Seems that the urban centers of
America got together and coordinated their own acts of uncivil
disobedience this week, with evictions and threats of eviction popping up
everywhere. Oakland evicted violently, New York evicted violently, Berkeley
students and staff only wanted to have a two-day occupation and were squashed
violently, threats in Toronto staid by court
injunction, threats in
staid by injunction. Vancouver
The common thread? The disobedience? It’s this: Where police act, heads and ribs get busted, and pepper spray is suddenly in short supply. Big, tough folks, those cops. Their parents must be so proud. Their uniforms should have advertising on them: “I Work for Wall Street. I Serve and Protect the 1%. Sponsored by Goldman Sachs.”
I read so many disheartening, moving, inspiring, shocking things yesterday and today. I was tempted to copy and paste them all – they’re that good. Instead I’ll just provide a few highlights with links, and the full text of Stephen Elliott’s Daily Rumpus (which has no URL of it’s own) at the bottom.
This, by Chris Hedges, is amazing. Mr. Hedges can be hyperbolic at times, yet always profoundly passionate and sincere. This one worked for me in a big way. Must have been that kind of day.
This one includes video – Amy Goodman speaking with writer, Booker Prize winner, and activist Arundhati Roy.
Jesse Kornbluth from Headbutler.com wrote a damning indictment of UC and Berkeley police in the Huffington Post, one of my most and least favorites. Video included, but it’s not for the faint of heart.
On the good news front, Seattle City Council unanimously passed a resolution in response to Occupy Seattle. It’s not a carte blanche statement of unqualified support, but it’s a profound recognition by that cities government that the issues are valid and worthy of appropriate action. So that validation, that agreement, is possible.
Because it’s important to think about where this could all lead in a best case scenario, this report from Icelandic parliamentary representative Birgitta Jónsdóttir is so heartening. It made me think of that thing that Hedges said a few weeks ago, that the existence of OWS, with its horizontal hierarchies and direct democracy and consensus-based decision making changed everything just by showing that there was an alternative.
the same thing, scaled up a factor of ten or so and three years down the road.
If it can be scaled by ten, it can be scaled by a hundred, or a thousand. Iceland
And this, direct from the OWS PR team last night after the eviction, is so wonderful and pure that I couldn’t decide whether to cry or laugh as I read it.
I’ll finish with Mr. Elliott’s thoughts today, printed in full below because he says it better than I can, but first I have to say this:
It’s happening. There’s too much momentum now for it to be stopped. Occupy is happening in too many places, too many countries, in too many hearts and minds. Occupy has provided a vehicle, a voice for too many of those already awake, and woken too many that were recently still asleep, and will continue to awaken many more. The narrative has changed. The dialog has evolved. The terms of engagement have devolved and every swing of every baton will awaken a new host of supporters and sympathizers. The violence is disgusting and heartbreaking, but it’s also a good sign: those who are fighting to retain their white-castled existence at the expense of everyone else have run out of rhetorical options, they have no logical responses left to them, and so they strike out like the bullies in the sandbox that we always feared, or perhaps knew, they were.
Ghandi said that first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. It will probably, almost inevitably, still get worse, so hold on tight. But then the old school will implode under the weight of its own guilt and complicity and corruption. As it has before, so it will again.
And then we can start rebuilding.
Stephen Elliott, November 16, 2011, The Daily Rumpus
Yesterday I went down to Zucotti park. It seemed like there were at least a thousand people and probably more surrounding the park, pressed up against barricades, wondering why they weren't allowed inside. In the park were maybe a hundred police officers, occupying the park. The park has lights on the ground, in the concrete. You could barely move on the sidewalk. Around six p.m. they began letting the occupiers back into the park through a small opening in the barricades, searching them for tents and sleeping bags. It was lightly raining.
There were numerous editorials about the end, and beginning, of Occupy Wall Street. They were often written in the tone of a proud father. They were encouraging: Now was the time to grow into something else, the next phase. The movement is leaderless, its demands unclear. You could hear the editorialists smirk. Why do we do that?
Yesterday a stockbroker stopped on the corner of Cedar and Broadway to argue with some of the protesters. At first it was tense, then it became friendly. What do you want? he asked.
We want the rich to stop taking our shit. Stop placing the tax burden on the poor and expecting us to be grateful. It is no longer OK to give away all our money to the richest 1%, to bend to the will of the financial institutions and the labyrinth of dividends, offshore tax havens, and money making schemes. Stop referring to fair taxation as socialism. Stop telling dishwashers and migrant farmers that you earned your money, that you work hard for what you have, because lots of people work hard and don't have. There are a lot of hard working people who are not rich. Don't look down from your fairy tale and tell us that people get what they deserve. Stop quoting Reagan. Stop telling us that riches beyond imagination breeds innovation. Stop pissing on our leg and calling it rain.
Occupy Wall Street is not a set of demands, it is a statement: We exist.
It began, though not noticeably, when Obama extended the tax cuts for the wealthy instituted by George W. Bush, referred to by Dick Cheney as "Our due." At the time it didn't seem like there was the political will on the left to do anything else. Occupy Wall Street is a manifestation of political will. It would be a awhile before the tents and libraries and occupations across the country, but that is where it began. It's hard to gauge which step is one step too far, but there it was.
The occupation is not meant to end, or become a butterfly, or sadly peter out. It's not indebted to paternalistic leaders giving a pat on the head and assuring the child: You will do better. The occupation doesn't need to negotiate or lay out a list of specific demands. Stop taking our shit. We notice when you steal from us. The occupiers sleep in the park and in the widening gap between the rich and the poor. The occupiers will invade the political rallies in 2012. Of course they will. The politicians will notice, they already do. The occupation is a seat at the table with no intention of going home.Peace, folks. Dream sweetly.