Smudge's post-mortem on the DC Trucker ProtestSubmitted by Smudge Pot on Sun, 10/13/2013 - 21:29
Given as it's all a learning experience and it's easy to be a Tuesday morning quarterback, but we have experience in these matters, we never get enough and we always keep learning.
It happened. It's a historical fact now. It got domestic and international press. Perhaps more international press than domestic press. It was peaceful, nobody got hurt and it showed us that trucker rallies are more than a theoretical possibility. Somebody did it. That's a start. This leadership is now credited and can continue to build off this nucleus. I see good things in the future.
And the overpass action. There were reports nation wide about supportive overpass demonstrations. There is broad support out there. There's more roots to this grass. We're just seeing what's on top.
I call this one a success for the above reasons. Luck kinda played both ways on this one.
The negatives are many.
Tired call to action.
"Trucker protest" is something that some of us have heard so many times we inwardly groaned to read it. "Here we go again" was the feeling. We understand why this is difficult, truckers are spread out all over the nation, it costs a LOT to take time off and bring a rig to DC and "truckers" in this case are limited to independent owner/operators which is probably about only about 25% of the overall industry these days. We'll never see millions, hundreds of thousands or even tens of thousands of truckers in one place doing a protest. It's just practically infeasible.
Organizers came with baggage. The stigma of racism on organizer Zeeda Andrews led to an early red flag in our ranks. Basically she's a major muslim hater, this was clear on her facebook page and other media but most of this was cleaned up in a hurry. Peter Santili is a straight-up neocon by our standards. These two factors gave a lot of us great pause. Myself quite publicly. This kept a lot of broadcasting from happening and a lot of people from throwing in their support. In a nutshell, it's wasn't gonna get wide support in our diverse communities. Add to this the confusion about Zeeta's having ever been a trucker which she or somebody claimed to be at one point, we were off to a bad start for front-people.
A dozen is the new million?
Grandiose claims. Truckers are gonna "shut down DC", there's gonna be A MILLION OF THEM joining MILLIONS OF VETERANS, hey man, that turns a lot of people off, myself included. You think this stuff sounds any less silly when we say it than when leftists say it? I mean seriously this movement has never mobilized a million. Tens of thousands certainly but not even hundreds of thousands. And this had consequences, see below.
Lack of message and message control.
This group didn't go off message, they never had one until it was basically too late. The early language from Zeeta, no kidding, was "to throw the muslim out of the white house". Then it suddenly expanded to contain a pretty standard list of grievances representing independent owner/operators (somebody gave her a fast education) but then took a sovereign turn with the logistics coordinator Earl Conlon (with the arresting of government officials by citizen grand juries) which then was repudiated by Santili on air. Or webcast. Whatever. Then suddenly it becomes about "the constitution". Oh ok. We get it. Generally. Conlon then was reported by MSM to have reported that his words were just intended to rattle people up whereupon at least one MSM outlet declared the whole thing to be a hoax.
That was like follow the bouncing ball. You'd need to rewind that a few times it happened so fast. But guys, that just shows a real lack of communication, discussion, resolution and team building that's always incorporated into what we do. We have to argue about EVERYTHING naturally (debate is our number one for of evolution as a community) and this stuff is usually so ironed out by the time we actually do it that we are cohesive in all our PR messaging. And we have larger teams with more people with more diverse skills (apparently). But crucially, in the mind of the public, the hoax story fit and that's what they largely ran with. Besides the "few dozen truckers" theme, by which they declared the whole thing to be kaput as of Friday noon EST.
Schism in core team approaching critical phase of ops.
All of the above led to a schism in this group. Like 4 days before the scheduled event. That is like...ok that's not a red flag, that's a 4-ALARM FIRE. Objectively that's a point at which an organizer might abort the mission but who was left? A neocon webcaster and a woman who was a singer? The "repudiation of Earl show" ended with Earl and them saying they could do their thing their way and he'd do it his. The "trucker" part of this protest just got hustled out the door. Who are they representing now? It's kinda ludicrous BUT they managed to get another couple of volunteers in and they basically just went forward with the whole thing. Under a new facebook page. Which talked about the constitution.
At this point I note the MSM had everything they would have needed to destroy the character of the organizers. If this was huge, it would have been branded as a "racist, right-wing trucker protest". Wait, actually it was. It just wasn't deemed big news right then.
Non supported communications online, social networking, etc.
As this thing went into motion we had some good reporting and then it just fell off a cliff. Santili was doing "live coverage" but he wasn't getting any reports from truckers. That was almost excruciating. And there was like such a howling LACK of all the heaping piles of technology we show up with practically everyplace. No streams, no interviews, no barrage of facebook and youtube and twitter. What we did find was recycled images from previous events and stock photos coming up in reporting indicating, INDICATING I SAY that there was a major lack of on-the-ground reporting. And I guess it's tough to do when your subject is whizzing around on the highway but how about more truckstop interviews, how about follow-along footage? Earl Conlon finally started streaming from his cab as they were driving and I wish they had that up from the get-go. As it was, a slew of posters and bloggers seem to have been caught recycling images and bringing more embarrassment to the situation.
Again, we never do something and hope the MSM will report on it, we make our own reporting happen and we drag the MSM with us.
Little apparent organization, updates.
Pete Santili did his (lack of) coverage but it was clear he wasn't organizing anything. This showed itself in the reporting gaps but also in the lack of any kind of schedule or supportive programming. Gee, wonder why? Have anything to do with his having humiliated the driver and logistics organizer? But when you do a street action you don't hope the press shows up, you start to pressure them to show up days in advance and every day until you are actually in action. You want to have press liasons someplace available constantly and these people force feed journalists with the info, with printed stuff to take home. You basically do their work for them. And you want a specific time/place to start and a specific time/place to stop. This boosts your message and allows you to control it to the end. Also, having an ending releases you (as an organizer) from ongoing liability. Any subsequent event is not associated with the organization.
These negative factors severely impacted this group's ability to function and it's clear they lack experience with coordinated street action. Ironically if it had been larger, Peter Santili and especially Zeeta would have come under intense scrutiny and been outed. This would have put an even worse face on truckers than how it turned out. However this is entered as among the many possibilities for future action (most likely under different front people).
My deepest thanks to the drivers who made this happen, my highest encouragement to learn from it and do it again. Mr. Conlon, you are OK in my book. Feel free to tap us at the Daily Paul in the future, we've got a lot of capability See you next year?
P.S. this just in from base1aransas, you totally have to see this!