Local Politics

Interview: Beep for Peace

Every Friday afternoon, Barry Smith leads his small posse to the side of High Street, in Portland, Maine. He plants himself down and holds up a sign with a simple message: “Beep for Peace.” I had an opportunity to talk with Smith as he was spreading his message.

Barry Smith, Photo Courtesy of Jesse Bifulco

BS: We’re out here every Friday before 5:00 PM. We started this when we became concerned about what Putin was doing to Ukraine, and then we also have some staff that work for us that are from Ethiopia. 

JB: Ethiopia?

BS: The Tigray region of Ethiopia. And their situation is even worse than Ukraine. Terrible. Genocide is going on, they have no electricity, [the government] took their phones all away. No drinking water, very little food. They’re killing the people in Ethiopia. And we’re just concerned for global peace. Not just across the sea, but here in our own country.

BS: We represent everything that’s going on in our country that shouldn’t be. Especially, lately, with the youth and the teachers in our public schools being killed. Too much is going on and guns are to blame.

JB: At least it’s good that plenty of people are beeping. Your sign says, “Beep for Peace.” Have you gotten a lot of support from passersby? 

BS: We do. We picked four to five so that we could be a part of their going home from week for the weekend. They see our signs and beep. They might even continue on wherever they’re going. They might start talking about a global need for peace.

JB: Are there any people that you recognize coming by every week?

BS: Sometimes we think we recognize them because they’re waving as well as beeping now that the good weather is here, so their windows are rolled down. We think we see the same cars.

JB: Do you have any parting messages?

BS: We know that a lot of people expect us to be here and we plan to continue as long as we need to to get the message out. 

Barry Smith can still be seen on High Street every Friday, so long as the weather is good. Be sure to honk as you pass him.

Categories: Local Politics

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