Organizing an effective picket or a rally for decency

     There may come a time that you and others feel compelled to make a public stand. A picket helps establish a community standard by communicating to the seller of pornography that your community doesn’t want it. Thousands of stores have stopped selling pornography as a result of picketing by local citizens.

Why picket?

      Picketing forcibly focuses attention on the problem of pornography. Passersby are forced to think about the harm pornography causes and the fact that the business being picketed is hurting your community. A picket reminds citizens that although pornography is a national problem, the solution is local.

      In picketing, you are exercising two of your most basic constitutional rights: the right of free speech and the right of citizens to peaceably assemble. Both constitutional rights may be freely exercised but only in a non-violent manner. 

First step

     Visit your local store to see if they sell pornographic magazines or rent sexually explicit tapes. Once this is confirmed, begin plans for the picket.

     If possible, get a small group of individuals or community leaders together and seek a meeting with the owner/manager of the store. Ask politely that the pornography be removed. Explain in kind and gentle terms your concern and reasons.

     If the owner/manager refuses, get other concerned individuals involved. Do not be discouraged if churches or others you would expect to be concerned decline to cooperate. As few as three people can do an effective job.

Organizing

      An effective picket requires the following (some duties may be combined):

      • Picket chairperson: This individual will coordinate other committees or individuals. He or she may also function as the media spokesperson.

      • Media spokesperson: This is the only person to speak with the media prior to and during the picket. He or she will need to be familiar with the basic anti-pornography arguments, especially censorship, the First Amendment, and freedom to choose.

      • Sign committee: This group will be responsible for making and transporting appropriate signs to the picket site. 

Scheduling

      In determining a picket date, consider the following:

      1. Availability of picketers. Of course, the largest number is most desirable but two or three people in a well-planned picket can effectively get pornography removed.

      2. Timing. You should choose the highest traffic time of the establishment being picketed. Depending on the business, the peak business hours provide the highest visibility.

      3. Safety. By this we mean traffic hazards at dusk or after dark, etc.

      4. Preparation. Ideally it takes one week to make signs; two weeks to acquire a permit if needed; and three weeks to promote the event properly.

Obtaining a permit for your event

      Once the date and time have been established, the proper local officials, usually the city clerk, need to be contacted concerning a parade/demonstration permit. Proper procedures should be followed and the required forms submitted as required by each municipality or county. Depending upon size, this may range from informal to very rigid procedures. To inquire about the procedures, contact the police department in the area of the picket site. Inform them that you intend to hold a picket at a particular business and ask if there is anything legally you need to do.

      Remember, picketing is the exercise of two constitutional rights: “freedom of speech” and “peaceable assembly.” Before accepting a government official’s reason to prohibit your activities and deny a permit to picket, you should request in writing a definitive reason for the prohibition. If you feel you have been unjustly denied your right to exercise these privileges, please contact the AFA Center for Law & Policy for information on appealing the decision. You can reach the AFA Center for Law & Policy at 662-680-3886.

Rules for picketing

      1. Picketers must remain on public property at all times. Do not attempt to enter the business.

      2. Never impede or block vehicle or pedestrian traffic. Do not harass any persons who enter or leave the store or attempt to engage them in conversation. Do not engage in dialogue with passing motorists. This could create a traffic hazard.

      3. Use only approved signs.

      4. Refer the media to the media spokesperson. He or she should be versed in the proper manner of response and will issue appropriate statements. It’s best to keep interviews and answers short.

      5. If you are requested to leave by owner of the premises or someone acting in his behalf, leave the scene immediately without argument or confrontation. Your captain is then to call the police to enforce your right to picket. Resume picketing only when they arrive.

      6. If you encounter other picketers supporting the business, picket in a peaceful manner, if possible. Otherwise, peacefully leave and let the picket chairperson call the police to supervise. It is highly unlikely that two opposing groups would be given permits to demonstrate at the same location at the same time. Thus, if you have a permit, they will probably not.

      7. Always conduct yourself in a Christ-like manner, remembering your testimony in the community. Remember: you are doing a good thing. Your attitude should not be vengeful. Be pleasant to all and especially those who oppose you.

      8. You will likely hear that your picketing is actually helping sell pornography by drawing attention to its existence in the stores. The opposite is true. Their selling of pornography is no secret. 

In defense of picketing

      · We believe that pornography does not belong in this community.

      · Pornography is both anti-family and anti-Christian. We are attempting to call attention to this fact and encouraging consumers to take their business elsewhere.

      · We believe that all people who are concerned about the welfare of our children, the rapidly rising rape rate and the moral climate of our country should consider shopping in stores which do not sell sexually explicit materials.

      · We are exercising two basic constitutional rights: The right of free speech, and the right of citizens to peacefully assemble. We hope that through the exercise of these rights we will call attention to the growing menace of pornography in our nation. 

Literature to be passed out

      Only approved literature should be passed out at a picket. AFA recommends that the literature be anti-porn in nature. Run the literature in your magazines, newsletters, etc. so that it will get the widest circulation possible. You could even run an ad in your local paper. Ask others to reproduce it and distribute it as widely as possible. It’s best to avoid material that promotes other causes, local organizations, etc. so that the focus will remain centered on the immediate issue. This is not to imply that there are no other organizations worthy of support or serious problems that need addressing but the reader can appreciate the need to remain focused upon a central issue. 

Picket signs

      Wording of signs should be brief and general in nature. Never use defamatory (untruthful) wording concerning an individual or store. Avoid using religious and Scripture quotes. The media tends to misuse these to convey fanaticism, etc. Lettering should be large, clear, and neat to enhance reading from a distance. The “Life Chain” has given us a good example of keeping the wording on signs consistent, brief, and easily readable. One sign per picketer is ideal. In some areas, signs must be carried at all times. Poster board is suitable with contrasting lettering. 

Examples of wording for picket signs:

      Stop Porn Now

      Boycott (Company Name)

      Do You Care?

      Porn Hurts

      Porn Destroys

      Porn Causes Rape

      Stamp Out Smut

      We Support Decency

      Porn is a Menace

      Save Our Children - Stop Porn

      Porn and Crime Go Hand in Hand

      Porn Hurts Our Community

      Porn is Not Wanted Here

      Protect Our Children

      We Want a Porn-Free Community

      Porn Contributes to Child Abuse