and Bush.

There was also an effect on passing motorists. Many slowly moved through the intersection. Some missed the stop signs and just rolled through (and I wondered whether that was a common occurrence). But no accidents. By her estimate, Nancy figured that for every one person in a passing car giving the group “the finger” there were three who either waved, honked their horn, or smiled and waved. “In Sugar Land,” Nancy said, “that’s phenomenal”.

Later on we talked about that. That there were that many sympathizers driving by in the heart of neocon Sugar Land really does tell you something has changed, not only here but in the country.

Nancy had no regrets about the ten people who turned out, yes it came to an even ten. In Sugar Land on a school night, that was an accomplishment. This also needs to be said. When you look at the photographs, one thing will be very obvious. Age. I would say that before the young woman joined the group, the average age of the protest group was 68. After she joined, maybe 63. We have to engage our youth in this protest. They are too complacent. This was clear to me when I saw an ex-student of mine stop by to see what all the gongings was about. After telling him what was going on I told him that he should join the rally, as he was of draft age. But he literally shrank back from the thought of that.

Maybe Charlie Rangel was right when he said a few weeks back that we need to reinstitute the draft. In the Vietnam Era, the draft certainly brought young people to the fore in anti-war protests.

After nearly an hour and a half of gonging, dinging, banging, blasting and shouting, the rally folded up. Participants congratulated each other and parted ways. I helped Nancy put stuff in her van, and after doing that we were approached by a middle aged southern lady who looked to be of some means. She asked “What was all that gonging about?” Nancy explained that it was an anti-war protest rally. Her eyes widened, but then she said “Well Ahm for yew.”

And Nancy gave her a light bulb.

Photographs follow.

1 comment:

Marsha Rovai said...

Wonderful synopsis of the protest. Pictures were great too. Wish I could have attended but it was too early for me to come to Sugar Land. Maybe if I would have come the Repubs would have called out their goons, Wouldn't that have been fun?