They are afraid of the drum

They are afraid of the drum

March 2, 2011

The 10th annual Walk For a New Spring is over. I got home last night so completely exhausted I wasn’t even really sure what to do. After changing out of my wet clothes I came in to my room and spent a few hours listening to music, trying to muster up enough strength to have a shower.

I probably should have slept immediately last night, and long into today because now I feel completely weakened. I thought I would sleep in today until long after noon but I woke up 9am. My body is so used to the walk schedule of getting up at 6 and being on the road by 8:30 or 9. I think it’s funny.

Yesterday was one of the most miserable, challenging, fantastic days I have ever experienced on a peace walk. We left the First Parish church of Dorchester to march into the pouring rain.

We were running late, which added a sense of urgency to the walk. We had a lot to fit into a very short period of time.

Our first stop was the Lewis D. Brown Institute. Tina Cherry and Milton the director joined us for about 2 blocks. We stopped at the spot where her son was killed. It was extremely emotional. Tina talked about reclaiming the area as a place of peace, rather than a place of sorrow. So many people lose a loved one and shut down completely, but rather than killing her, her pain fueled her and now she’s basically a superhero.

She and Milton left and we continued on toward the Boston Worker’s Alliance. The sidewalks were completely covered in ice, and the rain was pouring down. I couldn’t see through my glasses at all, and my balance was slightly off because of the banner I was carrying. But we kept walking. They kept drumming and chanting.

A police officer pulled over to the side of the road and got out of his car, he came up to me and asked what this was about, where we were going, and who we were. I didn’t really know the street names, which probably seemed strange since I was at the front of the crowd. But this man had us stopped in the rain, and it was not a comfortable feeling. My feet were soaked. My pants were drenched, and the rain had soaked through the sleeves of my jacket and my hoodie. I was worried about my cell phone. Tim finally found a brochure for the officer and he let us go.

We made it to the Boston Worker’s Alliance and had about 15 minutes to hear about the work they do in the community. I wished Bruce was there to hear about  their outreach. They have been working to find out how many homes need to be weatherized, and have started training people so that once these jobs become relevant there will immediately be people ready to work. They are also the ones who got the CORI reform passed in MA.
We left their offices for the torrential downpour. We walked to Chuck Turner’s old office. He is 70 years old, and he is going to federal prison for 3 years. And then he has 3 years of parole to look forward to when he gets out. He’s going to prison because the FBI thought it would be cool to frame him and slander his reputation. It’s kind of insane. What kind of country are we living in where the people assigned and trained to protect us are working to set up a 70 year old community activist and put him in jail for years? Honestly, I would probably leave the country. But he’s an incredible man, and he’s facing his unfair sentence with his head held high. We sang “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize” for/with him, and gave him 2 symbolic plants.

I couldn’t feel my hands. My gloves were only making my life worse because they were drenched. I took them off and started squeezing my neon red hands. Every time I touched one hand to another, the imprint stayed there for a good 5 seconds. I could barely move my hands.

We were running a little bit later than we thought, so we had to drive over to Park street and the state house.

Most people rode in the van, but a few of us took the subway. Loreto and I talked about our need to catch up, while Tim and Skip talked about who knows what.
We got out and met up with the others in front of the state house. We walked over to the statue of Mary Dyer where Kato Shonin & co. prayed, and then we walked into the state house.

It was basically one of the most hilarious things I have ever experienced. We had an appointment for 12:30 to talk to Gov. Patrick’s representative, so we were prepared. But we marched into the state house about 20 people strong, completely soaked, with bags and signs. We had to go through the metal detectors and put all of our things through the bag checker thing. I think the security people were just confused.

I set off the detector because I was wearing my Ed Hardy belt, hah.

We went upstairs to the Governor’s office where everyone proceeded to lay out all of their wet things on the ground and take up all the chairs in the waiting room, no doubt soaking them all. I feel like we were basically the most unorthodox group to ever grace the Gov.’s office.

I loved it. It showed how serious we were. I was extremely aware that I hadn’t showered in two days and that my hair was frizzy, my clothes soaked and my shoes squeaking. But it was incredible because our outer appearances really only matter as much as we allow them to.

Tim and I read the letter aloud and we had an incredible meeting with the rep. who promised to stay in touch. And not in a flaky “I have to get these people out of here” way. In a serious way.

We had lunch, and I swear on my life I have never been more grateful for soup. I was still soaked and shivering. My goosebumps were ridiculous. But if someone had come up to me and showed me a briefcase containing 1Million dollars cash for my soup I would have refused. And that’s the truth. And that’s important, because when you are on the walk, you recognize the things that really matter. I thought our day was over, but we had one last stop. That we had to walk to.

Boston city hall. Which is not far at all, it’s actually really close, but every step was like a journey and a half. Everyone chanted outside of the building and bowed – as they always do before we enter any place at all – and we went to go inside. Some security guard came over and opened the door all angry.

“What are you doing?”

I told him we had an appointment. He didn’t believe me. I’m pretty sure he thought we were some kind of crazy terrorists. Howell.

He said we had to wait outside while he verified our appointment. He went inside to call a bunch of people and freak out a little bit to everyone he could. He was pointing to us and talking to some guy next to him, I smiled and waved. It was basically torture to make us wait outside, and didn’t make sense. If we had a bomb or something, being one foot outside of the glass door wouldn’t protect him. He definitely could have let us wait inside in a corner.

So Sister Clare was expressing her disbelief at how crazy the situation was. I just laughed and was like, “Don’t worry SRC. They’re just afraid of the drum.” She nodded, “Yes!” She was starting to talk, but a security guard came over to let us in. He was being super friendly, probably because he had realized that our meeting was with three of the city’s more influential council members, but we didn’t care. We smiled and joked back with him. We got through the metal detectors and went upstairs to meet with Charles Yancey, Maureen Feeney and Felix Arroyo. It turned out that we were 30 minutes early, and they were using the conference room to give this guy Juan from the office a surprise birthday party. After he ate a piece of cake he came out and invited us all in to eat the rest and drink the rest of the soda. It wasn’t his real birthday, as February has leap year and all that.

So basically our meeting was dope. We read the letter again. We ate cake. Merrily. And drank tea. And finally were on our way to Dorchester to get the other car, and go home.

The walk is over and I’m back ‘home’. I’m super dehydrated and stuff, but daijoubu desu. The 5th will be splendid.

(Happy Baba Marta)

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