My schedule lately has bordered on the amusing and played slap-and-tickle with the insane, but I felt I had to be there for this. I was right in my instincts.
The March for Trayvon was insane. The crowd that gathered for the kick-off at Gallivan Plaza (where Occupy SLC currently has a base camp that will - arguably - shortly move to Library Square) was enormous, and very energetic. Things got off to a brisk start.
I have to say, it put a bit of nostalgia in my heart to be part of a huge crowd marching past the original stomping grounds of my beloved Moon Base Alpha, one of Occupy's original exploratory tendrils.
An interesting coincidence: this march/demonstration, which is one of the largest I have ever seen in Salt Lake City, happened to take place during the LDS Church's General Conference, which brings an enormous amount of people (most of whom are devout Mormons) into Salt Lake City.
General Conference also brings out the nuts.
If you have lived in Salt Lake City for even one year, you know what I mean. "Protesters" throng Temple Square, many of them actually bearing life-sized crosses emblazoned with fundamentalist verses of their choosing. These guys are skilled street barkers, mellifluously belting out bible verses in an attempt to win Mormons (among the most evangelical of believers on Earth) to their side. Good luck, my stunted friends.
Occupy / the Trayvon March took a different tact.
Our quiet, respectful approach to the Mormon populace of SLC did not stop one enterprising nutjob from circling us on a bicycle, saying (if my memory serves) "YOU ARE ALL SICK RACISTS! RACIST, SICK BASTARDS!" This upset many of the black members of our march, but we held it together and ignored him (although one guy, and I don't blame him, started to get really agitated - being a twenty-something black man participating in a march against a racist vigilante murder, and then to be accused of being a "sick racist," is a lot for anyone to put up with).
The demonstration was enormous - it felt like a huge, mostly joyous outpouring of tensions that have been brewing in Utah specifically and nationwide as well. If there is one good thing - and only one good thing- that has come out of Trayvon's death, it is demonstrations of solidarity like this one.
I have to say, incidentally, that chanting is not my thing, usually, but I fell deeply in love with this girl. If anyone knows who she is, please let me know, because she stole my heart.
All four foot eleven inches of her was one hardcore firecracker of a chant-leader/instigator. Her voice was so disproportionately loud and attention-getting compared to her diminutive frame that I was utterly smitten.
Eventually, we began to congregate at the library, heart of Salt Lake City's real democracy.
We sang the national anthem. Speakers followed.
To steal one of the favorite chants of #Occupy - THIS is what democracy looks like.