Winning The Battle:
If you look closely on the left side of that picture, you’ll see me, sitting in a circle around a tent. In fact, without context, that’s all that’s happening. A bunch of young people, sitting around a tent, yelling. I’ve yet to really process what happened Sunday night into Monday morning, but on this, the eve of what I believe to be the true eviction of Occupy LA, I’ve come to a few conclusions.
First, it taught me about what we’re up against.
Watching the police move in formation looked like some sort of war dance. What it lacked in rhythm, it made up for in pageantry. The power of our country is massive. In my lifetime, I’ve rarely seen it wielded against its own people with unrelenting force. Over the last two months, we’ve seen the militant use of violence our country is capable of overseas in our own backyard. We the people have very little power against this sort of oppression face-to-face. Frankly, that doesn’t worry me. Very few good and lasting things in my lifetime have been accomplished with violence. As a species, it seems to me that we’ve evolved past it. It’s usefulness has been relegated to minor border clashes and resource grabs. The best thing the violence displayed during the 99% movement has shown us thus far is its own brutal ugliness.
My second conclusion: It was a symbolic victory. The tent we locked arms and surrounded was a microcosm of the campsite itself. The 2,000+ people who packed city hall showed Los Angeles just how much we care about our future. I really believe that we did the best we possibly could. Any group of citizens willing to risk it all for a cause can and will be squashed by a force of bullies who is paid to be there.
But this isn’t a sob story… however, it is partly driven by guilt. I will not be in the trenches tonight when protesters are rounded up and bused to Dodger Stadium, where they’ll be processed and sent to a holding cell. Whether we like it or not, we will not be able to hold City Hall. Even if thousands of people show up and they stave off cops for another night, the police will eventually overpower the protesters. City Hall will be taken back by those who have no choice but to take it back. The powers that be are forcing men and women, who took an oath to protect their city, to squelch its idealists. Money is at the heart of all of this. Their pensions have already been wasted by indiscriminate Wall Street gamblers. The money they need to pay their mortgages and feed their families will be taken away if they do not suppress our first amendment rights. I don’t want to be involved in it.
I was talking with my good friend Dan Dominguez tonight. He suggested, and I emphatically agree, that these direct actions, (occupying public space, bank sit-ins, etc.) can only work to keep the cause relevant. To push our message. To keep us visible. For the time being, we ARE visible. It’s easy for any conversation to fall into a debate about the effectiveness of the movement. The fact remains that opening up any small society to all comers will invite the fringes of society. We need to figure out what to do with our nation’s homeless, but frankly, having them there while we decide it serves as nothing but a distraction. The true power of the movement lies in long-standing actions, such as Bank Transfer Day. Moving almost a million customers to local or co-op banks in a month shows that we have the capacity for real change. The future of the movement rests upon our abilities to come up with creative ways to demonstrate that we truly can live outside of the grasp of Wall Street. And I feel that I am more valuable to the cause helping to come up with the next great idea. I’m sorry.
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