Monday, June 06, 2011

Responding Rapidly in Austin

So I got a call Friday evening from Anthony. Actually he left a voicemail message. Anthony works for the Fort Bend Employees Federation (aka The Teacher’s Union) of which I am a proud member. He told me that they were organizing a “Rapid Response” protest at the state capitol building in Austin and would I like to go along.

I sat and thought about it for a few minutes ticking off the reasons not to go: been there twice this year already for two other rallies, now with the senate rules no longer in force these bad bills are destined to pass so what’s the point. I didn’t end there but you get the point. But then I thought – what else are you going to do on Monday, watch the grass grow? I also enjoyed my two previous trips and knew the conversation up and back would be interesting. Besides, this protest was going to be held inside – in the rotunda.

So it became a no-brainer and I called Anthony back and told him I would go.

So now I am just back with a camera chip full of photos and videos. Videos will need some time so for now I’ll just post some of the photos.

So here’s what we did. Entering through the East Entrance we were and our possessions were examined by state troopers.  I managed not to set off the alarm.

Then up the stairs to a 2nd floor room where we encountered something close to 200 people listening to speeches. Then we all filed out of the room and spread over the entire 2nd floor balcony area under the rotunda and cheered, clapped, chanted, listened to speeches (Wendy Davis, the new heroine of the Senate spoke for about a minute – video tomorrow).

Then we sang.

You read it right. We sang.

It was an adaptation of “The Eyes of Texas” (which is, ironically, an adaptation of the song “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”). Explicitly stated: our eyes are upon the legislature and yes, we vote.

Then we did it one better. We sang and marched around and around the rotunda, first on the 2nd floor balcony, then on the ground floor, rotating counterclockwise (you know, to the left) then back upstairs where we gathered outside the entrance to the House of Representatives. Where we chanted, clapped, yelled, and yes, sang again.

Tourists were taking photographs of us.

Then we all quietly filed into, and filled nearly all the available seats on east side of the visitor’s gallery to make our presence known to the State Reps, and observed the Reps who had just started the afternoon session at 1:00, hard at work.

State Rep Donna Howard came to the podium and announced our presence to the Members, listing the organizations present and the many counties from which we had traveled that day to be there. We all stood up and waved, and some of the Members actually gave us a clap.

Then we all smugly sat down having been recognized by our state’s legislative  body.

Then after addressing some questions by Rep Elliott Naishstat over Perry’s veto of the bill to tax online sales (aka the bill) – he wants a vote to overturn the veto – the legislature abruptly adjourned.

Our eyes were upon them, but I guess they were having none of that.

Still, we all agreed that it had been fun and it was a good thing to see the Teacher’s Union taking it right to Austin, that votes to end public education as we know it have consequences, and that we will not let this be forgotten next November.

Photographs follow:

Here we are in the Rotunda. Some of us brought signs. All of them were spelled correctly.

There were lots of us. I counted 50 over a 90 degree angle and multiplied by 4.

Sign Number 1. Note the diversity of this crowd.

2nd Sign. The covered word is "Expect"

State Rep Roberto Alonzo giving a speech of encouragement.

Sign Number 4. Never met a home schooled State Rep that I liked.

Sign Number 5. My absolute fave.

Shouting out at the doors to the House of Representatives. This trooper was either describing the catch he pulled in this past weekend or issuing distance instructions to one of our number.

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