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We Once had a Dream Called Occupy Wall Street #8
Part one of August 2nd, 2011
Alright, I’m going to be honest, I’m pumped to write this section, and I wanted to get ready for it by watching videos from the August 2nd, 2011 debt default rally and general assembly. I found one, so far, and it features this dood named Caleb: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AypxwJfgDQw from the Workers World Party… Remember that earlier post about the guy with the newspapers, and the list of particulars, he was from that party. Now, I’m not meaning to talk smack about these people, because when,say Palestine get’s bombed, they’re usually the first to the streets, but I just want to say that rallies like the one portrayed on that video were part of the reason I was politically dead. And if I was politically dead, I was killed in the Pittsburgh G20 by a permitted march and rally that snaked through steel cages surrounded by armed officers, only to stop in front of city hall. There, people took a stage and proceeded to yell at me. “Together…we… we.. overcome..” all this while Helicopter blades whined over head, and everyone’s movements were limited by steel cages and monitored exits. Sweet freedom, sweet protest…Now, when I sat their listening to the speakers at the rally speak; I felt I traveled across the country only to be yelled at about what I already knew. I didn’t travel here to listen, I wanted to do something, and I died that day, because that something turned out to be formed into the same classroom I hated as a child–and there I was staring at those elevated above me. And my political death was nailed shut on the the longest march I every took part in.. 4-6 hrs or something, just a forever march, a bloody feet march. And since the organizers had fought to win this permit from the city, the gave them a permit for this march to be within “Sight and Sound” of the convention. After four hours we saw what that promise meant, after countless police, and cages, and helicopters, horse cops, under cover cops, roaming sound canons, the organizers were greeted with their promise, and the march crossed the Ohio river, and to our right hazed by smog, stood the convention center, and we were just close enough to see the specks of posted snipers on the roof. And we were promised that the sound traveled off enough along to river that we were heard–
August 2nd 2011,
I can’t remember getting up, or getting ready to go, but I remember getting there. The rally was set at bowling green park. You know, the park with the big wall street bull pictured on the flyer? I arrived to the rally and general assembly just in time to see the rally folks setting up this tiny PA. They had a line of their speakers next to the mic. I went into police liaison mode, and tried to check in with my co-police liaison. We’d chosen two at that meeting, and I was little rusty. My last police liasoning had been at the Pittsburgh G20 a couple years earlier and consisted of convincing some cops that the hundred or so people behind me–weren’t a riot, they just were some folks trying to radically carol their way to change. No one was then arrested or beat up at that particular action(the Police would eventually attack the local student dorms, because the students “illegally” gathered on their own campus lawn but that’s a whole different story), that was 2009. In 2009, I believed change happened through marches and rallies. In 2011, I believed change happened when the lunch buffet turned into the dinner buffet.
My co liaison was not in attendance, and he was supposed to fill me in and back me up so I wouldn’t feel so lost. He wasn’t there, I wasn’t from NYC and the people on the mic started to yell at me about social change. They started the everything I hate about rallies action of yelling down at all the people there. You know? The worlds broken, we need to do this, we need this, everyone should join this, and blahblahblah. I hate being talked down too, and when most of the world surrounds you with images of what you’re not, coming together in the interest of social change, only to hear again what you’re not.. fuck that. So, I started talking to cops. Basically a police liaison’s goal is to liaison with the police, so I got to get out of ear shot of the yelling at me, and intercepted the Uniforms PD. The rally started, I moved through the people and watched the police, and anytime a cop made a step towards the rally. I’d run up to him waving and smiling and start asking him if he had any questions.
“Hey! I’m Lorenzo, I’m the liaison for these group of people, and wanted to assure you that if you had any questions. I can answer them for you.” I literary said bright little statements like that to the cops and they would usually deflate a little and start bantering with me. This was all based on a case by case sort of experience. See these were blue shirts, now, I don’t know NYPD protocol, or whatever, but it’s pretty apparent, that blue shirts don’t react to rallies until a white shirt gives the order. So, there’s a simple hierarchy for ya, blue shirts=at the bottom, and them white shirts= at the top. Eventually we’ll add in plain clothes and undercovers and who knows what happens to the chain of command then, but for right now, it became important for me to talk to the white shirts.
I had to talk to the White shirts, because a police liaison also needs to help hold space for the action. The people, at the rally/general assembly took space, and part of the liasons work was to keep the police out of that space. I know this might seem a little awkward, but what I really was trying to do, was make sure that the people rallying/ assembling, were allowed to rally and assemble, while I dealt with the police questions and demands. I, as a liaison, couldn’t make any decisions for the people gathered. I’d just been selected to transfer information from the police who were being kept at the edges of the rally with the people gathered who were doing their thing. Does that make sense? A police liason has no power to decide anything, I think people missed this sometimes in the parks. I’ve just thought of countless examples, but we’ll get there eventually.
While I started this process of deflect and content, the rally started to break down into a shouting match. Now, if you recall that flyer, it said something like, “The People’s General Assembly” and if you recall that meeting, the bigger group of folks really wanted a rally. Now, that division that started around that long table in the union was now out in the public. This young woman with a thick accent screamed at the person behind the mic.
“We didn’t come here to listen to you!”
The guy on the mic just continued trying to lay out his programs for change, and people starting to freak out, because theyd didn’t know there was a rally. Remember that flyer, earlier, the one with bull, it didn’t mention the rally and I think that was because we decided their would be both a rally and an assembly, and the people I rolled with focused on the assembly. So, now the people gathered were from the rally folks listservs, and from whatever other outreach went on, and one group didn’t really want to listen to the other group. And the reason, really, is because the other groups had been rambling on about social change since like the earlier 1900’s. Workers unite, fight the oppressor, sort of shit that’s been going on forever. And it won some stuff and that’s great, but it was currently 2011, and everything looked pretty bleak. So, the folks on the microphone sort of represented this old guard social change movement, that I think most of the left was exhausted with, and the assembly people were sort of breathing in some of that movement motion streaming out of the middle east, and wanted something else.
Wait, how about I break down like this. The rallies, all the rallies were lead by these social movement know it alls. You know, the folks who have the plans and know how the people could win, and the issue was that it was 2011 and everyone was fucking losing. The people who gathered for the assembly didn’t want to hear about all the shit that had to be done in order to win, because if they heard it right, it’s all the stuff people have been trying to do that lead to that day.
The people there for the assembly I think were there to just admit it was time to figure out what to do next. At this point their some historical claimants taking responsibility for the first general assembly, as though if they had not arrived the people could not have been lead to what they already planned to do… a convergence of people wanted social change….they assembled.
–to be continued.
Anyway, I also wanted to state that someone offered me hosting space for this blog! So, we’ll be able to move this off this page soon onto it’s own website. I wanted to add a way for people to view me working on the blog. So say, there’s a time I’m writing, and I tweet I’m live, and you can go to the link and see me working on a rough draft. Oh shit! that’s totally against everything I learned in writing school. If people see me drafting, they’ll be able to reallllly see how terrible I am at writing. Anyway, that’s next. Also, thinking about pulling these first paragraphs off the actual text, and make them supplementary,as in linked into the beginning of the text. I’m just talking to you if you’re reading this, in this first paragraph, and maybe I should pull that of the blog post so the blog can be more linear to itself.