And thank god for that.
This will be brief, because I’m tired. But this is worth sharing with y’all before I let the lids droop.
Y’all know ALEC, right? They’re the conservative organization that brings state legislators together with corporate lobbyists and provides them with a private space for them to develop the “model legislation” they hope will someday govern the rest of us. It’s a secretive process that shuns public participation, for obvious reasons.
Well, I just got a brand new DSLR camera for my birthday a couple of months ago and I decided to put it to good use. ALEC legislators may be able to huddle behind closed doors with their corporate sponsors (somebody has to pay for their posh hotel), but… Nobody can get to those private rooms without first passing through the front door of the hotel which is in a very, very public place.
I decided to do some journalism. I decided to do some photojournalism. I decided to stand outside and capture as many hi-resolution pictures as I could. And I've been doing it for two days now. What I've been thinking is that good new-media, crowd-sourced journalism can bring sunlight to a place there’s never been any. By posting these pictures and letting the world tag them with names, we can know which lobbyists and which legislators are maneuvering in the shadows of democracy. I don’t know if it will work, but I think it’s worth trying.
I was in the middle of my shift this evening when my priorities were superseded by others with equally (or more) pressing concerns.
The thought that they were simply asking for the right to live free of police terrorism and that the people inside the hotel despised them so much for such a simple ask… well, it truly had me choking up.
After they said their piece (peaking with four and one-half minutes of silence), the enlighteners moved on to spread the message to another part of the city. My heart went with them, but my body remained in place to gather more portraits of the scum that would keep my heroes out of the polling booths.
Funny thing about that though… As much as I wanted to hate the haters, I found it impossible. In fact, I found myself having wonderful political discussions with many of them. And I found many of them to be warm, interesting and even… kind.
It was a cold night. A former legislator, now working to privatize education, bought me a coffee. His staffer brought it to me, and we talked for a while. (I got the big one).
Then a couple of guys from Kansas got out of a taxi. They posed for my picture. We spoke. We disagreed. We laughed. And they went inside.
I turned around and there were four more men in suits. They joked about me taking pictures. One flipped me off. We laughed.
And then the one that flipped me off (red tie, below) took three quick strides, barreled into me and threw me over a row of hedges.
I guess it was his way of protesting (wink wink, nudge nudge, see what I did there?) the way I was exercising my First Amendment rights by using my camera.
Poor, hapless fellow...
He did that in the plain view of about 20 police officers that had just professionally managed the earlier protests.
The police went into the hotel to review the security footage (I’m sure they wanted to ensure there was no provocation on my part – and there surely wasn't). About an hour later, I was asked to duck out of the way so as to minimize any drama – they were about to escort the suspect out of the hotel for arrest, and it would be safest if I was not within his line of sight. I watched from afar as they clicked the handcuffs on him and tucked him into a police vehicle to be taken in for processing.