Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Occupying Toronto, Part IV: Signs

It felt weird to walk up my quiet suburban street, solo, holding at my side a hand-made protest sign. I avoided people’s eyes but could see that everyone I passed curiously scanned the upside down text on my piece of cardboard. Have you ever been on a protest march all by yourself? On your own block? Embarrassing.

At the subway entrance, I hoisted the sign over the turnstile, scooted down to the platform and when a train stopped, leaned the sign against the train’s doorway wall, out of people’s way. I slunk from one side of the car to the other (with my sign) so that I could stand in the doorway opposite the one where riders were exiting and entering.  As usual, multiple passengers offered the old lady (me) their seats. This time I pointed at my sign-on-a-stick as I smilingly refused their kind offers. Now they think I’m crazy as well as old.

St. James Park was week-day quiet, still filled with tents and guarded by police on bikes. I walked around reading chalk messages along the sidewalks. Beside these on the grass were piles of cardboard signs. “People aren’t for sale”, “We are the 99%”,

I noticed a group of teenagers. Their teacher spotted my sign and said to them, “Look at this. It’s a bible verse” They obediently looked over, with that killer teenage stare.

Micah 6, the Bible

They weren’t impressed.

The sound of drumming started and I found a few First Nations guys gathered nearby. They had a couple of Indian flags and a megaphone. After a song and a speech the leader started off to march to Bay St. A small group followed.
Since nothing else was happening, I figured I’d join in.  I shortly found myself dodging both the leader who was using the megaphone to share his political harangue with stunned passersby and some tall man wrapped in a cannabis flag, carrying a sign that read, “Hemp will save the world”
Oh dear. I did a u-turn and headed back to the park.

In my head someone’s singing an old 60’s song , “Signs, signs, everywhere a sign,  blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind”.

I remembered one more sign on the grass at St. James. I didn’t write it, honest. In big letters on brown cardboard it said “ God is here”.