Dallas activist Laura McFerrin took one for the team to help disrupt Obama's speech

GetEQUAL, the direct action group that disrupted the president’s speech during a Los Angeles fundraiser last night, continues to take on a Dallas strain. Last month, local activists Chastity “Chaz” Kirven and Michael Robinson were among those arrested during sit-ins at the offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. And last night, our own Laura McFerrin was involved in the operation to disrupt Obama’s speech. I spoke briefly with McFerrin this morning as she prepared to board a plane back to Dallas. McFerrin said she was driving two other activists to the event, Michelle Wright and Zoe Nicholson, when the street was closed down in front of them because Obama’s plane had landed early.

“I told Zoe and Michelle to get out of the car and start running,” McFerrin said. “The important part was Zoe was able to get in, because she was one of the three people yelling. I said, ‘I’m taking one for the team, get out of the car.’”

McFerrin, who planned on filming the whole disruption, said she didn’t arrive until an hour later, after it was over. Despite the glitch, though, she said she feels it was a success.

“We had activists get in there, and Obama heard us,” McFerrin said. “I think he was upset that he was being heckled and yelled at. Sometimes you have to upset people. I just think he’s going to notice that we’re not going away.  We want to be heard. We want action. Some people in the gay community are like, ‘Let him do his job,’ but it’s an immediate issue for a lot of people who are in the military right now. Sometimes you have to be disrespectful.”

According to a statement from GetEQUAL, the protesters were escorted out by security, but there were no arrests. The statement, which includes bios of each activist, says McFerrin was the only one of the six involved who isn’t from California. From McFerrin’s GetEQUAL bio:

“She organized a protest at First Baptist Church in Dallas, TX after the minister preached a sermon, “Why Gay is Not Okay.” Laura is the director of ‘March On,’ a documentary following the lives of several LGBT families on their journey to the National Equality March in Washington last October.  She believes that this direct action will serve as a wake-up call to Obama and remind him of his promises.”

—  John Wright

ENDA rally in Dallas: video

Video taken outside Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s office on Central Expressway in Dallas. Rallies in support of ENDA took place in Austin, Houston, San Antonio and cities across the country.

The rallies coincided with the arraignment hearing for the ENDA 4, which includes Dallas activist Chastity Kirven. They were sentenced to six months of staying the hell out of Nancy Pelosi’s office.

—  David Taffet

UPDATE: Dallas group involved in San Francisco and D.C. protests

I just got off the phone with Mark Reed who was at the protest in Nancy Pelosi’s office yesterday. He was about to board a plane headed back to Dallas and will have more information, photos and video over the weekend.

Reed said that Michael Robinson was among those arrested in Pelosi’s Sn Francisco office. Robinson paid a $135 fine and was not taken into custody.

Mark Reed
Mark Reed

In Washington, the group met with an aide at 4 p.m. to discuss moving ENDA out of committee and onto the floor of the House. Without a commitment, the group refused to leave.

Reed said that his role was mostly to photograph and send communication about the event out. At one point, he was told he could take no more pictures. He said during the protest he was free to come and go and he brought the protesters food and water.

Kirven was among the protesters. She was arrested about 8 p.m. and taken to jail. Reed bailed her out at about 11 p.m. She has a court date set for April 4 on a charge of illegal entry.

Reed, Robinson and Kirven are involved with the new direct action group Get Equal. This is the first protest in which the new group has participated. The group also had a role in the Dan Choi protests at the White House.

Look for updates later in the weekend after the group returns home.

—  David Taffet