The Flash Mob That Wasn’t

Tonight myself and some fun lovin’ pranksters organized a flash mob down at the Plaza. The instructions were to meet at the north side of the J.C. Nichols fountain at 7:03pm wearing a black shirt for more instructions. At 6:45 there was a news van parked on the side of the road. At 6:50 there were two and cameramen with cameras taping anyone wearing black. Soon after that the first cop car pulled up. Not content to watch from the sidelines he drove over the curb, down the hill, across the park and hid behind a tree. The second one took the southwest corner and also hid behind some trees. I couldn’t see the snipers, but then, you aren’t supposed to.

“Don’t put your black shirt on till 7:03pm”, and people didn’t. You could tell though. They looked excited. They looked at everyone’s eyes. They looked like they just might be wearing one more shirt than you normally would in the dead of summer. I talked to my cohort, “Bill”, on my cell,

“What do you think man?”, I said.
He laughs. Shocked at the outcome. I am too, and scared, to be honest.
Another cop pulls up alongside the curb.
“I’m gonna walk away.”, I said. I have some stuff I wanted to finish tonight and being in jail would really hamper that.
“Hold up. Let’s at least wait till the time. If you are uncomfortable, just don’t approach.”
“Cool, cya.”

A girl walks up and sits down next to me. She’s got a black shirt balled up in her hands. She says she was just talking to a group of 5 and they have decided to leave. Scared off by the cops.
I pull a piece of paper out of my back pocket. I’ve got another 50 there.
“So I guess you don’t want one of these?”
“Oh, I do. I’m in.”
“Those guys were just videotaping me.”
“Yea, I can’t believe it.”

The two cops in the park drive off and generally circle the place. There’s an awful lot of people milling around now. Let’s do it. I approach Bill and we walk a little further north and sit down. People start to come over and sit down with us. We all know why we’re there and we just chat happily. Take some pictures of the news crews. We’re already past the time the instructions say to do our thing, so we start pushing it back. We end up with about 20 people hanging around, with some more obviously afraid to approach.
“Okay, 7:30 instead of 7:10. Let’s go.”
Bill is in charge of team A, I’ve got team B. We start handing out instructions. As soon as the papers come out a few more people walk over. We all disperse and I hand out a few more flyers as I walk around the plaza. Catina takes a handful and does the same.

I’m wandering around nervous as hell. Suburban boy causing a ruckus. 5 minutes to go. Everything looks clear. The news packed up and went home. The cops have left.

1 minute left. I start to walk over to the spot. Two cops come around the corner and pull up next to the curb across from me. I don’t see the other two around the corner till after I leave. Catina says, “We’re not doing it. Bill just said. Too many cops.” I see him across the way, wave, nod and walk away. I’m walking with her back to the car and we walk past a cop in his car. He’s got our instructions in his hand and he’s on his radio. Woops.

Bills calls me as I’m driving home. He says the goateed guy milling around works for The Star, or KCTV or something. Someone gave him a flyer and he gave it to the police. Bill says when he left there were cops all around our spot, and three videocameras. We talk about what went wrong. Too public. The next one will be invite only, email only, tell the friends you trust. No web site, no Yahoo group, no publicity. Hopefully no one will know about it till it is over and we’re having a beer.

I don’t have a lot to say about the police presence. I wish they weren’t there, but it’s not unexpected. Their job is to keep the peace, and we were gonna make a little noise for a few minutes. We learned our lesson. They just won’t know about the next one.

It was The Flash Mob That Wasn’t, and it was a hell of a lot of fun. It didn’t even happen, but it was exciting, thrilling and all around very cool. I can’t wait till next time.

If you want to be emailed, drop me a line and let me know. I’ll add you to the list.

Catina took some pictures, and I took a few. Check them out here.