This Friday a group of 25-30 activists (including 6 children) gathered across the street from the Richmond Police Department armed with several boxes on non-toxic chalk. We were there to protest the $325 ticket issued to a mother, along with a ban from all city parks, for her child’s use of chalk on some rocks at Belle Isle. After hearing this story on the news, I started a Facebook event to “chalk the police” in Richmond, VA. The response was amazing, and we were able to gather a wonderful group of peaceful activists, along with every major news network in Richmond! The event was a huge success, with no arrests, no tickets, and lots of pretty pictures.
Here is video from the event:
Here is some of the local news coverage of the event:
WTVR – Rock chalking in City Park leads to ticket – and protest (In this video, the report even performs some civil disobedience!)
WTVR – Moms protest with chalk outside RPD headquarters
NBC12 – Chalk drawings made outside police headquarters by protestors
Style Weekly – Chalk the Police
The day was a success in part because of the amazing response of the Richmond Police. As seen in the video, a Captain came out to speak with me before the event started. She requested to speak to me by name, which startled me a bit, but was unsurprising. The Facebook event was public, and I had (unintentionally) tagged RPD’s facebook when I entered the address for the event; so it was no surprise that the officers had been reading the comments on the page. I wasn’t worried, as I had gone to great lengths to drill the “peaceful, positive, non-combative” message to people, so I knew I had no reason to fear that my words could be construed as a threat. To my great surprise, not only was the officer who came to talk to me aware of our event, but she was supportive! She mentioned enjoying some of my comments, and that she didn’t want to hinder us at all, just wanted to speak with me about safety (the street in front of the police station was pretty busy, and we would have children present, so this was understandable).
Because I believe that encouraging positive police behaviors is just as, if not more,effective than discouraging negative behaviors; I was sure to give my “thanks” to the Richmond Police:
I am overjoyed by the effectiveness of this activism. I have always believed that activism should work towards winning the hearts and minds of all people, including the police. If you approach a problem with the intention of fighting, you’ll gain instant opposition, and the police will be your enemy. But we made every effort to reach out to police, bring them to our side, and show them that we look to them to protect us from all aggression, including legislative. This time it worked!
*Also posted @ MegMcLain.com