There are three campaigns cycled into service on an irregular schedule. One day the activists hold up signs that say, “Send dentists to jail.” Months later it’s, “Lawyers stink.” They hand out flyers that only repeat the slogans, there’s no explanation.
The third campaign is slightly less ambiguous. The signs read, “Ban these books?” and the flyers explain that school libraries aren’t required to stock a copy of the Revised Code of Washington – a complete list of Washington State’s laws.
The “activists” aren’t especially convincing. They’re aggressive enough, often holding a flyer directly out into your path so that you can’t avoid acknowledging they’re presence. But one can tell from their postures that they’re not into the campaign. They always look like they’re ready to leave. They’re people you see around a lot – on the bus, wandering around on Broadway, occasionally asking for spare change.
These campaigns have proceeded, on-and-off, for years. Recently, after declining a “Send dentists to jail,” flyer, I noticed an older man watching from a careful distance. He wore a baseball cap, oversized headphones, and had tinted glasses. He looked familiar. I made a point of looking for the older man the next several times I came across one of these demonstrations. And it seems that he’s always present, leaning against a newspaper box, hand on a bicycle. My theory is that he rounds up a few people from the street every once in awhile and pays them to pass out these meaningless flyers. It’s either an art project or a cynical, if well intentioned, attempt to generate work for down-and-outs.
I walked up and asked him about it one time. But he ignored me – just pretended I wasn’t there.
Just last week in Portland, there were 2 competing Blind Organizations. I’m not too sure of the details, but apparently in one building a group was lobbying to have the traffic lights beep when it’s okay to walk, and outside there was a Blind organization passing out flyers and holding up signs in opposition to the traffic-light beeps.