Thursday, 20 October 2011

#OccupySLC : Day 14 (Two Weeks!) "Driftin' Along With The Tumblin' Tumbleweed"

The recent stretch of warm weather has been good to #OccupySLC. We are supposed to have clear skies and slightly higher temperatures for a few days, while #OccupyWallStreet has been dealing with inclement weather. #OWS has passed the month mark, and it's worth remembering that many #OccupySLC protesters have been living outdoors now for two weeks, many of them while still working full time.

The #OccupySLC hub is  here  . #OccupySLC spokesperson William Rutledge can be reached  here  ( ). Twitter feeds  here  and  here  . National #OccupyTogether hub  here  .

I think it would be safe to say that things are at a turning point right now. From what I gather, there have been heated discussions at least since the General Assembly yesterday regarding what I guess should be loosely termed "Pioneer Park problems." A quick look at notes from a brainstorming session should tell you where a portion of the trouble is coming from:

The general feeling at a group gathering while I was there today:

...seemed to be that this article in the Tribune was pretty fair coverage, but that a lot of local media attention has started to focus on the homeless/itinerant angle of the Occupation. Keep in mind: this was a group discussion, not the General Assembly, so nothing is official. There will, I understand, be a motion at tonight's and/or tomorrow night's General Assemblies regarding the question of whether to move the #OccupySLC base camp or stay in Pioneer Park.

Some quick background: discussion has increasingly coalesced around two separate topics at #OccupySLC's base camp. The first topic is outward-directed, and regards what actions the increasingly organized and long-lived #Occupy movement should focus on here in Salt Lake City and in Utah at large. The second topic, which is more inward-directed, regards the eventual fate and current logistics of the #Occupy base camp in Pioneer Park.

Some people at #OSLC (and again, this is just based on what I heard) seem to feel that negative media attention and increasing friction with local businesses and citizens is a result of the #Occupy protesters being easily lumped in with "problems" like the homeless population or "drug dealers." Ah, drug dealers, those perpetual boogeymen of our public parks, despite the fact that I've never actually seen one in person, despite the amount of time I've spent at #OSLC and/or Pioneer Park. I have a pet theory that when someone who has lived a slightly sheltered life gets a whiff of marijuana smoke in a public place approximately five letters to the editor about drug dealers are launched.

The fear is that the fuss about location - public property or private? what about the homeless? did someone from the Police Liaisons as appointed by the General Assembly talk to the police about #OSLC moving, and if so, who? - is beginning to overshadow the actions and goals of the movement itself. This is not an unreasonable fear, especially since some recent actions have shown that #OSLC might just be hitting its stride.

The Circle-A Cafe, provider of loaves and fishes to the masses, is still open (tonight is Veggie Stew night, I hear). The People's Library is still open, and has, in fact, expanded wonderfully:

There is a *lot* of econ stuff in that big old salad, and it seems like every other person I saw who wasn't participating directly in a discussion had their head in a book. Also, there are frequent, volunteer-presented classes, usually clocking in at about a half-hour in length, on a variety of topics.

The materials on the Fed, and the plans for possible new camp locations (which include the local branch of the Fed) are interesting, but I hope that doesn't become the primary direction that #OSLC goes. That's up to them, in the end, but I would like to point out that people should think about what they are trying to say before planning a legal, nonviolent demonstration on November 5th. 

There are really only three messages you can choose from when you choose to "commemorate" November 5th: 1.) I have no idea who Guy Fawkes is, but wasn't that an awesome movie?! Smash the state, bro! 2.) I support ancient greasy terrorists, or 3.) Remember that Ron Paul moneybomb?

I really hope it's not #3, because one of the first principles of the occupation of Salt Lake City, as voted on by the General Assembly, is that #OSLC rejects political parties and candidates. Whichever of these reasons the brain trust behind the November 5th plan has in mind, I hope they share it with the rest of the class before a pretty good idea (divesting from big banks / investing in local credit unions) gets overshadowed by a loud, stupid idea. But that's just my two cents.

For what it's worth, I hope that #OSLC sticks with Pioneer Park. Not only are they relatively immune from the police there (so far, knock on wood), it's not shabby in terms of digs: the campsite there, after fourteen days, is almost astonishingly clean and tidy. While things can get a bit acrimonious at times, I admire the way that #OccupySLC has self-organized in a manner that is completely democratic and consensus-driven, yet still effective at not only setting up basic infrastructure but doing outreach like this: 

More should be firmed up after the GA tonight (around 7:00 PM MST is what I hear) and/or tomorrow night. I will post updates as soon as I know about them.

1 comment:

  1. Your observations on the appearance of the area are spot on, and the kitchen (staffed entirely by folks with food handlers' permits) is impressive as hell. howev, now that I've laid footsteps in the park a few times, I will add that a few folks staying there have been telling me they've been unable to get more than 1-2 hours of sleep at night due to constant REM disruptions of various sorts, from parties both friend-ish and foe-ish, and that a number are pulling their tents because they're simply exhausted.

    Beyond that FYI, tho', do keep up the good reporting....