I'm planning a tea party counterprotest. I've never done this before. Help.
Last week in a livejournal discussion about the upcoming Tea Party rally on Boston Common, I threw out the idea of "Hey, let's just show up and have an actual tea party and then look really confused when the Tea Party Express people are there with Sarah Palin". It caught on like wildfire, and the facebook event
got forwarded to over 5,000 people, and now the RSVPs are at 230 or so. So I kind of inadvertantly started a counterprotest.
I've never, ever done this. I've never even showed up at a political protest - I tend to quietly donate to causes I like. So the thought of herding 239 people and counting in the shadow of a huge group of people whose message I dislike immensely is keeping me up at night.
I started by talking to the Boston Parks & Rec department. I got a super nice lady on the phone who explained we had a right to be there, but that getting a permit would protect us. She seemed to suggest that it wouldn't be a problem to get a permit at all. I filled out the paperwork and sent it to her in a .pdf. At the time (Monday), there were less than 150 people RSVPd, I asked for 150. I later emailed her to ask to change it to 200. I haven't heard back from her. I called Tuesday and she wasn't there. They said they had the paperwork and were looking at it, but couldn't tell me when anything would be decided. The guy I talked to wasn't very talkative.
So here are my questions.
1. How often do I bug this permit office? They're very brusque (aside from the first lady) and I don't want them to decide against giving us one because I've called too much.
2. If we don't get one, I'm still going to go for it anyway. We have the right to peaceably assemble. What happens if cops ask us to move? If Tea Party organizers ask us to move? We want to set up a reasonable distance away.
3. Some attendees have questioned how we'll be able to make it known we're protesting them if we're polite about it. We're going to be dressing up, some people will be in period costumes, etc. I am totally OK with signs, but I don't want them to be filled with haterade. Any ideas for how to best pull this off? We want to be civil.
4. How should I make our protest/stunt known to the media? It was picked up by Bostonist and Universal Hub, but I should probably send out press releases to other local news. I can't even think about how I can do it without sounding like an amateur.
5. Please help me settle the pit in my stomach when I think about trying to organize 240 people. I am honestly hoping 20% or more don't show up. My last job was coordinating people, but nothing of this magnitude and I've been out of work for 15 months, so I'm jittery and self-doubting. Any advice you can give me will help me sleep tonight.