Comments & Curiosities: Planning for a protest

June 19, 2010|Peter Buffa

Ever been to a protest? I haven't. Not on the protest side anyway.

We've all seen protests — people shouting, waving signs, burning stuff, yelling "What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!" That kind of thing.

I don't get too stressed about things, and never enough to march down the street with a sign yelling things. Plus the things I do get amped up about aren't that interesting to most people. "What do we want? Cannoli! When do we want 'em? Now!" That doesn't work. Nobody does that.


But in the last few weeks, there have been a number of protests right here in the Newport-Mesa land that are both reminiscent of and very different from what I think of as protests. Keep in mind I went to college in the '60s — the Golden Age of protests — civil rights, the Vietnam War, bras.

As an ROTC cadet at the University of Arizona and then an Air Force officer, I saw my share of protests and heard plenty of shouting. It was wild and wooly. Riots, huge demonstrations, the Chicago Seven, Timothy Leary, don't trust anyone older than 30, etc., etc.

So it was a little bit of déjà vu all over again to see not one but two street protests around here in just two weeks — one in Santa Ana, the other in Costa Mesa. Both were aimed at Arizona's new immigration law and Costa Mesa's resolution declaring itself a 'Rule of Law' city. But these protests were very different from the ones that I remember.

In Santa Ana, on June 3, protesters lay down in the street in a perfect circle, arms extended, hands locked together. I thought it was very stylish — kind of a Busby Berkeley/June Taylor Dancers/immigration protest thing.

But protests have also gone high-tech since the '60s. Not only were their hands chained to a heavy rope, but they were hidden inside lengths of PVC pipe that were taped to the rope with enough duct tape to circle the globe, twice, which leads me to believe that these might have been immigration rights/engineering student activists.

Rope, locks, PVC and duct tape need way more planning than grabbing a Joan Collins tape, a little weed and the effigy of Richard Nixon before hitting the streets.

Tuesday evening, as I was wending my way north on the 405 Freeway, which I do a lot, I noticed the Bristol Street off-ramp was empty, as in nobody, which was very odd, and there were two police cars are blocking the ramp, facing the wrong way, which was odder.

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