or Give me some milk or else go home.
Up, Down, Postscript.
May not make sense this week without the music; that is, if it ever makes sense: Stuck in the Middle (with you), Stealers Wheel; maybe a bit of Three Dog Night's Mama Told me not to Come; and, in the end, back to Bob and Ballad of a Thin Man live in Ramat Gan Stadium, Israel, June 20 2011.
There are snipers up on the roof. With guns! And binoculars!
What can they possibly be doing up there?
Ahh ... must be the girl in the bikini.
There see - she turned over. She knows they are watching.
A-and that must be us there, stuck in the middle between 'em.
At the end of the day they let us go with a sunburn.
Earlier on the RCMP had been arresting people, plastic wrist ties and all, handing out a printed warning not to come back to Parliament Hill for one year or face 'serious consequences', giving them to the Ottawa Police for booking and to receive a $65 trespassing ticket and an escort off the premises - these are the 100 or so you can read about in the news.
But Ottawa shuts at 4PM (just in case you thought anyone might actually work there) and whoever it is that books people for the Ottawa Police went home - no budget for overtime I am guessing. Rather than put the rest of us in a holding cell till the next morning (which might have been a bad PR move) they just shooed us away, about another hundred or so. "Go home!" they said, and most did I guess, but for the two of us it was straight across the street to an overpriced patio for a couple'a $10 pints.
Easy to talk now, but when they threatened summary arrest for returning within a year my first response was, "Oh yeah? We'll see about that."
What they might better have been saying was, "Hokey Doodle! Look'a that now boys and girls! Here are 200 people in k-k-Canada with some remnant of a conscience. Please come back here every day, maybe you can balance out some of the people inside the building."
What can I tell you that might be useful?
A delightful young woman from Washington came up to me and said, "I know you. You were in Washington weren't you?" Her name is Yi Ming and you can see a short video of her here. It was a particular treat to see her again - to recognize her, to be recognized, to be given a little more of her story.
I spoke with Tony Van Hee. In the late 80's he and Glen Kealey were hanging out on Parliament Hill, getting regularly arrested and being so pesky that Brian Mulrooney eventually passed an act of parliament to bar Glen from shouting at him as he got into his limo in the afternoon (4PM remember). Glen used to shout, "LYIN' BRIAN!" as loud as he could - I saw and heard this a few times as I passed on my way back and forth there in those days. Twenty years later and more, and Tony is still at it as you can see. Good on him.
Part of the title of this post is 'Whither?' and it comes from Doug Adams. That is what he was asking me as we waited to be arrested, "Where are we going from here?" And he has asked it again since, so I am now setting out with him and some others we met there to see how we can answer this question.
That is what is most useful and important coming out of the day for me - that living connections are being established and renewed and strengthened - that we are not alone in this struggle.
One more story: I am sorry that I did not get a photograph of the group, just beside the girl in (and out of) her bikini, who were practicing a martial art on the grass in front of the fence. As we were sitting on the patio later having a beer they came along and took the next table and we were able to tell them that watching them go through their drill had strangely invigorated us. And their leader told us that that was exactly his intention - to spread some energizing vibrations to those of us risking arrest. I didn't get either his name or the name of the particular martial art, but I know that we were both gladdened to know that a message had been conceived and sucessfully conveyed - without a word being spoken. Grace.
It was touch and go from start to finish:
The Toronto companheira very nearly knocked me right off my perch with her correctitude - her word for it is 'encouragement' - and my intention to do something to raise the numbers went entirely unrealized. (My nephew came along but couldn't take the training on no sleep and returned directly to Toronto.) Three offers of support to the organizers went unanswered (and are unanswered yet). It would have been easy just not to leave Toronto at all - but we did.
And arrived in Ottawa after a crippling all-night Greyhound bus ride - to discover that a bus had been chartered to bring people from Toronto, which did not involve staying up all night, but that no one had thought to tell us about it. I was so exhausted at the training session that I began to weep and babble - I soon left in shame - and except for my son's good humour the next morning I was ready to quit, even having come so far.
Petty bureaucracies are the same wherever you run into them and somehow every thread snags on my negative and curmudgeonly hedgehog appurtenances. Again, not being alone made all the difference - that Moe was willing to run some interference kept me both there and mostly on the rails.
So yes, there between the snipers and the lovely exhibitionist something changed, something was learned, accomplished, initiated, reinforced.
May it grow.
There doesn't seem to be an official repository for photographs. There are some here thanks to the Washington organizers; and more here.
One of the photographers working with the organizers was Ben Powless - I have mentioned him before for his coverage of events in Peru in 2009. I was pleased to finally meet him - he was in Washington as well but I missed him by a day - he certainly merits praise for his skill and energy.
You can see a collection of his photographs on Flickr. It is always hard to find a good photograph of the photographer - but if I come across one I will post it here later.
A-and he graciously took this shot of us as we left Parliament Hill on Monday (as well as the several shots of Gitz Crazyboy).
JP is worthy of praise as well - we were all sitting obediently on the grass after having been stopped (but not technically arrested) and I heard him speaking with the Mounties behind us, and then ... there he was ... standing up (!) I was quite uncomfortable on the ground, so I got up, and also went to ask, and yes, we were permitted to stand, walk around, smoke, and were in fact repeatedly encouraged to climb back over the fence and leave. But it was JP who first broke the spell and good on him for it. It may not sound like much - but it was.
There are many others whose lives touched ours in Ottawa: Mark the Medic, Brendan the Irish, Sean & Tara, Brigette DePape, a gent from organized labour who lent me his cellphone (for a long-distance call yet! True!), another Mark from Kitchener, Jasmine Thomas from B.C. who sings like an angel ... many many many ... may all of you be well.
I may have something to say about the police later on ... There is a rumour going around that there is now a contest, initiated by someone among the Washington Park Police, to see which branch can treat protesters with the most courtesy and civility and compassion. The rumour was denied by both Mounties and Ottawa Police on the scene on Monday - but I'm not convinced ... and then too, we have yet to talk seriously with them about Stacy Bonds and Robert Dziekanski ...
This video is now available: Ottawa Action (10 min.).