When I arrived at Independence Mall in Philadelphia this afternoon looking for the Occupy Nat Gat, instead I found many police and paramilitary units from many different different city, state and federal agencie.s. The first perhaps local officer I asked where the gather said:
“I think they have dispersed, I dont think they are anywhere.”
One hundred feet away another officer in a more exotic uniform started talking to me as I approached.
“You dont want to ask me anything.”
“Could you tell me where the occupy national gathering is.”
“No I can not tell you.” His expression was stoney cold.
“Thank you for being so helpful”, i replied in an earnest tone
I asked a younger bicycle riding cop another 200 feet away the same question.
“I really dont know, I have not seen them.” he said earnestly.
A couple of blocks later a park ranger said
“They are at 5th and Market.” Said in a dismissive knowledgeable way. This address was where this series of questions had started.
I returned to 5th and Market and spoke the to vets who were there and they said “Occupy is at 6th and Race.” It was common knowledge they had been their all day, since they did not get the permit for Washington Park.
Every cop knew this was true. Everyone knowingly lied to me. My taxes pay for them to lie to me. Something is wrong here.
The Philly police have been preparing with several other agencies for weeks for this event. They have sophisticated communications systems and they certainly know whee the people they have been brought in to watch and arrest if needed are.
So part of the adventure was just getting here. The traffic was pretty bad, but what was weird about it was that there were traffic jams at odd times. We (Emily X, Claire, Sara and myself) stopped outside Baltimore to avoid the rush hour traffic, we got back on the road around 7 PM and it was still jammed.
When we made ti to Philly several sets of housing for us fell apart, but ex-student Ian is a great organizer and as one place to stay feel apart or did not work he found another. After sleeping ont he roof of the warehouse did not work out because of the rain, he housed us at his fellow organizer Cat’s place, which was great.
But as we were driving to Cat’s at twenty minutes to 1 AM, i was struck by the full on traffic jam going on on I95. So this is two lanes, no lights, after midnight, stop and go, largely stop. And it did not appear like any accident causing the slow down, so it remains a mystery.
Rad Con’s organizers come from Sara’s pedigree. They worked with Occupy, they were disillusioned with the groups unwillingness to work on internal issues of class and privilege and they continued to work with like minded folx on post Occupy events. The following essay is the intro to the heretical fingerbook on “why not one big Occupy”
“Why not one big Occupy Movement?”
When I told my friend i was going to the counter convergence in Philly, she was disappointed “Why can’t everyone be under the big Occupy tent? Why do we always have to be divided?”
For many Occupiers, the priority is banksters and how the 1% are robbing the rest of us. For others, the priority is dismantling the white privilege, patriarchy, classism, and heteronormative culture which divide the activists in our movement. For some groups, in the post-encampment phase of the movement, the most important thing is to get folks who have been foreclosed upon back into their houses. For others, it is pushing back on the police/city hall who threw us out of the parks.
But our divisions go deeper. For some groups the general assembly decision model has been slow and incapacitating. For others there have been problems with non-violence hampering self defense.
So if everyone will not fit under the Occupy logo, when is it possible to work together?