Surprised By Light

Photos by Joe Brusky

The Overpass Light Brigade has been displaying illuminated messages for passersby on pedestrian overpass bridges for over two years, but on multiple occasions they have brought actions directly to the subjects of the message. These photos cover eight specific moments where the targets of the message were surprised by the Holders of the Light. View on Flickr.

1) Vets for Peace Convention Attendees React to Message
This message was set up outside and across the street from the Concourse Hotel in Madison, Wisconsin, where Vets for Peace held their annual convention. As convention attendees left the hotel they were greeted by our "POWER TO THE PEACEFUL" message and reacted enthusiastically. Our usual Holders of the Lights were, one-by-one, replaced by vets until the entire message was held by Vets for Peace members.

2) Standing Up - Demanding Justice
When Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm decided not to pursue charges against three white men who strangled a 16-year old African-American boy to death, OLB brought a "DEMAND JUSTICE" message to the front stairs of the Milwaukee County Safety Building. The impromptu light brigade action in a snowstorm provided a powerful backdrop for speakers who pleaded that Corey Stingley's killers be brought to justice through a trial by jury. Three of Corey's best friends held letters in the message.

3) School Board Director Terry Falk Ponders Message
Milwaukee teachers held this "RESPECT TEACHERS" message across the street from Milwaukee Public School Board Director Terry Falk's home. While the Holders held the message, two teachers knocked on the Director's door to deliver a letter asking him and other School Board members to lift the restriction on administration negotiating a new contract with teachers. He answered and thanked us for coming and said our visit and the countless phone calls he received showed him that this issue was important to teachers. He then said he would make sure that the issue was addressed.

4) Marching to the Owner's Home
Striking Palermo's Pizza workers and their supporters marched 18-miles on the one-year mark of their strike. The march concluded with a candlelight vigil in front of the home of the owner calling for negotiations with workers regarding health and safety issues and the desire to unionize without retaliation.

5) The Vagina Demagogues
OLB showed up on the Capitol Lawn to shine against an invasive and unnecessary trans-vaginal ultrasound bill that had just passed the Wisconsin Senate and House, put forward by the Republican majority. The message was held for legislators to see on their way out of the Capitol. Scott Walker later signed the shameful bill into law.

6) Staging Pre-Fireworks Messages at Indian Summer Festival
OLB was asked to orchestrate a sequence of Idle No More messages on the island in front of the gathered Indian Summer Festival fireworks crowd. The crowd was not aware of the light brigade's illuminated action until it was happening in front of them. As soon as the LED light show was over, the holders were whisked off the island in vans and the fireworks began.

7) Storytellers Bring "Be Visible" to Movie Opening
The OLB LED letters were used in the making of "Be Visible" a Planned Parenthood advocacy movie that tells the heart-wrenching personal stories of women who were forced to rely on the critical services that the organization provides. After the movie was shown to Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin supporters, the storytellers from the movie filed out from the back of the room with the movie's title in lights for all to see. While they held the message, an appeal was made to attendees to also stand up and support women's rights.

8) Light Bombing the Riverwest 24 Bike Race
The Holders of the Light displayed this surprise message on the Booth Street walking bridge over the Riverwest24 bike racecourse. The Riverwest 24 is a twenty-four hour, completely volunteer-run bike race that winds through the neighborhood of Riverwest. This one-of-a-kind neighborhood event brings neighbors out of their homes, fostering strong community bonds.