Today we got up at 6:30AM to get a good early start. We traveled in two vehicles to St. Patrick’s Church in downtown New Orleans, picking up several caravan participants on the way. After a delicious pizza lunch courtesy of a TFP supporter who met us at the church hall, we headed out to find a place for campaign. Arriving at the junction of Clearview Parkway and Veterans Blvd. at 2:30 with 17 volunteers we began our first campaign. The response was reasonably good. We displayed a large American flag, one TFP standard, two small standards, signs, and a three-man banner, reading: “May God protect America from socialism.”
No first amendment rights in Metairie?
Two policemen arrived. “You all need to leave right now!” they demanded harshly. One of the officers was especially aggressive and asked if we had a permit. “Our first amendment rights allow us to hold this peaceful and orderly demonstration,” said TFP volunteer Cesar Franco. Unimpressed, the officer continued: “You can either close up now or get arrested. You can’t do this in Metairie -- Jefferson Parish. I have bigger things to worry about.” After reasoning with the officer for a while, he modified his initial attitude and the campaign continued.
“What you are doing is very important! Thank you. God bless you!” said a gentleman who pulled over to greet us with a friendly handshake. By now the intersection was alive with cheers and supportive honks in response to our “Honk against socialism” signs.
We took a break for ice-cream at a local Baskin Robins. The impression 17 young men make by wearing suits on a hot summer day in the middle of Louisiana is hard to describe. One man who came in asked about what we were doing and the campaign was described to him while he waited for his ice-cream. After a highly refreshing half hour in the ice-cream shop, we headed out again for the next campaign.
Returning to the same place for rush hour traffic, we quickly noticed how the reactions against socialism were more expressive and more numerous. However, the same police officer returned with a barrage of questions. According to him, a local politician wanted to shut us down and the police department was being pressured to do so. Never mind free speech, right?
To make matters worse, right in the middle of the campaign, the water sprinkler systems came on and several campaign members were soaked. The policeman commented that these systems were designed to work only at night and he could not understand why or how they could be turned on in the middle of the day. We did not stop the campaign but continued by moving out to the edges of the grass island to dodge the water streams.
It was a good day thank God.
Back at Fontainebleau State Park at the edge of Lake Pontchartrain, we had an Italian dinner prepared by members of our crew and rested up for another day.
Saint Joan of Arc, pray for us!
Tuesday, July 12
We began the day at Fontainebleau State Park with a hearty breakfast before heading down to the French Quarter of New Orleans. The first order of the day was to visit the beautiful Cathedral of St. Louis IX where we said prayers as a group in front of the Blessed Sacrament. This tour against the dangers of socialism in America has been dedicated to St. Louis, the Crusader King, so the visit was most fitting.
Close to the Cathedral is a stunning golden statue of St. Joan of Arc where we said a rosary of reparation for the sins of New Orleans while four TFP volunteers handed out “10 Reasons to Reject Socialism” flyers to the curious passersby. Immediately upon setting up our banners a woman, snapping photos with her camera, exclaimed: “We’ve been needing this for a long time now.” After a couple of pictures, she added, “I’m so glad to see you out here today.” Another man said with concern: “This country is becoming communist.” A lady observing the sight on a nearby bench joined the rosary as we prayed.
Not all people were favorable though: “How dare you associate St. Joan of Arc with a political statement, do you even know who she was?” asked a woman with disgust.
A couple from New Zealand showed keen interest: “Socialism has already destroyed my country along with atheism and bad education,” they said. Meanwhile, a family driving by asked how they might join the TFP.
Another Arrest Threat
About 15 minutes after our arrival, two irate police officers arrived demanding that we leave immediately or face arrest. They claimed we were on private property. Witnessing the event from the sidewalk, a native New Orleans man said in total disbelief, “I can’t believe the NOPD is shutting you down like this,” and started video taping the police officer with his phone. He could not believe that the police would forbid us from praying the rosary in front of a statue of St. Joan of Arc. “I’m going to publish this free speech violation on YouTube.”
In the afternoon, we campaigned in Kenner at the intersection of William and Veterans. The reception was excellent.
For dinner, the weary caravan members were refreshed with a delicious meal prepared by a long time TFP friend. Few things can match the delightful southern hospitality and savory Cajun cooking down here.
Our Lady of Prompt Succor, hasten to help us!
July 13, 2011
This morning we headed to Our Lady of Prompt Succor shrine in downtown New Orleans. After singing the little office of Our Lady together in reparation for the sins of New Orleans, the members all prayed in front of the miraculous image for the success of this caravan and for America’s conversion.
The younger volunteers on caravan especially enjoyed a visit to the D-Day Museum. The Second World War in large part happened because German National Socialism was imposed upon the civilized world. Millions of lives were lost, countless devastation wrought. And the complicity of many leaders in the free world allowed socialism to infect large segments of Europe under the form of Russian Stalinism. This process was clearly visible during the two hours we spent touring the museum even though it was not the goal of the exhibit. Yes, may God protect America from the horrors of socialism.
One of the interesting highlights of the museum was the presence of several members of the US 9th division who had heroically stormed the beaches of Normandy. Talking to the soldiers, one was 94 years-old and still feisty, was an experience that complemented the tour of the building. Animated conversations between members of the caravan and several old veterans brought history to life.
The next activity was a Public Square Rosary Rally in Metairie on the anniversary of the apparition when the Fatima children saw the vision of Hell. Here we met with veteran TFP member Celso Costa who brought the statue of Our Lady of Fatima. After setting up the statue, we no sooner started our rosary when the sprinkler system came on and threatened to soak us all. A couple of hats being handy, they were placed upon the sprinkler heads and the rosary continued.
Many people who drove by honked, waved or put their thumbs up in a sign of approval.
Finishing the rally, the now hungry members of the caravan were invited to another Cajun dinner at the house of some old friends of the TFP in nearby Kenner. It would be hard to say whether the dinner or the conversation was more enjoyable but since good food and good conversation always go hand in hand we will call it a draw. Leaving there at a late hour, we finally arrived at the TFP center in Lafayette around 1:30 AM.
Please pray for us as we prepare to travel to Texas, where the caravan against socialism will continue.
Thank you and God bless you.