Sunday, October 30, 2011

Transgressing Transcript

This is the transcript of my remarks at Occupy Eureka Saturday 29 October.

I came down to the courthouse on the 8th of October and have come back every day since because something is wrong with our system. The question I encounter the most out here on the curb is why are we down here? What do we want? The disparate signs give out a confused message. The short answer is we want something different. We want a system that gives the average citizen a say in government equal to the giant corporation. The essence of democracy one person one vote has never been embraced by America and we feel it is past time to do so.
We spend more money on defense than the rest of the world combined. We still spend billions to prepare for war with the Soviet Union that hasn’t existed for over a decade.
Now more than ever the 1% own the Government, the media and the Robert’s court. We allow war criminals to go on book tours and have criminalized sleeping. We allow corporations to openly bribe a justice of the supreme court, we have lobbyists writing our laws.
Let me share a few numbers with you. 46 million, the number of people living in poverty today. The most in our nation’s history. 50 the percentage of people with zero or less net worth.
The wages of the middle class have been under attack for over 30 years and when the latest bubble burst the 1% got bailed out while the rest of us got swamped. We preference idle speculation over honest labor in the tax code. We bailed out the financial institutions and they paid their executives bonuses rather then lend money to small businesses.
We give tax breaks to big box retailers that drive the local merchants that make up the back bone of our community out of business, corporations line up at the discount window at the fed to borrow trillions at effective interest rates of zero while students get buried under a mountain of debt preparing for non existent jobs.
Corporations dump toxic waste in our air and water and call it an externality. Corporate persons that don’t breath or drink or eat control the regulators with bribes or remove the regulations all together.
We have handed these so called “Job Creators” trillions in tax breaks and gotten no jobs in return, only factory closures, off shoring and downsizing. We have set our workers in competition with slave labor abroad and prison labor here at home.
There is a long history in America of taking to the streets stretching back to our founding. The labor movement got us the 40 hour week and the end of child labor. Marching in the streets led to the vote for women, civil rights and improvement for the LGBT community. The Bonus Army led to the New Deal and the most successful anti poverty program for the elderly in the history of humanity.
We require an Immediate moratorium on foreclosures of owner occupied dwellings.
End the Wars and stop the militarization of local police departments.
A financial transaction Tax should be instituted to reduce the effects of speculators in the market place. We require that the Glass Steagall act regulations of 1933 be reinstituted to separate speculators from the banking industry. Above all we demand an end to corporate personhood.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Occupy Eureka Talks Back

The county said take down the tents we said NO! this is our response letter.

Occupy Eureka
The corner of 5th and I streets

To the County Administrative Officer for the county of Humboldt in response to your letter of 25 October 2011.
It is the consensus of Occupy Eureka that we are not vacating this space.
We are unable to comply with your requests as outlined. We find them unresponsive to the subject at hand. The removal of our kitchen will impede our feeding of the members of the occupation and prevent us from continuing to feed the homeless members of our community but will do nothing to alleviate the need for people to use the restroom between the hours of 10:30pm and 7:30am. The removal of our tents will prevent the occupiers from sheltering against inclement weather and maintaining core body temperature creating another serious health hazard but again will do nothing to help solve the sanitation problem.
You site the actions taken in Arcata that have opened the city to lawsuits for violation of civil rights law and their law enforcement officers to possible prosecution for intimidation under color of authority. We feel it would be unwise for the city of Eureka or Humboldt county to follow that poorly chosen course of action. As you come from a system that relies on force to control the population we are not surprised that was your first response.
We are a self policing community committed to the Non-violent redress of grievances. The attempt in the late hours of 26 Oct 2011 of the police to intimidate the Occupation is unacceptable and unwarranted. Are we going to be subjected to police militarism of the style that the Oakland Police are now being vilified?
We are free people exercising our right to the freedom of speech; and have the freedom to peaceably assemble and redress of grievances.
Under our system of law city ordinances do not supersede rights granted under the United States Constitution in the 1st and 4th amendments.
Your offer to, “allow” us to remain without portions of our occupation that speak directly to the rights of citizens to freely exercise their rights is in itself an infringement on our first amendment right to free speech and again does nothing to resolve the sanitation issue.
The act of sleeping in the public square is an integral part of our movement and is thus protected speech. The presence of tents has been ruled protected speech by many jurisdictions including Oakland, Orange County and Humboldt State University.
We look forward to continuing dialog on this matter. As always your representatives are welcome to attend our twice daily general assemblies held at 12pm and 6pm to resolve conflict through constructive dialog rather than threats.

The members of Occupy Eureka
This letter may be freely distribute in its entirety

Monday, October 24, 2011

20 days by the road

sorry for the paucity of posts. Have some pics.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Heard on the Curb

Day 5 of Occupy Eureka left me sun burnt and a little dispirited. There is not much growth to our merry band of occupiers. I think this weekend will make or break us. With some publicity if we cannot generate some interest I will have to rethink my position.
On the positive side we are making progress toward an agenda. I am finding the process very interesting, the desire to conform to a system is very strong in some of us. The homeless folks that have joined us ad a level of volatility to the assemblies.
There is an undercurrent among some of the organizers, primarily the Prison protest woman concerning police confrontation. During our assembly she pushed for demanding things in writing from city government when all we were discussing was sending a letter to the council, board of supervisors, Police and Sheriff announcing our intention to peacefully protest. I think it is an error in judgement to force public officials into taking positions before the dialog takes place. We will see.
There is a weekend March in the planning stages from the F street pier to the courthouse and some speakers on behalf of the hunger strikers at Pelican Bay will be there Thursday.
"I'll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one" Was my favorite overheard quip and I was the witness for a young couple that got married. They will have an interesting story to tell about their marriage in the future, I hope. And as usual the government was out helping some one in our little town.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Curbside Day 2

Day 2 brought out some very committed folks of the organizer type and some first time folks both old and young. I was able to handle 4 hours a day but when I dot home both nights I was shot. There is much to like about this movement and the folks that it has drawn out. I am not of the come together in a circle to sing "Kumbaya" or something drew me to this kind of guy and there is that aspect to dislike.

I do believe that people demonstrating in the streets has had positive effects on the life of the middle class. As evidence I site the union movement in creating the 40 hour week and the right to a workplace that was safe. The civil rights struggle, Women's suffrage, The "Bonus Army", AIM, the list goes on. There is of course the flip side to that argument, The Klan and the John Birchers put people in the streets as well. Judging by the level of racial hatred I listened to from a man that was outraged that some one would take issue with navy blowing out the hearing of whales their effect lingers as well.

Eureka is a pretty even blend of left and right and they are used to seeing the Left on the courthouse lawn so the horn honks and thumbs up are punctuated with middle fingers but most people are civil. The declaration of grievances seems legitimate even if many will call it vague. I suspect that as the assemblies meet there will emerge something a bit more polished. I am still extremely pessimistic but at the moment it is at least a chance to make a little noise for my side.
The movement is based on a true democracy model. This is some video from the first general assembly for Occupy Eureka

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Occupational Hazard

I lent some time and energy to the Occupy movement today, Occupy Eureka to be precise. As I expected it was a mixed bag. Jack, one of the regulars at these events was there but some of the crowd was different. The Ladies in Black were there, they hold a weekly vigil to end the wars. The young woman in the video was passionate about the plight of the victims of the prison industrial complex and was vehemently anti capitalist.

I was glad to see that a few young people were there as well. They are very earnest and expect to succeed. I tend to be skeptical based on the history. One young woman told me she had been waiting all her life for people to wake up and that this was it. I fear she will be disappointed. I was one of the odder looking folks so naturally I was photographed by one local paper and interviewed by another.
Zack from the North Coast Journal was doing a very thorough job of interviewing the crowd but as he confided that his editor had instructed him to ask everyone about a comparison to the, “Tea Party” I think their coverage will miss the mark.
I do not know if this movement will accomplish much but I will give it what time and support I can.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fragile Fall

Spent a fine fall day immersed in a feast of transient art. Pastels on the Plaza happens the first Saturday in October. This year it happened to coincide with the Redwood Coast Belly Dancing Festival

While not as fragile as sand paintings the drawings will vanish with the first rains of the season. The ladies that came to share their joy of the dance will fade with the Sunday twilight. Enjoy a little taste October.

This is some footage of one of the headliners, Ya Habibi dance troupe, from an earlier performance.