Friday, November 18, 2011

#ows The genie is out of the bottle


Occupy Arabic

Sarah and I ride the 2 train to the rally. She gets out  14th to meet friends and I continue to Chambers Street. 
It’s cold. It’s hard to get to the rally. Street after street has been cordoned off by the police. Streams of people bearing signs are already headed back to the subways, frustrated. I wonder how many will actually be there. My own frustration mounts as I go down Reade only to be redirected back to Brodway and then  to Worth. Finally, I’ve made it to Foley Square. 
The flanks of Union placards always moves me.  Signs of every issue. There’s an actual  sound system ths time. I work my way to the front kowing that ckergy are ot eb back stage. Thugh i’m clearly late.  Intrigued that stage personeel are wearing typocal event hangtags with All Access on them.
One of the non-leader leaders takes the mike. Challenging people to take the movement back to neighborhoods. To practice direct democracy and direct action. Direct democracy pretty much being what we learned in community organizing.The gospel choir of the Church of Stop Shopping Now has put the Occupy all Street Declaration to music and sings it for the assembled masses.( Later, Rev. Billy himself will take the stage. And then a hip hop group from Brooklyn:
Run, don’t walk
Come from your own situation
This is the beginning of the occupation
Children speak. The march has begun. Leaving Foley, I run into Chloe Breyer of the Interfaith Center. We’ll wind up together the rest of the march. As we turn into Broadway, I see Sarah passing right by going  the other direction, looking for friends. . We see each other and exchange a big hug. What are the odds?
Things grind to a halt on Broadway. Police lining the barriers in full riot gear.  The first white buses carrrying arrestees passes on the other side. Cheers ring out. Single word projetctions appear on the court buildings beisde us. Mainly 99%. Wondering how they do that.  The wind blowing down this urban canyon is chilling. Subway grates become oases of heat. 
Chloe and I talk about the arrests on Trinity Church property.  Their refusal to not press charges. The liberal establishment again. In additon to obvious places lke Move On, I’ve been gettiing updates from Occupy Faith, the Interfaith Center, the Interfaith Assemnky n Housing and  Homelessness and  the Religion Labor Coalition. 
Finally as we begin to flow to the Bridge, the size of the crowd begins to hit me. A police scanner reports the police estimate over 32,000. Which means probably more.  Regarding police: I would recommend that leaders scrap the leather jacket, pants tucked into tall leather boots, captain’s hat look. Just a litlte too 30’s fascist noire.
Seeing the police in riot gear the young women chant:
You’re sexy, you’re cute
Take off that riot suit. 
They don't. 
There are signs for every cause from Palestinian solidarity to  student debt relief to reducing tuition at SUNY and CUNY. (State and city college systems.) And one sign, When is David Crosby singing?  Entering the bridge, I see the stalwart Grannies for Peace in their yellow vests. 
a granny for peace
 And then.midbridge,  I see what Chloe is pointing too, giant letter projections on the wall of the Verizon building. (Ironic enough given the number of striking Verizon workers in the march.)

The words flash:
Mic check, mic check, mic check (And the people chant that) and a succeding cycle of messages cycles through. My favorites:  Be Not Afraid and We are a cry from the heart of the World to the one that says Occupy Wall Street then other city names appear faster and faster unti the word EARTH flashes and it’s over. Occupy Verizon. I feel very moved. This is the best piece of Occupy art yet. It’s always seemed to me as much performance art as protest. Those words...somehow reassuring and inspiring at the same time. (

Notice projection on building behind me

On the way back I have lots of thoughts. As one sign said, you can’t put the genie back into the bottle. National coordinated raids failed to crush the spirit. These were the largest numbers yet. There are those momentary anxieities about chaos about to break loose. But I remember revolutions are messy. And you can’t escape feeling something is breaking loose all over. 
It’ s exhilirating and scary all at once. 
Later I’m shocked that the news not only doesn’t say anything about the projection but focuses on the earlier skirmishes and 200 arrests and a 1000 crossed the bridge with out mentioning the massive march. 
it’s becoming clear:
By the coordianted evictions
The underciver cops 
And the eerily controlled news,
Someone is taking this seriously. Despite all the words to the contrary, they know something’s up. In the intoxication of mass demonstration it’s important to remember what we’re up against. They’re not going away either.
And I remember Kent State. Take a deep breath.

No comments:

Post a Comment