Sunday the Dallas Peace Center chose Dealey Plaza, where JFK was killed almost a half century ago, as the site for a protest demanding justice in the killing of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.
It's hard to feel good about anything associated with the Martin story, but Dealey Plaza was a good place to start.
Dealey Plaza, where JFK was killed almost a half century ago, has become the city's de facto Trafalgar Square, a natural stage for protest, an inviting platform for speaking truth to power.
The kind of people who have always run this city despise the use of Dealey Plaza as a Roman forum for anti-establishment rants. For decades the power structure in Dallas has tried to write off the JFK conspiracy theorists who inhabit the plaza on weekends as unsightly nut cases who need to be erased from view by an army of jack-boot scrubbing bubbles.
That's why it's such a great place for protest. The stubborn enmity of the city's moneyed right-wing oldsters, the too-many-toddies set, probably has done more than any other factor to turn Dealey Plaza into Dallas' most vibrant public venue. Despise us, and we will come.
Dealey Plaza has history. It has presence. And it's in their faces. We owe a great debt to the JFK theorists. Like monks in the Dark Ages, they have kept protest alive in a city that can't stand it.
Three days ago The Dallas Morning News published an editorial that started out, "There is no ground in Dallas more hallowed than Dealey Plaza."
Yeah? And so what was their idea? Well, what's the best thing to do with anything sacred, according to the toddies? Remodel it, of course! The more expensive the remodeling, the better.
Their dream, they said, was, "A more ambitious roster of projects" that would "nearly double the cost by further upgrading signage, landscaping and lighting, and by creating an operating endowment to make sure the site is cared for properly in the future."
Oh, joy! Double the costs! What could be more fun?
They want signage? Landscaping? Money money money? You got it. Scrubbing bubbles. They want to scour and sanitize the place -- make it look like a shopping mall courtyard reeking of Clorox -- the way they're trying to do with the rest of downtown. It's the "broken windows" theory of crime-fighting -- but on meth. In Dallas it should be called the Gilded Windows theory of how to exterminate all signs of life.
The Gilded Windows theory says you should make everything really fancy, so you'll have a right to kick out all the unfancy people. Get rid of the homeless, of course. But also get rid of those damned JFK people who are out there raising doubts all the time. Get rid of everybody. Put up a velvet rope, electrified perhaps, and turn the whole place into a militarized azalea zone.
Where the city really has shown its hand is in its efforts to pre-emptively lock down Dealey Plaza during next year's 50th anniversary of the murder of JFK there in 1963. I have written about it a lot.
A year and a half before the anniversary, the city has granted a one-week moment-of-silence permit to the official Sixth Floor Assassination Museum with an admonishment that no other groups can be licensed to have moments of silence at any time during the official week of silence.
Can you even believe that crap?
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SHOW ME HOW
I'm thrilled to say there are strong signs that a movement is building to occupy the plaza for some portion of that week. There is even a Facebook page already called "Occupy Dealey Plaza."
Some of the organizers have been including me in an email stream. Here are some of the things they are saying:
"If anything is to be accomplished it needs to start soon."
"We are: (1) calling for new members and (2) will discuss strategy soon."
"We already know we'll get arrested in Dealey Plaza."
"We can be carted off quickly from one main spot. Cameras never showing what happened. Therefore, we need to be distributed through the crowd so that if one person is arrested, 50 others are still dotted through the crowd."
"We will hold our banners and call for a Moment of Silence and then speak truth to power about the assassinations of the 1960s and since."
It was a really good thing to see the Martin protest at Dealey Plaza on Sunday. Couldn't have been a better home for it. Dealey Plaza is the true beating heart of the real Dallas, a city that is stubbornly alive and courageously determined to speak freely, no matter how badly the too-many-toddies may want to shut us all down.