On 4/20, the Mississippi State University chapter of Young Americans for Liberty tabled for Incarceration Nation. Mississippi has the second highest per capita incarceration rate in the United States, so it is of utmost importance that we spread awareness of the injustice of mass incarceration in our state. We set out to do just that.
It was a chilly, windy Monday-certainly not the kind of day in which your average student wants to be stopped by activists. We set up on the Drill Field, which is the primary thoroughfare and crossroads of Mississippi State’s campus. Think of the stereotypical “quad,” and you have our drill field. It is impossible to attend a day of classes without crossing it at some point. Because of this fact, the Drill field is almost always populated by tabling activists.
Most of the time, students avoid tablers like the plague. Students will take a long, circuitous route off the sidewalk and through the grass of the field just to avoid them. Combine this with the fact that it’s a cold Monday, and you don’t have a very successful formula for tabling. We came into the day with a goal of 20-30 sign-ups.
We could not have been more wrong.
At the end of the day, we had 127 new sign-ups. Despite the weather, and despite hurrying to and from class, people were going out of their way to speak with us. Rather than us having to seek out targets, as is the normal modus operandi for tabling, people were crowding around our tent. I personally spoke with some people for half an hour or longer. Dozens of people came to us simply wanting to share their own personal story of police brutality or harassment with a sympathetic ear.
Even better, we did not have one single detractor. Typically, when tabling for a political group, one can expect at least one or two argumentative passerby who just want to derail your operation and tell you just how wrong you really are. Despite having stayed on the Drill field for seven hours, not one of these people came by.
We even had several police officers come by and talk with us for several minutes about how much they agreed with us and appreciated what we were doing. Our “how to deal with police” handouts were especially popular among cops. After reading the card, one replied, “I wish everyone I dealt with would follow these rules.”
This overwhelmingly positive response means only one thing: the time for change is upon us. The Mississippi State campus is hungry for liberty, and we intend to give it to them.