Melting(pot) Rallies in Dallas

I don’t make it to Dallas all that often for activism events, but the May 1 event was worth the effort. We had a marijuana re-legalization rally at high noon and an immigration rally in the same afternoon.

Well, we had parked the car and were walking up just as the local Worldwide Marijuana Rally that took place in some 300 cities was just beginning. I would guess there were about 300 to 400 people there. Katy and I distributed almost every flier we printed. The basic message was that consensual behavior should not be the domain of government. We explained that the only way to enforce laws against consensual behavior, such as drug use, would be to instill a massive police state that intrudes on our privacy. The flier said, “We don’t need to change the law. We just need to make it irrelevant.” It said that “ultimately to disarm government coercion,” we need new strategies and social arrangements for how society is organized. It seems that at least one of us talked with or handed fliers to most of the people.

After a half an hour or so, we began marching to the famous grass knoll on Elm St. Some people from DFW NORML, the group which organized the effort, talked for about 20 minutes. I didn’t smell anything in the air, but some did report seeing people light up. When we got back to the original rallying point, people were milling around. We got honks from bus drivers, other drivers and even a thumbs-up from a Dallas traffic enforcement officer on his bike. Everybody seemed to like our message about getting government out of our personal lives.

We tried framing the issue in terms of just letting people be free. We talked with Emo kids, a guy who said he was undergoing chemotherapy (that was really touching) and business owners. It was a really diverse crowd. I’ve uploaded some pictures to Meetup. I even got a photo of an unofficial Ron Paul 2012 shirt.

One disappointing thing happened just as we were leaving about 1:30 p.m. We crossed the street and were on the sidewalk next to the Cabell Federal Building. We were not there more than 30 second while deciding where to get lunch when were approached by a Dallas police officer. She told us that we could not stand on federal property, which apparently includes the sidewalk. The short discussion, in which I was threatened with arrest, is on YouTube now. I was planning to ask her if she was aware of Oath Keepers, but she rode off on her bike.

After a brief lunch, we headed to the immigration rally just a few blocks away. We didn’t march as originally planned, but we met at the endpoint at Dallas City Hall. From a distance it was difficult to say which side was which because the pro-amnesty side had more American flags.

Immigration Rally

The rally was sparked by the passage of a new draconian anti-immigration law passed in Arizona. We went in hopes of promoting a pro-liberty spin on open immigration.

Many people asked to take a picture with Katy’s sign, which said, “The principles of liberty have no borders.” (She was expressing that the principles of liberty apply to all people, regardless of their heritage or place of birth.) We arrived before the marchers, so there were just a thousand or so people there. I counted at least a dozen mounted police and maybe 30 other officers around the event.

Katy and I began passing out our flier, and the police were immediately suspicious of us. I think they were trying to overhear what I was saying to make sure we were not starting a confrontation.

We handed out nearly 400 immigration fliers, which read, “Immigration restrictions usurp the natural right of individual autonomy …. Most immigrants escaping tyrannical governments know firsthand the importance of liberty, and they remind us all of the importance of preserving that liberty.” It continued, “This new Arizona law is rewarding government failure with more government power.” When talking with people, our basic lines were that resources should be spent to investigate violent people who have violated the rights of others and that we wanted peaceful families left alone.

I think it was important to bring a liberty message to that crowd. We wanted to express that these ideas are friendly to all people. It was a really festive atmosphere. People were having a good time with their families, the weather was perfect, and music was playing in the background. Once the marchers arrived, the whole place swelled with people, and it was easy to get lost in the crowd.

The counter protest was also entertaining, though the police prevented us from crossing sides. My favorite sign said, “Illegal immigrants are not legal.” One guy’s sign said, “Illegal is a crime.” Another listed the snitch hotline to “Report Illegals.” A few times, I saw they had huddled around some speaker, I presume. It was difficult to understand what they were saying.

All in all, we passed out about 600 fliers, took lots of photos, and met even more friendly people.