Friday, January 11, 2013

Can't Delete the Street

Protesting outside Indian Consulate 9 January 2013

How many people does it take to create an international incident?
Eight, judging by the Indian consulate's skittishness on Wednesday.

VS, a friend and Indian national, had been distraught for weeks about the gang rape and murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey. She organized a protest via Facebook. About 12 others and I signed on for some picket duty on 64th Street across from the New York consulate. 

As I turned the corner from Fifth Avenue, I could hear VS and her crew of maybe five others chanting, "India: Save our sisters!" Selma, it wasn't. But it was important. 

I took a poster from her hand-drawn pile and added my voice. "Fast-track justice!" "India:  Prosecute rape!" "Justice now, India!" 

Honestly, we were a pitiful little cluster. We were infinitely more powerful, however, than an online petition with a thousand signatures. The folks rustling the consulate's curtains – sneaking peeks – could not just hit delete and be done with us. 

Somebody called the cops instead. 

NYPD rolled up and respected our right to assemble and shout. Refreshing!

CNN India took some b-roll; maybe we were on New Delhi TV. No matter.

Our group shape-shifted, adding and subtracting, throughout the afternoon. Being present. Being heard. Being real to the officials across the way. 

Sometimes that is the best we can do. And it far better than fuming in front of screens.