Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Occupy Christmas Comes to Chapel Hill

The General Assembly was in full swing when I arrived at Occupy Chapel Hill, NC a little after 6 PM. Some 30 or 40 people were standing in a circle. The few tents remaining had been corralled off to the side. But the food tent was looking more closed in and  fortified against the weather. For the first time on my visits,  I observed a police presence. Three officers.  All this is happening at the Franklin Street Post Office, quite close to the campus of UNC Chapel Hill. As people passed by, if they paused for a sec, they were greeted by someone with a big smile and Occupy Chapel Hill stamped across her shirt.  I got there just in time to see them take a temperature check on some minor issue. Uptwinkles all around.
Occupy Chapel Hill is only steps away from campus of UNC.
What was under discussion? We were referred to to the calendar of events posted at their Occupy Media page. which details various upcoming events.

This is supposed to be a Chapel Hill and Carrboro Occupation, says the leader, as she grins and shifts her body a little to the west. So they are going to be planning lots of activities to include Carrboro from now on. First up, plans for a December 7th march to Carrboro Town Hall to protest a drugstore which CVS wants to build on an underused parcel in downtown Carrboro, to better serve the needs of the area citizens. CVS, as a corporation is not welcome. Corporations are bad.

Someone is going to come and hold a teach-in about how to get hold of your inner rage. #firstworldproblem Maybe that teach-in leader can come right after the march, and help occupiers settle down their tempers after they complete the action against the evil purveyor of medicines to the citizenry. But none of that was not specified.

This weekend, the occupation will march again in that direction, at 10 AM on Saturday December 10. They will Occupy the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Holiday Parade, which used to be called the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Christmas Parade, before thinkers of the community pointed out that having a Christmas Parade in December would be just be wrong.

Also coming soon, invasion en masse of a nearby shopping mall. It seemed they had not quite figured out which one yet.  The obvious choice is the University Mall, which does have a Santa schedule posted.  The plan is to descend upon the Christmas celebration area while Santa Claus is holding court. The attendees will please refrain from violence, the speaker announced, and they should also refrain from using their voices. Out loud. However, they will be there to whisper to the greedy self-centered children that perhaps they should expand their Santa List to include something worthwhile. Not specified.  Grin from the speaker. Knowing looks and nods from the audience. No further information.  Maybe they will instruct the kids to demand "free" higher education so they won't have to bother with that nasty student loan business. Or, maybe some of the kids will insist that the assets of their parents be confiscated, and shared to those less fortunate on a much oppressed continent far away. After all, Americans as a whole have raped the planet and have much to be ashamed of and much to atone for. We all have way too much and greed is bad. Again, nothing spelled out here, just instructions that the Santa invasion is to be done VERY quietly. In fact this event does not appear on their calendar.  I guess the Occupy crowd does not believe in their ability to occupy and hold the mall, which is private property, and they don't want to get thrown out. Maybe the video of that would not look so good on CNN.

Word on the street is that the Chapel Hill Occupy holds no protest permit and are just being allowed to be there at the pleasure of Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Intel at Occupy

I could not get over how many police vehicles were on site when I arrived at McPherson Square to check out the Occupy DC thing. You are wondering how many times I have been, yes? Because I have written so many posts. But I was only there just the once.

Anyway, it truly was just crawling with police. Which I thought was probably normal, given the threatening behavior the group had been responsible for over the weekend at the Americans for Prosperity Conference. And one street was all filled up with empty buses, too, which I thought was strange. Some of the occupiers were very agitated about both the police cars and the empty buses.

The comrade seen here with the purse slung over his shoulder (if you will kindly take a peek at the blog post from November 10th you will will know why we have to call him comrade) told me he was on an intel run. I met him at the corner of 15th and K and he was heading east, planning to go half a block away from the square, and walk all the alleys on the perimeter. There might be police vehicles hiding back there, ready to make a move.

Unless otherwise stated, all photos All Rights Reserved, Copyright 2011 by the author of this blog. Use with permission only.

Monday, November 14, 2011


What's it Like at an Occupy Encampment?

There is so much happening at Occupy that you won’t find in the big papers and won’t see on TV. How does it function on a day to day basis, who attends, what kind of work needs to be done, does anyone want to do that work? There are similarities across the various sites; in fact we now know that many of the occupiers travel from one site to the other, and they definitely share information via conference call and by internet.

Here at Lollipops we’ve got numerous pages giving the low-down on several occupy cities. In fact there is so much information right here on this one blog, its hard to find what you are looking for. To that end, today’s post is a recap, with all the links you need, to navigate to the city/issue you want to read about first. 

And why, you may ask, would this blog cover Occupy at all? As our tagline denotes we are ever

The entire Occupy movement has come into being because of that empty promise. The president swept into office on the oath that he would provide health care, education, higher wages,  and a carbon free environment, and a host of other enticing things, at no cost to the middle class voter. We'll get the rich to pay,  he promised. And now the occupiers want that promise kept and are mobilizing to demand the heads of the so-called rich.

DC Occupy
There are many tents at Occupy DC, but who is living there and how do they think? And how are they going to know when to stop the occupation? They are constantly talking peace, but they plan and carry out actions that almost dictate that violence will result. They are making plans to insert themselves in the area community for months to come.

Boston Occupy
The vast majority of people at Occupy events are not enamored of the founding documents of the United States. In Boston they have been jotting down some ideas for a substitute constitution. On the other hand, occupy events sometimes attract a handful of Ron Paul supporters and Tea Partiers. Some people in Boston know that the 99% definition is pretty fuzzy. Do all the ninety-nine percent wish to help do the work, or to wait patiently for the redistribution of Occupy Wealth?

Chapel Hill Occupy 

Here is how things all started at Chapel Hill in October 2011. From the first day, Chapel Hill Occupy offered a table spread thickly with literature from causes and perspectives they clearly hold near and dear.  
And who is living in the occupation? Perhaps not the poor, who seem to lack the motivation to join up. And where do they use the bathroom and what are the arrangements for rain in Chapel Hill? Which nearby organizations offer their support to Occupy Chapel Hill? Here are all the posts we have so far from Chapel Hill. And there's a video of that first day  as well.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Committees for Occupy DC

Occupy DC is incredibly well organized with a number of committees which I learned all about when I sat in on the General Assembly (GA), the nightly meeting at which all occupiers (and apparently me!) are welcome. As one of the speakers pointed out, the committees do the real work. The General Assembly is just a place for reporting, and sometimes for building consensus.

All the sidewalks in the square have been renamed for various revolutionaries and rock stars. The General Assembly is held each night at 6 PM. Not everyone attends, but those who do are briefed on what the various committees have been up to. The Declaration Committee is drafting a Declaration of Independence. From America, I guess. None of the occupiers I have met in the three occupations I have visited, seem to like America much. The committee had finished the Preamble and reported at the GA, on the night I attended that they would be heading to the Point Chaud crèperie at 14th and K directly afterwards,  to work on the causes. Occupy Boston is working on a new Constitution, so it is only fitting that Occupy DC should have a Declaration of Independence.

The Safer Occupation Committee is apparently working to provide a safer space for anyone who has to deal with incidents of oppression from racism and ableism and sexism and, as they put it, stuff like that, that makes the world feel crappy. They go to great pains to remind everyone constantly that this isn't a white man's movement. There are signs posted everywhere to that effect,  so it must be true.

First person to talk to me when I arrived at Occupy DC was the gentlemen in the green baseball cap. He was a little annoyed that I would not tell him where the free food was. But I had only just gotten there, and I did not know. He asked another guy in a green hat,  and got his answer.  Maybe other guy in a green hat is with the White Allies Committee. That committee came into being because the People of Color Working Group requested it. There was no report made by the People of Color Working Group or by the White Allies group either, but the lady announcing the formation of the Women's Group wanted us to know that both the People of Color Working Group and the White Allies Group exist.

Rule number eleven of the occupation guidelines is:
While #OccupyDC is reclaiming public space for the public, we will be respectful of others who live in and use these spaces on a daily basis.
A tourist I had met on the street on my way to the site, had already been to McPherson square to check it out earlier in the day. She said the homeless are thrilled to have the occupation there. They have never felt so safe.
The equestrian statue of General McPherson stands in a fenced off grassy circle at the middle of the square and serves as a meeting place for some of the committees, and as a convenient place to sit.  I could not tell if the couple above were occupiers or not. But one of the committees was going to meet in the circle after the GA. Maybe it was the Women's Committee. At first, the coordinator described it as the Women's Committee, but she caught herself before she got in trouble for saying such an insensitive thing. It's against rule number ten, as you may have read in yesterday's post. She said if you identify as a woman, you can come and we will talk about what we want if you have been experiencing sexism. 

The Outreach Committee reported that their job is to build up stronger relationships with the DC city government. They are also going to be passing out flyers and knocking on doors in Shaw because they want to be sure that all the residents know they are welcome to join the occupation and maybe set up a nice tent. With a teddy bear hanging in effigy. Jesse Jackson, when he spoke, noted that the poor should be at the occupation. But people from those neighborhoods are not flocking to join, for some reason. Outreach is also contacting  area colleges, and have invited DC public school teachers to come down and hang out to find out what the occupation is all about. Outreach will be working hard on finding out what the community (those people who have not shown up to join the occupation), think the occupiers ought to be working on.

Another group has met with seven other occupy groups from across the south, to discuss the 300,000 people who are currently suffering from health problems caused by the Gulf Oil Spill. The leader told us we will not have heard about that due to the media blackout. All those right wing newspapers like the Washington Post (don't tell me you missed yesterday's blog entry--go back and check it out, it's all explained there) are keeping it under wraps because they don't want anyone knowing.

Possibly this was the same committee which was going to be involved in a national conference call with other occupy groups from around the country. That was to happen Monday evening after the GA. People were welcome to stand nearby and kind of be part of it, but they were told they should not call in to participate. Having the phone ring kind of messes up the lines and makes everything  pretty inconvenient. So just the "coordinators" of this leaderless movement should be in on that phone call.

Unless otherwise stated, all photos All Rights Reserved, Copyright 2011 by the author of this blog. Use with permission only.

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