Fish Out of Water

Musings and observations about life from an East Coast native now living on the Left Coast in the California State Capitol since 2004. This fish has made her home in Madison, WI (7 years); Portland, OR (2 years); Las Vegas, NV (7 months); Middlebury, VT (3 summers); Marne-la-Vallee, a small town east of Paris, France (6 months); Middletown, CT (3 years); and Marshfield, MA, the fish's coastal hometown 40 miles south of Boston (17 years).

Location: Sacramento, California, United States


Two Wrongs

Last Tuesday at PPMM, the only protestor who appeared at the normal 8am time was one of the female prayers. My two fellow escorts and I were almost ready to leave at 9am when we noticed Pete and his buddy arriving and driving around trying to find parking nearby.

A little background - The staff has been attempting recently to arrive early enough on Tuesdays & Fridays to take all of the good parking spots on the street in front of the clinic so that the protestors can't park there to display their signs on top of or next to their cars. I did my part last Tuesday by parking my scooter on the street, which I don't usually do, to help prevent the protestors from claiming the prime spots.

Just as Pete & his buddy were arriving, the female prayer decided to leave, so I moved my scooter over to part of her parking spot and also waved a patient into the remaining space. About 45 minutes later, however, the patient pulled out, and we noticed Pete's buddy jogging off down the street. We all guessed that he was going to his car to take the now available space, so I crossed the street to try to figure out a way to prevent him from parking in that spot. I determined that moving my scooter wouldn't be sufficient to occupy the space, no matter how poorly I parked, so instead I moved an orange construction cone, which had been on the side of the street, to the middle of the space and stood near the cone, attempting to save the spot for a patient or late-arriving staff member instead of letting the protestor get the prime real estate.

Pete noticed what I was doing, so he crossed the street to where I was standing, picked up the orange cone that was at my left, and threw it on the grass at the edge of the street. He then stood to my left to try to save the spot for his buddy, who by this point was driving up the street and doing a U-turn to approach the parking spot. Since Pete was on the side nearest my scooter, I decided to move to that side just to make sure nothing happened to my ride. Pete then moved in closer to my right, leaning against me to make enough room for his buddy to park to my right. Pete began to wave his buddy into the parking spot. As his buddy started to back up towards us, Pete & I remained standing together. However, as his buddy continued to approach, Pete jumped out of the way, but I didn't. Frankly, I assumed that his buddy would stop backing up since I was in his way, as would any logical and rational person to avoid hitting a pedestrian. But I should have remembered that I wasn't necessarily dealing with a logical and rational person. So instead of stopping his car, Pete's buddy continued to back up into my right leg and kept doing so until I slammed my right hand on his back window to make him stop.

At this point, Pete whipped out his phone to call the police. My fellow escorts, who had witnessed the whole thing, came over to make sure I was OK and to monitor the escalating situation. I remained standing there, with the car's bumper pressed against my lower right leg. As we were waiting for the police to arrive, Pete's buddy, who had put the car in park and turned it off in its current position, came over to me, pulled out his video camera, and kept asking me to "stop leaning on my car." Um, yeah, OK, so I'm leaning on your car because you backed up into me and pushed me aside. That makes sense...

When the police arrived, I told them what had happened. Turns out that Pete's buddy had also somehow managed to set up his video camera on his dashboard to capture the whole thing on film. Now that's foresight, don't you think? And here I thought it was just an accident. Sounds more to me like it was totally intentional, if he had the presence of mind to make sure it was caught on video.

I didn't deny that I was trying to prevent him from taking the parking spot, and one of the police (an awesome female officer who was totally sympathetic to the situation) informed us that a car - not a pedestrian - has the right of way in a parking spot. I can accept that. I didn't know it was a law, but it does make sense, so I was wrong to try to block the protestor from parking there. Granted. Responsbility understood and accepted. Upon further conversation, however, we established that (of course) he didn't have the right to back into me even though I was blocking his right of way. So we were both wrong. And two wrongs, as we all know, don't make a right.

But do you imagine for one moment that the protestor accepted any responsbility or accountability for his role in the event?

Instead, he actually wanted to press charges against me for "disturbing the peace." When I inquired as to how, exactly, I was doing this, the female officer said the protestor claimed I was violent, that he was afraid for his life, that I might attack him, presumably because I "attacked" his car by hitting it to make him stop as he was backing into me. Interesting theory. Of course, if the incident itself was on video, then all of my actions and reactions were on that tape, too, so the claim that I was a threat would have been shown to be entirely ludicrous, since I didn't move from where I ended up behind his car until the police arrived - I certainly made no move towards him, and if he was so afraid of me, why did he approach me to videotape his request to stop leaning on his car? Kind of makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Since his case had no merit, the police did not arrest me. They simply made a typical incident report, as was entirely appropriate for the situation.

Why is it, however, that we are the ones who must always take the high road, who must always be just slightly above the protestors? Why is it that the current laws protect their actions, their freedom of speech, but not ours? This frustrates me. The Sac City Council has apparently passed another ordinance to protect patients and clinic workers, but it took 30 days for the ordinance to go into effect, and even though it was valid as of 7 October, we're not resorting to using it as support yet because we have to make sure the police understand all of it and will enforce it appropriately if the protestors violate any part of it. So we've got an ordinance, but we can't use it? What sense does that make?

What it all comes down to in the end is that I'm glad I stood my ground. If the police had arrested me, I would have proudly taken responsibility for my part in the interchange. And now the protestors know that I won't back down, that we won't back down, that they can't intimidate us.

I'm glad I didn't move.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

LNJ says-

Well done and way to go. Standing up to them and dealing with their video nonsense and crap. You have my cheers. Also, the fact that you would have accepted arrest proudly and with your head held high is also to cool. To believe in a cause and someone else's right that much says a lot.

I'd like to think that I have that much character and integrity, but somedays I wonder. At least I have a freind I can think of and roll model off of if I am ever in a similar situation.

9:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

plese be careful and pick your battles wisely

6:36 AM  

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