Guest post by Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
For the Occupy and related movements, the next few days are very important. The G8 Summit will take place May 18 -19, at Camp David. The NATO Summit in Chicago follows, May 20 -21. Everyone involved – Summit attendees, officials and protestors – have been planning for months.
For Occupiers, a part of the challenge, in particular in getting large numbers out, is in the very well publicized security efforts made in Chicago. The Obama administration decision to move the G8 Summit from Chicago to Camp David illustrates the same point. There are other factors, of course, including our nation’s notoriously short attention span.
Just as significant are what Occupiers are, or aren’t, learning about the huge challenges of a movement, especially in maintaining some kind of momentum. Advocacy is extremely difficult work, demanding patience, endurance and learning as you go. I found the following, from Adbusters an honest and realistic “going forward” assessment:
May Day wasn’t so great was it… the numbers were low, the maxims weren’t sublime, the excitement didn’t catch on.
May 12 was hefty in Europe, reigniting the snuffed Indignados, but the energy did not seem to flow over to here.
Now we’re looking at May 18 – 21 when protesters … swarm Chicago … .
There were quite a few May Day action in the U.S., but not in large enough numbers of people – even with some at the “several thousand” level – to break into a campaign year news cycle. One thing I’ve seen discussed is a “learning curve” kind of thing: don’t make the mistake of over-estimating potential participation. It’s always tempting to do, because hearing big numbers will, in fact, encourage some people to come out. But the down-side is obvious.
Of course Occupiers can’t get anywhere close enough to Camp David to be visible by the national leaders, but there are events planned in Frederick, Maryland, including an “People’s Summit.” From Occupy the G8:
… the world’s most powerful leaders will soon be hiding in their castle in the Catoctin Mountains. … the eight heads of state and their hoardes of economic and political advisors plan to … push an agenda of power maintenance.
Most likely the Frederick, and possibly Thurmont, actions will get local coverage only, but that doesn’t make them any less significant. It’s kind of like this familiar argument: if you don’t vote for one of the corporate parties, you’ve “wasted” your vote. No. When you’re acting out of your convictions and concerns, it’s never “wasted” time and efforts. And potentially, it’s time and effort that will help inform, maybe even inspire others to do the same.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and company have spent the last year getting ready for the much more visible NATO Summit. A great deal of the time, planning and money have gone to security. From The Daily Occupation:
In preparation for the antiwar protests and Occupations taking place this month, the Chicago Police have gone on a million-dollar shopping spree, getting new riot gear and even directed-sound weapons (LRAD) designed to disperse crowds. …
According to TruthOut, the 12,000 member Chicago PD will be joined by “500 state troopers.”
And those “directed-sound weapons”
… ‘are equipped with a shrieking alarm able to send pain-inducing sound waves of up to 150 decibels that can be heard as far as 1,600 feet away, according to The Guardian. The use of the sound cannon is controversial since the human threshold for pain lies between 110 and 120 decibels,’ NBC Chicago reported.
Occupy and related actions have begun. From Occupy Chicago read Report from the Chicago Spring: People’s Summit 2012, which includes information about today’s “Planet over Profits and War!” actions.
The Post Tribune has a long piece on the “busloads of protesters,” one of which arrived yesterday.
An additional 16 buses — funded, like the Occupy Wall Street bus, out of a $218,000 donation from anonymous donors and National Nurses United — are due to arrive in time for Friday’s ‘Robin Hood Tax’ rally from Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland, Boston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Providence and Washington, D.C.
The largest action is planned for Sunday, May 20. But tomorrow the National Nurses United and other unions and groups plan a rally that certainly got Chicago PD’s , and Mayor’s, attention. From AlterNet:
Chicago’s Cracking Down on Protests but Nurses Union Still Planning Huge Rally with Tom Morello
… The May 18 rally was originally planned to begin after a march from the hotel the nurses will be staying at and holding a conference. Last week, Chicago officials decided to pull the permit and force the rally to Grant Park, a location that would have pushed the protest out of view of the more business-friendly downtown. Ultimately both sides reached an agreement that would allow the rally to remain at Daley Plaza but cancel any plans to march in the downtown area. …
‘We are banned from marching in Chicago,’ said (National Nurses United Executive Director RoseAnn) DeMoro. ‘I guess nurses are a national security threat. … ’
The nurses’ union plans to have more than 1,000 members from around the country visit Chicago. Nurses from another dozen countries that are part of the G-8 and NATO will also descend upon the city … .
NNU has maintained a presence on the national activist front, after Wisconsin, by joining and supporting Occupy movements around the country. …
They collected stories, asking people ‘where it hurts’ in an effort to highlight their economic struggles. …
(One story about a patient, who is homeless) ‘ … After losing her job, she lost her healthcare, then lost her home and her family. … We have prototypes in our heads of what homeless people should look like, but they look like you and me. …
Silly nurses, thinking there’s something to protest. They’re as bad as the Occupiers.