Thursday, 13 October 2011

#OccupySLC: Day Eight Continues

Today was a beautiful, sunny day, warm but not too warm; in short, cooperative weather for #OSLC's continuously evolving protest encampment. The press release sent out by Occupy SLC refers to the goings-on as a "base camp," which I think is apt, and a better description than the rather more grandiose "tent city," which I heard a few people try out. Evidently the message circulated that actual tent cities spawned by foreclosure and economic doom have existed since at least 2008 (although you wouldn't know it if you only paid attention to the American media).because now it's a base camp.

The big news is tomorrow's Friday Forum, a sort of open house for the public and/or officials to come and have a dialogue with the Occupados. I've been looking forward to this moment, and I think tomorrow will mark a new stage in the evolution of #OSLC. I spent a good chunk of the afternoon trying to identify which - if any - civic officials have confirmed that they will come to the event, but so far no luck.

Tomorrow from 3:00 to 4:00 PM MST a tour of the base camp will commence, followed by keynote speakers (also not yet identified on Occupy SLC's hub as of this posting) selected by the General Assembly. At 5:00 PM the Tony Holiday and Jordan Young Blues Revival group will perform (no idea, but it sounds about right), and at 6:00 there will be a march on Main Street followed by the now-traditional 7:30 PM General Assembly.

This afternoon at #OSLC, things were quiet and tidy.

Some sly dog found a sign that I liked:

I paid a visit to the People's Library, which to my delight has grown hugely. All the books I donated were gone, and from what I understand people have been exchanging books like crazy. It looks like we've solved the tragedy of the commons on a sub-micro-level, so chalk one up for #OSLC.

The Library:

It wasn't just kooky reading room stuff, either I saw a well-read copy of Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America, Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion, gobs of stuff on the Federal Reserve and basic economics and a fair assortment of classics, as well; Greek plays, even.

The literature table was stocked with standard Socialist fare and also materials on the Fed: stuff on the Fed always seems a little weird around the edges to me, and some of the materials (which I admittedly just skimmed) veered straight into Ron Paul Gold Standard territory a paragraph or two in.

One enterprising fellow took the time to whack out this single-page plea and/or manifesto:

And of course it wouldn't be a party if the Wobs weren't there (well, I was there as well in my IWW member badge so we were already pretty much "there"):

Perhaps the most amazing transformation that I have witnessed so far is the evolution of the Kitchen Tent into the Circle Cafe:

I didn't want to take patrons' pictures, as many of them were camera-shy, but the kitchen is now a HUGE operation, feeding not just the  entire encampment plus any rubberneckers, but also a large contingent of homeless people, a fair number of whom seem to have adopted the #OSLC movement as their own.

As I was leaving I spoke with a young policeman on a sporty-looking bike. He asked if I was one of the protesters, and I answered honestly enough that while I agree with some of their grievances and goals, I'm more fascinated by the movement than a full-fledged member of it, and am mainly there to observe and pitch in if needed. The bike cop expressed concern that a large crowd of hungry, angry people can turn dangerous. I said "Yes. Has that happened?" No, he said, he had just shown up, but all the other officers assured him things were perfectly calm. The officer expressed confusion at the protesters' goals, which he seemed to think involved crushing capitalism and/or destroying the Constitution.

When the conversation turned in that direction, I asked the officer about the collusion between Wall Street and Washington. Isn't that concentration of power bad? Well, he said, the thing is that we need to elect upright, moral men - men who won't give in to corruption or abuse their authority. I said that I'd noticed that the more localized politics is, the better the men and women involved seem to be. At this point, one of his compatriots who had been silently listening interjected excitedly "That's because here at the local level we have accountability!"

Unfortunately, the first bike cop steered the conversation toward Obama's performance as president, and asked who I would be voting for next year. I said I'm not sure - I voted for Obama last time around, and I'm not convinced I can support him again, but the Republicans would be nightmarish if they weren't so hilarious Oh, he said, so I don't care for Romney much? No, I said, I don't. Well, said the officer, there's no way anybody could do a worse job than Obama. But Romney, I pointed out, has similar Wall Street ties and inclinations to Obama. It would be a very similar administration in some ways, and a much, much worse one in others. Well, the officer repeated, I don't know of anybody who could do worse than Obama.

Thank you, officer, have a nice day! I'll be on my way now.

As I stated in my last post, I'll be interviewing participants tomorrow to see if we're all the lazy, welfare-mooching scumbags that Joseph Farah thinks we are, or whether the Ocupados are in some fashion "real people," many of whom "have jobs" and "pay taxes." Make sure to check back for the shocking answers.

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