This is the most incredible story that I had to share. It is the story of a few brave students with a message. A message that the world needed to hear, and which they proclaimed in such a unique way that the world took notice. So this Tuesday, Denver awoke to see that message emblazoned on a hillside in a manner that could not be ignored.
While the media covered the facts, I’d like to share the full story of the largest protest sign ever in the words of someone who helped create it. The guy who wrote this is a Colorado NCFCAer who I remember judging at a tournament last spring, and it’s clear he and others are already putting their creativity to good use for the pro-life cause. And I know that if I had been back home in Denver this week instead of at school in Virginia, I would have given anything to be there to see this. Enjoy!
The following was posted by Josh Craddock on Facebook on August 26, 2008. Reprinted with permission:
Sheets of Shame, by Josh CraddockIf you didn’t know, I’ve spent the last month working on a top-secret project for American Right to Life to Welcome the Democratic National Convention to Denver. This morning, our project was revealed and it received local and national media attention.
Yesterday, I met at 5am to mark the coordinates on the mountain. I slept a little that afternoon, but I didn’t go to bed last night. Instead, I went straight over to Maranatha where we were staging everything. I spent about an hour and a half doing logistics work and getting all the packs lined up to go out the door. At 1am, me and three other guys took the four segments that make up the capital “D”, and were driven in a van to our drop-off point. We silently jumped the fence and hiked up to the trail (which is about 50-75′ below the bottom of the sign). We hiked along the trail for a while, and when we thought we had gone about the right distance, we started heading up the hill.
Unfortunately, it was completely dark, so we had a hard time figuring out where exactly we were. We hiked up the hill about 300′, through cactus, boulders, and sliding rock with 70-80 lbs packs on our backs, while doing our best not to fall and roll down the mountain. When we got to the area where we thought we were supposed to be, we dropped our packs and began to talk to the next group of four which had been dropped off at the trailhead 45 min after we were… Apparently, a neighbor called the police, so a cruiser came out and began spotlighting around the houses, looking for people. The second group didn’t see them, and the cop car spotlighted them as they were hiking along the trail at 2am. You’re not allowed to be on the trail before sunrise or after sunset, so they could’ve been in trouble, and if they would have been caught it would have ruined the entire plan. They just pretended to hike on towards the South, and as soon as the spotlight was off them, they dashed up the hill, took cover, and waited. Since we were about 300′ above them, we could follow the cruiser and tell them where he was going so they could avoid him. So he searched for them for a while, and after about a half hour, left. About a half hour later, two police cars arrived, on both sides of the trail, search-lighting the area. Luckily, by this time, the second group of four had taken cover by the single tree on the mountain. So they weren’t discovered and the police left. Because the police had been there, we couldn’t stick to our original plan which had been to go down and carry up more packs.
So we had to wait up at our location until sunrise, when we realized we were in the wrong spot! We were approximately 4 football fields North of where we needed to be. So we hiked horizontally across the mountain, over a ravine and other obstacles to get to our drop points. By this time, the rest of the 47 hikers had arrived with their packs, and they were hiking along the trail below us as we were hiking on deer trails high above them. When we found our drop points, we dropped our packs and began to unwrap the letter segments. I was at the top of the D so I was the first to unravel the segment on the entire mountain. Soon the letters and words began to form on the mountain, and the police again arrived on the scene, but instead of coming up, they just watched us from the neigborhood below.We completed the sign within about 45 minutes, but the sun was out and most of us didn’t have water with us. (I hadn’t had any since 1am, since I had planned to go back to the van after dropping my pack.) We had vans full of water, but the police refused to allow the water to be taken up to us. The police at the bottom were extremely non-cooperative with us, and refused water even though we had several among us who were dehydrated and going into heat exhaustion and stroke. Two police officers finally ascended the hill towards us and began to negotiate the removal of the sign and the water for the hikers. They agreed to give us whatever water we wanted and denied that the lower cops had ever prevented us from obtaining water.
Anyways, we got water and an ambulance up there and finally negotiated that we would be allowed to go down to 64th Ave and have lunch and come back to take the sign down by noon. We had wanted to take it down anyways (in fact, we made it known that we planned on taking it down in our press release) because we don’t want to litter, and we’re more than happy to clean up our own mess. We got down to the road and the lower police stopped us and said we couldn’t go any further and wouldn’t let the vans come up to pick us up. So we had to renegotiate a solution. They FINALLY allowed us to get water and food, under the condition that we stayed right there and didn’t leave at all, even though it was in the sun and everyone was still having problems.
Luckily, the neighbor living just next to the trailhead happened to be a strong pro-life activist who loved what we were doing. So she invited all 55 of us to come outside her house, sit in the shade and enjoy water, food, and restrooms. It was absolutely amazing. God certainly blessed us with that woman. So we rested there for about an hour, and finally we got some food up there (my mom went to subway and they gave us extra food because they had heard about the sign and loved what we were doing).
Then about 2 to 2 1/2 hours after we had put it up, we agreed to peacefully go up and take it down, as well as cleaning the mountain to leave it better than we had found it. So we began to go up there and take down the sheets when this college-student pro-abort ran up there and started to rip apart the sheet segments. Now, normally we wouldn’t have cared, but we had considered putting the sign up again over by DIA on some friends’ of ours’ property. So I sprinted up the hill after him and threw myself between him and the sheets. He started screaming profanities at me and I started yelling at him “SIR, THESE SHEETS ARE PRIVATE PROPERTY! DO NOT TOUCH THEM AGAIN OR I WILL CALL THE POLICE!” At which point he physically began to assault me and push me to the ground. I continued to pull the sheets away from him and stand between him and the sheets, as an Associated Press photographer documented his assault on me. He kept screaming at me that unborn babies aren’t alive so they don’t have a right to life and that the sheets are just sheets they’re no one’s property. So I started yelling at him about how he obviously didn’t believe in rights, and why that was the danger in lacking a moral foundation and standard. I chased him ALL the way up the hill, and finally called the police after he shoved me to the ground again. My mom sent the police up right away, and I put him under citizen’s arrest and walked with him back down to the police. He wasn’t exactly cooperative about it. He was like “CAN YOU F***ING DO THAT?!?!” I was like “YES I CAN! I AM A CITIZEN OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND IT IS MY RIGHT AND PREROGATIVE TO PUT YOU UNDER CITIZEN’S ARREST!” (I actually have no idea if I had the right to do that, but it sounded cool at the time.)
So anyways, we finally got down to the police and they took all our information and took both our stories down… they asked us if we wanted to press charges against each other, and we both said no. So they escorted him off the hill, and I continued to take down the sheets. That pretty much shot all the remaining energy I had, and I was completely dead tired.
Channel 7 News interviewed me after the assault, but they didn’t play it. Instead they said it was our “punishment” to take the sign down. How is it a punishment if we had planned to do it in the first place? Ugh. Stupid liberal media. I finished up the day by hauling an 80 lbs sheet segment back down the hill and then just fell into the shade at that lady’s house until it was time to go.
It is a Guiness World Record as the largest protest sign ever. It measured 550′ tall and 670′ long, was created out of 2,400 sheets, was sewn with over 4 miles of seams, and weighed approximately 2,700 lbs. I took the top of the “D” segment up the hill, unfurled it, and then began to help unfurl the rest of the word. Within 45 minutes, the entire sign was unfurled on the mountainside. The sign was legible for eight miles in every direction, and could be seen from I-70, I-25, C-470, and most major streets in the north metro area. In fact, the sign was visible from the hotel windows of delegates staying in Denver for the convention.
UPDATE, 9:45a: Jill Stanek received a call from Steve Curtis, president of ARTL. Jefferson Co. police are now stopping people at the nearby staging area from brining replenishment water to the hikers, who each carried 50# backbacks 1/2 mile up a steep grade to the site.
UPDATE, 10a: Police have just allowed water to be brought in to the hikers.
UPDATE, 10:10a: Reports are that traffic on I70 has slowed 10 miles from the protest sign as drivers come into its view.
UPDATE, 11:45a: ARTL organizers have negotiated with police to keep the sign up until 12pm.
Official press release and sample video: http://www.coloradorighttolife.org/news/2008/08/american-right-life-unfurled-worlds-largest-protest-sign-dnc-sheets-shame
The Wall Street Journal and other major news outlets picked up this press release as the letters were being unfurled.
Here’s some local news links:
http://www.9news.com/news/article.aspx?storyid=98414&catid=188 (early report)
Here’s the Associated Press article: http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5g1C9XngxmlMP3zchMPyzuRva-L-gD92Q77P80
Nationally, CNN and FOX News both picked up video coverage, as did Channel 7 news, Channel 4 News, and Fox 31 News. 7 News interviewed me, and I’ll almost certainly be on tonight’s evening news (at least in the background).
The protest went incredibly well and I’m so thankful for God’s hand in this whole project. 😀