Students Sleep Outside to Protest Child Abduction

photo | Lauren Melcher

A friend and I made our way to St. Paul to check out what the Invisible Children: The Rescue event was really about.

By the time we got there all the participants had made the mile and a half trek from Rice Park to the capitol building. Lindsay Luczkowiak and Erica Schwartz, the local coordinators of the event, later explained that participants made the walk in groups of 20-30 people, and holding twine to keep them chained together. This reflected the way the child soldiers have to walk to any destination. Campsites of blankets, sleeping bags, and coolers were scattered across the front lawn of the building, and everyone was getting ready for the night ahead, since they would be camping there overnight. The seriousness of the event and the threat of a cold, rainy night approaching didn’t stop people from having fun: playing Frisbee, unwrapping new decks of cards, charades. There was even a group of people doing handstands and back flips. The mood was light and positive and everyone looked like they were happy to be there.

photo | Lauren Melcher

At about 6:30 PM, the event’s local coordinators spoke from the steps leading to the capitol building. Brandon Palma and Tessa Deleo rallied the crowd by telling everyone that they were participating in an event that was taking place in 100 cities in ten different countries around the world. They explained the history of children abducted by Joseph Kony in Africa. Brandon also explained that colored flags would be raised throughout the evening to indicate certain successes.

photo | Lauren Melcher

photo | Lauren Melcher

A red flag: Media arrived to cover the event.

A blue flag: A person of cultural influence arrived at the campsites to rescue the “abducted” people and “save” this city, symbolizing how a person of power could save the child soldiers from Joseph Kony.

A white flag: All the participants had written two letters: one to Senator Amy Klobuchar and one to President Obama. These letters, which will be hand-delivered later in June at Lobby Days in Washington DC, urge people in power to help free these child soldiers.

A green flag: Everyone present donated an average of $5 to Invisible Children.

A black flag: Five percent of attendees signed up to participate in Lobby Days.

NEED Staffers Lauren Fischer and Malynda Jackson. photo | Lauren Melcher

Once the speeches were over, people started writing their letters to President Obama and Senator Klobuchar, urging them to act. Sarah Thao of St. Michael, Minnesota, told me while writing her letter that she was at the event because she loves children, and it hurts her to hear about their being abducted.

Senator Klobuchar sent a representative who read a letter signed by all four state representatives. However, some participants, who call themselves Rescue Riders, will not go home until all the cities have been saved, no matter how long it takes. Rescue Riders who attended the Minnesota event are now braving the elements in Chicago waiting for the city to be rescued.

I was surprised how young the participants were. The crowd was mostly college and high school age, even some middle schoolers. North Central University and Gustavus Adolphus College were represented by large groups of supporters. Even the event organizers were young. Brandon explained that he and Tessa had been recruited to the cause by a group of “Roadies” that go to colleges and high schools around the country promoting the documentary and the group. They, in turn, went to colleges and high schools in the area promoting this event to students.

Invisible Children

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