Three Women, A Dog And A 'Tiny Resister'
On a recent chilly Monday night, a trio of protesters, joined by a golden retriever named Winston and a 4-year-old boy who responds to the nickname “Tiny Resister,” stood on the edge of Reservoir Park in Salt Lake City.
Holding handwritten signs with slogans like “Fight Ignorance, Not Immigrants,” the pod of protestors — Ashley Weitz, Chiemi Maloy and Liz Rank — gathered from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. as they have most every week for months. On the corner of 1300 East and South Temple, Weitz and friends regularly share their views on a range of topics from family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border to the recent government shutdown.
“I’m disabled and I am a single mother and there are a lot of things that I can’t do, but this was something that I came to really enjoy and need,” Weitz, 35, said. “It became a place where I could process the news of the day and leave and feel calmer, and be a better mother.”
Weitz has regularly stood in protest since July when she started the group, the second nationwide to join a movement called #StandOnEveryCorner.
The movement was founded last June by Bryce Tache of Minneapolis. Today, there are as many as 297 protest groups across the country, according to the movement’s website.
“We tease that you always need a second to make a movement,” Weitz said.
Weitz learned about Tache’s protests through Twitter and decided to follow his example. So on July 7, Weitz took a sign and stood at the park to protest families being separated at the border. That started a daily practice where she held up signs at the park until November, when she scaled back the protests to once a week due to plunging temperatures.
“We have built a community here and then we are also building community with people who are driving by,” she said.
The women are also joined by Weitz’s 4-year-old son, whose name, for privacy reasons, his mother declined to give. Instead, the women affectionately refer to him as Tiny Resistor. He holds his own signs and encourages drivers to honk, which they do, sometimes in agreement, sometimes not.
“We get the occasional irate screaming, you know that ‘Everyone should just go back to their own country,’ or obscenity,” said Rank, 58, who joined the crew last summer after seeing Weitz protesting as she walked her dog, Winston, who is also now a regular member.
Last Monday, the group took in friendly waves and honks. Many of the interactions that they get are positive ones, which Rank said she finds encouraging.
But it’s not just the attention of drivers that the group has received. They’ve also been joined by prominent Salt Lake residents, including new Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson and her former opponent, Shireen Ghorbani.
The messages that they touch on are typically in reaction to news events. While holding signs for an hour each week might not seem like much, Maloy, 29, said they are building awareness about issues like the #MeToo movement and racism.
“I think there’s a really good likelihood that we’re reaching an audience that might not have this message otherwise,” she said.
Weitz intends to keep the protests going for as long as they can.