- Alex Zielinski
They were really pissing me off. The whole showdown over barricading Main Street, which ended this morning with eight exceedingly peaceful arrests, illustrates exactly what Dan was discussing the other day about how you kill a movement: You let the fringe lunatics control the actions of the majority. After a four hour general assembly meeting last night and a majority (about 80 percent, depending on who you ask) in favor of getting out of the street, the Occupiers still couldn't agree on opening the road entirely. So, the city stepped in and opened it for them.
The occupation of Main Street wasn't necessary any more. On Thursday and Friday when there were hundreds of people at the camp, it was good to have the street for spillover and symbolic presence. But now the Occupiers can easily fit into the two parks. Plus, barricading Main Street irritated a portion of the population the protest was supposed to help represent—bus commuters. More importantly, in the large scheme of things, there are plenty of battles Occupy can stage with its support and soapbox. Holding onto one city block is a waste of energy and momentum. It hurt the protest's image, making the whole movement look like whiny and unreasonable nitpickers.
The mayor and police actually did Occupy a favor by removing from the protest the small number of people who refused to work with the group and who were determined to make an idiotic stand that undermined the whole protest's image and focus. They're not crazy kids—the average age of the arrested people was 30—but, in my opinion, they're really not helping the cause.
Now, hopefully, the Occupiers can actually get some shit done. Stay tuned for a march this Saturday and workshops this Sunday (descriptions below the cut).
Workshop descriptions from Rising Tide Portland:
A day of workshops focused on building critical skills needed to empower activists in the occupy movement to battle oppression and create real change in our communities and beyond. There will be a chance to implement your new skills at an action on Monday targeting corporate greed! Coffee will be served, bring a mug!
10am -11:30am "Power and Privilege: Dismantling Hierarchies within Activist Communities" A guided discussion focused on understanding and deconstructing the multi-faceted dynamics of privilege and power that enormously impact our daily lives yet go largely unnoticed.
12pm-1:30pm “Strategic Campaigning” Have you ever planned a campaign? Learn techniques on target selection, long term planning, and how to cause the most impact for your efforts without burnout.
2pm-5pm “Non-Violent Direct Action Training” Learn the basics of NVDA including the history of civil disobedience and how to use it in your movement. Leave with skills to confidently, safely and smartly plan and implement a direct action of your own.