Monday, October 17, 2011
#OccupyPhoenix - MIC CHECK
I arrived at Cesar Chavez Plaza, downtown Phoenix, the morning of October 15th an hour before the Occupy Phoenix event began. Occupy Phoenix was scheduled to begin at noon, but, the plaza was being “occupied” by other groups that morning. There were several groups of people, intolerant to any views that were not their own, handing out pamphlets and holding signs. Amongst the various groups, with professionally made signs, I identified – The AFL CIO, The National Socialist Party, and several local unions. Arriving early to witness this other event gave me a clear understanding of what had happened to the Occupy movement across the nation. The Occupy movement, or 99%, is a leaderless movement in which everyone in attendance can lead as long as a consensus is reached in the general assembly. These other groups attempt to inject their ideals into an open minded movement, an action that proved to be an “epic fail” at Occupy Phoenix.
At noon the real Occupy Phoenix crowd arrived. There were people of all ages and backgrounds, children, seniors, veterans, school teachers, college students, former Republicans, former Democrats, and disenfranchised Tea Party people. The crowds were energetic, polite and friendly. Many of the people seemed relieved to see that many other attendees had similar feelings about the corruption affecting government and the economy of this nation. People chatted, shook hands, and admired each other’s clever signs. Walking amongst the crowd were volunteer medics and volunteer water carriers whom were welcomed by all in the hundred degree weather of Phoenix. The organizers set up speakers on the steps of Phoenix City Hall which is adjacent Cesar Chavez Plaza. After a few welcoming words and safety tips the general assembly got underway.
The first speaker expressed solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement, explained how things would be done through consensus, and that every individual in attendance had a voice which should at the very least be respected by all. Then the microphone was offered to anyone who would speak. The topics included: the struggles of individuals, the importance of the U.S. Constitution, veterans against wars, corruption in government, loss of individual freedoms, reinstating the Glass–Steagall Act, ending the Federal Reserve, and 9/11 investigations. There were many other speakers all heard, respected, and repeated by the audience so that everyone in the plaza could hear the message. After a couple hours of this the unions and Nazis realized they had no chance of taking the movement over and had just about cleared out.
In an attempt to comply with the City of Phoenix’s laws the Occupation was moved to Margaret T. Hance Park at about 5pm. One side of the park was hosting Oktoberfest, with very little police presence, which was the side of the park I arrived at. Arriving on the wrong side of the park afforded me the opportunity to see the massive buildup of police force for the “99%”. While walking towards the side of the park where the assembly was being held I talked to some police officers in the area. The officers seemed annoyed that they had to cover this event instead of enjoying their day off, one officer said “We’d rather be at home, Oktoberfest, or that Irish wedding over –there.” There was a double perimeter of police present for an event that was peaceful, relatively quiet, and being held in a public park which would not close for six more hours. Tactically speaking the assembly had setup in the kill zone of an ambush, although nobody there was in that mind frame.
Word had reached the assembly that the Phoenix City Manager and the Mayor ordered everyone still present, at midnight, to be arrested. At sunset everyone sang the national anthem with pride in their eyes and freedom in their heart. The assembly spent the rest of the evening discussing the possibility of arrest. They expressed concern for the safety of children, seniors, and the handicapped present. Police began to stage more units a few blocks away and a mobile command center staged at the park. The occupation had decreased in size after the vent was moved to the park and it did not seem they would have the massive numbers of people required to keep police from arresting everyone. A call for more people was placed and dozens showed up. Tents were set up and everyone agreed to non violent contact with police should they be arrested. The night ended with over forty Americans pepper sprayed and arrested (for their safety) while they chanted “We are non-violent. We love you. We love you.”
Posted by Doc at 1:18 PM