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A no reaction protest idea

Original post made by Anne on Jan 27, 2010

I'm thinking about distributing a flyer tomorrow (see below) but wanted to run it by other Gunn students first and parents to see if this is a good idea or not.


To All Gunn Students


By now everyone has heard of the possible protesters coming on Friday with some pretty negative signs and pretty negative words. What better way to deliver their message than to get a response from us. If they get people to shout back at them, they're happy. If they get a crowd gathering, they're happy. If they get on the Friday night news, they win.

In the last couple of days this issue has mushroomed. People are more aware of this group's existence. Just what they want. However their appalling message has fired us up. Again that's just what they want. We now have a strong urge to get our own message out. Simply that we don't tolerate hatred. That Gunn students are supportive and loving to all. Let's show them how peaceful, loving, supportive and united Gunn students are.

Wouldn't it be fun to have the five or six WBC protesters come all the way to Palo Alto to stand out in the cold with no one around. No students, no other protesters, and no cars driving by (ok very few cars driving by). We can do this. It makes a powerful statement. You've heard the saying: "Does a tree falling in the forest make a sound if there is nobody there to hear it?" If there is no eyes around to read their signs and no ears around to hear their chants, do they spread their message. Probably not.

So here's what you can do to participate in this NO REACTION PROTEST.

1. If you don't like any of this and protesting is not your cup of tea, sleep in. Come to school at 8:30am when classes start. Easy enough and knowing that you too are helping with this NO REACTION PROTEST while just being snuggled in bed.

2. When you do come to school on Friday, enter the school through the back. Stay away from the front entrance. Cars can drop off via Georgia. Yes Georgia will be a bit busier but it's just one day and for a really good cause. This is especially important if you are coming to school between the time of 7:20am and 7:55am. If you have to drive and park at school, come after 8:00am or before 7:00am.

3. If you are itching to protest right back at them, assemble at the back of the campus away from their eyes and ears. They can't come on the campus but you can. Wear your t-shirts with messages of love and support for all: for Gunn students, for patriots, for gays, for Jews, for Americans; whatever floats your boat. So if there is the press hanging around, let's pull them to the back of the campus. This way the media coverage will only show five or six lonely WBC protesters with no one around to hear them. The real party is in the back guys. It's like a surprise party for the WBC. Surprise! We're not here and we're not listening.

4. Absolutely no signs that have any negative tone or message. Only positive. Let's show the world that we can deliver our own message of love and support for all. Remember WBC won't see our message until the evening news, if we do this right. So no mention of WBC on your t-shirts. Keep it peaceful, keep it positive.

5. Have your parents drive to work a different way. The fewer cars that drive by the better. We want it very quiet at the front entrance.

6. Gunn has had way too much worries and emotions both in the press lately and in our hearts. We are more than ready to show a different side to Gunn students. I think this Friday is a great opportunity to show our lighter side. Please participate in a 'no reaction' way that feels good to you.

7. We want to keep it safe. The PAUSD, Gunn Staff, the City of Palo Alto and all our parents, want us safe. Fired up crowds is not the way to do this. We're hoping this NO REACTION PROTEST is a way to keep our freedom of speech alive in a healthy safe way.

8. Last, get to class on time at 8:30 knowing that you did a really good thing today.

Comments (31)

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 27, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Anne, I am proud of you. You give me hope for the future. Your folks must be proud of you, too.

Posted by Norm, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 27, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Excellent plan, well thought out....and a rare agreement with Walter.

Posted by Steve, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 27, 2010 at 3:00 pm

I agree about wearing your T-shirts and showing respect and compassion for your fellow students. Put together some special study sessions to learn more about this issue. Otherwise, just ignore the wingnuts and stay safe.

I encourage mainstream church groups to police their own.

Posted by Jane, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 27, 2010 at 4:02 pm

the implication that WBC has anything to do with religion is absurd.

As others have pointed out WBC spews hatred at Mormons, Jews, Roman Catholics and gays, they desecrated Jerry Falwells funeral as they have done the funerals of US soldiers.
They claim that the 911 attacks were a US Gov conspiracy, their hatred is equal opporunity because their aim is to provoke reactions so that they can and extort money under treat of endless expensive litigation.
No response, no tee shirts, business as usual is the approach, completely ignore their existence.

Posted by Michele, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 27, 2010 at 4:14 pm

I love this. Very well thought out. You go, Anne!

Posted by Jane, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 27, 2010 at 4:19 pm

The messages sent out by PAUSD are clear and sufficient to instruct and guide students

We do not need any flyers thank you

Posted by Nutcase Buster, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 27, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Anne, this is a visionary and heroic idea! Please use this experience as a template, and spread it FAR and WIDE! If tehre's somethign to report about this event, THIS is it. Are you listening, local press! Give free coverage to a GREAT SOLUTION! I would not even mention the name of the "church" group. Just call them an anti-human-rights group (because they are, based on current definitions of human rights), and then focus on this great SOLUTION to diffusing the spread of hate.

You are a leader, young woman; I am proud to be associated with you, even in the tenuous ether of cyberspace.

Posted by Dad, a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 27, 2010 at 4:58 pm

I too feel that the best approach is business as usual. A school day like any other school day. However, there are just too many students. If the Palo Alto weekly is even close to being correct that 1500 plan a protest, then I like Anne's way of doing it.

It allows an avenue for all. And in light of all the stress lately it pulls the students together. It seems more like a pep rally on campus than a confrontational protest. What a peaceful way of pulling it off.

Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 27, 2010 at 5:57 pm

Any counter protest is going to attract identity politics activists from SF,SJ and other communities such as ACT - UP, anti Prop 8 etc, some these groups have a history of violent confrontation, if they come and there are incidents the WBC attorneys will sue the City of Palo Alto.
If any Gunn students are involved in incidents, they will sue the parents for everything they can get.
Even if WBC ultimately loose the case the parents will have to defend themselves through years of litigation and $ 100,000s.
The WBC attorneys work for free.

WBC is a cult with a group of very experienced lawyers, they have been at this for years

It is a scam-- but apparently a legal scam.

If there is no counter protest they loose and it is a non event, they will not come back.
If they find an excuse to sue in PA they will be on us like a plague, they target wealthy communities
Follow the money--

Posted by Bob, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 27, 2010 at 8:53 pm

I would be very impressed if our ongoing utility work were scheduled such that the roads leading to where this protest will take place would be closed off. No traffic = no people to see their protest.

Posted by parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 27, 2010 at 9:05 pm

Great idea Bob.

Posted by paly mom, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 27, 2010 at 9:59 pm

Anne---you are a star and I have a feeling I will be voting for you some day when you run for president.

However, I strongly feel that this group should be ignored. How about organizing a diversity rally for both schools on a day afterthis pathetic group has been called back to the mother ship?

Posted by gunn student, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 27, 2010 at 10:45 pm

this sounds like a good summary of what we've been told. come to school at the later time, wear your shirts, come to lunchtime rally, but DON'T BE NEGATIVE.
it is especially important that nobody does anything they would regret, because these people record others' reactions and sue them for money.

thanks for everyone's support!

Posted by sigh, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 28, 2010 at 5:58 am

Completely and utterly cracks me up...these nutcases got all they wanted..a huge reaction, front page newspaper coverage,lots of emotion...lots and lots of free press and attention!!

When I go through their list of places they visit, odd how it is never conservative areas or facilities ...I can only suppose it is because they don't let their chains be jerked as easily. They yawn and keep moving. Brilliant strategy for this group, I suppose.

Wake up guys, and don't let 20 nutcases manipulate you so easily.

Suck the air away from their "fire", don't feed it.


Posted by Michelle, a resident of Monroe Park
on Jan 28, 2010 at 8:26 am

Sorry Anne but this probably won't work. Look at the FB Group: "We Don't Tolerate Hatred at Gunn". With over 1900 confirmed guest, there will be a crowd and since many do not go to Gunn, they won't be able to go to the back of campus and have a separate protest. Such a shame because your idea was a good one; just hard to implement.

There's no way to get the word out to all 1900 by tomorrow (well maybe by facebook) and most of the kids probably WANT to come no matter what, even though so many are saying IGNORE IGNORE IGNORE them. People want to come and watch, want to come and provoke. Anne maybe you can get your message on the "We Don't Tolerate Hatred at Gunn". You would need to contact the originators I think.

And the WBC knows this about kids. Even adults like to go where the action is. That's why this is such an airtight scam.

Posted by Worried Mom, a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 28, 2010 at 8:28 am

So do I just send my daughter off tomorrow on bike, cross my fingers and hope for the best.

Posted by Dave, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 28, 2010 at 8:40 am

Hey if you want to watch it so much, watch it on the news tomorrow morning and stay away. That way when they rile you up, you can scream and rant at the TV. Safer anyway.

Posted by Marisol, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 28, 2010 at 8:56 am

Brilliant idea!
Indifference is more powerful than hating back.

Posted by pamom, a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 28, 2010 at 8:58 am

Best thing to do is ignore them--there is the problem that it looks like they will stage their group where many cars enter Gunn. So, you will be passing their signs. You know some people will be tempted to shout them down or make gestures. I know I would want to do a thumbs down, but I'm thinking the best thing is to completely ignore them or it might escalate on our side and that's what they want.

Posted by Worried Mom, a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 28, 2010 at 9:21 am

to pamom, if it was just going to be a drive-by thing that would be ok (even though I am thinking rubber-neckers and accidents) but it will more likely be a large crowd outside their car getting angry. And the crowd will be young adults. riot waiting to happen.

Posted by Penny, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 28, 2010 at 9:34 am

Well done, Anne. Very thoughtful and mature response. I hope your fellow students will join you in a resolute and unified effort to give this message of hate no attention. Brilliant and peace-loving response.

Posted by A Noun Ea Mus, a resident of Professorville
on Jan 28, 2010 at 10:49 am

Jane said

"The messages sent out by PAUSD are clear and sufficient to instruct and guide students

We do not need any flyers thank you"


This flyer seems to be basically supporting the stance, or excuse me the "instruction and guidance" message, sent out by PAUSD. Don't you remember being a kid? Do you think that kids, especially high school age ones, just follow by rote the "instructions and guidance"?

PLUS it provides for an outlet for those who do wish to more directly counter this cultic activity nearby. (wearing T shirts and having their own rally on school campus, etc.).

Meantime let the rest of us help by not making this into some way for us to grind our political or religious axes. This cult does target both left and right wing communities/people/issues. But whatever their "infuriation trigger" is that they are trying to push, having a safe and reasonable response/outlet as advocated by Anne seems very wise.

Posted by A Noun Ea Mus, a resident of Professorville
on Jan 28, 2010 at 10:54 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Michele, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 28, 2010 at 11:21 am

Hey, Worried Mom, can you get a carpool of some of her friends to go to school tomorrow by car? Safety in numbers, you know. Hopefully these guys will be cleared out by the time kids arrive but yes, it is best to try to keep your kid from meeting head on with them. I'm thinking of driving west down San Antonio and swinging around via Foothill and using Miranda drop off.

Posted by Agreed, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 28, 2010 at 11:37 am

Excellent idea.

Posted by concerned, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 28, 2010 at 11:59 am

I just wonder why this group is targeting Gunn High School. Gunn High School students have to deal with enough right now...they don't need this, no one needs this...but why Gunn?

Posted by ann, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 28, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Oh for pete's sake - it's a protest that is being discussed, not a war. It's what we do in the Bay Area - speak out against hate, war and insanity of all types.

If people want to ignore this group - great. If not, bring your signs, bring your camera, bring your friends and family - then yell or stand quietly. It is all fine. It is what makes America America. It is a chance to remind ourselves that the first Amendment applies to something other than corporations!

This hate group will move on till the day they drop in their tracks whether ignored or resisted. I say resist with all your heart and loudly enough that your voice will be heard.

Posted by A Noun Ea Mus, a resident of Professorville
on Jan 28, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Concerned asked

"I just wonder why this group is targeting Gunn High School. Gunn High School students have to deal with enough right now...they don't need this, no one needs this...but why Gunn?"

On another thread on PA Online someone related that Gunn is being targeted specifically because of the suicides. It seems that this cult is purposefully going to attempt to infuriate and anger parents and students, hope for a reaction so that they can sue. Their cult lawyers probably work for slave wages and so they can do this on the (relative) cheap.

That is the one common denominator about this group. They appear when/where in order to elicit a predictable (and IMO justified) expression of outrage. And hope it goes so far that they can gain something from it. Meanwhile the publicity helps them to spread their recruitment net.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 28, 2010 at 5:30 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

I am a mature, erudite, sophisticated fellow, yet I would not trust myself to control my temper in a confrontation with these people. They make Don Rickles look like a Walmart greeter. While you have every right to confront them, you do their work if you do.

Posted by Michele, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 28, 2010 at 6:43 pm

I agree - best to stay away. I could not stop myself from getting into a fight.

Posted by parent, a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 29, 2010 at 9:21 am

So how did it go today?

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