I dropped in on the #Occupy Portland protest yesterday, as one member of a small army of citizen journalists and bloggers covering the event. I'd been hearing about the #Occupy protests in New York and elsewhere over the last several days.
Some thoughts on the protests are in order. At first I wondered a bit about whether the protests were arranged as a media campaign in order to channel the outrage of common people into harmless and ineffectual action, or whether they were an actual, genuine expression of unscripted citizen outrage over the robbery of the poor majority by the rich minority in this country. It seems to me now that the protests are the real deal.
I think especially of the conversations and interviews I had with many ordinary people who took part in yesterday's protest. They ranged widely in age, from high school to retirement. There were also many working people who are now under economic stress. Their comments had common themes, namely that large numbers of people now believe that both political parties have become the servants and property of the rich. Many people now realize that neither political party represents common people. Many people no longer trust the mainstream media in this country to give us an accurate picture of the world. Many young people realize that they are in for a very hard life under our present economic arrangement. There were also many people who had been personally and tangibly victimized by one or more large corporations, including one woman with a sign that proclaimed that she had been “wait-listed for chemotherapy.”
Most MSM talking heads meanwhile continue to complain that the #Occupy protests lack a coherent message or coherent demands. From yesterday's experience I think I can help out. The message is very simple. Most of us ordinary people of small means would like the holders of concentrated wealth in this country to stop treating us as resources to be exploited. We are not here to make you rich. You need to wake up and realize that. Stop making it hard for us to live without you. Release your chokehold on American economic and political life so that we all can begin to learn to live graciously in a world with fewer resources. That means things like dropping your opposition to public mass transit and single payer health care, among the many elements of the commons that must be built up if most of us are to survive the next few decades. That means stopping your relentless attacks on what's left of the commons, including things like public parks, libraries and other elements of common, public American life. End your stupid wars – foreign resource wars and domestic wars against poor people and people who don't look like you. Stop trying to monopolize everything and become decent people. As things stand now, you are on your way to hell. Have I made things plain enough for you?
Common people in America are waking up to the illegitimacy of our present political processes and are moving outside of the channels so carefully laid down for them. Therefore, the #Occupy protests are not about telling people to get out and vote. (KPOJ, “Portland's only progressive talk station” doesn't seem to get that. Last night I heard some idiot named Norman Goldman telling people that he suddenly is starting to like Pat Buchanan.) The danger to the present holders of power is that if they don't start listening to what common people are saying, common people may bypass them altogether, along with their media mouthpieces.
Anyway, here's a link to some video and still pictures I shot yesterday while at the protest. Or you can just click on the box below to view the video directly. I also recorded several audio clips. Not all of them are included in the Youtube video I posted, so I will post all the audio clips and provide a link to them at a later date.