Instead of watching the Charlotte convention live, I spent some time watching the live streaming of protestors and activists in the streets of Charlotte. The largest crowd estimate size I saw was for the March on Wall Street South, 1000 to 2500. On the other times I was watching, it was much smaller, 50 to 200, usually. Tim of Timcast has been livestreaming and archiving Occupy and related events since very near the beginning of the movement, September 17, 2012. Tim said of the activists in Charlotte: “The numbers aren’t incredible, but the passion makes up for it.”
For all the dismissals over the last (almost) year of the efforts of Occupy and others, the fact is, you can hear the movement’s influence in the national conversation, including at both Duopoly conventions. That conversation – about what was happening in the lives of the “99%” – were already happening. But the fears, concerns, anger, frustration, along with the insistence that Electeds stop ignoring them, were forced into public view, on public streets, in public parks. Yes, and totally unsurprisingly, the efforts to restrict that public conversation were swift, widespread, heavy and largely successful. But the conversations haven’t stopped. The efforts haven’t ended. Because the situation really isn’t improving.
One of if not the biggest reason for the lack of needed changes is reflected in Mr. Obama’s speech, as he employed the, “It will be a choice between two different paths for America” framing. Republicans, of course, do the same thing.
In terms of what we’re told is “realistic,” both parties are correct, of course, that there are only, to use Obama’s phrase, “two different paths.” But they aren’t correct that there really are only two ways of doing things. To this point, though, we’re only given the R and D options, and every effort to create and build other options is suppressed and/or co-opted by both legacy parties; generally ignored, demeaned or dismissed by the “press,” and by a very large portion of the Electorate. In general, We the People seem stuck in the Duopoly system, with two, and only two “different paths” ahead of us.
Nevertheless, the efforts to continue forcing the conversation out of that framing continue, and continue meeting very well organized and funded resistance. From OpEdNews, a first-hand report by Brett Re’mayne-Titley begins:
Examples of the new definition of America’s remaining First Amendment were featured at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, as soon as the first protester marchers stepped-off, Sunday, Sept 2, from Marshall Park. A huge crowd of approximately 8,000 would normally have been a strong indication of America’s growing discontent and demand for change. Sadly, the huge crowd was divided into about 500 journalists, 3000, or so, apathetic gawkers from the Charlotte area, 1000 passionate, very vocal, protesters, and…….. 3,500 cops. Democratic change, despite the best, nine month efforts of the organizers at the Coalition to March on Wall Street South … was firmly under martial control.
What Brett describes regarding the police presence fits with what I saw at various times over the course of the convention.
The entire way the police chaperoned the protesters, with police to the front and back, and on both sides, at all time(s). …
As one livestreamer put it, the police presence was “militarized,” a good description. Police were, literally, using military style language, in giving internal directions: About face! Left turn! Left / Right / Left / Right.” Tim said that was the first time he’d seen that done in his extensive livestreaming.
At one point, on Tuesday night, when marchers attempted to return they way they’d come, police prevented them from doing so, with, “You will turn left on 12th Street” orders. Trucks of various kinds – fire, sanitation, emergency vehicles, and more – blocked intersections. Along with law enforcement officers (from Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Asheville, Durham, Chapel Hill, surrounding Charlotte area counties, and Atlanta and Chicago, with some National Guard troops thrown in – they were protecting the college campus where the CIA had set up headquarters) using bikes, motorcycles, horses, trucks and more, marchers had one option only in the direction they could move.
Regarding media coverage,
Piled on the Fire Truck were a throng of increasingly disinterested journalists. ‘Call me when something happens,’ said a WBTV reporter who decided to bail out over the side. When one reporter pointed out that there was , indeed, a lot going on, this ‘journalist’ replied, ‘No. No. When they cops get busy!
Protestors came from Colorado, San Diego, Oakland, Tampa, Boston and more. They were diverse in their focus – No Papers, No Fear; Code Pink; Unionized South; Occupy, among others, including:
All smartly dressed in green, and dancing in sequence … were a group of forty young girls from a local catholic school. These young ladies were all under fourteen years old and were a highlight for the older protesters. One group wanted to stop the pending war in Syria and Iran. Another wanted to save the post office and postal worker jobs. Unions, collectively under similar threat, sent many different affiliates from teachers, government workers, and several city workers unions.
So, a question: how reflective of reality was what was heard from inside the convention, and how reflective was what was heard from the outside? From both inside and outside there were, of course, exaggerations. That’s what politicians, and protestors, frequently do. Acknowledging that, I think the question is still appropriate: Which “world” is the most likely experience of most of us? The one that counts on Obama and Democrats (or for that matter, Romney and Republicans) doing what they said they’d do to cheering crowds of committed party supporters? Or the one represented by the diverse groups – from Veterans for Peace to Occupy to those focused on immigration, labor / unions, environment and other “places” where they live their day to day lives?
We go marching on. … Left. Right. Left. Right.