In the greater Occupy world, there’s uncertainty verging on ambivalence toward the idea of protesting either the DNC in Charlotte or the Republican National Convention taking place in Tampa. Some activists admitted that they did not know when the DNC was taking place. While they stressed it might be important to show opposition, they are more focused on the idea of creating alternatives to the political system, or even just dismissing it entirely as irrelevant. – Huffington Post
The two big party political conventions are anything but irrelevant. Occupy activists can say they’re part of the problem or that they don’t want to be associated with them. However, don’t political activists and groups agreeing or even supporting Occupy activists have an obligation to challenge the political structure that has created the space for Occupy in the first place? If they don’t, doesn’t that say something about political activism today compared to, let’s say, 1968?
How can unions and other Democratic organizations trumpet Occupy’s complaints, then show up, suck up, support and endorse the Democratic establishment in Charlotte, which is absolutely part of the problem?
Republicans are against taxing millionaires and Sean Hannity and right wing radio, the base of the right, has called Occupy irrelevant, or worse, compared to the Tea Party. What does it mean if political activists who support Occupy do not peacefully demonstrate in Tampa?
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When the Democratic National Committee picked Charlotte to host its September 2012 convention, city leaders saw it as a boost to the local service economy. Hotels would be filled, restaurants would be booked, and party spaces would be rented. Up until a few months ago, officials only had to worry about the would-be traffic congestion on Trade Street as lobbyists shuffled to the next cocktail party. But now, they have to be concerned about feistier visitors known as Occupy Wall Street.
If Charlotte officials fear having another Chicago ’68 on their hands, they’re hoping to take one essential weapon out of the hands of activists: their tents. On Oct. 27, the Charlotte city manager released a draft ordinance that makes camping on public property a “public nuisance” and would prohibit “noxious substances,” padlocks and other camping equipment that city officials fear could impede traffic and create public safety issues.
The Charlotte City Council has not yet voted on the ordinance, and some argue its language is vague and may violate First Amendment rights. “If the ordinance is passed, it is possible that its constitutionality will be challenged,” wrote Isaac Sturgill, director of the Charlotte School of Law chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, in an editorial that will run in the Charlotte alternative weekly Creative Loafing on Dec. 13. “There is also the potential for increased confrontation between protesters and police.”
It’s a long way from convention season, so thinking about what could possibly play out is nowhere on the Occupy radar yet. But these events are a challenge to the continued importance of Occupy, but also whether it’s able to mature as a movement through the actions of political activists supporting Occupy.
A story in the Miami Herald reported the Republicans aren’t worried.
Around 50,000 people are expected to come to the Tampa Bay area for the convention, including 5,000 to 6,000 delegates, 15,000 media members and possibly 10,000 protesters. Officials said it was too early to discuss the specifics of security plans, which may have to take into account larger-than-normal demonstrations spurred by the recent Occupy Wall Street movement. A small group of protesters has maintained a presence in a downtown park since October.
A “security perimeter” around the downtown arena will be established, but Harris said it was too early to determine the boundaries or how close to the venue the designated area for demonstrators would be located.
“The convention has been made a national security special even by the federal government, so the U.S. Secret Service is coordinating all the agencies down here together to come up with a security plan,” Harris said. “We have absolute confidence in their ability.”
If Occupy is to resonate as a movement on a wider scale and be taken seriously in a year where economic issues will be central to the debate, how can it not turn its sights on the politicians who make Wall Street’s greed possible, the nexus of both gathering in Charlotte and Tampa?
You can rail about unfairness and Wall Street all you want, but unless you take it to the political powers that can do something about the situation, you’re just not getting to the heart of it.
Occupy’s presence in Charlotte and Tampa is not only relevant to manifesting a shift in policies, it’s critical to driving the message of inequality and fairness home.