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AFSC "Eyes Wide Open Exhibit" Comes to Staten Island!
My mother always told me "No good deed goes unpunished!" So, never listening to my mom, I thought she was nuts. As I grew older, and wiser, I realized she was right! So here I am, a crazy activist, doing my best to end the war and get Bush and Cheney impeached.
I thought it would be a great idea to show the Eyes Wide Open Exhibit at the National Night Out Against Crime in Staten Island. Check out their website: http://www.nationaltownwatch.org/nno/history.html
So this exhibit is about 200 combat boots tagged with names, photos and some memorabilia donated by families, and there are about 50 Iraqi shoes with large posters showing the destruction of the Iraqi families by the war. Not the kind of thing you want to set up in Staten Island, or where there are tons of cops. But, being crazy, I did. The first horror is getting a permit from the Parks Department in New York City! 3 weeks go by and no answer. The day before the event, I call the Commissioner's office and start a ruckus! It turns out they won't give me the permit after all. OK, so I resort to guerilla tactics. Get all my friends in the movement to start sending emails and call the Boro Commissioner! 2 hours later I have a permit in hand, and an apology!
I thought I would have to set up almost 400 boots and shoes and get arrested doing it. But anyway, off I go to rent a cargo van, take the day off from work, and get a friend to help me load up the van, which would be filled to the brim, and all in 100+ degree heat! So driving this van in New York City, there are truck checkpoints along the way. We get to the Brooklyn tunnel, and the cops stop me. "What's in the van?", they ask. "200 pairs of combat boots and 50 shoes representing people who died in Iraq, pictures of the dead, and memorabilia. The boots are from New York State only." "Oh!" the cops replied. "OK, you can go."
Not really funny, but the look on their faces was priceless! We get to the beach, where this night out against crime is, and our Parks friend is not a happy camper. He "allows" us to set up on the boardwalk, about 1/4 mile down from where the real cops are. check out the pics at: http://antiauthoritarian.net/NLN/?p=321
After almost 3 hours in the sweltering heat, lining up boots, pictures, shoes, and literature, we wait for people to pass by. To our surprise, we had a lot of people come our way, and they had no idea how awful war could be. The boots and shoes were as they say "a real eye opener."
So, it was a pretty successful event. I had to return the cargo van that night, or pay for another day. But the AFSC staff would be leaving the building in Manhattan by 9:30 PM, so I couldn't make it. We packed up the Rubbermaid containers with the combat boots and Iraqi shoes, piled them back into the Cargo van, patted ourselves on the back and went home. A completely exhausting day, with lots of roadblocks, but we got through it.
I crash in bed, only to be woken up by a horrible thunderstorm, which left a huge mess all over New York City that night and into the next morning. Now I have a van load of stuff that has to get back into Manhattan. So I head out early to beat the rush hour traffic, and get through all the checkpoints, so I can get to work on time. I also hope to find some interns there at the AFSC building to help me unload. After going through another checkpoint, paying another $18 in tolls, and 2 hours later, I moved about 2 miles onto the Verrazano bridge, or not very far at all. I now get a phone call from Annie at AFSC "she is stuck in her house because there are no trains." So no one can help me unload, so I can then go to work, a job that I have no leave time left because all I do is either get arrested or participate in protests!
After I called the van guy and told him I needed the truck for another day, a prospect he was not too happy with, I called in sick to work, turned around, and went home. Now I have a huge van with tons of stuff that has to get unloaded. I jump into the back and start lifting these heavy containers and putting them in my house, which quickly fills up with boxes that say "Eyes Wide Open Boots - NYS". The hallway filled up, the laundry room, and then my dining room. I even had to leave some in the front of my house. My neighbors, who are mostly pro-war Republicans, watch me with these bins and boots, nodding disapprovingly!
Since I had such a bad day, and might lose my job, I decided to give the neighborhood a treat. I unpacked the boots and put them all over my front lawn, signs and all! I'm going to end this war, whether they like it or not. AFSC would be proud.