There is a proud tradition of protest in my family. I keep this letter framed on my office wall as a reminder of the debt I and all Americans owe to my parents generation who fought the forces of reaction in another time.
For the past few days the students of Talladega College have made a forthright effort to change the social patterns of this community, by eliminating the segregation of this community, by eliminating the segregation of public facilities in this city. Shirley was one of the students to participate I the sit-in demonstration, resulting in her arrest this past Monday. She and her fellow demonstrators are to be commended for attempting to make democracy a living reality.
In our visit to the jail on the tenth, we found that the students were in excellent health and high spirits. When Shirley was asked by our legal counsel if she wanted to be released from jail, she replied that she would prefer to remain, rather than to accept available bond.
All of us here at Talladega College are behind your daughter’s action, and stand ready to make the same sacrifice. In times like these, our faith in God assures us that He will stand by us in our efforts to carry out His will in providing equal opportunities and privilege for all mankind. Your prayers and the prayers of your community will also serve to strengthen our determination to see this worthwhile struggle through to a successful conclusion.
Shirley’s case will come to trial on April 16th. You may write to her personally, in care of the City Jail, Talladega, Alabama, and should you have any questions to ask or statements to make about Shirley, please call or write to us at any time, in care of President Gray, or Dorothy Vails, Talladega College, Talladega Alabama.
With this tradition in mind wife and I hoped in our car and went to Burbank.
The Disney ABC studios/headquarters complex is an impressive fixture. It encompasses about 10 New York square blocks and as Murphy’s Law would have it the only parking was on the opposite side of where we wanted to go. No problem because that gave us the chance to walk and gather our thoughts. On the way in we met 5 or 6 fellow rabble rousers and I’m one of the world’s most extroverted people, so I struck up conversation. What’s your name? Why are you here? What’s your motivation? I had expected to hear things like to support Obama and other partisan answers. How pleasantly surprised I was to find out that in my initial little group of protesters that was not the issue that got them into the streets. Like me they weren’t so upset that their candidate got bashed, but instead they objected to American Gladiatorization of the whole event. There was even a Hillary supporter with us. That gave me, dare I say hope.
4:15 – Disney’s Main Gate
There are about 50 of us and 10 media types milling about. Several of our protestors have signs, but that is not our goal for today. Our goal is to hand out the little Chinese made lapel pins that are now the test by which we measure patriotism to all the Disney employees as they TGIF out of the complex. When I got there our brothers and sisters were enthusiastically distributing the flair from the sidewalks on either side of the driveways. The employees were remarkably receptive. At least those in the Hondas were. The Bentley and Benz crowd zipped by without rolling down their windows.
I’m a bit more confrontational, and definitely more mad so I take up station right in front of the exit lane and begin to berate this corporate gulag archipelago with all my heart and soul at the top of my lungs Alex Jones style. A pledge pin on your uniform! (doing my Animal House impression) is that how we define patriotism! Does your pastor love America! If William Ayers is so bad why didn’t you prosecute him! Who gives a rats ass about the capital gains tax, only you and your corporate masters pay them! Charlie I AM BITTER!
5:00 – The Associated Press
I am a mad man. I admit it, but I am a mostly educated one loud and vocal. I start to notice a little attention from our media representatives. There is a paparazzi type snapping my picture, and a couple of video cameramen who look freelance are starting to take notice. A very nice cameraman from the AP tells me he has his reporter on the line, and would I like to talk to her. Oh hell yes I would. She asks who I am, where I’m from why I’m here, am I associated with media outlets, who I’m supporting in the election, what’s the crowd like, what are the signs like, what was wrong with the questions and interstingly what was wrong with having regular citizens ask them.. She seemed like a very nice young lady too so I let her know. In summary I explained to her that there was a reason the founders made the 1st amendment freedom of the press. It was because an informed electorate was vital to our democracy. I let her know in no uncertain terms that ABC let us down and how. I also begged her for her help. I let her know as a citizen how important the real issues of America are and that we need her and her fellow professionals to be our eyes and ears. I think she appreciated that. Here is her story
BURBANK, Calif.—About 50 people rallied at Disney Studios Friday to protest the questions that ABC News journalists asked the Democratic presidential candidates during a debate earlier this week.
Protestors waved signs that read "Restore the Fourth Estate" and "ABC is TMZ," referring to the online celebrity site.
Organizer Rick Jacobs criticized ABC for focusing on the past gaffes of Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, instead of issues like the war in Iraq and the American economy.
Jacobs said he was offended that Obama was asked why he hasn't worn an American flag pin on his lapel.
"Patriotism isn't defined by a flag pin made in China," he said.
ABC did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
"I'm protesting the dumbing down of America ... of what should be news," said Albert Johnson, Jr., an insurance agent from Altadena. "I could ask any Hooters waitress and they'd have better questions. All that bing-pow graphics? What is this—a baseball game?"
ABC News is owned by The Walt Disney Co.
6:15 – Big Blacked out Suburbans
By now we’re having a funky good time. Our ranks have swollen to maximum and the flag pins are flying off the shelves. I notice literally out of nowhere 2 Suburbans outfitted Blackwater style swoop around the corner park and spit out a few guys in mouse security costumes. Corporate security it looks like government security except they wear better clothes.
One of the tactics our brothers and sisters were using was to walk in the crosswalk and give the pins to the people. Well as we know in America we must stay within the lines and we weren’t, so a motorcycle cop came over and told our organizer he was going to start spitting out tickets. This Burbank officer was a credit to his profession. I’m not sure if he was used to dealing with people like us, but he was extremely cool. It was obvious he was getting pressure rolling down hill to corral us, and he was doing his level best to do so without having to break out his ticket book.
6:30 – Rick decides to save some of our Brothers and Sisters some money.
The reception we are receiving from the inmates of mouschwicz is great, but the reception we are getting from the passers by is better. Horn are honking, people are giving us the thumbs up. Like Michelle Obama I’m feeling very proud of America. I almost think it is too good to be true that we may not fall for the same load of tripe that was fed to us in 2004. However, our enthusiasm is becoming to great we won’t stay within the lines, and as we were ending the end of our day anyway Rick decides to call it and save people a trip to the Muni Court.
All in all a fun time was had by all and a point had been made, but it is a point that needs punctuation. On the way home I actually heard a new radio commentator crowing what a success the debate was. He mentioned the high ratings and the fact that so many hits had been made on ABC’s website. He equated it to making money. He said that Dancing with the Presidential candidates was a success because people watched it never mind that they were battling vomiting while doing it. He said that so many negative e-mails and messages was at least website traffic which equaled money.
I’m looking at that letter again, it’s calling me. Looks like I need to go yell in front of his building. This election is too important.