Why Isn’t Everyone in the Streets?
After the election, like so many, I was devasted. The loss of a good, qualified woman to a sexual predator, liar, bigot, and criminal was confounding. I don’t know a single woman and know several men, who have experienced #MeToo, or sexual harassment, assault, or rape. I responded viscerally to the hate and bigotry from the man who became POTUS and then his band of followers who mocked others’ pain and compassion.
As the proud granddaughter of Jewish immigrant refugees fleeing violence, the Muslim Ban affected me to my core. Refusal of people based on religion? Profiling and threatening a registry? Banning entry? This sounded all too familiar. I knew I couldn’t be silent. More recently, we’ve watched in horror as the Administration’s Zero Tolerance Policy used the law, not to protect people, but to deliberately harm them. Separating children from caregivers is child abuse, torture. The Administration was warned about the damage this would do to these legal asylum seekers. They didn’t care, lied about it, and were finally forced by a judge to right the wrongs. Though some wrongs will never be righted.
I count among family and friends every group the Republican Administration has demonized. They have created policies to oppress the most vulnerable and financially reward their rich donors at the expense of the majority of U.S. citizens. I’m a practicing Unitarian Universalist. The new leader and his party are an anathema to all values I hold dear—the worth and dignity of ALL people (no exceptions), justice, equality, the democratic process, care for our planet, support for one another. Love. Compassion.
David Corn, Mother Jones, first reported on the dossier in October 2016. It flew under the radar as Access Hollywood tapes and hacked DNC emails hit the public within hours of one another. In January 2017 (before the inauguration) I read a about the dossier in The Guardian. All this combined had me apoplectic: WHY ISN’T EVERYONE IN THE STREETS?!
I’ve wanted a massive in-the-street demonstrations since November 10th, 2016. For me, The Women’s March 2017 in D.C. was a turning point and my full launch into political activism.
I half-jokingly said to my husband, I think I’m going to stand in the middle of downtown with a sign, even if I’m by myself. I’ve been threatening to do so for months.
Then came #StandOnEveryCorner
When Bryce Tache, founder of #StandOnEveryCorner started, I was thrilled! I happened to be on vacation and doing an activism talk (The Resistance never sleeps) and told the assembled about #StandOnEveryCorner and that when I returned to Illinois I planned to do it. And two weeks after Bryce, I did. I was the third “corner.”
I go out EVERY night 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in Naperville, IL at the corner of Jackson and Webster and peacefully demonstrate. Today marks Day 40. We have a rotation of a hundred (and growing) people who come out—some once, some once a week, and some multiple times a week. We have had as few as three and as many as twenty, but generally eight to fourteen people come, who want to share issues with others, encourage the vote, and show others they are not alone. Our largest night was fifty, which took place right before the nationwide vigils for Confront Corruption/Demand Democracy. That was the night when we received press coverage both from the Chicago Tribune and more local Naperville Sun, as well as our local television station NCTV17.
Why I Stand
I #StandOnEveryCorner for the Midterm vote on November 6, 2018 and to restore the democracy we hold so dear.
**I #StandOnEveryCorner because I have zero tolerance for hate. **We focus nightly on reuniting families. There are children and their parents suffering right now. Our news cycle is rapid and by design, meant to distract one heinous act with another. The Zero Tolerance policy stinks of Nazism, Japanese Internment camps, and American Slavery.
I #StandOnEveryCorner for justice. Opponents often bash liberals who call themselves “tolerant” as hypocrites when perceived as intolerant. I explain that “tolerance” does not mean anything goes. Tolerance means justice. We are for justice and intolerant of hate and injustice.
When I #StandOnEveryCorner, I get a read on my community. Hard-core POTUS supporters don’t want to talk. They want to rant. Drive by “trolls” give the finger, or name-call or shake their heads in disapproval. We do our best to ignore them. We have Democrats, Republicans, and Independents who are “regulars” that stand.
When someone stands in front of our signs when they stop to talk I attempt to maneuver them to the side or raise my sign above my head. If they want a long discussion that starts off with complex subjects (for example, arguing immigration law,) I say, “I’d love to know why you feel this way.” Or, “can we sit down and talk at 7:00 p.m. when I’m done?” One man changed his tune completely from antagonistic to friendly and shook all of our hands. “I like that,” he said. “That’s what we need. To talk to each other.” He couldn’t stay but I considered that a win.
Overwhelmingly, response has been positive in our “barely blue” city. We’ve had countless thumbs up, new people join us, and many “thank yous” and promises to vote.
I #StandOnEveryCorner so that those most harmed by this Administration know they are not alone and have allies. A Hispanic mom and her son stopped by. She began to cry and thanked us. Friends, this is one of the most rewarding reasons I stand. We do this so others know they are not alone, and that there are people who care and are fighting for justice for ALL people.
I #StandOnEveryCorner to foster dialog and unity and find common ground. To save our country, the majority must come together civilly on a shared belief in democracy and a shared understanding of truth. We’ll talk to everyone who is civil, listen with kindness, call out hate, support fear, but always, our intention is to raise awareness for issues and get out the vote. Majority America does not support GOP policy. For those that do, we can listen. But, we need to get more people to the polls to vote blue. We outnumber red voters. We must inspire them to vote their voice.
The discussions are enlightening and hopeful. When these discussions take place, “conservatives” stop seeing all “liberals” as angry snowflake crybabies (I’ve heard it all) and the enemy. Liberals stop seeing all conservatives as lacking com passion or self-centered. One young man walked by with friends and tipped his cap at us, saying he votes Republican. We said, ‘your vote is your choice. Just vote.’ He came back without his friends and thanked us. He expected pushback and instead got respect and kindness. One surprise is the lack of knowledge about what is happening week-to-week in our country. We do a lot of awareness raising and educating.
Will some Republican supporters vote blue? Probably not. It doesn’t matter. Everyone is entitled to their vote. We need to reach non-voters and the disengaged, get people registered, raise awareness of the issues, and get them out to vote. Most of us also canvass, phone bank, do postcards to voters, volunteer, and/or donate.
#StandOnEveryCorner is a positive and fun way to encourage others to participate in the democratic process and to get out the vote. I talk about the 2018 Midterms as the most important vote of our lives if we care about fair and free elections and the checks and balances of government. But, let’s not blind ourselves. It is possible that the Midterm fix is already in.
#StandOnEveryCorner is the germination of what I wanted since November 10, 2016: to get everyone into the streets fighting for our democracy. We are a country in crisis and I can no longer wait for someone else to change our world. Given the trajectory of this presidency, the escalating abuses, flouting of the rule of law, the continued silence of the Republican party, one way or another, this country will reach a flashpoint. #StandOnEveryCorner opened the door. And now others are coming out to be heard.
#StandOnEveryCorner means I’m already in the street. And it’s fun! Every day, I am happy to be part of the people doing this now. I hope others will not fear joining us. First ten, then a hundred. Then thousands, and, if and when we need it, millions, until we return to democratic norms, the rule of law, justice, tolerance, acceptance, compassion, and love.
Join Karen Peck’s corner in Naperville, IL at the corner of Jackson and Webster, every day from 6:00-7:00 p.m.