Tag Archives: occupy wall street

Transportation Workers, Day Laborers Join Occupy DC’s May Day Protest

By Jehovah Jones

Bus drivers and other rank-and-file union employees of Washington’s Metro bus and subway system, along with Hispanic day laborers from Virginia, joined Occupy DC’s May Day celebration at Malcolm X Park and marched across the city to the White House.

Workers with the Metropolitan Washington Council of the AFL-CIO and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 addressed the evening gathering in the park on 16th St. NW at Meridian Hill, saying that the revitalization of the unions needs to come from the bottom, because the unions’ leadership isn’t doing the job.

Metro bus drivers Patricia and Shamika, whose surnames are being withheld as befits honorary Occupiers, said that their mission is to fight “racism, sexism and capitalism,” and that a change in the methods used by unions is  long overdue.

“The strategy of the past 30 years is not working,” Patricia said. “Endless negotiation and accommodation doesn’t scare” those who would exploit labor and the poor, she explained. “Strikes scare them.”

ATU’s Mike Golash, addressing a crowd of several hundred, said that the labor movement has been sold out by a union leadership which “has no interest in defying the unreasonable restrictions that have been placed upon them” by such legislation as the Taft-Hartley Act, restrictions that say Metro workers are not allowed to strike.

Like Occupy DC, he said, “they are forcing us to become an illegal movement.”

The union workers suggested that Occupy could lend the unions a hand, and vice versa.

“Metro says it’s illegal to stage a sympathy strike, but there’s nothing to stop Occupy DC from conducting a protest” in support of the union strikes, Golash said.

And while the powers that be can feel unthreatened by Occupy’s actions at times, they’ll have a harder time maintaining being sanguine if Occupy is joined by the city’s transportation workers, Patricia said. “If a few hundred Occupiers protest, they can blow it off,” she said. “But when a thousand Metro workers go on strike, the whole city notices.”

“We are under attack,” she said, and castigated Metro for raising its rider fees and freezing wages to meet its budgeting goals instead of getting the money from the people who benefit from the it the most — the large corporate interests that cluster their outlets around Metro stations.

Those who worried last fall that the Occupy movement was being co-opted by the unions can rest easy, Golash said. “Occupy DC, and the movement in general, has by now clearly shown that it’s beholden to no one.”

The Washington Labor Chorus led the activist crowd in belting out labor classics “Solidarity Forever,” “I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night” and “The Internationale,” each rendered in Spanish and English, and even, in the latter case, French.

Occupiers dressed as heroic figures from America’s labor history gave speeches, including Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, who noted that the “impossible chasm between all workers and all exploiters” has not been bridged, and is in fact widening again.

A re-enactor dressed as Haymarket martyr August Spies read from the speech he gave before he was hanged:

“…Anarchism is on trial! …very well; you may sentence me, for I am an anarchist. I believe that the state of castes and classes–the state where one class dominates over and lives upon the labor of another class, and calls this order–yes, I believe that this barbaric form of social organization, with its legalized plunder and murder, is doomed to die and make room for a free society…but let the world know that in 1886, in the state of Illinois, eight men were sentenced to death because they believed in a better future; because they had not lost their faith in the ultimate victory of liberty and justice!”

Other historical figures invoked the 1971 May Day action to protest the Vietnam War, when 35,000 activists effectively shut down this city, noting some similarities between that movement’s leaderless structure and Occupy. The fact that the Nixon administration also changed the rules abruptly and raided the event despite the permits, knocking down tents and teargassing the legal protest, didn’t escape Occupiers’ notice.

The gathering featured poetry readings, a solidarity speech by a new labor organization that has sprung up among immigrant day laborers in Northern Virginia, the traditional dance of the Maypole, and then, the march.

The crowd, by now numbering about three hundred activists, rode and biked down the 15-20 block route toward the seat of paralysis, accompanied by a giant dragon puppet made up of a dozen or so people in costume, wriggling along at the end of the pack. Chants rose:

“When the working class is under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!

Banks got bailed out, we got sold out.

The whole world is striking!

We are unstoppable; another world is possible.

At 2400 14th St, Hispanic construction workers high on a cable-lowered work car shouted their approval and pumped fists.

“We are the 99 percent; we are the working class. And so are you!”

Horns blared along the route, but most of the honkers did it rhythmically, a smiling show of solidarity with the protest.

“Don’t just watch us, come and join us!” the marchers urged the crowds. “We’re only fighting for your rights.

Greed and corruption are weapons of mass destruction.”

“We hold the system up. We can make it fail,” one sign proclaimed.

On and on, accompanied by two saxophones, a guitar, a violin, and a drummer playing a bucket.

Finally Occupiers reached the White House, and wrapped it up with a performance for its Occupants.

They didn’t grace us with an appearance, but it seems likely they heard our musical entrance.

This article was simultaneously published on OccupiedStories.com

Welfare abuse

Make the corporate junkies to kick the habit — the hard way.
By Jehovah Jones
“They’re trying to anesthetize our institutions,” Ralph Nader told a gathering of several hundred people at a recent gathering in Washington of Occupiers from across the country.
That’s about right. There’s certainly some doping of the public going on, and it’s happening in plain sight as surely as if addicts were tying off and shooting up in Franklin Square.
Addressing “Protecting the Commons from the insatiable advocates of privatization,” one of a series of lectures collectively entitled Stop the Corporation, hosted by The National Occupation of Washington, DC on April 2, the co-founder of Institute for Local Self-Reliance laid out how our Post Offices are falling victim to that effort to stupefy.
Across the country, 3600 communities were given notice last fall that they may lose their post offices, David Morris told the activists. The announcement roused such outrage that the Postal Service issued a six-month moratorium on any such closures.
But that’s not the end of it, he warned. When the moratorium ends next month, you can expect to see rapid closures of many small-town Post Offices, and to add insult to injury, Congressional Republicans are pushing for Saturday postal delivery to be ended nationwide, in order to give Corporate America a chance to trojan its way into the public mail system.
The community impact statements the agency is required by law to conduct are being fudged, he said; the statements do not include the cost to community of the loss of postal service. The Postal Service is using fanciful corporate-speak — “Starbucks language”, in his words — to put a positive spin on what they’re doing, but it’s not working. Local Occupy movements have seen through the smokescreen, and are involved in fighting the closings in a number of states, with some success.
All of this begs a question: Why is the Postal Service having the alleged shortage of cash that is given as the reason for all the closings and cuts? Morris did hit that in passing; it’s the usual Republican budget shenanigans involving shifting deficits across the budget year and across the federal government to hide the truth.
But there’s one important aspect that this seminar didn’t address at all, and it’s the one that explains where the money’s actually going, and it’s one that should resonate most with Occupiers: the fact that this public agency is subsidizing private corporations to the tune of billions of dollars a year. Think about it, and I’m guessing you’ll know what I’m referring to: junk mail.
That’s right. In addition to ‘franking’ political junk mail for your alleged representatives in Congress, the Post Office hugely subsidizes giant corporations at your expense, helping them to fill your mailbox with useless crap that has your name on it.
Not only do these corporate junkies get to sell your personal private information to other addicts without asking you, but they also get to send you garbage for a fraction of a cent per piece, while you, the individual taxpayer, get soaked for — what; 44 cents? — when you want to send mail. Or has it gone up again overnight?
Yes, they call one variety Third Class or Fourth Class and the other First Class, but that does not come anywhere near explaining the difference in price.  And as you can tell by the timing of the subject matter of your political junk mail, it gets through the system  as quickly as that birthday card from your Aunt Fanny, regardless of what the damn stamp says.
Junk mail is yet another way that our tax dollars pay for massive corporate welfare, and it’s one that is a pain in our collective ass every single day. We shouldn’t tolerate it. Why should they be allowed to send us unsolicited junk emblazoned with our names at all —  pointless crap with the sole purpose of trying to sell us shit we don’t need, wasted paper that we have to use our valuable time to recycle, and remove our names from if we want to be safe — much less at our expense?
Make ‘em kick the nasty habit. And force ‘em to go cold turkey, since that’s how they roll when it comes to other junkies. Tough love? Maybe. But they shouldn’t have gotten hooked on the junk in the first place.

Protesting the Police

Occupy DC Takes it in the Ass Again?

By Jehovah Jones

Thursday’s protest was different: This one was specifically about the police, who raided McPherson Square again, almost two months after the first betrayal, and tore down the information booth and meeting tent, where they seemed to think people were sleeping. (Truth be told, some probably were. It’s more comfortable to sleep on the ground in a tent than on the hard sidewalk a few feet away, which is by some moronic twist of logic, allowed.)

And the Occupiers took to the streets with vengeance in their hearts…or maybe more accurately, in their mouths.

Chanting couplets ranging from pointed but civil —

“From Oakland to Greece, disarm the police.”

— to some apparently designed to insult and enrage:

“This is a donut. It is delicious. You know you want to fuckin’ eat it.”

— while bearing makeshift fishing poles dangling chocolate donuts as bait, they headed out from the park that had been their home from Oct 1 to Feb 4, and took a circuitous route through the city, stopping to block every large intersection.

At each, the sign-wielding pack of about 40-45 people took three loops around, chanting, waving signs, propelled by anger and Mo the Palestinian’s pounding drum, disrupting traffic for as long as possible. When the DC cops, half a dozen motorcycles, 3-4 cars, several SUVs and at least two horses, didn’t charge in and arrest them, but rather blocked traffic for them, the marchers kicked it up a notch, reviving a chant from the Occupy Congress event in January —

“No justice, no peace, No bitch-ass police.”

as well as one coined at the Monsanto protest on February 29 —

“Show me what a donut looks like. This is what a donut looks like.”

and added a brand-new personal jab for good measure —

“You say people shouldn’t sleep. We say ‘Fuck Sgt. Reid.’ ”

— apparently in response to comments made to the media by Todd Reid of the Park Police, the cop who was in charge during the day’s tent detail at McPherson, and who was Tanked in the ‘nads way back in the good old sleep-over days.

The two cops on horseback seemed to be having fun, at least at first, teasing a protestor on a bike videotaping the march about his parents’ income. “What are you doing out here? Your mom and dad are millionaires! Hey, did you know this guy’s parents are millionaires? That means he’s one of the One Percent!” the cops taunted.

But it all seemed to be in good fun until an irate motorist at one of the intersections began blowing his horn at the marchers blocking his turn. The protestors seemed ready to let him pass until he stuck his head out the window and screamed obscenities at them, threatening to ‘flatten your fucking slacker asses,” and then they sat placidly in the road, daring him to follow through. One protestor danced around, inches from the car’s grill, whirling and chanting.

That was too much for the Lone Ranger and Robin, mounted high upon the Clydesdale-esque Steeds of Power. They trotted up and began bellowing orders, insisting that the kids had touched the man’s car, threatening all manner of sanctions. “Harassing citizens! Way to go!” Robin snarled, or the closest approximation thereof, which came out as more of a simper.

“No one touched the car, sir,” the guy on the bike affirmed. “I have the video right here.”

Others were less conciliatory. “If you think we did something wrong, fuckin’ arrest us, porkchop.”

A woman took up a new chant — “Get those animals off those horses.” — and it made a few rounds before being discarded in favor of the old NWA standby: “Fuck tha police.”

One guy paraded through the intersection and up to the horses with his sign: “Go fuck yourself, officer.”

But Andy and Barney weren’t biting, so the protestors turned their attention to the passerby.

“Give us our rights, we’ll give you your streets.”

“Join us. It’s your first amendment too.”

One sign took a backhanded stab at reassurance: “Don’t worry, everything’s fine. Go home and watch American Idol.”

While some people in the cars seemed angry, just as many honked in support, shooting the thumbs up, and shouting encouragement. “Keep it up! You’re doing great!” a cabbie yelled, and a middle-aged woman rolled down the window to get the specifics of the Occupiers’s grievance against the cops. “They took everything I own! “ one man told her. “I was doing what they said, to be in compliance with the law, and they ripped down my tent anyway and stole it all. That shit don’t fly.” The woman grimaced and suggested a lawsuit. “Yep, I’m gonna sue their balls off,” he said.

A young woman in a car honked her horn, long, loud, and waved energetically. “You people are very brave. You’re the hope of the future!” she yelled. At Dupont Circle, a 30ish black couple sat in their German touring car, adrift in stalled traffic, cops, and protestors, smiling hugely, windows open exchanging handshakes and pleasantries with the protestors. A man with a strong accent  talked excitedly on his cell. “It’s Occupoy DC! I saw them on TV. They marching, baby! This is so fuckin’ cool. You guys rock!”

Finally after 90 minutes, the throng headed back to McPherson with no arrests. A final three-pronged swing through the intersections by the park finally won them a warning from the cops, and newly energized, some took off again for more. But a significant number dropped off at McPherson, some chatting with the lone arrestee from the morning’s raid, a women called Georgia wearing a cast, with a tiny dog on a leash.

The dog, apparently affected by the vibrations in the air, mounted another dog and got busy.

“Stop that, Daisy” the woman scolded. “That’s not how it works.”

“She’s a girl,” she explained.

But Daisy wasn’t letting the lack of a penis stand in her way, continuing to hump madly.

The other dog seemed confused as to what was being accomplished.

Photos by The Lucie

Originally posted on CoolRevolution.net, March 31, 2012

“I love the smell of Roundup in the morning.”

Occupy pays a Leap Day visit to Monsanto and ALEC

by Jehovah Jones

Feb 29: Occupy DC’s Leap Day actions started at the butt-crack of dawn.

Ok, maybe 7am doesn’t precisely qualify as time’s anus, but it’s right next door. And Occupiers aren’t known for liking to get up early. Back in the good ol’ before-February-5 days when I used to crawl out of my tent at McPherson around 5am to go to work, the few hardy souls I bumped into seemed less than completely alert, partly due to the neocon agitators honking horns ’til the wee hours.

Everybody’s milling around drinking coffee, and because this is Occupy, there’s a woman with a Domino’s box.

Cinnamon bread sticks, maybe.

No… it’s pizza.

Note to self: Tell that woman why Domino’s should be the target of a boycott.

And stop salivating.

We’re about 50 strong now, maybe 60. It’s too early for accurate counting. Three U.S. Park Service cops, including an older guy who’s always here, seems mostly decent. Somebody says he’s the one who got Tank’s foot in the ‘nads back in December. Seems pretty calm and easy, chats with any and all of us, doesn’t seem angry or vindictive. The other two look like Beaver and Wally going to pepper-spray camp, hands on their ‘batons’ a lot; maybe they like caressing wood..?

7:30 a.m. Occutime, and we’re off. Down 14th and turn on L St NW, a couple of DC cops and a black SUV trailing us.

On this rainy morning, Occupy DC is acting in solidarity with Occupy Portland, which has declared today to be Shutdown the Corporations day; we’re visiting our neighbor ALEC, formally known as the American Legislative Exchange Council, on the 11th floor at 1101 Vermont Ave. N.W. (They seem fond of ones; maybe it’s the one-percent thing?)

Our homeboy ALEC, who provides right-wing legislation for state governments that’s ghost-written by corporations — one of the benefits of their being declared people, perhaps? — has been busy over the past year, pushing hundreds of anti-worker bills to stop public employees from unionizing and bargaining for a fair deal and a living wage. Alec’s been hanging out with some real douche-bag governors, including Jan Brewer and Scott Walker.

“No legislation for human subjugation!” the people chant to the beat of a drum and whistle. “ALEC, can’t you see? We’re a democracy!”

Then we’re off again, with Occupiers at the head of the pack determined to find another corporation to congratulate on his or her civic-minded citizenship.

“We are unstoppable. Another world is possible!” A cop on a motorcycle hears, believes, and shuts down K Street for us. Yeah! Let the lobbyists curse. “Get up, get down! There’s revolution in this town!” We cut through a park–Franklin Square? Who cares? Parks are so yesterday.

An OccuKid pulling a cart full of signboards announces that we’re about to see some anarchist street theater. Seems like that might best be done on the street, so we head out the other side, and…Jesus. Some students from AU want me to fill out a survey about Occupy’s relations with police. I tell them I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’ve never screwed a cop while Occupying.

On to 1300 I Street to visit Sigñor Monsanto, the scourge of farmers and eaters everywhere. This fine Corporate-American’s first product in 1901 was saccharine, a harbinger of all that was to come, including a flurry of poisons used to make it dirt cheap for corporations to produce food-like substances that will enrich them almost as fast as they kill you.

In a partnership with Dow, Monsanto made Agent Orange, a potion that Vietnamese civilians and American soldiers alike can attest has a bit more kick than Orange Crush.

Monsanto was the first to modify a plant cell’s genetics to create fake-but-photogenic food. “Food with a boob job,” a friend used to call it.

They manufacture Roundup, a name which describes what their security thugs are trying to do right now to their Occupying neighbors. “Can I get a wagon over here?” a scruffy woman in plain clothes yells into a walkie-talkie, and a screech of sirens answers from the box.

The Occupiers sit in front of the revolving door holding a large Occupation Nation sign. “Take the day off!” they advise Monsanto employees. “Sorry for the inconvenience, but we are shutting the building down. This is what democracy looks like.”

“This is a peaceful, nonviolent protest,” they calmly inform the cops who approach. Some cops aren’t interested in nonviolence, yanking at those sitting. “Who do you serve?” the Occupiers demand.

“If you do not move, a police officer will arrest you!” one very large cop bellows, his stomach heaving with indignation. “He’s talking to a donut,” one kid grins. “Why don’t you go an arrest Monsanto?” another yells. “They’re the ones killing us. We’re upholding the law.”

But they’re not moving. Well, one girl is. She’s being dragged across the pavement by a giant donut masticator. “Medic!” she whimpers, her arm firmly clutched in his large sweaty palm. “Show me what a police state looks like!” the crowd chants. “This is what a police state looks like!”

“Show me what a donut looks like,” a kid begins, and a cop grabs his hair… then sheepishly lets go and walks into the street, where the Occupiers are unfurling a huge banner. One rope catches on a cop’s parked motorcycle, and Occupiers yell, “Stop! Don’t turn the bike over!” A cop, whose name tag reads Farr, helps free the snagged rope, and smiles at the Occupiers as they get back to work. “Thanks, officer!” the Occupiers yell. But after a bit, seeing that the paddy wagon has been backed up to the curb, he informs them that they have to get off the street or be arrested.

An Occupier does a mic check. “Should we stay in the street and get arrested, or hold the doors?” he asks.

“Fuck the street, hold the doors!” the crowd yells. And under the leering grin of the cardboard ghost writer dripping simulated blood, 12 people are arrested for doing just that. “Fuck Monsanto!” they yell as the cuffs are attached.

“Fuck Monsanto,” a cop agrees.

As I walk away through the rain, headed for the job it seems I am lucky to have, some workmen prepare to go into the building. Music by Canadian rock band Rush blasts from their van’s speakers:

“It’s a far cry from the world we thought we’d inherit. It’s a far cry from the way we thought we’d share it.”

Originally published on CoolRevolution.net, March 1, 2012

Occupying Labor, pt. 1

This is the first in a series of posts on the history of the labor movement in this country, which bears directly on the current Occupy movement for economic justice.

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“The calendar is lying when it reads the present time.” – Phil Ochs

Working people of 100 years ago put in unimaginable work days – 18, even 20 hours — under conditions that could – and did –kill. And yet they managed to find the time to think, to recognize that the only people who could probably understand their lives were the recently freed slaves. The tipping point came when poor black working folks, recognizing that working yourself to death for so little pay that you die still owing your corporate massa for food and shelter wasn’t that far from being literally owned,  joined forces with labor, and the masses of working poor found the energy somehow to fight the powers that were—and to a large extent, still are.

And the right wing, which then and now glorifies hard work in the abstract, persecuted, demonized, shot and killed them when they sought to use the democratic process to rectify that injustice. It’s a grim picture that’s been utterly erased from the glorious pseudo-history that we Americans have been spoon-fed in our schools, but all you really have to do is look around, and you’ll see it, because it never really left. Like a vampire, that past was only briefly hiding in the shadows waiting for its chance to again feed on the blood of a society made vulnerable by political cravenness.

The names that you encounter these days mostly as benevolent sponsoring foundations on NPR originally belonged to brutal, rapacious men who treated humans like machines “to be used and tossed in the street after they are done with them.” J.P. Morgan got his start by royally screwing the taxpayers *and* endangering the Civil War soldiers with a defective-rifle swindle made possible by inept, corrupt oversight; instead of being tried for treason and properly punished, he made an obscene fortune courtesy of us all, and left it to his heirs. Andrew Carnegie. John D. Rockefeller. Andrew Mellon. All of them milked the U.S. government and ruthlessly overworked its citizens, getting filthy rich.

When the people whose labor created that wealth decided to band together and form unions to balance the scales, they were harassed and jailed on almost any pretext by a “police” force controlled by the monopolists. Groups of miners or railroad workers who tried to exercise their First Amendment rights and take their protest directly to their alleged Representatives were “arrested for stepping on the grass” and jailed. Sound vaguely familiar, Occupy?

While the toys our corporate masters sell us to distract us today are slicker and smarter, under the skin of society not much has changed. Or rather, it changed briefly for the better, but there’s been a steady rollback of that progress, and the present looks a lot like the 19th century. Look around, and you’ll see many of the companies the monopolists founded, some still bearing their surnames and some disguised, still raking it in, still raping the rank and file. Mellon Bank. Morgan Stanley. Chevron-Texaco. CBS Corporation. Siemens, Rockwell, U.S. Steel, Heinz, General Motors, and ExxonMobil; all sprang from the loins of these scourges of American workers. The money that allowed them to survive and thrive came from the interest paid on the obscene fortunes they extorted from your parents and grandparents.

The constant march of monopoly-friendly acts issuing from the right wing and the opportunistic “opposition” party eagerly cashing in whatever principles it has left has brought these and new monsters out of hiding and they’re ravenous for more, more, more. They’re getting it. More of your tax money in their private bank accounts, more cuts to the things your taxes should pay for, things you need to protect you from them. The sneaky repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act by Republicans and Bill Clinton. The Telecommunications Act of 1996. NAFTA. Citizens United. All crafted to make it possible for these corporations to roll over the powerless in their rush back to the end of the 19th century.

With all the powers aligned against us, and the longevity they’ve demonstrated, Occupy’s effort may seem like a fool’s errand. But isn’t it always that way? Ask the people who rose up against murderously corrupt leaders in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and all over South America.

Sometimes ‘solidarity forever’ means exactly what it says. Those starving farmers and miners, persecuted by lazy, irresponsible media so they could be killed by their own governments, finally created a movement of working people that made life briefly bearable for the people who built the country: the same unions the right is gleefully decimating today. It’s time to finish what those populists started.

For more, read http://www.ranknfile-ue.org/untold.html

 Originally published at http//journeyamerica.wordpress.com,  Feb. 23, 2012.

Fear and Loathing in McPherson Square, January 2012

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Story and Photo by Jehovah Jones. 

Mic check.

When viewed through the wall of your soaking tent, every flashing light looks like a
police raid. Every accelerating truck engine on the street a few dozen feet away
sounds like a bulldozer heading your way.

This is the second night like this at McPherson Square in recent weeks, with Occupy
DC’s “de-escalators” keeping an eye out from the perimeter and the Occupiers in
their tents listening with nervousness and dread.

The last time was a few days before Christmas. After a large, drunk, tank-shaped
ruffian kicked an arresting cop in the balls and left him puking in the street, the
camp buzzed with the rumor: Tonight’s the night we get raided.

For veterans of Zuccotti Park, Oakland, U.C. Davis and dozens of other Occupations
across the country, the conditions seemed right: wet, cold, dark, and cops had been
humiliated; it was now personal. Word was that it would happen around 3am.

On that night, our number included Occupy DC’s ambassador of goodwill, a
pipe-smoking man of substantial age who has lived in this park for years, who sits
in a prominent spot and greets every passerby with “Happy Holidays and Happy New
Year!” There’s a guy here who’s got a petition with 1776 signatures that he hopes
will get him–and his waist-length dreads–into the Coast Guard. A genial 50-year-old
unemployed laborer/short-order cook from Tennessee who calls everybody “brother.” A
40-year-old Deadhead who is clueless about the political aspects of this venture, but says he’s here because this is the best living situation he’s ever had. A sweet, sad-eyed woman named Pepper, “as in pepper spray.”

A former journalist who had stopped by regularly to donate food and blankets, I set
up a tent in early December in response to a friendly challenge from a few
Occupiers–“What else do we need? How about your body?”–who encouraged me to sleep here as many nights as I could, even if I had to leave to go to work most mornings.

Elsewhere in the park there’s a man who styles himself a working journalist, who says he’s been here since October 1, the first day of this Occupation. He says he’s here for the stories, sleeping here because it gives him access that other media types don’t have, and because of the high price of hotels in DC.

I’m here for the most unprofessional of reasons: to experience grassroots democracy in action.

I have long wondered if the people of this country would forever sit passively by
and watch our hard-earned gains in the direction of decency and humanity be reversed
by the Republicans (aided by weasel Democrats), watch as the clock is turned back to
the dark ages of crony capitalism. This group is trying to do something about that.

Mic check.

Sleep for many of us never did come that night in December, but neither did the
police. It was one of very few blessings that brutally cold holiday season brought;
the weather was about to take an even more drastic dip, one that would cost us some
Occupiers.

There are those who say the movement is incoherent. In a way, I can see the
point–the causes cited by Occupiers are myriad, and it’s not being packaged in those
convenient little soundbites that media talking heads prefer. But if you actually
think about it, my erstwhile colleagues–employing your own brain cells instead of
your tendency to lazily regurgitate–it becomes obvious why that’s the case. With so
many powerful people dedicating so much time to screwing up this country for their
own narrow benefit, the fact that one can’t simply hand over a concise statement of
purpose to cover it, says far more about the size of the problem than about those
trying courageously to begin to correct it.

Some say the movement is too inclusive for its own good, that those hangers-on who
aren’t here for a specific political reason need to be booted. But how can you kick
out the already marginalized, many of whom have things to teach you about surviving
in a hostile environment?

Among the hundreds of people who have come to watch the circus, many have clearly
joined it, at least in spirit. A steady stream of messages from the street tell us
how the revolution looks from there.

“Thank you for doing this for all of us. What can we do for you?”– a carload of elderly women stopped at the light close to my tent.

“God bless you from the rest of us. Don’t lose hope; you’re making history.”  — a
middle-aged Hispanic man, through the window of a battered pickup, to a chorus of
honking horns behind him.

“Go home, commies. Get a job, dirty hippies.”   — screamed from the windows of a  series of SUVs and sports cars barreling down 15th street.

If volume is the measure, the wingnuts win; one of their favorite tactics is to park
close by at 3am and blow their horns nonstop to keep us from sleep.

One of the more blatant hypocrisies I’ve heard is “Give us back our park!” I used to
work across the street, so I know that the main users of this park before October 1
were the homeless and the rats–and both are still here.

Tonight, the rumors fly again, probably with more reason this time: On Friday, the
Park Police, our nemesis/defender, apparently caving to pressure from a rabidly
partisan neocon congressman from California, issued an ominous warning: after noon
today, they will start enforcing the “no camping” rule. Nobody’s sure precisely what
form that enforcement will take, but it involves potentially arresting those
“sleeping or preparing to sleep.”

Once again, we wait. Will the dreaded crackdown come, and if so, what will happen to
my friends and neighbors who are unlucky enough to have no other place to go?

Mic check.

Text first published on CoolRevolution.net, January 31, 2012, and on OccupiedStories.com, April 26, 2012.