If I Wanted the Government In My Womb I'd F*ck a Senator
Let me just start this off with this:
Really? Really? Really? They brought out the Riot Police for 1,000 protestors - clergy, women, men, all ages, all races - who are refusing to allow the attacks on women's reproductive rights and health by the General Assembly of Virginia. We'll get to that in a second.
I hitched a ride with a friend to Richmond, VA, today to rally, march, and protest against the laws defining personhood and mandating vaginal ultrasounds that were shelved this year (but will be on the docket again next year, it's already confirmed), and for the one just passed and waiting to be signed into law by the Good Governor of VA, Bob McDonnell. Yes, Bob McDonnell, whose sole purpose for running for Governor was to climb the ladder to Vice Presidential nomination, and then the Presidency of the United States of America. That was made known when he announced his candidacy for Governor, but I digress as that is an entirely different post. The event was three hours long and ended with 33 arrests of women and men who linked arms and sat peacefully on the Capitol steps, an illegal act in Virginia. The following are sign, and there were many:
The only "Pro-Lifer" to show up.
The rally began at the Bell Tower adjacent to the Capitol Building. We were informed of low, medium, and high risk actions in regards to how likely each would result in arrest; that the point people with information were wearing white arm bands and legal observers green hats; that we should not speak to the police as the Police Liaison (who had a huge PL on her back) would handle all communication between the two groups to avoid miscommunications; our first responsibility was to ourselves and that we were in no way obligated to participate in high risk activities that would likely result in arrest; we were given the phone number for the legal hotline and instructed to write it on our arms in the event we were arrested and told what to say in the message we were to leave on the hot line's voice mail. It is at this point that I should say that my friend and I passed two white buses with no windows (i.e. paddy wagons) parked a couple of blocks away from the Capitol when we arrived. We were also advised not to engage with anyone who might try to provoke us.
And the march began around through the city basically in a square leading back to the Capitol.
Before we turned the corner to return to the Capitol, we were stopped in large groups and asked by a Point Person to give a moment of silence. The silent minutes were ended with him starting the chant, "Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democarcy looks like!" We began clapping in rhythm and continued all the way to the Capitol Building.
The Point People had done head counts as we marched and when we reached this point, they began calling out, "We have a thousand!" and motioned us up towards the building. Everyone began going forward in excitement, cheering, chanting.
And, then we moved up to the steps. It is illegal to congregate or assemble on the steps of the Capitol Building and less than five minutes after we had assembled, the police gave a five minute notice that after that amount of time was up, troopers would be brought in and arrests would be made.
Governor McDonnel says he cares about balancing the budget and creating jobs, not abortion. Evidence to the contrary.
My friend and I moved back down to the Bell Tower, where the organizers had secured a permit for the protest from 2pm-3pm.
At the Bell Tower, speakers were heard, including this woman, a Republican for Choice who spoke out against the extremism that now envelopes the Republican Party.
The police waited until about 2:30 to make arrests, giving a total of 30 minutes for protestors to disband from the steps. But, 33 chose to sit, link arms, and be arrested.
Two former Delegates of the General Assembly, this one a Democrat, the other a Republican and both women, spoke about their new organization Women's Strike Force , a PAC they've just created to support candidates that support women. I think they will have a shot at finding many good ones.
As my friend and I were leaving, we noticed the Riot Police and my friend commented that the more they use them, the less effective their presence will be. The more we use our rights to speak out about abuses such as these laws would perpetrate, the more effective we will be in securing our rights and ending these attacks once and for all. Of that I am sure.