|On the courthouse steps. Photo by Adam Stiffler|
Some of us in this town held a kinda last minute mini-march in solidarity with those marching in D.C. This came together late on Friday, having been hatched on Thursday, and emails crossed and recrossed on the electronic highway.
I walked from our house to the Andrews House in downtown, our community gathering spot. My excitement grew as I realized there were a number of others headed the same way. Halfway there, friends Sally and Kris came down a side street and we walked on together. All in all, there were over 100 of us: women, men, children, toddlers, babies in strollers, and dogs on leashes.
Penny, one of the march's organizers, gave us the rules: "Stay on sidewalks, don't block intersections or crosswalks. Stay off of private property."
"Be respectful. Be positive."
We walked. We talked. Cars went by honking horns and waving. Some drove by and glared. One shouted an obscenity. But by and large, it was positive.
It was sunny. It was warm. I slipped off my jacket. Others shed scarves and gloves.
The destination was our county courthouse, which is an imposing Italianate structure with wide stairs that sweep up to the front door. (Note: the public can no longer use the front door, because of security reasons. Everyone enters through the rear basement door. But I practiced law long enough ago that I had the pleasure more than once of climbing those stairs to enter the courthouse, and had the thrill after a successful hearing once to burst out those same doors and laugh all the way down the stairs.)
At the courthouse, the walkers in the front of the group (which had loosened up and strung out in downtown due to crosswalks) stopped, uncertain of what to do.
"I think we have to stay on the sidewalk."
My friend (and fellow lawyer) Judy and I quickly replied.
"Oh, no," said Judy, "this is public property. This is our property. We have a right to be on this property."
"Are you sure?"
"Absolutely," I said. "We can go right up on the steps. That's what the First Amendment is all about."
And with Judy leading the way and me close behind, we walked to and climbed the courthouse steps.
Afterwards, I hugged Judy goodbye as she headed off in one direction. I said goodbye to Sally and Kris, who were headed to our downtown diner for coffee and rolls. And I stopped to thank Penny, one of the organizers.
Penny, a Republican demoralized by the 2016 political scene, said she was just looking for a way for people to come together and express their concerns. She noted that there was so much anger and despair and that the goal today was to accent the positive.