by Bob Geary
First things first: Mark your calendars for this Saturday, October 15 from 11 am-3 pm. That's when #Occupy Raleigh will be occupying the State Capitol grounds for purposes of — well, that's a long story.
The short version is, #OccupyRaleigh (like #OccupyDurham and #OccupyChapel Hill/Carrboro) is an off-shoot of #OccupyWallStreet, and if you don't know what #OccupyWallStreet is: a) Blame the mainstream media for its/their abject failure to cover it; and b) Nobody knows how important it is yet, but #OWS may be the spark that finally lights this benighted country's candle.
In other words, it's a movement, and only later will you know whether it was The Movement. But if it was, do you wanna miss it?
For an introduction to #OccupyWallStreet, you can visit the OWS website. Or, check out DailyKos, which is all over it with a variety of diaries, including those of the suddenly famous — and rightly so — Jesse LaGreca, whose twitter handle is @JesseLaGreca. He's the man who schooled George Will yesterday on ABC's "This Week" program by noting, among other things, that he, Jesse, was the only working-class person on "This Week" — as he said, since maybe ever?
Suddenly the MSM is pushing the #OWS folks to publish an agenda, or a list of demands, or something to simplify why they're occupying Liberty Park in the Wall Street district of NYC. LaGreca's answer: We're the 99% of Americans who are pissed off that the richest 1% have stolen the country (and outsourced it to Goldman Sachs, China and other high bidders). So, LaGreca says, we're listening .... and it's up to our nation's alleged leaders to explain themselves to us.
What do they propose?
Update 2: Do see this.
Update: Here's something they should be talking about — in 4:25:
Second bit of news: #OccupyRaleigh voted last evening to meet twice daily, at 12 noon and 6:30 p.m., in Moore Square. Anyone who comes is welcome. See below for the rules on participation.
I was among the 300, or some say it was 400, who occupied Moore Square in Raleigh Sunday evening. This was #OccupyRaleigh's second General Assembly. (The first was last Sunday.) A General Assembly is a sort of People's Assembly, and if you're old enough to remember the movement against the Vietnam War, you'll understand the ground rules with no difficulty. Others may take awhile getting up to speed.
Quite a bit of time was spent explaining the ground rules. What's the agenda? It's whatever you decide it is. (The organizers bring a draft agenda, but it may or may not hold.)
The basic rule is, anyone can speak. They do so by putting their names on a 'stack list." But you don't necessarily speak in the order you signed up. Marginalized populations are favored, so if we've just heard from five fully abled white dudes in a row, the woman/minority/poor/disadvantaged person farther down on the list will come next before the sixth white dude. This is the sort of rule that drives conservatives around the bend. You know, because it's fair.
So now, folks are speaking. But the listeners have a role too — they ARE the General Assembly. So if they like what the speaker's saying, they're supposed to wiggle their fingers up in the air. Only OK with the speaker? Wiggle the fingers, but lower. Don't agree? Fingers down, like you're pawing the air. Have a point of process to raise? (Much discussion about what constitutes a point of process.) Form a triangle with your index fingers and thumbs. Point of information? One index finger up.
A moderator will recognize you.
Here's a signal you want to use sparingly. You've had it. You're being ignored. You sense the group is far off-course and about to sell out the mission. Before you storm off in disgust, you cross your arms in front of your chest, making an X.
This is called a block.
A block must be recognized, and you must be heard. But obviously, you don't want to wear this one out.
Democracy, as someone said, is messy. This is an attempt at pure democracy. Power to the people.
Mark Miller came from Apex last evening to be part of the #OccupyRaleigh group. His sign said, "I Can't Afford a Politician. So I Made This Sign." (Signs are key. Another one I liked: "The Beginning is Near."
"I can't go to New York City. I've got a job and a life and all that," Miller said. "But what I can do is come here and be part of the movement," which he likened to the Arab Spring uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and so on. Others, too, talk about #OWS as the newest phase in a worldwide movement that, for example, recently caused the government in Iceland to resign.
Miller isn't a political activist, I gathered, but he is a TV watcher — not a good thing in these days of idiot political coverage. He's been watching Republican presidential debate audiences booing a gay soldier and cheering at the thought that if you don't have health insurance, you should just die.
"People are hurting in this country, people are desperate and losing their homes, and what's the biggest story of the last three years?" he asked me. Before I could answer — and I don't watch a lot of TV news, so I mercifully would've gotten this one wrong — he filled in the blank. "It's 'Was Barack Obama born in this country?' and where's his birth certificate," Miller said.
I'm afraid that's right.
"This is not the country I want for my son," Miller said. Like Jesse La Greca, he doesn't pretend to have all the answers, or any of them, for that matter. He does think answers can be found if people pitch in together — or at least, if the 99% of people who aren't filthy rich pitch in together and take power from the 1% who are.
Stacie Borrello is a writer, blogger (liberallamppost.com; addictinginfo.org) and at-home mom from Fuquay-Varina whose first reaction to the OccupyWallStreet movement was, Raleigh needs to be part of this — I hope somebody organizes Raleigh.
Oops, that's not how movements work. So she started a Facebook page for OccupyRaleigh, and on Sunday there she was in the lead-off position with the megaphone shaking in her hand. But her voice was clear: "We don't plan on packing up and going home after a few hours of exercising our free-speech rights, do we?"
Wiggling fingers up on that.
The plan is for a four-hour demonstration at the Capitol Saturday, 11-3, a block of time for which the #OccupyRaleigh folks have a permit. But they've applied for a permit to continue a camp-in on the Capitol grounds beyond 3 pm Saturday — no response on that one yet — and they're pretty determined, Borrello said, to do it, permit or not.
Friendly lawyers believe they'd be within their First Amendment rights to occupy the Capitol grounds without a permit, and/or they'll litigate the issue is they're turned down for a permit.
Movements, Borrello said, require that people make a "leap of faith" to be successful. If enough people make the leap, movements do succeed — and the more successful they are, the more people make the leap with them. "I realized the passive approach wasn't the right one to take," she said. "I want to be part of the solution."