Sunday, September 1, 2013

Guestpost: Standing up at a Beatdown II Event

Kirk Vredevelt protests extreme mixed martial arts event
My wife's niece's husband, Kirk Vredevelt, a social studies teacher at Forest Hills Northern High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan, posted the following to members of the family's Google group. I use it here with his permission:

I protested the first Iraq war in Grand Rapids in front of the Federal Building with a few hundred others. Since then our city has named a park for Michigan resident Rosa Parks. We sat on the bus where she refused to move, which is in Detroit's Henry Ford Museum. If Rosa could start a revolution with one simple conscientious act, I felt I should be willing to go it alone too.

Last Saturday while paying for gas at the local mini mart I came across a Beatdown II fighting man advertisement

I first saw this on pay per view in 1994 while visiting my cousin in LA. I was horrified as two "unbeaten" fighters fought and kicked it out. For 30 minutes the one laid on top of the other trying to avoid being strangled while he was kicking the man on top with his heel to injure his kidney. My cousin said this was illegal in most states, including Michigan. I saw this as the beginning of the end of our civilization. So when I saw it was happening in my own back yard I felt I had to take a stand.

I had only a week to solicit any like minded men. I called three churches and three men I knew. In the end I was the lone ranger. There was no outrage. No one wants to tell anyone else that what they are doing for fun is morally repugnant. We Christians are a weak kneed group. 

The event started at 6 pm. When I got there at 5:20, there were already 40 cars in the parking lot which was visibly far down the drive from where I stood at one of the entrances. I had about 50 cars go by me, fancy Cadillacs, big red trucks and some vans with families. A couple of the advertised fighters were Hispanic so this was a big draw for this community. People driving home from shopping also slowed down to see the lone protester.

I held my sign with dignity and did not try to provoke anyone, simply tried to appeal to moral rightness.

My sign's said "Fighting is not a sport" and "Do not degrade yourself". I wore my optic yellow shirt for visibility and clothes without any markings.

One Oldsmobile Bravada with two blondes in their 20's went by two or three times yelling "sissy" and giving me the finger.

One car came around for a second look and took my photo with their smart phone.

Most slowed down and read my sign.

The Hispanics were the most polite as I suspected they were trying to lay low.

I got four clinched fists, four birds and one thumbs up.

One guy slowed down and said, "We didn't become a free country by just talking."

photo and text by Kirk Vredevelt
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