Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A long term proposal for non-violent revolutionary action.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Beginning is Near

Soon they will come, the police. The city workers with their trucks. Our city of tents, our fights--all of it will disappear. Scrub away our presence, uproot the trees. Pile up the marble slabs we slept on.

My mind drifts back in time. I am fishing on Lake Michigan with my father in his boat. This is shortly before he will die. My parents had bought a retirement cottage not far from Grand Rapids. The light on the water, that silvered turquoise water, the peaks of the waves glisten in the sun--even the Voice is lulled to somnambulant slumber. I think of my mother--of that last summer, the summer before her final illness, while she is still herself--sitting on the porch--martini hour--watching the sunset over the lake, the jet skiers droning and whining like gigantic mechanized insects, a moment I want to go on forever. A tableaux receding into the distance, like the light of stars that no longer exist.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

City of New York, destroyer of libraries: a conversation interrupted

Librarians speak at a table covered with the few books salvaged from the 5,000 volume OWS People's Library--trashed by the City of New York.

Heartbreaking. Many of these books were signed--with notes by authors. If there is a more powerful argument to carry on with this struggle where ever it may take us I don't know what it would be.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Preparing for Arrest: a few tips

These are practical suggestions to make arrest and short-term incarceration less stressful. For legal advice consult an attorney.

You may not be thinking about civil disobedience, but if you’re near a protest where arrests are possible, even if only a bystander you may be at risk of arrest.

Here’s a few things to keep in mind in no particular order. Please feel free to add suggestions in Comments.

Wear loafers—or shoes without laces—they’ll take them when you get to the station. High boots are a bother to lace and unlace, especially if you’re nervous.

Wear pants that will stay up without a belt (they’ll take that too).

Put tissues or folded squares of toilet paper in your pocket—not likely to have any in your cell.

Wear layers, a sweat shirt, a coat: serve as padding if things get rough. And sitting on a hard steel bench for hours, you’ll be happy to have a cushion under your butt and a pillow for your head.

Summer time—wear what you can bear in the heat—tie a sweat shirt securely around your waist. And don’t wear shorts.

Don’t over hydrate. Avoid coffee and tea for several hours before possible arrest – you may be sitting handcuffed in a police van for hours before they take you out for booking and the only place you’ll have to pee will be in your pants.

NO LOOSE PILLS legal or otherwise. No sharp objects. Nothing that can be possibly be construed as a weapon.

Have a list of all prescription drugs you take to give to the nurse at check-in.

Make sure you give someone away from demonstration a check in time and legal number to call—so if they don’t hear from you after a predetermined time, they can call to trace you as you move through the system.

Write your legal phone # on your arm with a Sharpie. For Occupy Philly: 484 758 0488

Take quarters—your free phone call isn’t free.

Get a good night’s sleep the day before—it may be a couple days before you sleep more than a fitful hour or two here and there.

Once in custody, be reasonably civil and polite as they take you through the process. They hold all the cards, are very busy, and will mostly respond professionally if you don’t provoke them. So don’t provoke them! It could make your stay a lot longer.
And remember your rights. When approached in public by a cop,
You have a right to remain silent. You don't have to answer questions. Good idea to give your name and I.D. if asked, but nothing more. Ask to speak to an attorney.

Ask if you are free to leave. If cop says yes, leave.

If not, ask why you are being detained. They must have a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.

Being detained is NOT an arrest. They do NOT have to tell you why you are being arrested. Charges are brought by the D.A. in Philadelphia.

Cops can pat you down, but not search pockets or anything enclosed (backpacks etc). Don't resiste if they do. Say, "I do not consent to this search." Repeat if they continue to search.

When you make your call, give your name, date of birth, where you are -- if you know. The phone call is NOT PRIVATE. Anything you say can and will be used against you. The same goes for conversations with cell mates.

Learn to meditate. There is no better way to pass the hours.

Remember the company you are keeping: Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Henry David Thoreau, Eugene Debbs, Margarete Sanger, William Penn, Emma Goldman.... 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

This is not the End of Occupy Philly...

I’ve heard a lot of discontent about how Occupation conversations, meetings & assemblies are consumed with what some call minutia, the details of working out process, housekeeping, defending our camp from our anxious uncertainty about what the city has in store for us—uncertainty, I might add, which is tactically generated by the city to divide and distract us. We would be better, some tell us, to get on with the business of confronting the problems that brought us here: economic inequality, the corruption of the electoral system, demonization of immigrant minorities, persistent & systemic racism and homophobia. It’s a long list. I’d like to address these points, and end with a word about where we might go from here.

By coming together as an encampment, some holding down our Occupation by living here in front of City Hall, many more spending as much time on site as their jobs allow & working every hour they can spare to the movement, we find ourselves involved in an experiment essentially different from protests & actions we may have experienced in the past—an experiment in living, where every decision effects our lives together with an immediacy quite unlike signing MoveOn petitions, holding signs for few hours, or chanting slogans on a march—even when those actions might involve civil disobedience and arrests. It’s the difference of knowing it will be over in a few hours or days and we’ll be going home again soon enough, to wake in the morning with the same sense of anger, frustration and alienation—knowing that nothing has really changed. Here—even for those not sleeping in tents, it becomes more home than home, more real than the strange alien world we have to return to—of cubicles and commuter drives, of surreal TV ads, sound-bite news, celebrity gossip & sports--every window of every store you pass shouting at you BUY THIS BUY THIS BUY THIS! even as you wonder how you will make it to the end of another month without going deeper in debt.

It’s easy to miss what’s closest to us. Like how revolutionary this is—what we’re doing here—in the very minutia that feels like distraction from our real purpose, from the truly important stuff—as though dealing one on one with our own entrenched habits, the mistrusts and stereotypes drilled into us to keep us divided and servile—weaning ourselves from our belief in ‘leaders,’ as though confronting how racism, our awakening from these things--blindness to the structural exclusion of the disabled, from the unexamined assumptions that drive male domination, finding that the way we make decisions is not indifferent in its effects, but perpetuates the very things we would change—so we have to learn how to it in another way, how to work together in a way that changes us at the same time we seek to change others out there in the world we’ve temporarily almost (but not quite) left behind—there is nothing trivial in any of this! This is the work—the indispensible foundation building necessary if we are to go on and tackle the doyans of entrenched power.

No, we haven’t come up with a clear and definitive list of demands. We haven’t found solutions to the complex interrelated networks of problems that plague us. We haven’t ended war or poverty or figured out a lasting way to care for those here with us—without housing, proper medical care, social services, who lack support for addiction emotional & mental disabilities. But we are here with them—as no one else has done, where the invisible dehumanizing walls have eroded--are impossible to maintain, experiencing for many of us—for the first time—the reality of a shared world where all such divisions are artificial—and it’s not been easy. We’re learning to to acknowledge that those we called in the beginning, ‘the homeless,’ as though living without a roof were an identity, and not a situation, an unfortunate condition, are our fellow Occupiers, our brothers and sisters in the same all encompassing human movement.

Add to that the skills we’ve only begun to learn—conflict resolution, cop watching, de-escalation, non-violence training—and the never finished work of making a truly democratic decision making process. Never mind that some find that too much, too different from the way things work ‘out there,’ who just don’t get it. Not everyone will progress at the same rate, and we have to recognize that resistance to being pulled backwards may generate divisions—sadly necessary if we are to continue to move forward. There is a difference between slowing down to help someone catch up, and allowing our movement to be destroyed by fearful collaborationists, who may be cajoled into believing that it’s possible to negotiate with Power to give up its privileges, or will do so once they see the reason and fairness of our cause.

From a nearsighted view, we see all the petty squabbles, personal conflicts, factional clashes—like pressing our faces up to a magnifying mirror and staring at all the dirty pores on our noses—but back away, stand in the sunlight, and look at one another—and we will see the beauty of a new face, of a hundred new faces, of a thousand… 7 billion strong in the making.

This is a beginning. Even as the time comes, as it will, when they destroy our tent city, carry many of us away in resistance, this is a beginning, not an end. We can take the lessons we’ve learned, a new way of seeing the world, a better understanding of ourselves and move past this phase. Let them destroy the encampments—they are but a husk, a chrysalis of the winged rainbow colored angels of revolution even now beginning to take flight.

There are collectives we will need to create, organizations to be built with our new-found skills.
In destroying our camps they will be breaking open wasps nests. The problems that brought us together will still be there, and we will be here finding new ways to network and challenge and to build, wave after wave of this tsunami, a movement that will sweep away and transform the world.

It's time to begin looking beyond the encampment phase of the revolution. They've served their purpose. Let the serious organizing begin.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cops with Smilley Faces

Do those cops ever look in a mirror and see how absolutely ridiculous they look in those silly Darth Vader Halloween outfits?

Will someone please photoshop an image of one of those oh so scarey police lines--with smilley faces on all the face masks.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

When the Father Figure Frowns...

The 99% mantra works as an invitation to the Big Tent, but as a facade of unity it is dangerously misleading.

There are many of the 99%, not just the police, who will fight us, who will try to destroy us, many who simply don't understand how to transition from a hierarchical culture, who use intimidation to grasp for attention & power and work to undermine and betray the movement... sometimes with the best intentions. Others who are too intimidated by the prospect of disapprobation by authority figures whose smiles and vague promises make them forget whose interests they serve, forget that no matter how 'nice' a mayor or police chief might be, they are inexorably bound up in an essentially undemocratic power structure that exists primarily for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many.

Lets not be overly distressed that when Authority begins to frown, many will scuttle to what they believe to be safety, many will turn their backs on us, others will seek to push us toward a defensive authoritarian response to the perceived threat.

What we have done is already part of history and they cannot destroy what has begun here--not from above, not from within.

Mayor Nutter said in his news conference that Occupy Philly had changed. That the "leaders" had changed. What he meant was, there is no select few who stand apart from the people and pretend to speak for us in our stead, who can be manipulated, cajoled, used for their own ends.

Lets not be fooled. His complaint acknowledges that we're making a difference. That's why they will eventually try to destroy us--no matter where we move.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

What Spirit Stick tells me when Occupy Philly refuses to do what I KNOW is the The Right Thing.

Jacob, Jacob… there’s no magic way to transform an idea into reality. No matter how passionately you believe in it--it takes work. Working with people, and working with people takes time, and just because things don't change in a brilliant flash doesn't mean nothing is happening, or that no else is working for what is right.

If you have good ideas and your vision of what we need is reasonable, and no else is convinced—ask yourself, are you as wise and reasonable in your understanding of human relationships and what it takes to bring about change in a complex social and interpersonal network?

Nothing happens by proclaiming it from on high, or lecturing others, or insisting on your own way. Not by any single voice, or by a dedicated group does change happen. It takes work, and more work and more work still--talking to people, educating, reasoning, listening... that part too. Listening. Don’t ever forget—listening! When a person senses they're being listened to, they can feel safe to begin taking small step out of their sealed world, begin to change their ideas, their behavior, shed the fixations--the illusions ALL of us carry around and believe to be the real world.

You may speak eloquently for a cause you know and understand by experience. Others have different experiences; center their ideas of what we need in different places. We only learn to understand and take up the cause of others as we come to trust that others are trying to understand and care for us. Say that now the other way around. Others will learn to understand your deepest concerns and take up your cause, only as they come to believe that you are there for them, taking their back, standing up for them.

You are not a marcher facing Bull Conner on the bridge in Selma--people here do care, want to understand, want to make this a place for all... ask yourself, do you? Really? Or are you, without meaning to, trying to force your ideas the way the powerful in the world we are here to change force those weaker than themselves to do their will? Others can take up your cause as you in turn take up theirs. That's how it works. And as mutuality grows, so too understanding and action--the work we all must do for one another to make our fine models of a better world actually happen.

The absence of trust is a sign--either that others really don't care, don't want to help, don't want to make room for the marginalized and excluded—for your cause--in which case, making demands is useless... or of an inability or unwillingness to engage others as partners, not as antagonists thwarting our own needs and wishes.

Never forget, we’re engaged in a great experiment, and experiments arrive at success through many failures. The experiment begins with you, with unlearning the ways of the world of power and learning how to work and learn from others, to find together our common need, our common goal.

Peace and Solidarity,
Sprit Stick

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Northeast Regional Occupation Conference

Philly_OccupyTogether WG is planing & helping to organize local & regional Occupation conferences to workshop and discuss implications, strategy & logistics of expanding Occupations beyond the local level. Here is the webpage & email for POT (woot! ) Please check this out and come be a part of a growing movement.
BREAKING NEWS! Come to Philly & meet with OWS on the NYC to D.C. march, 11/13-14.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Call for Civil Disobediance against Privitizing our Democratic Commons

If Occupation Philly moved early, we could come back, small wave after wave, in non-violent actions of civil disobedience--clearly targeted at the abomination of a 30 year lease, privatizing yet another democratic commons--and do so without endangering the Occupation itself.

Additional benefits--SUPPORTING the construction of access for the disabled 30 years late--at the transit convergence of 15th, Broad & Market.

I have heard the Sierra Club would help design a new Green layout for tents, and help us with our urgent need to adequately winterize to survive till spring.

The Occupation would be able to devote itself to the larger political and economic issues facing, not just our nation, but the world, without exhausting ourselves in a fruitless skirmish with a city government which has shown greater willingness to work with us than any major city in the country.