Studying in a quiet library while people are standing, camping, shouting, singing, and organizing in plazas and parks and city streets around the world, occupying not just a place on the map but a place in history. I can’t help thinking that’s where it’s at. There is much debate right now due to the recent Oakland riot police sweep of the downtown encampment, the rubber bullets, the tear gas, protestors throwing bottles, protestors protesting protestors…
Last night I drove by City Hall at 10 p.m. and it was standing room only, hundreds upon hundreds of empowered citizens back packed in the plaza, talking, holding signs, a day after riot police, tear gas, bullets.
Yesterday I’m in the car listening to Davey D on KPFA and the passion and excitement in his voice…The excitement, not ranting and rage, but excitement about people coming together, is starting to sound like democracy.
And the Occupy Oakland Facebook page is filled with 1% lunatic ranting and 99% civic discourse (OK, maybe 10/90%) and I’m starting to let go of my worry that in-fighting between protestors and municipal government is misplaced, expensive activism and to begin to hope that it is actually the bankruptcy of city governments (that is, their ability to afford police/military blindness), as well as the bankruptcy of the ideas of Wall Street that will keep the movement growing and begin to effect change.
You can break out, as Arlo Guthrie once sang, “All kind of cop equipment,” and you can paint all sort of corporate media portraits of vandals and rioters in the Occupy movement, but the next morning all those people will still be out of work or overworked due to budget cuts with crappy health care, breaking daily dread. You can’t take away the conviction that something is wrong.
But I’m here studying in quiet academia and haven’t put my body out there on the streets one single moment, so maybe I’d better do what I need to do here a little quicker so that I can do what we need to do there better/sooner/nower. Nevertheless, I’m excited by the slight breeze blowing down this quiet tree lined campus, carrying the hint of collective voices all the way from downtown.