Went to Occupy Phoenix today. Pretty amazing. Everyone was exceptionally well behaved, even the group just off of Washington St. who seemed on the verge of killing one another. “Heated debate” would be massive understatement, yet as far as I know there was no violence. It may have helped that about eight Phoenix police officers stood by, but I really think it was the time and place. There was remarkable adherence to some very simple rules of basic discourse.
The cops were also quite well-behaved. Some time after it was determined by consensus that the assembly would later move to the park adjacent the main library just south of McDowell there was an announcement that the police were ready to provide a motorcade to lead the movement. Mind you, it was announced repeatedly that no one had any kind of permit for anything.
Also announced repeatedly was that this was not a leaderless movement, but a movement of leaders. We are all in charge. I am fairly sure I have major political disagreements with most of the assembled. I’m sure that’s true to varying degrees for pretty much everyone who was there.
But here’s the thing: Given how things are we do not need 100% agreement, but we do need 100% engagement.
I could not have predicted just what a powerful and moving experience it would be to stand in a crowd of 1000+ people and recite the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
You have a voice. Use it.
I spent some time walking around helping give out water, seeing who was there, what signs people held, what ideals they espoused.. While I’ve heard #OWS described as anti-capitalist and anti-corporate, I don’t think that’s really quite the case. Yes, there certainly were people advocating radical Socialism, and the assorted Eat the Rich signs seemed a bit creepy, but I don’t think most people have a problem with businesses or corporations per se. It’s the government abuse of power and and blatant favoritism in the law that allows some people, via some corporations, to acquire inordinate amounts of wealth yet not be even remotely reasonably accountable.
I’m simplifying of course, and please do not take my word for what others are angry about. People are pissed off. Understand that it’s not a straight-up as some news media may paint it; it’s not even as straight-up as the #OWS folks themselves may paint it. You need to go out and find out for yourself, and especially to find a way to make sure that your own voice is heard.
Big props to the folks providing water, misters, medical services, and general common sense. There may be no leader, but certainly leaders were there.
EDIT: I updated the picture link. Apparently renaming the Picasa folder breaks older URLs.