Flash mob aims to clothe campus statue


    By Katrina Barker

    BY Katrina Barker and Faroe Decker

    With cries of “Clothe the Indian!” students gathered at the Massasoit Indian statue west of the Harold B. Lee Library on Thursday, Nov. 20, to campaign that the statue be clothed.

    Students came wearing yellow, passed out “Clothe the Indian” stickers and listened to speeches about why the Indian should wear more than a loincloth.

    Organizers of the protest collected loose change in plastic cups for the administration to buy clothes for the Indian.

    University Police showed up on the scene after receiving a call from a passing student who reported about 50 people protesting near the American Indian statue and bothering other students.

    Officer Jeff Vest said the problem was the students were soliciting money on private property without a license.

    “I”m assuming they are doing it as a practical joke,” Vest said. “It”s just people being people.”

    A student known as Scooter Washburn organized the flash mob. Washburn and other students who helped organize the flash mob were not charged, but this event was put on their BYU record as a warning not to do it again.

    University Police told the students involved that if they do anything like it again, they will be charged.

    Washburn said no malice was intended, and it was all in good fun.

    “Everyone has a good time and we turned some heads doing it,” he said.

    Thursday”s event was the latest flash mob organized by Washburn, who sends e-mails instructing people to meet at a specific location on campus to participate in some activity.

    A flash mob is “a large group of people who gather in a usually predetermined location, perform some brief action, and then quickly disperse,” according to the Web site www.wordspy.com.

    These random gatherings are occurring across the country in New York, San Francisco and Minneapolis, in Europe and now on BYU campus.

    The first flash mob occurred Nov. 6, when students formed a line in Brigham”s Square, telling bystanders they were waiting to get a copy of a fictitious CD “Norm Nemrow Sings Southern Gospel Hits.” After five minutes, organizers of the mob informed the crowd that the CD release had been postponed.

    During the second mob on Nov. 13, students gathered at the soapbox dressed in green and cheered as a student complained about how BYU students dress. A person dressed in a bear suit attack the speaker.

    Joel Baer, a friend of Washburn, said in an e-mail that flash mobs are more than what they appear.

    “They are an art form,” he said. “Flash mobs are an expression of the energy created when souls come together. With careful analysis, you”ll find layers of metaphoric commentary on the society in which we live.”

    Eli Erickson, who graduated from BYU last April, said he heard about the flash mobs happening in New York and thought they were interesting. Then several weeks ago a friend of his mentioned someone here at BYU was trying to organize one.

    Erickson said earlier in the semester, people showed up at the library at closing time and started to swing dance to “The Saints Go Marching In.”

    “We aren”t a political activism group, we just do our thing,” Washburn said. “It”s just fun. What should we be doing instead? Vandalizing or cutting down trees? It”s a random group gathering.”

    While a few people have admitted to knowing “Skooter,” others said they just get the e-mails and have heard rumors about him.

    “”Skooter” is a mystery man, like Willy Wonka,” said Courtney Mecham, a junior from Mesa, Ariz., who attended the flash mob two weeks ago.

    Nate Barnes, a junior from Vancouver, Wash., knows of ”Skooter” through a friend and said they have spoken but never met. He said he got involved in the flash mobs because it”s something fun and different to do.

    “There”s lots of stiffs at this school,” Barnes said. “Even if we are stone-cold sober it doesn”t mean we have to be a bunch of stiffs.”

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