Thursday, October 23, 2008

Of Protests...

In the interest of showing all viewpoints of an issue or event, enjoy... Additionally, here is an excerpt from a recent post to Colorado IndyMedia about Monday's protest at the Palin rally:
"All three protesters being charged in Monday’s act of civil disobedience have experienced harassment and intimidation from the GJPD in the days since the event, including visits to their homes and workplaces. Three patrol cars followed (Jay) Sanstedt on Tuesday as he skateboarded seven blocks from his home to a friend’s residence downtown, and another four patrol cars parked outside his home for more than an hour. On Wednesday, the GJPD made multiple visits to the workplaces of both Mallory Rice and Jacob Richards, unnecessarily endangering their employment. 'Having the police harass me at work puts my job at risk,' stated Rice, a Youth Mentor for at-risk children."
Several years ago, I had the privilege of sharing a table at the old Ying Thai restaurant on Orchard Mesa with Jacob Richards and his mother, Rachel, who was on Aspen City Council at the time and is now a Pitkin County Commissioner. Wow..Pitkin County has 5 commissioners.

We had a lively discussion about the events leading up to what we now know to be the war in Iraq, as well as the activities of what has become Grand Junction Alternative Media, and its' publication The Red Pill.

Jacob's been a busy guy this year, getting arrested during Dick Cheney's visit to Grand Junction this summer, and being one of three protesters (so far)
issued summonses for their stunt during Sarah Palin's visit this past Monday.

Jacob, I sympathize with some of the stuff you're upset about. You're 27 now; older than a good portion of the college age young adults that you're inspiring and motivating to get involved in the world around them. Don't you think it's time to start focusing on more constructive and articulate ways of getting your message across?

You're on the right track with the focus on alternative media, but eventually you're going to have to get serious and learn to get your way by playing the game better than the next guy. That means sweating the details, reading ahead, getting involved, and embracing the reasonable mainstream just a little bit. Run for office and encourage reasonable debate and discourse. Stand up in front of elected officials at public meetings, instead of in front of motorcades.

What did you think your little stunt on Monday evening was going to accomplish? I can't think of anything but attention to yourself and your cohorts. Your message was lost in the scuffle. You might call it courageous, but a good portion of us who may have sympathies to your message are just shaking our heads.

In your defense, if you or any of your cohorts are truly being followed or subject to workplace harassment or stakeouts in front of your residences, then
that needs to stop.

Jacob, if you need a guidepost, there's a
good poem that you're probably familiar with.
The 60's were 40 years ago. Please grow up...soon.


If you want an example of some interesting, if not courageous behavior, maybe go pay a visit to
Palisade High School. The walkout by more than 100 students there yesterday was to protest a policy that restricts those with tardiness, grades, or attendance problems to the school campus at lunch time. Not too much of a big deal, some would say, but some of the kids thought enough of the matter to take up a petition drive and walk out of class over it, so it's got to mean something.

One of the main organizers of the protest alluded to concerns about privacy; I'm guessing that means the privacy of their difficulties in school that have them relegated to campus at lunchtime. An interesting concept to explore further, along with the student's assertion that those who must eat at the school do not have enough time to do so because of the lines involved.

If the school is going to restrict students to campus for lunch, then they must make sure that enough time and resources exist for those students to eat. If the student body at Palisade is truly interested in making a point about this policy, perhaps they should all stay at school for lunch, and document the impact on the system.

Cassie Hewlings' reporting did not delve further into these concepts, nor was the Assistant Principal who was interviewed appear to have been asked about these issues. I'm wondering if Cassie was pressed to cut the article down due to space considerations; there are paragraphs at the end of the web version of this story that were omitted from the print edition. These are:

The walkout was scheduled for 9 a.m., Jacobs said, and he was pulled out of class before the protest and had his cell phone confiscated for sending text messages about the walkout.

Bollinger said students that were caught walking out were suspended, and the Palisade Police Department was called in by the school.

One student was detained for knocking over John McCain campaign signs on private property, Police Chief Carroll Quarles said, and other students were trespassing on private property and asked to leave.

“It was all pretty laid back,” Quarles said. “But it was an interesting situation.”

In any case, I think the kids have a point. Grand Junction High School has implemented a tardy policy this school year that punishes students more for being late to class than if they did not show up for class at all, and uses some very fuzzy math and Mark Twain-inspired statistics to try to justify it.

I see the need to show up for school and be on time. I've told Evan that he is responsible for making sure he is at school and doing the work. His privileges to drive and do other things are at stake. I believe that I'm being a responsible parent in trying to make sure that my child does what is necessary to succeed in school and prepare for his future. I've tried to set that example in my daily living as well.

As one of Evan's teachers said today at parent-teacher conferences, "this is not a prison". Nor is it a free-for-all, but there has to be a middle ground, and it seems that the Principals at Palisade and Grand Junction are having difficulty locating it.

Best wishes to those who think, speak their minds, and stand up for what they believe in. Make sure that you can do the walk behind your talk.

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