Hearts and wallets

WHEN BERNADETTE Logue got up and put on her glasses to read the daily paper Saturday morning, she saw another story about Seattle school troubles. Instead of just turning the page, she picked up a phone and left the newspaper a message about her last visit to Garfield High School. "Go down to Garfield and look around, spend a day there, and you'll realize why people want to send their kids to Ballard. It has a lot to do with the fact Garfield is falling to pieces. I don't know why it's not condemned. It smells like an open sewer. I think they have broken pipes beneath the floors. It's clean, but it stinks. Windows are broken; there are cracks in the ceilings. People pay a lot of taxes for schools—why are they in this condition?"

For many, that would be enough social activism for one day. But in a few hours, after braiding her brown hair and dressing warmly, Logue, 43, a socialist feminist, slung a protest sign over her shoulder and arrived at noon for the all-purpose rally at Seattle Central Community College. A noisy crowd gathered to chant and speak against the International Monetary Fund, racism, the World Bank, war, the death penalty, and cops, who—arrayed in pads and helmets along Broadway, sitting in cars and in vans parked in alley ways—appeared to outnumber demonstrators. (For more on demonstration see next page.)

Logue waved her sign and listened to fiery speeches. A rap group blasted music, and others banged on drums. Occasionally the crowd cheered someone. The TV cameras were there. But, really, what difference would it make? Wasn't it just those people—the obnoxious bandana-clad rabble who need a haircut— yapping about those other people—the corporate white guys in suits who have made this country what it is today? From passing cars, passengers called out "Idiots!" and "Get a job!" Even though traffic was slowed, it was not infuriatingly blocked the way it was on I-5 last week by protests over the recent deputy sheriff's shooting of a black man.

Transportation's not a bad way to get the message out, Logue thinks. "You have to get out in the streets. This is Seattle. That's what people do here. So get used to it." Later on, up Broadway, protesters blocked an intersection, bringing in riot-clad, club-swinging traffic cops who laid down a stream of pepper spray and arrested 19 immovable pedestrians, making streets safe again for the 2,000-pound automobiles.

Still, while you get people's attention, do you win them over by blocking their Henry Ford-given right to commute? How do you reach the rest of the world out there, the TV-and-shopping-mall masses too busy or too disinterested to care? What's the sales hook?

Money, perhaps? Around Logue Saturday on the college plaza were myriad signs warning against the IMF, Big Brother, and the Illuminati; signs advising that the real axis of evil is war, racism, and poverty. Fine. But Logue's towering hand-printed sign had a meatier message, not unlike the one she had left the newspaper that morning: What bang are we getting for our buck? And what else could we do with it?

"One F-22 ($188 million) = 31 new schools. One attack sub ($2.1 billion) = 30,000 affordable apartments. U.S. taxpayers spend $7.5 billion/year to export arms = 50,000 new teachers. One month of war ($1.5 billion), imagine. . . . "

Once you have America by the pocketbook, its hearts and minds will follow. "Anyone, the average person, can identify with that message," says Logue. When you see school disrepair, when you can't get city services, when your park is closed, "consider where your money has gone, and for what," she says.

She carried her sign up and down Broadway Saturday, and at 7 p.m. she was still holding it high ahead of an estimated 700 demonstrators who flooded down Pine Street with a police escort. At the axis of commerce—the corner of Nordstrom, The Gap, and Coldwater Creek—they rallied in Westlake Park, and Logue's sign rose above the shopping crowd.

"There's a lot people can do," says Logue. "They can come to protests, write letters, call their legislators, or, you know, just call the paper. They should say how they want this money spent. The people who are spending it don't pull it out of midair. It's ours."

randerson@seattleweekly.com

 
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