Simi Linton Live on a Jerry Lewis protest

Over at Disability Culture Watch, Simi Linton has posted a long, comprehensively-linked, personal report–“Undermining Jerry Lewis’s Pity Mongering“– on her involvement in an LA protest against the award recently given to Jerry Lewis at the Oscar’s. Here’s something from the meat of the long post, which you’re encouraged to read in full:

After about an hour on the street, chanting, singing, leafleting, we entered the lobby of the Academy and planted ourselves in the midst of the flurry of preparations for a pre-Oscar party scheduled for that night. Guards, security guys, secretaries tried to reason with us. We would not be moved. We chanted louder and louder. At one point the receptionist said, to no one in particular: “This is a place of business, you must be quiet. We are trying to do business here.” I replied: “So are we, sister.”

Our goal was to deliver our petition, signed by over 2600 people, to the Exec Director of the Academy. We were told no one was at the office. After about 45 minutes two Beverly Hills policemen showed up, and they had no luck evicting us. A third arrived. She had no luck. Finally, Bruce Davis (the man who was supposedly not there) came down to the lobby. He was as snarky and dismissive in person as his letter to us lead us to expect. But we kept him down there and insisted that he, and others gathered around, listen to us. We got what we demanded: Delivery of petition to the Exec Director.

At one point, the cops said if we didn’t leave, they would start taking names. Laura Herhsey said: “Are you going to arrest us?” The cops were squirming. “No one said anything about arrests.” The cops met their match in these seasoned activists, and each tactic they tried was unsuccessful. It amuses me, in retrospect, to think that the Beverly Hills cops were issuing warnings to us on Friday, and then the filmic representation of a Beverly Hills Cop, Eddie Murphy, presented the award to Jerry Lewis two days later. Another musing: If we had gotten arrested, and then went to trial, I wondered if we would have been known as “The Beverly Hills 30″ (Doesn’t have quite the political bite of “The Chicago 7″, or “The Catonsville 9″ – would school children in the future wonder if we’d been arrested for maxing out on our credit cards on Rodeo Drive?)

Of the articles linked there, the one I found most informative was Arthur Blaser’s commentary in Independence Today, “Academy’s Humanitarian Award for Lewis Gets a Big Thumbs-Down“, from December 2008, which I hadn’t read before.


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