Today I participated in a protest of the Israeli invasion of Ghaza. It is always difficult finding my way around the streets of downtown Madison- mainly because I'm still so new to the area. But the one-way streets don't help.
We circled round the capitol building, stopping at the offices of our Senators and Congresswoman. The 150 of us were dressed in black, and were supposed to have a mourntful attitude. Twenty marched single file in front, wearing white masks and the names of the dead.
As we came to Senator Kohl's office, one rambunctious gentleman started going off on how we were the ones in control of the government, and our leaders were there to serve and work for us. We don't ask, we demand- and we should go immediately in and occupy the offices. I'm not sure if he realized that no one had yet denied us the right to see our leaders (nor would they). I'm not sure if he realized that he was taking the focus away from the dead and dying, and putting it all on himself.
But about 100 of us marched up to the offices, and briefly, for a few minutes, occupied the hallway.
I must say, I wasn't expecting the deal with the shoes. Evidently the guy thought it would be a cool visual display, because he'd read about it in recent news, not realizing what a real incredible insult it is in that culture. Or else he actually holds Congresswoman Baldwin in the same contempt as he holds President Bush.
The one exuberant guy in the video is that same one demanding we invade the offices earlier. You can see he is very uncomfortable when anyone else speaks, whether they are for or against the Israeli invasion, because he is so eager to share what he thinks are erudite words. (He later spouted some anti-Semitic diatribe, which thankfully wasn't caught on video, as I'm using Flip Video, whose editing software doesn't work.)
I was impressed with the politeness of the representative, and indeed all of the representatives. It may be that he knew he was being recorded, but he had the look of a man who knows his job- no matter the views of those who come, he takes those views to the people's representative.
(I was unable to get a unobscured picture, as the same guy in both videos kept on feeling it more important to get his shots in front of others who were trying to get video.)
After that session, we made our way out of the building. For some strange reason, I kept on finding myself at the head of groups as we traveled in and out of buildings. In this case, I found the stairwell, as 100 people using the same 4 elevators made for slow going. But the stairwells are not direct, and more like a dimly-lit maze, and I had visions of leading some thirty people into the beginnings of a horror film.
Our last visit was to Senator Feingold- but his office is all the way over in Middleton, an adjoining town. This meant that nearly all the protestors had other obligations, and only four of us made it to the last office. (It was much easier for me, as his office, it turns out, is only five minutes from where I live.)
I have no illusions that our protest, or our requests, will do anything to stop the carnage and bloodshed in the slightest.