In the past five days we’ve covered four different pro-choice demonstrations in Missouri – Sedalia, Jefferson City, Warrensburg, and Kansas City. The smaller demonstrations have been organized at the grassroots level via social media. The weather has been miserable – high humidity and high temperatures. Yet, people show up. That’s what happens when half the country loses their bodily automony on the whim of six right wingnuts.
This is not going away. It’s definitely not over.
I’ve shot close to 2000 frames at these demonstrations.
The image is from the July 3rd demonstration in Jefferson City. The rally had already started. The three individuals were walking on Lafayette toward the federal court building.
One thing we noticed five years ago was that many of our images of protests, demonstrations, and marches taken over the years featured women. It took us a brief second to grapple with the reality that much of the labor in recent activist history has been carried by women. If women are organizing and showing up at demonstrations chances are the images taken at those events are going to be of women.
As is the case with this recent round of pro-choice demonstrations, men attend, but they’re distinctly in the minority.
I suspect there may be different results with other ideologies.
The image may be a harbinger of the future. Confident young women asserting their voices, humanity, and autonomy, accompanied by a supportive friend.
The pro-choice demonstration in front of the federal courthouse in Jefferson City at noon on Sunday was well attended. The humidity and heat were oppressive. The original announcement of the event had the location at the Capitol – it was moved to the federal courthouse (ironically, next to the decrepit and deteriorating old state prison) because there were already July 4th events taking place at the Capitol. And it ended up that there was no march to the Capitol (but a “break off” group apparently did make the trek).
Anyone who has attended a protest on a weekend in Jefferson City knows that there will probably be no one else around to witness it. The site at the federal courthouse is one of the most deserted places in Jefferson City on a Sunday afternoon. In this instance there appeared to be about a dozen people at the entrance of the old prison lining up for a tour. That was a “win” of sorts.
I’m not complaining (other than about the heat and humidity) because I knew I’d get some good images to feed the content beast at Show Me Progress.
This image is from the July 4th demonstration in Kansas City. The rally had started and people were still streaming into Mill Creek Park from all corners (depending on where they parked).
This, too, may be another harbinger of the future. Passing the torch to another generation.
This larger demonstration – it was difficult to estimate the size, but definitely more than 1000 – was more centrally organized. Though, again, word was circulated via social media. The Kansas City metro area obviously has a greater population to draw from. There is a difference.
In Kansas City at the beginning of the rally there were two distinct groupings, with individuals easily moving between them. There were those who lined up on the sidewalks facing traffic and engaging passers by and, those listening to speakers in the park. The host merged again later to march through the Plaza (there are spectacular drone images of the march through the streets). As is customary for demonstrations at this location, many of those who cannot march remain on the sidewalks at the edge of the park to picket facing passing traffic.
Again, the heat and humidity was miserable. And people still showed up.
Media and social media do create audiences, but the point of public protest is to inform, and yes, inconvenience and make others aware of your greivances.
From experience – you don’t necessarily need a large crowd to accomplish those communication goals. One individual on a street corner has a powerful impact, though I would point out there is safety in numbers.
One million people in a street protest in Washington, D.C. does have an impact. Fifty or twenty or two people in every town and city in America has a much greater impact. Over a thousand in a public place out in the heat on a holiday works, too.
It takes a lot of courage to put yourself on the line organizing a public protest event under any circumstances. It takes a lot of courage for an individual to take that step in public on their own. It is a start.
No one will listen to your greivances if they’re not put in a position to actually listen. Polite defference to their sensibilities and convenience will get you nowhere. They’ll only notice you if you’re there, persistent, and inconvenient.
You’re supposed to make people uncomfortable with injustice. We all are.
Make it so.
Pro-choice Demonstration – Sedalia, Missouri – June 30, 2022 (June 30, 2022)
Heartland POD: The 4th of July (July 4, 2022)