Constitution Vigils: Witness to Lawbreaking The president is breaking the law.

We’re organizing Constitution Vigils to bear witness to the president’s dangerous power grab and tell Congress to do its job, enforce the law and fully investigate this abuse of power. Our vigils will be simple and dignified. MoveOn members will meet on Feb. 22, 2006. It’s best to hold vigils around dusk, so the images of the candles are vivid. We suggest 6 p.m. local time, but if you need to do it at an earlier time that’s OK. At each vigil, we'll read the Bill of Rights to remind Congress about what's at stake and that it's their job to defend the Constitution. And, we'll invite the media and get our message out to millions of Americans. The push for a real investigation into the president's lawbreaking is already picking up steam in Congress. If thousands of us come together to defend the principles that are core to our identity as Americans, we’ll give our representatives the push they need to go all the way. This guide outlines the simple steps for hosting a successful Constitution Vigil: 1. Pick a location and register 2. Invite others to your vigil 3. Invite the Media 4. How to get Signs and Visuals 5. What to Do at the Vigil 6. Report Back on How it Went 1. Pick a location and register. If you haven’t done so already, pick a suitable location and register your event with us at this link: This will help us invite other MoveOn members in your area and it will also help your neighbors find your event. To demonstrate public concern to Congress, consider holding an event in front of either your senator or representative’s local office, your local courthouse or federal building. But remember to make sure you check on the rules of gathering at a courthouse or federal building before you decide to choose one. If those suggestions don’t work for you, please consider these tips for picking a great location: • Is it public property? In some rural and suburban areas in the country, a local mall, supermarket or other big store is often the most desirable place to reach a lot of people. However, public gatherings are usually not permitted at these privately-owned places. If you want to hold your vigil at such a location, make sure to call the management in advance and get permission. If you are not sure, just contact your local police department and ask. Will there be much foot traffic when we’re there? Different areas are busy at different times. It’s important to pick a spot that is expected to be busy at the time you choose to have your vigil. Do you have enough space? If you're expecting a bigger group, you'll need to make sure there is room for everyone. If you’re gathering in a park, it’s important to find out if there are rules about how many people are allowed to gather at once. You should be able to find that out from your local police department.

2. Invite Others to the Vigil Your event will be more fun, and have more of an impact, if you’ve got a small crowd. We’ll invite other MoveOn members to join you, but the best way to recruit attendees is to call some friends.

You can use the vigil host pages to email an invitation to friends, family, colleagues and others: Calling is definitely more effective if you want to ensure a good turn-out. Make reminder calls the night before your event and you’ll have much better attendance. And don’t forget the “law –of – halves,” about half of the people who sign up for an event won’t actually make it that day. Tip: You can also use your host tools to get to the FAQ, materials page, see who has RSVP’d, contact your attendees, or update your contact information. 3. Invite the press Contacting the media is very important. This event will be more powerful if your legislators and the general public know what happened. We want to make sure that the press understands how many of us have come together to demand that Congress enforce the law and hold the president accountable for his lawbreaking. We’ve put together a short guide that makes it really easy to reach out to the media. You can access it here: We’ll also give you talking points and a sample script for calling reporters. Those will be available here: The guide explains how to customize the media advisory that we’ve created and fax or email it to your local media. It also gives you tips on calling reporters to invite them to your event. If you don’t have time to contact the media about your event, please be prepared to talk to reporters if they show up at your event. The media guide also contains a section on how to do that, so please try to check it out. 3. Print out the placards We’re creating some downloadable placards that you can print and bring to the event. These signs will tell the press and people passing by what this vigil is all about. They’re really important and make great visuals for newspaper photographs or TV. Pick the one that most suits why you feel moved to join this vigil and hold the sign during the vigil. We’ll post them here by Feb. 17, 2006: We’ll ask attendees to print and bring a placard, but as the event coordinator, you should also print out half a dozen extras, in case some people don’t bring their own. 4. At the Event Here is a sample schedule for your vigil. Don’t feel pressured to stick to it, but do try to keep the whole event to 30 minutes. It is cold in most parts of the country right now and the other attendees will only be expecting to come for about half an hour. • • Arrive 15 to 20 minutes early with your extra placards and candles. Make sure the vigils get started on time. Light a single candle to signal to people that you’ll be holding a vigil. Greet attendees as they arrive. Ask them to introduce themselves to someone new and talk about why they're there. We know that MoveOn members really enjoy getting to know each other, but they'll need your encouragement. Do this until it’s time to start. People are often reluctant, but afterwards they say meeting like-minded folks was the highlight of the event. And volunteers who aren’t greeted by anyone often report that they didn’t really enjoy the action.

Greet any reporters that attend. They’ll usually be carrying a notepad and pen (just like in the movies). Introduce yourself, thank them for coming, and answer any questions they have, using the talking points on your materials page: Give a short introduction to the group about why you’re holding this vigil, why it’s important, and how many other communities are also hosting vigils. You should practice your introduction out loud before the event. We’ve provided a sample script for you here: After your introduction, your group can start reading the Bill of Rights, you can find a link to it here: You can start by reading the First Amendment, and passing the copy to the person next to you to read the Second Amendment and so on. You can also print out lots of copies and ask everyone to read all of them together. We are asking that you read the Bill of Rights, which is traditionally the first ten amendments. But there are other very important amendments, including the 13th, 14th, 15th and 19th amendments that you may want to read. There is a link to the Bill of Rights on the materials page here: After you’re finished reading the Bill of Rights, invite folks to briefly share why this issue matters to them. There may be guests in attendance who remember past abuses and can speak to why it’s so important to take a stand now. Some attendees may even submit their stories to you in advance, and you’ll be able to read them through your host tools: If possible, try to select a few stories from your guests in advance, this will help keep the event flowing. You can use your host tools to email your guests and ask if anyone would like to speak at the event if no one has submitted stories to you in advance. Thank everyone for coming and end the event. Ask folks if they can help you and start cleaning up.

Bring Extra Candles. We’ll be asking people to bring their own candles, but as a coordinator it’s good to have some extra on hand just in case. Hardware stores often sell “Plumber’s Candles” that work well. Another thing to watch out for is falling wax. When wax drips onto the ground and dries it can be slippery and dangerous. The best solution is to bring your candle in a lantern, a cup or holder. These also protect your candles from going out in the wind. You can find inexpensive candle holders at the drug store, or you can place small votives or tea lights in some cups or glasses from your house. If you’re using tapered candles, you can poke a small hole in the center of a cupcake wrapper and slide it over your candle before you light it, so the cupcake wrapper catches the wax as it drips. You can find cupcake wrappers in the baking section of your grocery store. Bring a digital camera and take lots of pictures. Send your best photos to (Please be sure to send the photos from the same email address you used to host or sign-up for a vigil and please also be sure to send the photos as attachments, not pasted into the body of the email.) 6. Be gracious and courteous and make sure the ground rules are followed. An important part of your role as a coordinator is to help ensure that the vigil remains dignified, respectful and safe. This may include showing leadership in the unlikely event of a conflict. Of course, you can also ask for help from others in your group if you need it. 7. Fill out a quick post-vigil survey The surveys are really important – they help us understand what works and what doesn’t. We want to make our future events are both more successful and easier for you. This is the best way to let us know how to do that.

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.