by Sarah Fenske
You've undoubtedly seen the flash mob bursting into the familiar chords of Handel's Messiah at a mall food court. You've probably seen the one singing Do-Re-Mi at a train station.
But unless you happened to be shopping at the Best Buy and AT&T stores in suburban Brentwood a few weekends ago, we're betting you've never seen one breaking into a song-and- dance routine in condemnation of Motorola -- and calling for "justice now in Palestine!"
Thank God we've got the video!
On December 4, the St. Louis Palestinian Solidarity Committee (an outgrowth of the St. Louis Instead of War Coalition) pulled off two flash mobs protesting Motorola right here in St. Louis County.
It wasn't all fun and games -- even though it's not on the video, one of the activists got arrested at the AT&T outlet, supposedly for trespassing, disturbing the peace and assaulting the store's manager.
Says Colleen Kelly, outreach coordinator for the Instead of War Coalition: "We're confident that the assault charges will get dropped." There are, she notes, plenty of witnesses in that flash mob.
But the crew did its best to raise awareness about Motorola's involvement with Israel. The communications company, based just outside Chicago in Schaumberg, Illinois, provides all sorts of surveillance equipment to the Israeli government, Kelly says. The Palestinian movement's "Boycott, Divest, and Sanction" movement hopes to pressure Motorola to change that.
For more on that, see this fact sheet.
The song-and-dance in St. Louis, as Kelly admits, isn't so much about capturing the attention of local consumers as it is about recording a video aimed to go viral -- getting Motorola's attention and (of course) the attention of its customers, too. "Our audience was definitely not just the people in the store," she says.
So far, it's working -- Kelly says the video had more than 9,000 hits as of yesterday, after only being online two days. Responses have come from as far away as Italy.
"Internationally, this is a major issue," she says. "It's only in this country that we don't pay attention." The St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee is hoping, of course, that this video will be one step toward changing that.