There was an immigration reform rally downtown a few nights ago. Some people moved into the middle of a major intersection, blocked traffic and set up a tent. Because I took the bus to work that day I got caught in the traffic gridlock caused by the protest. Waited a very long time for a bus, which wasn’t the right bus, but good enough. It was jammed to capacity, and gradually got me out of downtown.
According the Seattle Times, the protesters moved into the street at 3:30 p.m. The police responded by redirecting cars and buses. At 5:30 p.m., police asked everyone to move out of the intersection. Twenty-two people chose not to obey. Presumably some time after that these people were carried off and arrested, one-by-one.
Had I been among the protesters, I would have been amazed that the cops allowed me to gridlock the city for three hours. I’d think that maybe the police are secretly on my side, if what my side wants is maximum disruption and public attention. Other large cities could and would have cleared an intersection in less than an hour. This wasn’t, after all, one of those massive, fill-the-streets kind of demonstrations. As for immigration reform, the protest organizers have some good points to make. I would guess that they made more enemies than friends with their traffic blockade, unfortunately.
Here’s my idea: spread out through the city and engage in conversations with people in bars, clubs, and coffee shops. Show up in churches, parks, health clubs, and start friendly conversations and turn the subject to your issues. Much of liberal Seattle is already on your side, so be sure to hit the suburbs. It’s important that people’s defenses are down and they see you as part of their group, or at least potentially part of their group. People are tribal and tend to co-operate within their “tribe” and fear and disagree with those outside of their group (class, family, race, neighborhood, job). If you spend enough time with others, however, they start to accept you. Have some very specific ideas about how to enact reform and how to control the flow of immigration in a fair and reasonable way. Boil it down to a few proposals and talking points. Take those concise proposals to the people, the politicians, and the media.
Maybe this infiltration and befriending of other groups has already been tried or is impractical. Maybe I’m wrong and the street blockade really helped their cause. I’m just blogging, that’s all.