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Press Coverage on $1 a Day
by Rick DeStephens

It began with a simple e-mail:

"Governor Hull will hold a press conference to present the results of the Arizona
Women's Health Survey, 11 a.m. Tuesday (March 26th) in the Executive
Tower lobby of the Capitol..."

Someone suggested, "It would be a good time to hand out flyers."

Mmmmhmmm. So it would. So I did. Time for an early lunch. 

I arrived shortly after 11am at 1700 W. Washington and entered the lobby just after Governor Hull was introduced. I was carrying a large picket sign of The Killian Fields unarmed victim zone. It was easy to make. Kinko's will blow up a standard sheet of paper to 30" by 24" and larger for $3.50. Go to Home Depot and buy 1"x1/2"x36" wood lathe, some 3M #77 spray adhesive, and old cardboard box and 1/2" staples or hot glue to stick the wood to the cardboard, and viola!! Instant picket sign. Of course, I had a stack of flyers with background information and the http://free_arizona.tripod.com/ URL on it. 

Since Steve Flynn wrote that Betsey Bayless didn't think Hull knew anything about the issue, I decided to position myself directly in front of Hull and behind the small audience that had gathered in the ad hoc rows of folding chairs.

Several people motioned at me to rotate the sign their way so they could see. Some smiled and nodded, but most didn't quite figure out what it meant. It didn't matter. I was not there to inform the audience, I was there to show Jane Hull that I was serious about attending Betsey Bayless' campaign events if Hull did not force Hibbs to change the weapons checking policy. 

I handed out a few flyers as I stood there. 

A few minutes later a Capitol Police guy who no doubt recognizes me by now told me that they did not allow picket signs in the Capitol building. I complied, knowing full well that I had seen signs there numerous times (but they were always pro-administration signs). Anyway, I asked him if I could just put the sign down as my arms were getting tired. (I also had to hand out flyers.) He said that would be okay. It would be nice to have all of us call the newly promoted Capitol Police, Chief Andy Staubich 602-542-4580 to see what his opinion is on this little bit of unequal protection under the law.

I handed a few more flyers out and was asked by a female Hull underling if I could stop until after the Governor ended her speach. Dang, these folks are bossy. Ever the good doo-bee, I complied. It wasn't as if this hand-picked crowd was actually listening or if Hull had something interesting to say. It was a rather pedestrian event. People were just going through the motions. Hull did mention "domestic violence." How appropriate, but I doubted that this group would make the connection to Shannon's situation.

I placed flyers all over the nice, velvet tables where the press-packets were located. There was only one TV camera (Ch5, I think) and several digital cameras around. KTAR was also present. One man with a digital camera tried to take a picture of my sign, or was it of me? Hard to tell, but when I dropped the sign in front of my face to give him a better angle, he declined to take the photo and walked away, just like the gentleman from the Department of Revenue who was busy taking pictures of the protesters but ran away when we took pictures of him.

Finally the Governor ended her speech and then had someone talk about a graph or two. I have no idea what was being said. The speaker was muffled by the air conditioning or maybe I spend too much time at the rifle range without sufficient hearing protection.

After that was over, the governor was surrounded by her security force (three dudes in suits) as she conducted a TV interview about seven feet in front of me. I used that time to pass out flyers. "Do you want to help a rape victim? I asked." That got their attention. I handed out a half-dozen. I continued to explain when I got to the, "...and Governor Hull will not allow her to have a gun for her protection...." The women almost threw the flyers back at me. :)  "Oh, no." "No, I'm not in favor of that." "No thank you. Here, take this back." That shows you where they are coming from. They were from the "Government Good, Freedom Bad" school of thought. If they were in the movie "Matrix" there would be no doubt which pill they would have chosen.

I mingled with the crowd a bit and passed some more flyers out. The Hull-nymphs told me that I was not permitted to use the velvet-covered tables for my flyers. So many rules.

I wandered over to a large group and asked them if they were familiar with the issue. They all assured me
that they were. Cool.

With my lunch half-hour about to expire, I headed out to the parking lot. One final burst of activism occurred as two women in a Lexus SUV asked me if they could have my parking space. I jogged over to them and said, "Sure, but
it will cost ya."

"What? Do we have to vote for you?" They jested.

"No," I said, "You have to read this and see if you can support this woman." As I pulled away from the parking space I noticed they didn't move in. They kept reading the flyer. Maybe that effort led to another phone call or two and several e-mails. One can hope.

With that I drove home.

What did I accomplish? One thing. Jane now knows that I will definitely be at Betsey Bayless functions if the policy which disarms Shannon is not reversed. And I won't be near as polite. :)

Rick

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