Walter Mencken 11:31 a.m., Feb. 1
- Community Blog
- TJ from PB
The OSD Chronicles - Part 4
NOV 2 - My routine is to spend time at the Occupy site at Freedom plaza early in the morning when there are fewest people about. At night when the General Assembly and committee meetings are held is when the plaza fills. While the feeling of comraderie is empowering and a daily tonic for some Occupiers, I prefer the quieter moments of the mornings. It is when I try and reflect on what this all means. But even now, I'm still not sure. All I have are these notes and memories. At first there was controversy between authorities and Occupiers over the American flag. Specifically, its location and the fact that it was duct taped to the handrail. Eventually, things were resolved. As long as the flag was not left alone it could remain in the plaza. And so began the month of November 2011. Or as I've come too call it, "The month of guarding Old Glory." On this day, a group of about twenty orange shirted men from LiUNA - Laborers 89 showed up and marched in solidarity with Occupiers up and down Greed Canyon (B Street). It was the first show of support since the second raid and helped to boost the spirit of the remaining Occupiers. I personally thanked several men in both English and Spanish. NOV 4 - These were miserable days because of the rain. Standing in the cold rain beside your nation's most patriotic symbol in defiance of that symbol's government is still standing in the cold rain. I remember shortly after one rain, when we were approached by an SDPD officer who said to those huddled around the American flag that he thought what we were doing was the right way to protest. As opposed to the people on the lawn. We didn't think of ourselves as separate groups and someone tried to explain that to him. He may not have agreed but at least he was willing to listen. Occupy and SDPD relations fluctuated during these times. Some of the officers appeared moderate and willing too listen. Unfortunately, the majority of them wre young, brash and eager to kick ass. The same kind of rookies that the Sheriff'd department uses to staff its jails. This was about the time that the rumour started circulating that the SDPD was going to start picking off the remaining Occupiers when they were away from the plaza area. It fed an already existing paranoia amongst the last hold outs along the grassy strip. NOV 5 -After pulling a three hour shift on flag watch I decided to join my first march as an Occupier and not a journalist. As I'd been gathering my things beside the American flag, someone asked me if I was going to march with them on Bank of America. I figured I had a little time left before I had to go wash dishes at work so I replied, "What the hell, let's go." A fellow near me said he had an extra American flag. "You want to carry it?" I reached for Old Glory, hefted her aloft, and headed toward B Street feeling mighty rebelious and patriotic. Unfortunately, it was saturday and the BofA on B St was closed. Which was why everybody else was headed toward the BofA on Island St. I did a Curly from the Three Stooges turn and followed the Occupiers toward The Gauge Lamp District in America's Finest Tourist Trap. Protest marches haven't changed much since my college days. Not the actual marching anyways. The technology that can be utilized to organize a movement is incredibly more sophisticated now than in my MEChA days. But in the end people still have to grab picket signs then walk and holler. (Which is exactly where San Diegans and all of America dropped the ball). My first protest march for the Occupy movement went uneventfully until I reached the BofA and realized that if I didn't leave immediately I would be late for work. Only I couldn't just up and leave because I was carrying our nation's symbol and I couldn't just toss it or run off with it in the middle of a rally. Which at that moment was unfolding before the doors of the BofA. It was turning into a nice little protest with banging and shouting and nervous bank security guards and bank staff peering at the raucous crowd massed in front of the door. As I stood near the BofA's ATM machine looking for someone I recognized to pass the flag off too, I overheard a conversation taking place amongst three females who were trying to get near the ATM. It was something to the affect of, 'These vociferous unwashed masses are preventing me from withdrawing my precious money.' The three girls were early twenties and well dressed. Not 1%er well dressed but not hurting either. What I like to call that upper part of the 99% that thinks if they act like 1%ers they might be accepted as 1%ers. One of the gals, the apparent holder of the sacred card, became irritated and the trio turned and stormed off sans cash. As this was happening, I recognized a fellow flag watcher named Ian and asked him if he'd take it back to the plaza with the returning marchers. "I'd be honored," he grinned. I made a beeline toward Broadway as fast as I could without running. In the process i came up behind the three girls who'd attempted to get near the ATM. The one that didn't want to mix with the Occupiers to get her money was giving the other two a history lesson that I'd never heard before. "I don't know what those people hope to gain. Nothing has ever been accomplished by protesting. Everybody knows that," she stated with the authority of a tenured university professor. 'Nothing has ever been accomplished by protesting?' I repeated her words to myself in stunned disbelief even as her two girlfriends nodded their agreement. 'She couldn't possibly believe herself. Could she?' The young girl's voice had seemed to change a bit when she uttered that line. Then it dawned on me why her voice had deepened but risen. Like a man's? Her father maybe? She had to be parroting someone else's words. She couldn't possibly have gotten that thought placed into her brain from the pages of a school textbook. I'm only a common dishwasher but I have taken a college course or two. Specifically from the following institutions of higher learning, ELAC, CSULA, Cuyamaca College, Mesa College, North Carolina-Chapel Hill, University of Nevada-Reno and Penn State. A lot of those classes were history classes and in every one of those classes I learned just the opposite. Some of mankinds biggest gains in human rights have come only after suffering and protest. The Womens movement, the Civil Rights movement, the IWW, the populist movement, the Vietnem anti war movement, La Raza movement, Gay and Lesbian rights movement...Holy Brain Cells Batman! Did these girls really believe those words? How could this trio be so obviously well off materially yet so bad off intellectually. I guess these days clothes are cheaper than college credits. 'Have I been washing dishes for too long? What's happened to our nation while my head has been in a sink? The ride to Pacific Beach from downtown was troubling. I couldn't get those three girls off my mind. I saw them aging rapidly from too many late nights and too much good booze. Then they morphed into the four tobacco puffing shrews who applauded the SDPD actions on Oct 14. It was only after many hours of scrubbing pots and scouring pans that I was able to shake the sorrow these seven people brought to my heart. "COFFEE'S READY, GOTTA GO..."