Author Topic: Represented Windsor during the big Bradley Manning demonstration today  (Read 1802 times)

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Offline CurrieJean

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I stood at the Canadian exit of the Detroit/Windsor tunnel for six hours today, displaying (for context) the painted WikiLeaks hourglass that I usually hang in my window at home. I held a sign reading "Free Bradley Manning," and my roommate Ryan held another reading, "Manning is a Hero." Ryan stood with me for the first three hours or so. I spent the last three on my own, talking to casually inquisitive pedestrians. I had invited other friends but I think the notice was too short. None of them turned up.

Cars were about 60/40 Canadian/American. We stood opposite the exit. Every driver had to stop, directly facing us, on their way out of customs. To estimate wildly, I think I was seen by three to six hundred cars today -- a steady trickle. Most American plates were from Michigan, but I also remember at least four from New York, two from Vermont (or Virginia?), one from Florida, several from Ohio, and others that I couldn't quite make out. Since today was a Sunday, traffic was a lot slower than usual.

Google street view.

The response, chronologically:

A man stopped to roll down his window and say, "I'm with you one hundred percent!" Caught very happily off guard, I thanked him. He was from Michigan.

A police officer arrived to ask us who Bradley Manning is. We explained Manning's story, and also told the officer about the earlier supporter. The officer was awesome -- he only asked us where we were from and warned us to stay off the road, then wished us luck and said in a friendly, slightly apologetic way, "You know how it is, I've got to do my 'police thing,'" before he left. Nice cops deserve props.

A casual photographer from Toronto (and before Toronto, Bangladesh) stopped to chat for a while about the cultural climate. He's a Democracy-Now fan, and of everything we talked about, the part that resonated with me the most was his description of local people as 'atomized.' It echoed in my head the rest of the day. He took a picture of me and Ryan, and I gave him my email address.

A car full of boisterous and interesting looking boomer-aged people (ex-hippies? I loved them at first sight) rolled down their widows and stopped mid-turn. The man in the front said, "I'm ANTI anti-WikiLeaks," and the woman in the back said something positive with a really big smile, probably "We Support Bradley," but I can't exactly remember. I blew a kiss and called back, "Love it!" They were also from Michigan, I think.

Several pedestrians stopped to ask what was up, about twenty in total all day. My goal was to make eye contact with people and say hello if they came near or stared for a long time, and if they responded positively I'd explain what I was doing. I figured it would be better to pique curiousity than to demand attention. I distributed fliers and pinback buttons to the people I spoke with.

A Detroiter parked nearby to exchange some currency across the street. He asked who Bradley Manning was when he came back to his car. I told him the story, and like most of the people I talked to, he knew about WikiLeaks but had never heard Manning's name. I think I did a good job linking the two together throughout the day, squeezing the word 'accused' in there whenever possible. I also promoted Manning's defense fund.

A woman waved an enthusiastic thumbs-up at me with her window rolled up. I think I... bowed or something. Standing around in public is weird.

A guy hung halfway out a car window to ask: "Who's that?" I said, "Bradley Manning! He's a soldier!" He asked, "What did he do?" -- "Whistleblower!" -- "Oh!" and then the conversation ended because the car was half a block away.

A man yelled, without slowing his vehicle at all, "They should hang him!" I flipped him the peace sign until he was gone. His was the only truly negative reaction I got all day. I forgot to check the nationality of his license plate.

Another pedestrian first responded negatively: "Who the hell is that?" He handed back the flyer I gave him and said, "Who cares? World's f***ed up, can't do anything about it." But we talked for a while (an hour or so) and he turned around. He's a worldly guy, self-educated, angry, very familiar with hardship, and more anti-establishment than I am. When he left, he took a handful of buttons with him to give to his friends.

A different police officer, who I'd noticed looking on from across the street earlier in the day, came by to pick up a pamphlet and offer his wellwishes.

Ryan came back to get me, and all of a sudden I was exhausted.

I think the response was fantastic. Small demonstrations have their own power: pairs and individuals are approachable. If you're determined, knowledgeable and courteous, you don't need a huge demonstrator turnout to get a message across. Standing on prime real estate for citizen diplomacy really helped too.

I rate the day an 8/10. Would do it again, but on a Friday in the afternoon or evening, with sunblock. I look like a tomato.

Also -- Another rally was scheduled at the US consolate in Toronto today. Did anyone here attend? How did it go?

(x-posted at reddit)

« Last Edit: March 24, 2011, 18:24:30 PM by CurrieJean »

Exdefensecontractor

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Nice work!
That's freaking awesome!
You know, it really shows how little exposure the media gives Manning.

Well Done Lady!

Offline uncensored

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 Brilliant!  You are a wonderful advocate for BM
Good-Men  do not create victims - they comfort and defend them

Offline Sprawlie

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You go grrl! 6 hours!!! I´m impressed.  :) Very good read too. What surpriced me was that there are people who do not know about Manning. I thought "all" people (not all... but you know...) in the US knew about Manning. I thought that his case was "common knowledge" there. Hat-tip to you CurrieJean.  :)
« Last Edit: March 21, 2011, 20:37:24 PM by SPRAWL »
‎If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.

Offline lizrex

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You go grrl! 6 hours!!! I´m impressed.  :) Very good read too. What surpriced me was that there are people who do not know about Manning. I thought "all" people (not all... but you know...) in the US knew about Manning. I thought that his case was "common knowledge" there. Hat-tip to you CurrieJean.  :)

Fanyajuu

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Hey Jean,

great idea, great initiative for Bradley!  :)

This shows that everyone can do something to support Bradley or WL, even if they are "only" two people.

sfinga

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  Lovely!!!! Also impressed!! I bow to you too  :)

Offline uncensored

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 re: BM -  Just today   I  spoke to  someone about  BM>  He  and I talked about  computers (he fixes them for fun)  as much as he  is on line  he never heard of Bradley Manning and related events.       This got me thinking how I assume  people that  are  tech  savvy or  on social sites  must, Must , also be aware of WL/BM and  the politics that effect  their privacy and welfare.
I forget that for many people,  they are just not aware of  events beyond what is  directly effecting them at that moment.
So you set a good example for us  that  we can all  do something  to bring light the subjects of  BM and  the USA use of torture.

You go grrl! 6 hours!!! I´m impressed.  :) Very good read too. What surpriced me was that there are people who do not know about Manning. I thought "all" people (not all... but you know...) in the US knew about Manning. I thought that his case was "common knowledge" there. Hat-tip to you CurrieJean.  :)
Good-Men  do not create victims - they comfort and defend them