Dear Homeshcool (and other) Political Activists:
Wow. You are amazing.
Last Friday, when Gove and I decided that we needed to do something about the proposed daytime curfew ordinance in Provo, we thought we were too late. The Mayor's office was pushing for the ordinance as was the Provo school district. Our reading of the city council suggested that there were enough in favor for it to pass.
We invited concerned citizens to come to our home to meet with council member Sterling Beck to see what we might be able to do to influence the vote. We were kicking ourselves for not getting involved earlier.
The response to our invitation was great. Our home was full with concerned citizens (homeshoolers and other) who wanted to help. At that meeting we established a strategy to defeat the proposed ordinance. We would organize a protest and invite anyone we thought sympathetic to our cause to join. Still, with less than 48 hours to the vote, I was worried that we were too little, too late.... Boy, was I wrong.
This community stepped up to the challenge in a way that I would not have believed possible. You got the word out. You sent email out. You posted comments on your blogs, You talked to your neighbors, You contacted news papers and gave interviews to reporters. You contacted television stations and later found yourselves expressing your concerns on the evening news. You put other plans on hold and made arrangements to attend the protest. The local news picked up the story of the planned protest and we got the attention of both the mayor's office and the school district office. The mayor found himself answering reporters' questions about why he was supporting an action that would give police the authority to arrest six-year-olds. I'd be surprised if Greg Hudnell (of the Provo School District) was not answering similar questions.
By Monday Night, Greg Hudnell had issued a letter of apology regarding his support of the proposed ordinance. By Tuesday morning, the Mayor sent a letter to the city council formally withdrawing his support of the measure. At that time, we had successfully defeated this proposed ordinance--daytime curfew for Provo would not become law (this time).
This was an amazing turn of events and it happened in an extremely short time.
But that was not enough. Even though the measure was dead, you showed up to the protest anyway. Observers who work in the city offices said that they had NEVER seen a protest of this size at the city building. Together, we sent a clear message to the City Council, to the Mayor's office, and to the school district: making laws that trample citizen's rights and ignore the constitution will not be tolerated.
An oh boy, they got the message. The protest was covered by every major news organization in Utah County as well as many freelance photographers. We also got state-wide coverage as both Doug Wright and Rod Arquette devoted substantial blocks of time on their talk radio programs to the events. The only thing we did not have was national news coverage, but with only 36 hours notice, that might have been a bit much to expect--maybe next time.
Representatives of the city council tried to diffuse the issue by announcing that they were no longer considering the proposed ordinance, but that did not discourage this group. By the time the Municipal Council Meeting began at 7:00, the count of protesters (every one peaceful and respectful) had reached 250. To their credit, the Provo City Council gave time in the meeting to allow everyone who came to express concerns on the issue individually. For more than two hours, the council listened to person after person express the concerns with the way this measure had progressed. Even though the measure had been defeated, I was very pleased to see how patient and attentive the council remained. Although a few speakers took an accusatory tone with the council, the addresses were overwhelmingly respectful, well reasoned and persuasive. The Council took the time to hear our concerns, and from my reading of the event, they really listened.
The youngest to address the city council was Olivia Holt (about eight or nine years old) and was so small that she could not see over the podium. The council had to ask her to step in front it so the council members could see her. Here's the link to the segment with her address: http://provout.swagit.com/player.php?refid=03012011-295 (she makes her comments at time index 18:22).
This has been an unbelievable victory in many respects. First, it is a victory for every citizen of and visitor to the city of Provo. More importantly, it is a victory for our community who came together in an amazing way to influence the path that a community would take. Every child who held a protest sign and chanted "no daytime curfew" to amazed onlookers will long remember the day. They learned that peaceful protest can have a real influence in our community. They learned that they can make a difference. They learned that when a concerned, motivated, and dedicated group makes their voices heard, people listen.
My congratulations on a great job.
Now, we need to be sure that we don't fall asleep at the switch. Even though we defeated this measure in Provo, we need to be ever vigilant that we do not let similar measures advance in any community. To this end, we are organizing a event to jointly celebrate this success and take time to reflect on what went right as well as what we could have done better. Here are the details:
Pizza party to celebrate the defeat of the Provo daytime curfew
Saturday, March 5, 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Allens' Home in Provo (854 N 1375 W)
For: Anyone who feels they contributed to the victory
The Allens will provide the Pizza, everyone else should bring a side dish.
We will take some time at this event for adults and interested children to have a retrospective discussion of what went right and what we could have done better. Please join us.
Again, thank you for your participation. I remain deeply moved at how you united over this issue. I am honored to be a member of this community.
Nickie Allen. (with help from Gove)