January 1, 2008, Pasadena: At approximately 7:15am four of us began our walk along the Rose Parade route in advance of the parade. We held banners and signs calling for impeachment and urged people to text 30644 to support the impeachment of Dick Cheney.
(A block or so behind us was a contingent of people with signs protesting China’s human rights atrocities and its hosting the upcoming Olympics. A float celebrating the Beijing Olympics would be in the parade. This group had an impressive presence with many people and signs visible.)
The members of our group agreed that there was signifiucant positive response to our message as well as considerable negative reactions and blank stares. However, some of us were rather positive in our final analyses, while I tilted toward the negative.
First the negative:
As was previously noted, responses from the crowd varied: some people were extremely happy to see us (there was even police officer who said “Impeachment would be peachy”), others were pretty hostile: “Get a job!”(1); we were accused of supporting “the terrorists;” one person said that if we don’t like it here, “then go to Russia!” “Are you hippies?” asked another repeatedly; “YOU SHOULD SUPPORT THE TROOPS!!!!!” was shouted at us, too.
The most common remark I heard was: “impeach who?” Another common response was that it’s too late to pursue impeachment because Bush and Cheney are about to leave office.
We were at least halfway along the route when fighter planes flew overhead, and crowds cheered. (I regret that I didn’t do a die-in.)
In the last third or so of our trek, I found myself remembering a scene from the film The Battle of Algiers, where a crowd of clueless European tourists are in a night club that’s about to be blown up. Despite indications of their impending doom, they remain oblivious and continue partying to the very end.
However, my most pervasive thought was that this continent should have never been colonized by Europeans in the first place. I felt an overwhelming sense of hopelessness for the United States(2).
And now for a more positive take:
Nina of the Radical Neighbors for Peace through Justice interacted with many crowd members as she encouraged them to send text messages. “A lot of these people looked like they just woke up, and some of them looked like they had hangovers,” she said, “but a lot of them really agreed that we should ‘give (im)peach a chance.’ And we actually saw some people texting the impeach [message] to 30644 to vote to impeach Cheney. So it was very heartening, it was a lot of fun. And I’m super proud of [nine-year-old] Mandela for really sticking it out for a really long walk and holding her sign all the way.
“I would say it was a rousing success, but I’m going to have to ask those folks how many phone calls came in this morning.
“. . . Impeachment on New Years Day is over, and I think the next thing to build for is No Business as Usual March 19th (see: http://www.Answerla.org
). No school, no work, no buying, no shop[ping]. Do like [name withheld]: unplug your refrigerator.”
(1)I wasn’t surprised to hear “Get a job!” shouted on New Year’s Day as I’ve heard it at Sunday morning peace vigils, too
(2)I did ponder a positive outcome, which would result in Native Americans reclaiming North America sans bloodshed, which I may post sometime in another context.