I went to the "Rally to Recall Judge Persky" at the San Jose Hall of Justice on September 2nd. It was the first rally I'd ever been to and, as a friend put it, since it was a rally rather than a protest it was a pretty safe 'first' to try. It was… weirdly fascinating.
I took Goldie with me. I figured not only would it be good practice for her in maneuvering through crowds, but also she's a really mellow pup… maybe she could help folks stay relaxed a bit. As we left the house I was amused to hear Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyrie" on the radio — it seemed a good omen! We arrived at 11:00 am, an hour after the scheduled start. There were some tall banners set up as a backdrop to the speakers' podium, and a nice, large crowd with many signs. I was pleased and surprised to see how many male speakers there were — I think it's an excellent idea for male allies to start speaking up against rape, since I suspect rapists and rape apologists aren't going to listen to women. There were also many intelligent, articulate, and fascinating women who spoke, including Stanford law professor Michele Landis Dauber, who is leading the recall campaign on Judge Aaron Persky.
Interestingly, though the rally was set to run from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, the speakers were all finished by 11:30 am. Folks wandered around a bit, chatting with each other and getting last-minute interviews. I watched Prof. Dauber make an effort to speak with every person there who wished to speak with her. That impressed me; she seemed to be a genuinely kind and caring person despite starting to droop a bit by the end of all that talking. I went up to her after everyone had had a chance to speak with her and thanked her for making the effort and leading the charge, so to speak. That kind of thing is hard work, and opens you up to all kinds of flack and other abuse. I figured she'd heard enough of that sort of crap, so perhaps a genuine thank you out of appreciation for her effort would help some. She looked first surprised, then pleased at my thanks… so I think it was the right thing to do.
Goldie was a real champ! It was a nice day, but if you weren't in the shade it got quite hot. Initially Goldie wanted to sniff around rather than sit and watch in the shade with me, so she ended up tired and thirsty. Unfortunately I also realized I'd left her little collapsible water bowl at home. Fortunately I'd brought a water bottle for myself, so I just had a long slurp of it and then slowly poured water out into my hand for Goldie to lap up. She seemed relieved at that, and I did it more than once to make sure she stayed comfortable and hydrated. I was also a bit surprised at how many folks came up and asked if they could pet her, and how many were really happy to see her there. I think she really helped a lot — far more than I'd expected. That was nice.
I saw quite a few labeled media crews there — at least BBC, NBC, and CBS off the top of my head. Talking with a woman who identified herself as a freelance Associated Press reporter, I discovered Brock Turner had been released at like 6 or 7 am so as to avoid the crowd. She was grimly pleased to report that there were in fact protesters and press there waiting for him, though. He slunk off quite unlamented, from her words.
Goldie and I both got a few moments in the background on a CNN live report. Notes on how to get interviewed, if there's a next time & I want to try getting interviewed: stand in the front! Look neat and tidy, maybe smile at the interviewer. Have your message ready ahead of time — and practice speaking clearly and confidently! The reporter will ask you questions, and having facts to hand makes you sound much more articulate — which means she'll be more interested in continuing to talk with you. Curiously, a sign does not appear to be a requisite… though I think it helps. If you're carrying one, make sure the writing is clear at about 15 feet, though — and keep the message short and to the point. A graphic or some use of color seems to help too.
Unfortunately there was — of course — a troll there that day… and he was — of course — an older white male. He was astonishingly insistent that the victim, Emily Doe, had to be lying about being unconscious and had somehow persuaded the witnesses to lie for her too… and consequently it was clear that Brock and Persky had done nothing wrong. Sadly — but also predictably — the press lapped it up, which seemed to please the troll. It was tremendously frustrating for the women there, since the troll was very calm and sincere sounding, yet also quite impervious to reason. Guess it was all about him, for him. I was impressed with one woman who stepped forward, identified herself as being from the Palo Alto non-profit Deborah's Palm, and gave a handful of statistics which quite definitively refuted the troll's rape apologetics. I made sure to thank her later for that — having the actual facts to hand is very powerful for women, I think, when men are insisting on the old nonsense like rape not being that under-reported, or demanding proof of everything women tell them. Funnily enough at one point I ended up standing next to the troll… so I said to the reporters, "I don't know why you're encouraging a troll!" He was affronted by that — he wasn't a troll! He was sincere about his convictions! I amusedly noted that most trolls are quite sincere in their mistaken beliefs — at which point he was abruptly not interested in talking to me anymore. Thinking about it later, I find it amusing that he was happy to shrug off protests from the many women attempting to reason with him — but as soon as someone shrugged him off he was unhappy and upset. Poetic justice?