I have been through a lot in my years as a journalist. Hurricanes, riots, coma-inducing press conferences on Capitol Hill.
But I have never been hit on the head by a puppet. Not until today.
I was standing on the corner of NW 87th Ave and 36th St. in Doral this morning and talking to a guy named Mark Buckley. He and a dozen or so others were there to protest the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. A handful of folks were dressed in orange jumpsuits and black hoods. One guy strummed "Give Peace a Chance" on his guitar.
Mark — who identified himself as an artist and environmentalist -- was in, or trying to get in, a contraption that involved a large, yellow cardboard sun, some PVC pipe and a white sheet.
"It's very important to close these bases in Cuba and Afghanistan and Iraq," he said, hoisting the sun on top of his head. He slung a sign that said "End the Injustice" around his neck, then swathed himself in the sheet.
"Am I on straight?" he asked me.
The sun was cocked a little to the right. I tried to shift it. Mark whipped out a conch shell horn from the folds of the sheet, then bent over at the waist.
The sun-sign-thing whacked me on the top of the head. "Sorry," he said. I could only see his left eye, which emerged from a tear in the sheet. He explained that with his handmade puppet, he was trying to "shed some sunshine" on injustice. I edged away, hoping not to get smacked again, and went to talk to Linda Belgrave, of Miami for Peace. Thankfully, she didn't have any thing attached to her body.
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"We've gotten a lot of positive response today," she said."Honking horns, waving, thumbs up."
Thursday's protest was one of several that happened around the country, marking the fifth anniversary of the arrival of prisoners in the "war on terror" at the Guantanamo prison. Local groups wanted to protest in Doral because it's near the Pentagon's Southern Command, which commands military operations in the U.S. and Latin America, including Guantanamo.
Like many protests in Miami, this one was sparsely attended by actual protestors (about two dozen people cycled through during the four-hour event) and heavily attended by media (a BBC radio guy, some New York Times journalism fellows and a Miami Herald reporter).