Mill Avenue Resistance Reports: Saturday, February 21st 2009

The Mill Avenue Resistance reports are written by Kyt Dotson as an extension of anthropological research on the population of Mill Avenue in Tempe, Arizona. Since the Resistance does their protests Friday and Saturday there are two reports a week. The supporting material not related to the Resistance reports can be found on the Under the Hills blog.

Today saw an increase in the total activity of drama and exposure of evangelical preachers on Mill Ave that hasn’t been seen before. Some old people have returned, and some new people have made themselves noticeable. And there were some major disruptions caused by their presence because of friction with local businesses.

The night opened up with Brant and his blonde companion camped out at the Post Office without amplification, holding a sign talking to passersby; Jeremiah, Al, and other Way of the Master evangelical preachers set up in front of Borders; and Jonathan—around whom the most major drama erupted—decided to set up in an unorthodox place: at 6th and Mill Ave in front of the Hippie Gypsy. This is probably because there is little room kitty-corner from the Hippie Gypsy, Bruce the spray-paint artist had taken the Urban Outfitters corner, and Coffee Plantation security is well known for harassing people who set up there.

The Resistance split themselves between the Hippie Gypsy corner and the Borders corner for the first part of the evening after members heard that Jeremiah had returned to the Ave. He is well known and spoken of among them because of his particular unchanging preaching style, defiance against changing his show to match current fact, and his interestingly abrasive speaking style which include known insulting falsehoods, and now quickly irrelevant non-facts presented as truth. “I don’t believe in atheists,” said Jerimiah. “If you say that you’re an atheist or an agnostic, I don’t believe in you.” In spite of his infamy drawing Resistance members that direction the real action seemed to keep itself at 6th and eventually everyone focused on those corners.

Along with Jonathan came a couple other speakers including a man named Phil who wore a tweed snapped-peak cap. When they set up with their loudspeaker it drew the attention of a Bun Devils hotdog stand worker—a tall black man, with very short, thick black hair, and a red “Bun Devils” t-shirt—and the owner James. Together they repeatedly complained at Jonathan and Phil about their speaker, at the crowd themselves to go away, claiming that the people with amplification had no right to be there several times; repeating that they were driving away business, that they were losing money.

James set off the car alarm of his large SUV parked right next to the corner (and his store) at about 9:34p.m. and was finally deactivated thirteen minutes later when three police officers on bikes showed up and waved James over. His discussion with them apparently did not favor his desire to remove the preachers, the Resistance, and the crowd from the corner, however, because they didn’t stay to talk about it.

Some exchanges with Jonathan became rather funny because the worker from the hotdog stand would come over and engage him in attempted conversation. Often, to which Jonathan would interject into his preaching that people should go buy hotdogs, but he also spoke some about the car alarm going off—“We are here today. We’re Christians. I don’t want to yell, but there’s a lot of noise.”

“I want you to buy something,” the black worker said.

“I have no money,” replied Jonathan, rubbing at his pockets with a shrug.

“Then go somewhere else!”

At another point, James went out and waved twenty-dollar bills at Averroes and Phil while they argued on the corner complaining that he’d give them money if they would only go away. At this point it was because both of them were using amplification and he just wanted them to change corners.

“I don’t want to hear them fussing,” James said. “That’s why I left my home and came out here tonight—because I don’t want to hear my wife and kids fuss, now you guys are making me sick to my stomach.”

At one point one man, looking for a fight or drunk, knocked Kazz’s “THINK FOR YOURSELF” sign out of his hands.

Hippie Gypsy increased the volume of the music that they play from their overhang, possibly in their own passive-aggressive gesture to show the crowd/preachers that they didn’t want them there.

Finally near 10 p.m. the preachers decide to take their show across the street in front of Coffee Plantation. Security there manage to not harass the set up there. Kazz even went to his vehicle and got his amplification (which had not made a debut yet.) About then another group of evangelical preachers appeared and began using the amplification that appeared to be similar to, if not actually, Jonathan’s amp—although he wasn’t seen again, but Phil was still around.

One of the new group said something about “Campus Ministry” who were visiting. Amid them a few names that were picked up by members of the Resistance were Shannon, a visiting scholar who was introduced as someone who “liked to argue with skeptics,” and happened to spend time talking to Joe; and Scotty B. who started out the night by talking to Kazz, trying to hold conversations with superfluous equivocation discussions about the “laws of logic” even though that’s not what he meant (he listed off a number of logical fallacies and rhetorical rules, but it was difficult to understand what he was getting at.)

Rocco and Joe managed the floor with the new group of preachers for most of the night. Rocco spending most of his time attempting to explain how claiming that something is “outside of logic” is akin to being able to make no claim about it at all because the very foundations of logic (truth values, for example) could not be applied to it rendering any substantive discussion of it utterly moot. Joe talked to Shannon for a while, rolling around logical arguments including the “omnipotence and omniscience” together form a contradiction in terms. Including certain other direct problems with special pleading for the supernatural.

Jonathan vanished sometime near 11p.m.

The new preacher groups left Mill Ave at about midnight.

Overall a few interviews were had with various elements, but it was difficult to formally report on individual events. Since tonight was particularly scattered, members of the Resistance and others in the public are encouraged (moreso than usual, if we may) to reply to this post and add to the knowledge of the experience.

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