Monday, November 07, 2011

Occupy Portland - What to do?

Pioneer statue in Lownsdale Park does double-duty as tarp support over Occupy Portland kitchen
Friday night, Dave Hauth and I trekked down to the Occupy Portland camp.  Dave, like me, is sympathetic to the movement.  Also, like me, he's a left-leaning urbanite (which is odd when you consider that we both come from small Oregon towns east of the Cascade mountains).

Dave had not yet seen the camp and was curious.  Quoth he:  "If I'm going to defend this movement against charges that it's just a bunch of dope-smoking hippies, I need to see it for myself."  Wise words that reveal Dave's fundamental integrity.  He's an idealist.  Not the easiest thing to be in this jaded age.   

Informative bulletin posted along the camp thoroughfare
Well, we saw what we saw, but I'm not sure we agreed about what it was. 

We took seats on a bench in the middle of the camp.  A steady stream of people passed along the walkways.  Some were mentally-unstable street derelicts, some where rowdy young people like those one sees at an outdoor music festival or the Oregon Country Fair

I saw the tall fellow, "Joseph or Tequila," whom I'd met several weeks before, and exchanged a few words with him.  Three Hispanic men sat smoking in La Esquina Latina; I spoke to them in Spanish, but they replied in English.  KBOO radio was broadcasting live.  A fellow with close-cropped hair and an abrasion above his left eye manned the Art tent.  He was friendly enough, despite his rough-and-tumble appearance.  Portland's finest were on hand as well.  We saw two officers standing at the corner of 4th and Main, chatting it up with some of the Occupiers. 

There was a big huddle at the Information tent.  I spotted Raya Cooper amongst the huddlers, and I called to her, but she was intently involved with the discussion. 

"There's no order here, Dave," I said.  "It's anarchy."

Dave shrugged.  "I guess I'm not as bothered by it as you."

"Let's be real, Dave.  I don't know what the Occupy protests are like in other cities, but this one, here in Portland, seems half-assed.  We can talk about support from the community, but, really, it is the Portland taxpayers that are subsidizing this protest.  The City services the public restrooms that the Occupiers are using.  The City pays the salaries for the cops that patrol the camp.  This 'protest' is tax-payer funded.  Not that we mind doing it, mind you.  Most people in Portland, in Little Beirut, are disgusted by the status quo.  Any movement that expresses outrage at the oligarchy is going to win a lot of sympathy in the City of Roses.  So, of course, we leaped to join the Occupy movement.  But we went into it half-baked.  And now, here we are."  I was on a roll.

Dave nodded.  "True," he said.  "It was almost reflexive."  (He ought to know.  He's been at enough protests, himself.)  "But now, the Occupy Portland movement has changed and grown from whatever the original instigators had in mind. It is what it is, and it's entirely natural that Occupy Portland has become a haven for the city's street citizens."

"I suppose this, then, might be the first stage of a bigger movement," I said.  "Now, there must be a second wave that builds on the support garnered thus far." 

"Yeah," he said.  "That's what needs to happen."
But neither of us had any idea how or by whom such a development might occur. 

Cling to solidarity, 99%.  The usurers and plutocrats will continue their insidious efforts to divide us against one another.  That's their only hope.  But, to spin an old adage only very slightly, if we hang together, they can't hang us separately.

Squatting in tents in the city park is a beginning.  The movement must now undergo some kind of evolution.  What that might be, I don't know.  The main thing, at this point, is to get people talking about it.

Oh, would that I might...

1 comment:

Dan Binmore said...

I've made suggestions.  I've asked people for a plan.  I've come up with something practical myself.  All to no avail.  This movement has the sympathy of about two thirds of the population, so really, there's no excuse for not actually achieving anything.  Sadly my guess is that the actual results will be lip service during the upcoming election campaigns.