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Work 4 Peace,Hold All Life Sacred,Eliminate Violence! I am on my mobile version of the door-to-door, going town-to-town holding readings/gatherings/discussions of my book "But What Can I Do?" This is my often neglected blog mostly about my travels since 9/11 as I engage in dialogue and actions. It is steaming with my opinions, insights, analyses toward that end of holding all life sacred, dismantling the empire and eliminating violence while creating the society we want ALL to thrive in

Monday, September 27, 2004

ohio bound - atlantic, iowa & the first amendment again!

atlantic iowa turned out to be a kinda cute, fairly large town for the western part of iowa - which means it had about 4 old downtown streets (the cute part) and then a sprawling 'highway' or 2, big enough for walmart to be interested in building a superstore on the outskirts of town (the large part).
we met rae's aunt at a hy-vee supermarket that margaret said had a great deli inside where we had tea & chocolate chip cookies - all from wild oats but hy-vee supplied the hot water! the deli is nearly empty when we sit down, but old white men seem to begin ambling in & taking chairs along the wall. i see them staring out the corner of my eye and i try nodding & smiling at them just to be iowaian-like, getting no response. (midwesterners cannot talk about new yorkers being unfriendly, no way!)
as we're chatting & nibbling, a 30-something, white male store manager ambles over, all smiles & charm, & asks if that is my truck in the parking lot, pointing out the window at my beautiful truck that is positioned for optimal highway & parkinglot viewing! i proudly confirm it is. he asks me if i could please move it because it is offensive to his customers. shocked, i tell him how strange that is because several customers have told me how much they love my truck & are so happy it is here! he tries again to ask me to move. we tell him we are customers & will not be there for much longer anyway.
i keep my eye on the swelling old white male population congregating against the wall, shooting them smiles & friendly nods on occasion - still to no avail. i notice not one has a sodapop drink or deli cream & jelly salad in front of them.
we continue our conversation for a few more minutes & then the manager's back, still smiling but you can tell it is harder for him to commit to that particular facial pose. he has something bright pink in his hands that he thrusts at me & asks if i recognize it! i peer at it, a folded codepink sticker. "of course," i say, "we've probably handed out over 20,000 of those - i believe even some right out there in the parking lot" i add. he sighs heavily & crumples up the 'women say pink slip bush' sticker and asks again for me to move my truck.
we get into the public domain argument & i accuse him of discriminating against my truck because of my message. he tells me this is a private parking lot that is open to the public but they have the right to refuse service to anyone. i ask him to show me in writing where it says this lot is a private parking lot & they have the right to determine who can park there, & who can not - & i'll be happy to go. he takes his leave once again.
margaret, who lives about 60 miles away on a farm with a husband and grown son, is stunned. she keeps apologizing for the store manager's behavior as if it is her very own fault. she expresses her disbelief over & over that anyone would demand i move my truck because of the paint job.
we gather our things & head out - we do need to get on the road to ohio and registering voters! on our way into iowa, at council bluffs, we grabbed a few voter reg forms, just in case! as we're walking toward the car, i see a police car entering the lot & heading to us. a kinda short white male officer, early 30's i'd guess, in that dark blue uniform w/the shiney chrome badge & snazzy dark sunglasses, parks a lane over from where we're walking, gets out his car & approaches me, asking if that's my truck. i again proudly confirm it is & he tells me i have to move it. when i ask him to explain, he reiterates this is private property & the store has the right to ask me to move. i ask him to verify the law about public parking on private property & the store's right to discriminate. he seems to think they have that right. i ask where it is posted then. fyi - this hy-vee's is set back from the highway and shares a huge space w/lots of other shops haphazardly scattered around the periphery of the parking lots - there are actually a couple of lots and several stores - some joined together, some not - all of varying ages from ancient to the far past sharing the few acres of prime atlantic realestate.
the officer, answering my question re:posting, gestures to the hy-vee sign far away on top of the building - that makes it a posting he challenges. then he notices my california plates asks me about what we're doing all the way to ioway - i'm happy to tell him about codepink & our quest to register voters & to get rid of bush. another officer, a younger friendlier taller white womon without sunglasses, has joined us. the first officer says something like he better check my driver's license. i ask him why would he think he has to do that?
rae interrupts us w/her peaceful police officer buttons that rambie refuses but the womon officer takes willingly. a disgruntled hy-vee customer who has been watching the whole exchange w/such disgust, now ads his voice to the action: "will someone move this (poolice) car so i can back out?" he demands, leaning against a car that appears to be holding him up as much as he's holding it up! rambie, momentarily indecisive, swaggers off to comply & i continue to discuss the issue of public access, discrimination and the first amendment w/the second officer. she admits she has no idea what the law is.
rae & her aunt & i begin our good-byes next to the truck as the police cars roll off the lot. we take too long, wanting to hug & get pictures & re-live the moment, so rambie returns to try to rush us - we've traveled over 1500 miles to meet for a moment w/rae's aunt & this officer doesn't want to give us 5 minutes! margaret doesn't want to see us go to jail in atlantic - not that we want to either - so we decide to meet in another parking lot down the highway & off we go.
rae & i debate if we should go to the newspaper office =- they'd probably print the story, given the excitement it's stirred up in the hy-vee parking lot. but then the need to get thru iowa & off to ohio wins out! peace, sam

ohio bound - omaha

once again we find it as easy to spread HOPE as it is to spread FEAR!!!
we've made it omaha, which is the very last stop in nebraska!!! altho we traveled thru most of nebraska at nite, we did not received ONE fuck you!!! only positives & a couple of thumbs down!!! we went directly to the wild oats this a.m. to stock up on supplies & met lots of wonderful wimmin who were so happy to see us. out in the parking lot, an older jewish man approached the truck as i was getting things ready to go. he began to inform me he was going to make a statement. i told him a few times, if he wishes to engage in a dialogue, i'm open to talking w/him for a few minutes.
he began w/instructing me to remember 9/11 and how bush was protecting us - i interrupted him & asked 'how do you know i didn't lose someone in 9/11?' he apologized and continued to say he liked bush. when i asked him why, joel told me he was a ww2 vet & had fought in germany and bush was stopping a 21st century hitler. i asked him who really was acting like hitler today? who was engaging in 'preemptive' war? who was going outside their own country & trying to conquer & occupy other countries? who was trying to run the world? i told him about how the world see's pres bush & the u.s. agenda as the BIGGEST threat to world peace.
joel switched gears a little and defended bush because of his 'support' (my quotation marks) of israel. fortunately, rae has given me a flyer she found in nyc put out by - i knew a few of the stats, like how really BAD bush policy is for the israeli/palestinian people: since bush's inauguration, more israeli's & palestinians have been killed than in the entire time from the first intifada in 1987 until the end of 2000. this is support for israel?
rae has joined us in the parking lot w/another womon - we are all jewish wimmin, as joel is also jewish & wants to know. he seems opened or at least to give pause, maybe. when rae asks him who he is supporting in the election, he now says he is undecided! yeah!
after joel leaves, we talk a little about the big 11/2 'what if' question: should we leave the country? should we fight harder? should we give up? i talk about cornell west & his vision re:change that has made such an impact on my life & work. he said something like: those of us who work for change must step back & look at the bigger picture & KNOW that change is going to happen - it always does happen - it just might not happen in our lifetime, but we have evidence upon evidence that change does happen. he said what is so very important is how we live our own lives, working for change, with the knowledge that we are doing our part in making change happen whether we live to see it or not!
the womon rae has been talking with hugs both of us & thanks us profusely - she said she had all but given up hope before we drove into town. she is now going to re-register to vote AND she is going to become an active voter reg person - she's a waiter & will ask everyone she serves if they're registered to vote - she'll have her clipboard & forms ready!!! yeah!!!
off to iowa & meeting rae's aunt! peace, sam