I’m blogging this one early on a Sunday morning from a Motel 6 room in the Twin Cities, Minnesota area, where MindFreedom is having several actions to support the human right of Ray Sandford to say “no” to his involuntary electroshock.
Well, it’s Day 3 of our three days of MindFreedom events here in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area in support of the Ray Campaign.
And I’m remembering something from the roots of my community organizing experiences.
First, I’m reminded about the wisdom of uniting on an issue that many of our members and the public support.
Certainly, the vast majority of regular people, media and legislators that we’ve talked to at our various actions are outraged that taxpayer money is forcing a citizen here to march from his home to more than 40 forced electroshocks, not only over his objection, but over the objection of his family, including his mother.
Even individuals who would in other circumstances be an opponent, understand that something is deeply wrong with Ray’s torture.
Elsewhere on the web site is reporting about the main event yesterday, our protest and news conference inside the Rotunda of the State Capitol of Minnesota (click here to read that).
But we’ve also had and are having a number of secondary actions that have been productive, helpful, interesting and even fun.
Yesterday, Saturday, 2 May 2009, on less than 24 hours notice, we held a workshop for about a dozen key supporters of the campaign who had come to the protest, and in other ways supported MindFreedom.
There we introduced ourselves about our vision for each of our activity in the movement in the next year. We talked about practical matters of supporting Ray, both in the short term and long term.
And we even made news: The group launched MindFreedom Twin Cities. So as well as a small sponsor group here, we will now have a point of contact and official affiliate in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area!
That same Saturday evening we had heard that the large mental health advocacy organization, NAMI, was having its annual major fundraiser, a jazz concert, and about 300 people were attending. So a delegation of MindFreedom folks, including myself, stood near the entrance. We made it clear we were not part of the event, and in a friendly way we chatted with most of the people entering. We gave them the news release from the protest the day before.
We found the vast majority of people entering the NAMI event last night were interested in the plight of Ray. A very few misunderstood: They simply said they supported shock, and walked on. Unfortunately, they did not hear that this is beyond the issue of electroshock. It’s about involuntary shock over the clear wishes of a man and his family.
We had a very brief dialogue with the executive director of the local NAMI chapter, as well as several board members. We were told that they are joining the upcoming ECT Work Group on involuntary electroshock.
And now it’s Sunday morning. We are going to visit the Central Lutheran Church before their 8:30 service, to let the congregation know that the Synods here in Minnesota own a social service agency that has been dragging its heels on the Ray campaign since the start. Ray is a client of Lutheran Social Service (LSS). I think they’ll be surprised that agencies like LSS can use the Lutheran Church name, and even claim to be “owned” by the six Lutheran Church Synods in Minnesota… but that LSS is not being held accountable to that Church in any way.
Then later today, we go over to the enormous May Day Parade for some fun. This time we’ll use humor, a skit developed by the clown troupe of “the real” Patch Adams, a clown physician who has been part of the MFI community since 1992. (If you read this today Sunday in Twin Cities, go to the Green Medicine booth at the Festival to find out where we’re doing our skits!0
One thing I’m remembering, as I’m out from behind the computer screen and back in the streets, is that there is nothing like nonviolent, direct action, face-to-face. Yes, there are ups and downs, but that’s part of the adventure.
Now, I like to watch movies and DVD’s that include adventure. I like to read online on the web about adventure. And I sure try to utilize the powerful technology like this web site that can help with organizing.
But I also say, “Come out, come out from behind your screens… from behind your TV screens… from behind your computer screens.” I’ve been a community organizer for social justice in the mental health field for 33 years, and these three days here remind me about why.
In a few minutes, MindFreedom board member Al Galves will be coming by for us to drive off for today’s actions. Let me end by adding that working with Al, with his great sense of humor and passion and intelligence and flexibility, is just one of the many reasons I’m glad that I flew into the Twin Cites to support Ray’s campaign. Thanks to Al and the many people who have been helping here, and to the many people nationally and internationally who we know are sending their support here to Ray!