A few days ago we went to a pro-Israel rally in Seattle. Similar rallies in other cities have brought out violent counter-protesters, so we were a little unsure about what to expect here. There was a very large police presence, along with private security, and I’m sure more than a few plainclothes law-enforcers walking around as well.
The people who organized the rally began by stating the message of the event: that they were there because they wanted peace for ALL people in the Middle East, Jews AND Arabs. That this was a PRO- rally, and not ANTI- anything. That they knew there were counter-protesters there, who were likely going to try to disrupt things, but to please not engage with them or argue with them, or shout back at them…
There were several speakers, and for the most part, the counter-folks stayed quiet in the back, flanked by plenty of armed police. Good call on the part of the Seattle PD. One man, a bit out of his senses, came up on the side and stared yelling lots of curses, interspersed with some super-hateful rhetoric about Israel. People tried to ignore him, but he was walking closer and closer toward to speaker.
So you know those moments that you watch unfolding in slow motion? This was one of those. I looked over to see if anyone was doing anything, and everyone else was looking around to see the same thing. I walked in front of the security guard and looked him straight in the face to see if he was showing any impulse to jump in and stop this guy. Nope. And here comes the guy, lumbering toward the speaker, closer in to the crowd (which, incidentally, had kids in it) shouting expletives the whole time. Well, that was no good.
So, I stepped in front of him.
I stood facing him (he was about 6’4, so this threw him off big time) and blocked his advance. He tried to step around me, and I blocked him again. He stopped yelling and this got some attention, I think. I kept my hands in my pockets, and my eyes shifting between his hands and his eyes. Kept taking his pulse. He shouted on and off, and we kept dancing, but now I was backing him up- away from the crowd, away from the speaker, and away from the kids. This went on for maybe a minute, and then I realized there were like a dozen police standing there. They took it over and got him across the street, and I went back to my family.
The question is: do I go looking for trouble? I don’t think I do, but I also don’t think I am averse to taking action when something needs to be done. I think there can be a fine line between being a person of action and being careless. I hope I always have the judgement to be a person of character and to be driven by principles and not ego.
And I hope no big bullies try to get in my way 😉