In the midst of NYC’s recent holiday shopping frenzy the Granny Peace Brigade and Raging Grannies got together at FAO Schwarz on Fifth Ave. Ever since 2009 we’ve hit the streets each December to remind holiday shoppers that “War Is Not A Game.” We also give people tips on how to select gifts for children in our “Smart Toys For Smart Kids” flyer.
(Click on photos for larger images.)
Earlier in December we’d been to Toys”R”Us in Times Square, and Target at the Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn. We wound up our tour on December 19, assembling on the plaza outside FAO Schwarz. Some of us stayed outside singing and giving out flyers while others went inside to spread our message quietly.
What happened outside? It was deja vu all over again.
We belted out a number or two, passersby got interested, a security guard asked us to leave, we refused, saying our message was really important, and the security guard called the cops. When the police arrived, Alice, Nancy and Nydia explained our message to an officer, and the officer in turn explained to us that the very public-seeming plaza in front of the store was actually privately owned. If we refused to leave we could be arrested for trespassing. We didn’t want to go that far – this time. We did want as many people as possible to witness the interaction with the officer, in the hope they would think about the increasing privatization of public space. Under these circumstances a long conversation with that officer would be a good thing.
Grannies are virtuosos at delicately extending these conversations. If they are soft spoken so bystanders have to lean in to hear, that’s just fine. They get the timing right too, knowing when to call it quits and have the singers amble off to the public sidewalk for a bit more serenading.
– Eva-Lee Baird
for the Granny Peace Brigade
Meanwhile, what happened inside the store?
Yes, we were inside, and the reaction was very positive. People passing by stopped to talk with us, including a guy in camouflage who was in the National Guard and a group of teenagers who wanted to know more about the Grannies and why we were there.
All discussions were respectful. We also spoke to the manager who may have agreed with us but wasn’t committing to anything. She said the store was now owned by Toys’R’Us and they make all stock decisions and she gave us the name and email of the decision-maker. Security was clearly sent to keep an eye on us, subtly, and we were not thrown out of the store.
Happy new year and hope to see you soon.
– Fran Korotzer
Photos: Bud Korotzer
P.S. the Granny Peace Brigade sends a huge thank you to Bud Korotzer for giving us so many wonderful photos.