From: VCDL President
SIGNS? WE DON'T NEED NO STINKIN' SIGNS! ER, WELL, OK, MAYBE WE DO
On Wednesday I surveyed VCDL's inventory of signs from previous events, but found that I didn't have any applicable signs here in Richmond for the Bloomberg Tyranny Tour (BTT). I got in my car and began my drive up to Roanoke for my talk at the Roanoke City Republican Committee meeting. On the ride up I called EM John Wilburn in Blacksburg to ask him if he could help me with signs for Friday.
John jumped into action with member Sheila Rigney and they produced an excellent set of signs, all mounted on sticks. The sticks made the signs easier to hold and had another side benefit (more on that shortly). On Thursday, as I headed from Roanoke to Staunton for my talk to the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party, I breathed a sigh of relief as I learned that the signs were ready!
AND SO IT BEGINS
Friday morning we had around 30 VCDL members at the BTT event in Blacksburg. At least six of which were women and we had quite a few young adults as well.
The antis had a similar number of people present in the morning, counting them and their children. As the morning wore on into the afternoon, we outnumbered them significantly (perhaps a difference in dedication to the cause?)
Bloomberg sent in a three-man security team the day before to secure the grounds. The security team had wanted the police to block off streets and put up barricades, etc. (You'd swear that Michelle Obama was dropping into Blacksburg for a vacation stop.) The Blacksburg police told them that wasn't going to happen - and it didn't. ;-)
The BTT started their press conference at 9:30 AM. There were around 5 different members of the media present, and I was interviewed by all of them (articles with video are below).
I was extremely proud of our group. We stood quietly holding our signs as the press conference, and the later reading of names, continued. It's not easy to do when the other side is spewing misinformation, such as the infamous 40% of guns are sold without a background check statistic and that universal background checks won't lead to registration.
A few of the angrier antis tried to get a reaction from us, clearly hoping for a confrontation, but not a single VCDL member took the bait.
Once the press conference was over, they started reading names of those "killed with a gun." The names included criminals killed by police, criminals killed by other criminals, suicides, and accidents, to swell the number of names. The reading of the names droned on: "John Doe, age 34, Duluth, Minnesota, killed with a gun." Sometimes they didn't know the person's name or age: "Name unknown, age unknown, Chicago, Illinois, killed with a gun." No mention of all the names of those who are alive today because they had a gun to protect themselves. No mention of the fact that the list they were reading from might have been shorter if some of the victims had had a gun.
THE ANTIS UNINTENTIONALLY PROVIDE HILARIOUS COMEDY RELIEF!
One of the antis we had crossed paths with before at a previous VCDL protest at Virginia Tech ("No Guns, No Funds"). He was there with all his malevolence. He was holding up his little "No more names" signs, one in each hand, and glaring at us in a defiant manner, praying for a confrontation. He was summarily ignored.
EM Dave Hicks had taken his sign ("Defend Liberty, Oppose Bloomberg") and stood behind all the antis and behind the podium. Because Dave is tall and the signs were on sticks, Dave got his sign way up in the air, well above the antis and virtually guaranteed to be in the background of photos and videos of the event's speakers. ;-) No one could complain, as he was not blocking their signs at all, he was simply towering over them from behind.
Typical of our opponents, there were a few of them who were determined that our signs would not be seen (hey, they don't like free speech either - unless it is THEIR free speech, of course).
Here's where it really started to be fun.
First, there was a young woman who was determined to block out Dave's sign. So she stood in front of Dave on her tippy-toes and held up her sign as high as she could. Unfortunately for her, she was not able to match the height of Dave's sign. Out of frustration she started to jump up in the air, holding her sign as high up over her head as she could.
Well, for a split second her sign did cover the very bottom edge of Dave's sign and then Mean-Ole-Mister-Gravity pulled her back down. ;-) So she just kept hopping up and down for a while, determined to get her way. I was grinning ear-to-ear.
Ah, but it gets better!
A little while later Dave was standing a little to the side with his sign in front of him, with the stick resting on the ground. Two antis then stood directly in front of him to block his sign. So Dave lifted his sign up in the air and the two antis did the same and held their signs high to block his. And then Dave lowered his sign and they lowered theirs.
I swear I saw a twinkle in Dave's eyes at that point and I thought to myself, "uh, oh."
Dave raised his sign. They raised theirs. Dave lowered his sign. They lowered theirs. Dave raised his sign. They raised theirs. Dave lowered his sign. They lowered theirs. Dave raised his sign. They raised theirs. Dave lowered his sign. They lowered theirs.
Dave had created a miniature "wave" event! And all of this without a single word being said. I had to turn away to wipe the tears of laughter flowing down my face. ;-) I'm giggling and teared up as I'm writing this, a day later!
The wave motion even disturbed the current speaker as she was trying to figure out what the heck was going on in her peripheral vision.
Finally the antis realized that they looked like marionettes with Dave pulling their strings!
AND THE SAD REALITY OF VIOLENT CRIME
One of the speakers was Mr. Neil Heslin, who had lost his 6-year-old son, Jesse, in the Sandy Hook massacre. Neil is a soft-spoken man who had suffered an unimaginable loss. I noticed he was talking to several of our members later in the morning, so I decided to go over and talk to him as well. I shook his hand and offered my personal condolences. It turns out that he is a gun owner and started shooting as a very young man in upstate New York and Connecticut many years ago. He was a person that you couldn't help but like. He carried no malice, but was simply trying to find some way to keep others from going through what he has gone through.
Toward the end of our rather lengthy and pleasant conversation, Neil took out his cell phone and said he wanted to show me some photos of his son. I immediately recognized one of the photos from an article in a newspaper back in December. A beautiful little boy with a beaming grin. It was taken on a day when they had gone fishing together. I told Neil that looking at that photo it was crystal clear that Jesse was crazy about his dad.
As Neil walked away, I vowed silently to redouble my efforts to get rid of those damned gun-free-slaughter-zones that allowed a monster to kill that sweet little boy.
PRAISE FOR VCDL
After the event was over, one of the Bloomberg security team members told one of our members that of all the groups that he had dealt with before, VCDL was the most well-mannered of them all.
One of the Blacksburg police officers also told one of our members that he greatly appreciated our conduct.
Finally, Andrew Goddard came over, shook my hand, and sincerely thanked me for our group acting so respectfully during the event. That was nice of him and, as I said earlier, our members were indeed a class act. We are not angry disrupters. We are good natured, but fair, firm, and relentless in fighting for our beliefs.