August 08, 2017
A moment in the sun (literally)
The job for the day was not to participate in any of the rallies or protests, but to monitor conditions with the goal of ensuring that people of whatever viewpoint were able to exercise their First Amendment rights, documenting things as necessary.
I think the subtext for me anyhow was to pay attention in case the situation started to get out of hand.
Mostly, I walked around in the heat for five hours getting my brain baked. And fortunately things didn't get out of hand. The police were generally very professional. There was some screaming back and forth from supporters and protesters but I only saw one person being escorted out by police and no serious violence, even though the potential was definitely there.
There were people across the spectrum who seemed intent on stirring things up. There was even a group of armed militia-type people standing where the protesters were. Fortunately, they were fairly laid back.
The thing that struck me the most was that, although the lines were clearly drawn, most people walked past each other without incident when it was over. There was some give and take, sometimes heated. And at times people seemed to be honestly baffled with how people on the opposite side could think and feel the way they did. Then they went home.
In the end, I found all that to be oddly reassuring.