Tuesday, 18 October 2011
#OccupySLC : Day 13, "Nonviolently Rage Against The Dying Of The Light"
Whoa Nelly, it was chilly this morning! I didn't camp out in Pioneer Park, but I did fall asleep with the windows open and the heat off, and walked the dog at about 4:00 AM. According to the friendly fools at Good Morning Utah, it was 39 degrees out when the sun finally rose and colder before that, and patches of frost, while not widespread, were present on the ground.
Other than a few minor cosmetic changes, the basic layout of Camp #OSLC is pretty much the same as it was on Day One and everything is clean and orderly, which in and of itself is an astonishing accomplishment when you think about it (even the UT GOP could only stand itself for ten hours while driving a stake through Count Matheson's withered heart).
The Circle-A Cafe is still open and feeding the masses, and the Free School, while the schedule has been a little chaotic for the last few days, is still up and running:
Why, those dirty hippies are teaching business writing! In my parks!!
The biggest challenge facing #OccupySLC right now is probably its own continued success and/or relevance. I'm not sure that anyone involved on Day One thought that things would go this far or last this long. The General Assembly has convened enough that there was/is a subcommittee of and for the homeless population that has become more or less successfully integrated with Occupants (or Occupants with the homeless - either way). What has emerged is a fascinating coexistence, enough so that B. from the Salt Lake Tribune dropped by to ask about it. That's her in red on the right:
Both William (the main spokesperson) and Sheri (liaison to the itinerant/homeless population) were away temporarily with separate emergencies, so the spokesperson above (whose name I did not, unfortunately, catch) filled in and talked about ways in which people were represented at the GA and elsewhere.
She also explained the role of the Safety Committee / Night Watch: keeping people civil when they live without walls, helping resolve conflicts, keeping an eye on the cops, etc. A word about those cops.
It was a hell of a weekend. Internationally, the protests were mostly peaceful with the notable exception of Rome. Even the Black Bloc hitting the fan in Rome wasn't as bad as it could have been. One of my old friends who now lives in France keeps trying to convince me that there's not a significant "brutality gap" between the US and Europe, but so far I don't buy it, which is why this is by far my favorite image macro / stupid internet joke about #Occupy so far:
Officer Friendly there reminds me of one of my favorite music videos (and also of the Undie Run).
Be that as it may, stateside the Denver PD shut down Occupy Denver (they're back now). The Boston PD mopped the floor with protesters. The cops marched on Occupy SF. And yet, #OccupySLC continues valiantly and noisily on, relatively unmolested by the cops - but at least two or three Occupants I spoke to said the cops shake the camp down nightly, handing out tickets as often as they can and "establishing a presence."
I overheard a fair amount of frustration from people. Thirteen days is a hell of a camping trip under the best of conditions, let alone thirteen days with the media and police and weird strangers like me free to wander through and quiz you about the banking system and the Fed. I hope this frustration does not lead to arrests that are poorly planned or purposeless, however: I overheard some talk about moving camp, and given the permits acquired and the (lack of) police so far I don't know if that would be a good idea or not, but that's just my opinion.
As I noted before, the population of OSLC's base camp waxes and wanes depending on the scheduled activities, the time of day, the day of the week, the moon, who knows - and today seemed to be a lower tide mark than the last few times I've visited.
That said, tonight's General Assembly is at 7:30 PM MST. If you have questions, or if you would like to speak to someone about volunteering or why you think #OSLC is wrong on the issues or tactic or both, feel free to drop by around 7:00 PM MST and look for the "Outreach" tent, where they have literature and friendly folks to answer your questions. #Occupy's hub site is here . #OSLC's hub is here . Twitter here and here .