By Michael Bridges and Beverly Fitzpatrick
What is a light brigade, you might ask. It is a lighted human billboard, a group of volunteers getting out messages on important issues. Issues nationally and locally. Did you know that we have a light brigade in Fresno? We do, the Fresno Light Brigade (FLB) that we co-founded. Sometimes our message lights up an overpass, but more often they may be seen on a busy street corner.
For a while, we had seen the Overpass Light Brigade (OLB) actions in Wisconsin and a few other cities across the country and thought it was a great idea, an effective way to get your message out to a large audience. Wisconsin was the first, during the “Recall Scott Walker” campaign of 2012. We made our first prototype in October 2012.
Thanks to Lane Hall, along with Lisa Moline, who got OLB off the ground in Wisconsin, we got a lot of direction and advice. Hall was extremely helpful. Most important, it saved a lot of trial and error. We spent a week acquiring supplies and making the lighted boards.
The FLB became a reality when Judy Hess from the local chapter of the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) took an interest and the local chapter paid for the first message. The decision was made that our first message would be ELECT OTTO LEE, a progressive Democrat running for the newly redrawn 22nd district of the U.S. Congress. We held our first action at the corner of Blackstone and Nees avenues in RiverPark. It was exciting and got an excellent response.
Since last October, we have constructed the complete alphabet and even peace signs. Now that we have constructed the lighted letters, it is easier to assemble messages without much preparation. The only difficult part is getting enough volunteers to hold the boards, especially with longer messages. Our messages have included NO DRONES, PEACE FRESNO, PEACE MADERA, V-DAY, ONE BILLION RISING, BREAK THE CHAIN, G.E. = TAX EVADER and INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY.
The FLB has even gone on the road. As you read and saw in the May issue of the Community Alliance, we joined other activists and the San Diego Light Brigade in April for the National Anti-Drone Days of Action. While in San Diego, we displayed the FLB’s NO DRONES message that was lit up with “Code Pink” colored LEDs on an overpass over I-5. At the end of April, the FLB was at Beale Air Force Base joining Bay Area and Northern California activists in a two-day demonstration and direct action against drone warfare.
On May 17, the Fresno Light Brigade was at the corner of Nees and Blackstone avenues with lights displaying the message NO ON MEASURE G!
If you or your group would like to be involved, search for the Fresno Light Brigade on Facebook.
Mike Bridges has been involved with Occupy Fresno since Nov. 9, 2011, and has been arrested eight times standing up for his First Amendment rights. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beverly Fitzpatrick is a retired school teacher, a homeless advocate and current president of Peace Fresno. Contact her at email@example.com.