ExxonMobil protesters brave rain to deliver 'Dump the Pump, Fuel Equality' message

About 20 protesters braved thunderstorms Friday afternoon to deliver a message that ExxonMobil Corp. discriminates against its LGBT employees, and to call attention to the need for the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act.  The protest was organized by GetEQUAL.

Three ExxonMobil stations in the Oak Lawn area were targeted. Protesters with signs chanted and talked to passersby.

At the station at Lemmon and Wycliff avenues, the manager complained to police soon after two protesters arrived, telling officers that they were hurting his business. Protester Chastity Kirven said an officer came over and said she was only relaying a message and wasn’t stopping the protest.

“Hurting his business. That’s the point,” Kirven said.

—  David Taffet

Exxon protests set for Friday

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Mark Reed of GetEQUAL reports that activists are moving ahead with planned protests outside three local ExxonMobil stations on Friday afternoon. The protests are designed to draw attention to Irving-based ExxonMobil’s anti-gay employment policies, as well as the need for passage of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

“Everything is looking good,” Reed said in an e-mail Thursday afternoon. “We have reached out to the 80 confirmed [Facebook] guests. It’s hard to tell how many will actually show up. We will have a police officer at each location. We will have signs available and T-shirts. As long as we stay on the sidewalk, we are perfectly legal. The tie-up-the-pump is something that will morph at the scene depending on the numbers that show up for the event.”

“Tie-up-the-pump” is a possible effort to have people in their cars purchase a very small amount of gas and take a very long time to pump it. The idea is that this will cost the stations money. Remember, GetEQUAL activists have demonstrated that they’re willing to get arrested to make a statement, so things could get interesting.

And if nothing else, they’ve come up with some really nice graphics like the ones above and below, so it’s probably worth stopping by just for a T-shirt. More on Facebook.

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—  John Wright

GetEQUAL's next target: ExxonMobil

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Local activists from GetEQUAL — the national LGBT direct action group whose members have been arrested recently in Washington and San Francisco – plan protests outside three ExxonMobil stations in Dallas on Friday, May 14.
The protests are designed to draw attention to Irving-based ExxonMobil’s anti-gay employment practices as well as the need for passage of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, according to GetEQUAL’s Mark Reed.
“When the world’s largest publicly traded international oil and gas company with nearly 30,000 employees in the United States refuses to protect the LGBT community against workplace discrimination, it underscores the need for Congress to pass ENDA now,” Reed told me Thursday. “Every day that Congress does not act on ENDA is another day when lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees can be fired from ExxonMobil for simply being who they are.”
The rallies will take place outside ExxonMobil stations at 3716 Maple Ave., 4239 Lemmon Ave. and 2503 Lemmon Ave. in Dallas, and GetEQUAL is hoping to have at least 25 people at each location. Anyone interested in participating is invited to attend a planning meeting at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 8 at Wiedemark, in Suite 120 of the Ferrer Law Center Building at 2603 Oak Lawn Ave.

—  John Wright

Mark Reed reflects on arrest for chaining self to White House fence during DADT rally

Mark Reed, far right, was released from jail Monday and ordered to pay a $100 fine.
Mark Reed, far right, was released from jail after 24 hours on Monday and ordered to pay a $100 fine.

Ironically, as he stood with one arm handcuffed to the White House fence on Sunday afternoon, Dallas activist Mark Reed says he felt “liberated.”

Reed, a successful business owner who’s in his early 50s, said he’d never been arrested before and hadn’t even had a traffic ticket in 10 years.

In fact, he’d always figured that if he were arrested, he’d probably faint due to his fear of authorities.

Strangely, though, that didn’t happen.

—  John Wright

Mark Reed to spend another 5 hours in jail

I was hoping to talk to Dallas activist Mark Reed today after he’s released from jail for chaining himself to the White House fence on Sunday, but it looks like that won’t be happening until at least 2 p.m. Eastern. From Twitter:

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UPDATE, 3:30 p.m. Central: GetEQUAL reports that the six were released this afternoon with $100 fines.

—  John Wright

Mark Reed of Dallas among 6 activists arrested for chaining themselves to White House fence

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Mark Reed of Dallas was among six people arrested today for chaining themselves to the White House fence during a “don’t ask, don’t tell” protest organized by GetEQUAL, Queer Rising and Talk About Equality. Reed is on the far right in the above photo, which was just posted on GetEQUAL’s Facebook page. Reed and the other five activists have been taken to the Anacosita Park police station, according to reports, and they likely will have to spend the night in jail. Whoever has Reed’s phone, presumably partner Dante Walkup, sent me a text message a few minutes ago saying, “He was proud when they took him away! Even happier when they let him keep his cigarettes.” Below is video of former DNC Chairman Howard Dean addressing the rally. For additional coverage, see The Advocate.

UPDATE: GetEQUAL confirms via Twitter that Reed and others will spend the night in jail. They’ll appear in municipal court Monday morning.

—  John Wright

Video of GetEqual confronting chairman of the House Health Education and Labor Committee Meeting

Video, sent by Dallas activist Mark Reed, of the GetEqual protest at the House Health Education and Labor Committee hearing. They are escorted out by gay Representative Jared Polis, and then have a conversation with him in the hall way.

—  John Wright

Dallas activist Mark Reed says he was ready to go to jail today outside the White House

Mark Reed
Mark Reed in a screen grab from CNN.

Mark Reed says was prepared to go to jail today alongside gay Army Lt. Dan Choi and the five LGBT veterans who chained themselves to the White House fence to demand an immediate repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Reed, a Dallas business owner and an activist with GetEQUAL, said his assignment was to make sure the six were successful in linking their second hand to the fence after they walked up to it with handcuffs around one.

“If they gave me the signal I would go over there and help them put the second one on,” Reed said by phone from D.C. this afternoon. “That’s how [GetEQUAL co-founder] Robin [McGehee] got arrested when she assisted Dan [Choi] putting his handcuffs on the last time we were here. So I was in an arrestable position. … I’ve been mentally preparing myself for that. I was totally cool today if that was going to happen. I had phone numbers written on my arm. What’s great is that you know everyone here has got your back. There’s a whole chain in place.”

As it turned out, Reed wasn’t needed to assist with the handcuffs, so instead he helped hold up a sign in front of his shackled comrades until being told to move by police, as seen in the CNN video below.

“As we continued to get pushed out away from them, we continued to hold the sign in front of them, so that people clearly understood when they looked across the street, why they were handcuffed to the fence,” Reed said. “[White House Press Secretary] Robert Gibbs was actually walking through Lafayette Park, and one of the guys spotted him, so there was a whole group of people yelling at him. It was really pretty wild.”

Reed said he was shooting photographs and video the first time Lt. Choi chained himself to the fence in March.

“This one I was a more active participant, and it was really an exhilirating experience, to be able to stand with five brave veterans and Dan Choi, as they chained themselves to the fence, and to continue to put more pressure on Obama, to not study this thing [DADT] for another year,” Reed said. “If it doesn’t happen this year, it could be several years before we could actually have it repealed. I think visually seeing six soldiers, one from each military division, being chained to the fence, and Dan coming back a second time, I think sends a powerful message.”

Reed said he and his partner, Dante Walkup, arrived in D.C. at 5 a.m. this morning, before a planning meeting at 9 a.m. and then the action at noon.

Though very tired, Reed said he’s looking forward to a meeting tonight where GetEQUAL leaders will discuss the possibility of another action in the next few days.

Reed said the six who were arrested today will have to spend the night in jail. He plans to attend their arraignment tomorrow.

Reed didn’t become an activist until a few years ago, when he attended a protest outside First Baptist Church of Dallas. From there he became one of the lead organizers for last year’s National Equality March.

Reed is one of several activists from Dallas who’ve been involved with GetEQUAL. He said Chastity Kirven, who was arrested during a sit-in at the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last month, was on her way from Dallas to D.C. to join him tonight.

“I’m excited to be involved in this part of our movement, because I think we’re on the cusp of good things,” Reed said. “Civil disobedience was a major part of the civil rights movement, so we’ve done a lot of learning from tactics and strategies that they used.

“The clock’s ticking, and midterms [elections] are around the corner, and if we lose a lot of seats, we could be waiting several years to get back in the position we’re in now.”

MORE VIDEO FROM THE PROTEST AFTER THE JUMP:

—  John Wright

Dallas' Mark Reed at White House protest

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Above is a screen grab of Dallas activist Mark Reed holding a sign in front of the six LGBT veterans who chained themselves to the White House fence earlier today. I hope to talk soon with Reed, who’s featured prominently in this video from CNN:

—  John Wright

ENDA Four: Chastity Kirven speaking in Pelosi's office

Four people were arrested in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office in Washington D.C. on Thursday. Here, Dallas activist Chastity (C.D.) Kirven speaks and in the second video is arrested. The video is by Mark Reed, also of Dallas. The group, from the activist organization Get Equal, was demanding the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) be moved to the House floor for a vote.

See this Friday’s Dallas Voice for more information.

—  David Taffet