After Action Report
Protest at the Offices of Senators Lugar and Bayh
April 28, 2006
The day started off early for us. A call from a producer at WISH TV Channel 8 the day before brought Mom and I to the front of the Senators’ offices at about 4:50 a.m. on the day of the protest. How often does an opportunity to speak about our issues without opposition knock on the door or window? Quite literally NEVER, so this was an opportunity that had to be seized, and we did. IFIRE member Ron Yeary also attended the early morning interviews as the producer suggested two IFIRE representatives would be preferable to one. Unfortunately, the reporter didn’t interview Ron and, at this point in time, I’m still not sure why. At any rate, it was great to have him there for moral support and to talk to between interviews. He is an intelligent, articulate, and true gentleman and is just as passionate about this issue as anyone I know. We finished up “at the site” at around 6:10 a.m. Ron went home while Mom and I went to my house so I could get the kids off to school and, hopefully, catch a nap.
We didn’t plan to head back downtown until around 11 a.m. However, once word came that the police would allow counter-protesters to set up in front of the offices if they were the first to arrive, we decided we’d better get down there even earlier. We left at around 10:15 a.m. When we arrived, Cheree, Greg and another gentleman who rode with them were already there.
We set up shop, so to speak, and people started showing up left and right then. We had a lady from South Bend, a gentleman from Michigan City, several from the Seymour/Columbus area, a new IFIRE member and her husband from Peru, and a member from Terre Haute. There was even a gentleman from New York who took time away from the firefighter convention he was attending at the RCA Dome to stand with us and take pictures. I’m not sure where he heard about the protest, but he agreed with what we were doing and I’m glad he came.
There were people who showed up after hearing about the protest on the WISH TV morning news show. One lady kept her son home from school after seeing the news, looked up the protest information on the internet, and drove downtown from the east side of Indy. She gave a passionate interview to Derrik Thomas of Channel 6 news about how her job was outsourced and she has no insurance. She has heart problems and will, at times, refrain from going to the hospital when she probably should go because she HAS to pay her medical bills, unlike illegal aliens. She cannot run or hide from her obligations as illegals do and she doesn’t qualify for Medicaid.
Another lady came after hearing the news of the protest, just to hold a sign and take a stand. I was almost driven to tears by these brave people and actually choked up after speaking to the lady there with her son. I am so thankful and appreciative of their efforts and their willingness to stand with us. People like them, people who have had more than enough and come out to say so, are the ones who will help this country the most.
Not much negative happened. As is always the case, those who had negative comments made them in drive-by fashion. One lady came by, taking time enough away from her cell phone conversation to screech, “Why are you people so filled with hatred?! Why do you hate everyone?! This is ridiculous!!” as she continued a brisk pace along the sidewalk. Of course, those who heard her replied saying we didn’t hate anyone. As I look back, the only thing ridiculous about that entire scenario is that she was screeching about us “hating” people for simply suggesting our Senators uphold our laws as they swore to do, while she looked at, and spoke to, us with nothing short of hatred and contempt in her voice and in the look on her face. That, my friends, is called projection. If that lady actually took a moment to reflect, she might become horrified when she realized she was incorrectly chastising us for the behavior she was the only one to exhibit.
Several of us went in to meet with Senator Bayh’s staffer, Karen Raines, at 11:30. We took quite a few bricks with us, too.
These were only a few. We had two bags of bricks, plus the ones I carried in my arms.
The meeting was held in a conference room and it went pretty well. As soon as we entered the room and took seats, Cheree started speaking. She had prepared herself well. She passed information to Ms. Raines, all the while explaining what was covered in the material, pointing out the main issues she wanted to be known from each letter, report, and flyer. She handed over letters from constituents from around the state and, in all honestly, she totally blew me away. Her professionalism, articulation and calmness were all something to behold. I found myself watching her in admiration, wishing at that moment that I could be just like her. There is no doubt that Cheree could run any meeting in any boardroom in any industry or company if she wanted. Hoosiers are blessed to have this little powerhouse of a woman on their side! She took charge, directed the meeting from the very beginning and just simply amazed me.
Here she is, getting her material for Ms. Raines, speaking eloquently and calmly the whole time, never getting flustered or tongue-tied. I was in awe.
I don’t know how long the meeting lasted, but we all had our say. There were six of us in the room during the meeting. Ms. Raines took down Cheree’s information as well as certain points we wanted passed along to Senator Bayh. Cheree, Greg and others met in Senator Lugar’s office with one of his staffers later in the day. I did not attend that meeting as I chose to stay outside with the group and allow another leader to attend in my stead. I’ll let those who attended that meeting give the details.
At one point, a policeman pulled up, stopping in front of us, and got out of the car. My heart skipped a few beats because we did not apply for, nor did we have, a permit. I didn’t expect a large enough crowd to close down traffic, which is really the only time a permit is needed in Indianapolis. He came up to me after Mom pointed me out as an organizer and gave instructions not to hamper pedestrians’ walking or their entry into, or exit from, the building. We easily complied.
All in all, it was a great day and I feel like we accomplished a lot. IFIRE’s name was mentioned on television, free of charge, probably 10 to 20 times throughout the morning, and countless flyers were handed out to people as they walked by. That entire half of the block was OURS. There were no counter-protesters, and many people walking or driving by made no secret that they agreed with us. Quite a few promised to visit our website.
It was a long, tiring day for both Mom and I, but it was the good kind of tired you get after you’ve had a productive day. It reminded me of the feeling I have after working in the garden, when you sit back, tired to the core, and look at the fruits of all your hard work....so satisfying. There is not much fruit to sit back and enjoy yet, but in this, as in gardening, you must first plant the seeds, water them occasionally, and wait. We certainly planted seeds yesterday, watered those which were sprouting, and, if luck is on our side, we will see the fruits of our labor after a bit of waiting in the form of visits to the website, new members joining and more people speaking out. The parking ticket we found on our windshield didn’t detract from our positive feelings. We were able to meet new people and work with them for the betterment of our country. What’s more, we got to spend a day in the sunshine with these fine, patriotic folks. That, in and of itself, was worth more than all the traffic tickets in the world to me.
Thank you to all who attended. I look forward to seeing you again.
Until next time…..