July 21, 2010
(Arisha just called me and then emailed this alarming news from her phone. Details are sketchy. We’ll get you more info as it comes in. — Eden James)
By Arisha Michelle Hatch
Just a few minutes ago (shortly before 1 p.m. ET), Brian Brown had police officers remove the Courage Campaign’s NOM Tour Tracker videographer from the Maryland NOM rally — or risk arrest.
We were told that all counter-protesters must remain across the street. When I explained to the officers –- who became enraged as I started videotaping his explanation -– that we were not counter-protesters, that we had no signs, were leading no chants and were merely documenting the rally, they said that it didn’t matter.
Maybe Brown is concerned about our work documenting the rally because, yet again, the turnout today for the NOM rally in Annapolis was extremely low (about 25 people, including staff, but I’ll get a hand-count out later), even lower than previous events on NOM’s “Summer for Marriage: One Man, One Woman” tour.
Stay tuned. . . we’ve got film of our videographer being removed from the rally coming soon.
UPDATE BY EDEN: Michelle Evans, in the comments, says:
“Just like removing the cameras from the courtroom, they don’t want people to actually see what is going on. Typical.”
Exactly. And that’s why we launched “Testimony: Equality on Trial” — to make sure that the American public sees what happened during the historic Prop 8 trial. The Prop 8 Trial Tracker and the NOM Tour Tracker are a part of Testimony — a year-long campaign to raise awareness about this trial and the right-wing’s attempt to shut down access to it. Check it out if you haven’t already.
If anyone else was at the Annapolis event and can post a report, please do so in the comments. Thanks!
UPDATE BY EDEN:
This photo just in from Courage staffer Anthony Ash, on the ground in Annapolis. Yes, that’s Brian Brown kicking off the rally with what appears to be a collection of staffers listening intently:
And now we see why Brian Brown is so freaked out about cameras covering his “#NOMturnoutFAIL: One Man, One Woman” tour of the country. From Augusta, Maine, to Annapolis, Maryland, NOM has consistently bombed at motivating its supporters to show up and express their support for marriage discrimination.
If you have thoughts on why NOM’s tour is turning into an unmitigated public relation disaster, share them in the comments.
UPDATE BY EDEN: Taylor, in the comments, writes:
Today’s rally was held at the Thurgood Marshall Memorial.
The centerpiece of which, is a statue of Marshall flanked by columns that are supporting these words.
EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER THE LAW.
A picture of that very statue, along with supporting columns:
I just got off the phone with Arisha and the rest of our team. We’ve got footage of this as well. Apparently, NOM tried to find a different location away from the Thurgood Marshall statue (UNCONFIRMED report; waiting on confirmation).
Thank you to you all for crowd-sourcing links and insight in the comments. Keep the great info coming!
UPDATE BY EDEN: Our team is on the way back to the hotel to start uploading footage and sending more details.
Meanwhile, Lesbians Loves Boies points out in the comments that Brian Brown was quoted yesterday as saying the following:
“I’m Brian Brown. I’m the president of the National Organization for Marriage. They’re (NOTE: he means counter-protesters) welcome to have as many people as they like. This is America. I, you know again, we have a national bus tour in which we are going to 19 different states. We’re not organizing in just one state. We’re happy with the response. We’re not going to get into numbers.” (Brown is referring to attendance numbers at NOM’s poorly attended events).
Direct quote here on video, as captured by the same Courage Campaign videographer threatened by Brown with arrest today:
UPDATE BY EDEN: A more detailed report on the event just came in from Arisha. See below. We’re waiting on the footage from the confrontation with the Brian Brown and the police before posting further details about what happened earlier:
The State House in Annapolis, Maryland presented Brian Brown and the NOM tour with their most challenging (and dare I say, audacious) staging location to date. Forget the fact that nobody came — we hand-counted a total of 27 people in attendance with at least 8 people that we recognized from the NOM tour staff.
Brown’s real challenge was a large statue of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall standing in front of a set of columns carved with the phrase “EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW.”
Brown and crew did their best not to acknowledge the statute in front of them – opting to set their podium up to the side – but the contrast was obvious and the silence was telling.
Perhaps, that’s why Brian did not want our videographer anywhere near the scene. I haven’t seen worse staging since Senator John McCain’s infamous “green screen” during the 2008 election (but I digress).
Brown, always in spin mode, began by acknowledging the low rally turnout.
“I know it’s a hot day,” Brown started his speech. “I actually took my jacket off. I know there are parking issues, but thank you for standing up for what we all believe in.”
Rally speaker Derek McCoy (who is, coincidentally African-American) was the only person who acknowledged Marshall’s presence from the stage.
“We’ve got Thurgood Marshall here and some would say that this is not the place to have this sort of rally” McCoy said.
He continued his speech by lashing out at activist judges and elected officials who attempt to legalize same-sex marriage.
A broken chant of “let the people vote” started but never quite gained steam.
“There are folks here videotaping and blogging us [from the other side],” McCoy reminded the small audience. “And we want to let them know that we’re not going away.”
I’m not sure what exactly we did to get under NOM’s skin, but they were clearly aware of our presence.
And no Mr. McCoy, we have no plans of going away anytime soon either.
Keep checking back in with us. The longer we’re out here on the road, the more I am beginning to realize that you -– the community that has formed in the comments of this NOM Tour Tracker — are our safety net, our reason for being.
We’re going to keep the cameras rolling as long as possible; there’s no Supreme Court to stop us this time.
UPDATE BY EDEN: Check out this just in from our team — Brian Brown manipulating the #NOMturnoutFAIL for maximum visual impact:
UPDATE BY EDEN: Billy Pollina, a very creative part the Courage Campaign Institute team and one of the leaders in our Camp Courage training program for marriage equality activists, just had some fun with the #NOMturnoutFAIL in Annapolis. Check out his virtual “hand-count” of today’s attendance: