Special vigil - rush hour freeway overpass!
Six adults and one small activist-women-in-training showed up to weave the pink strips into the fencing on the University Ave overpass – a pedestrian bridge that was built over I-80 a couple of years ago. Andrea & David put up the peace symbol with lightning speed. Judy, Anaya, Marsha & I worked quickly on the NO WAR – by the time we had finished all the letters with double-wide strips except the cross-bar of the ‘A’, the police showed up.
A really friendly (believe it or not) California State Trooper - a honey-brown young man on a motorcycle - drove up on the overpass to tell us we had to take down the sign. He said it is against California state law – the fence is Cal-Trans property - to affix anything to it without a permit! Rae showed up at almost the same time – she rushed to get pictures before we removed the letters.
Altho we planned on finishing our signs before the cops got there, we did have a plan in case they showed up before we were ready – we were going to take the strips down VERY, VERY SLOWLY - which we did. Because we had woven 2 strips for each part of the letter, we were able to remove one strip & still leave the sign readable. We spontaneously each took turns speaking with the officer, slowly & politely. We asked him to please explain the rule he was talking about – which he did. He told us we can hold up signs if we want, we just cannot fix anything to the fence. We asked him how we would go about getting a permit. We asked him how he came to ride his motorcycle on the pedestrian pathway & were motorized vehicles allowed. We asked him how he felt about 1664 u.s. soldiers dead and 100,000 iraqi’s dead. We asked him how we are supposed to get our message out if all the mainstream press, news, tv, radio is controlled by anti-peace forces.
Marsha showed us how to take each strip, after we’d untied all the many knots we tied into the strips thinking it would slow down whomever tried to take down our sign – not us – and wrap it slowly around our hand, making a nice, neat little bundle of the strip – redoing the wrapping if it didn’t come out just right.
And we continued taking turns to engage with our police officer. He told us that he was so aligned with what we have to say. He said that he really supported us getting the message out – just not stuck to the fence. He told us someone had called his boss’s supervisor’s boss & reported our activities who then called down the line to him. We asked him to just mosey on down the road & pretend he got a flat tire. He said they would just send someone else, who might not be so nice to us.
We asked him what would he do if we refused to take down the sign? Unfortunately this was after we’d already taken down most of the sign. He told us he would have to take it down himself. We asked him when he would be ready to stand against this war. Marsha told him we were trying to make sure his children didn’t have to grow up to be trained killers.
We asked him if refusing to take down the sign is an arrestable offense. He said it is but he wouldn’t want to arrest us. He said another officer might.
The whole time we were up on the bridge, many, many drivers went by honking, waving, & giving the peace symbol. One white male kept driving by in a huge, king-cab silver pick-up truck yelling “get a job”. He must have been exiting and entering the freeway, going round in circles – telling us to get a job! hmmmmm I told him ‘this is my job’ and ‘I’m independently wealthy – I don’t need a job’. Other people told him ‘peace is our job’ and ‘I have a job’.
Our friendly police officer finally left as we were taking down the last strip of the r – we had not taken down the single strip of the peace symbol. We felt like he was giving us a chance to leave it up – and to be sure, we did! Today, around noon, I drove under the overpass & there was the peace symbol, still up! Rae said last nite when she drove home, she saw the peace symbol shining brightly in the street lights on the overpass!
We’re planning on doing it again, maybe at 5:00a.m., before the sun comes up, for the early morning rush hour traffic!