Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

"Outstanding…Moore Triumphs! Publishers Weekly

Mike & Friends Blog

David Swanson

David Swanson is a longtime peace and justice activist and author of 'War Is a Lie'

November 30th, 2011 12:10 PM

Occupation Evicted? Occupy the Place Responsible: DC

Has the First Amendment expired in your public square?  Has your local park prioritized empty vistas over the right to petition your government for a redress of grievances, thereby adding one more grievance to the list?

Here's a proposal.  Pack up all of your grievances in a bag and bring them to where the government responsible is located.  Move your protest and yourself and as much of your Occupy community as you can bring with you to Freedom Plaza — — or McPherson Square — — in Washington, D.C.  You need not bring anything else.  Together we can keep the DC occupations sheltered and fed and supplied with resources.

A national movement with local encampments has begun to change the culture.  That should not end.  Local encampments have begun to build community, to model democratic decision making, to aid the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless, and to develop a culture of resistance in quiescent corners of the land.  All of that should continue.

But while we're helping a handful of homeless people, while we're offering assistance to a dozen veterans, while we're antagonizing city councils that didn't create this mess, our senators and misrepresentatives in Washington, D.C., are dumping another $682.5 billion into wars and weapons, with presidential power to imprison anyone without charge or trial forever and ever thrown on top of the Defense Authorization Act like a cherry on a sunday.

While we're educating our neighbors on the need for affordable housing, the Federal Reserve is pulling seven trillion — with a t — dollars out of its posterior and giving it to the banks responsible for the housing crisis.  While we're making sacrifices to advance a national movement to place people ahead of profits, the United States Congress is preparing massive cuts to Medicare, children's nutrition, crumbling bridges, and national parks, plus "security" cuts that will largely avoid even scratching a military budget five times larger than that of the next most militarized nation on earth, even as the U.S. military works overtime to antagonize Pakistan, China, Iran, and much of the world.

I know Washington, D.C., is far away.  But I saw New Yorkers arrive there last week by foot.  And there are trains, planes, and automobiles available for the less ambitious.  And I guarantee you that your local activists will raise a fund to send you to the heart of our darkness.  Here's why.

Violating our First Amendment rights, beating us with sticks, pepper spraying us, tear-gassing us, and arresting us, and thereby intimidating many more of us in other cities that have only had to resort to mild suggestions and threats: these are criminal acts.  These would be the outrage constantly on the lips of every president, senator, and cabinet secretary if they were taking place in Iran.  These crimes are taking place in our own country, and this trend will increase if it is not effectively resisted and challenged.  The place to bring that challenge — or one key place, anyway — is the U.S. Justice Department and the government it serves in Washington.

Don't talk to me about the "question" of whether there has "really" been federal coordination of these assaults.  There has been federal U.S. provision of the weaponry to our cities as to the enemies of our brothers and sisters in Egypt.  There has been federal training in the militarization of the police in our towns and on our university campuses.  There has been federal toleration of outrages that shame our nation in the eyes of the world. 

There is another threat to the Occupy movement, however.  Beyond the cold weather, beyond the police assaults, beyond the challenges of caring for people in need who are attracted to encampments of those who care, there is the threat of co-option, of normalization, of de-radicalizing something radical.  The power of the Occupy movement lies in the fact that it is not speaking for half of a corrupt plutocracy against the other half.  Bringing people's demands to the government must continue to be just that, an effort of independent people to challenge the government as a whole, along with the society as a whole, to change.  The two political parties move together, and far more important than squinting hard enough to detect differences between them is the fundamental work of pushing both of them in a better direction.  You can still cherish your hopes that one of them will move a bit more in the direction of decency than the other, but none of us can sit out this drive to put basic fairness and equality on the agenda in a way that has already been shown to be more effective than partisanship.

By taking our demands to Washington, we must not neglect our local work, much less the efforts targeted at Wall Street in New York.  But when you protest the empowerment of corporations, the concentration of wealth, and the advancement of the war economy at the expense of our environment and security, it is important to ask whether the chief levers for changing our public policy are in your town or on the shores of the Potomac in the Pentagon, in the K Street lobby firms, in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in the White House, and on Capitol Hill.  Every type of work in this movement is appreciated, from your local street corner, from your house, or from wherever you can contribute it.  But you should know that there is an open invitation and a camp site awaiting you in the imperial capital.

I leave you with a parable:

And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations'? But you have made it a den of robbers." And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching.  And when evening came they appeared on every network lamenting his lack of clear demands or legislation and his failure to join forces with the Democratic Party.

Freedom Plaza at Daybreak

Photo by Scott Galindez

Creative Commons License This content is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

You must log in to comment.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Log in | Register

George W. Bush Debuts New Paintings Of Dogs, Friends, Ghost Of Iraqi Child That Follows Him... President Bush has a new hobby -- painting! --...

Apr 17th
7:28 PM
Read More

Big new story from David Sirota and Pando on top Christie adviser and appearance of corruption at New Jersey's pension fund: REVEALED: Gov....

Apr 17th
12:41 PM
Read More

FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States WASHINGTON—The FBI announced today that it has uncovered a...

Apr 15th
3:28 PM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel's top donor bought stock in Marriott just before it was awarded huge contract As schools are closed and pensions cut,...

Apr 9th
2:00 PM
Read More

I'll be at First Time Fest today in New York City at the screening of my first film, Roger & Me. Loews Village 7 at 12:30 pm. Come see it on the big...

Apr 5th
9:48 AM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel cuts public pensions, diverts money to benefit campaign donors If you've read the financial news out of Chicago the last...

Apr 4th
2:19 PM
Read More

Please take a moment today to think of Casey Austin Sheehan, son of Cindy and Patrick, who was murdered by U.S. foreign policy in Sadr City, Baghdad ten years...

Apr 4th
2:00 PM
Read More

ICYMI - I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence...

Apr 3rd
7:38 PM
Read More

I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention...

Apr 2nd
8:27 PM
Read More

I am opposed to the death penalty, but to every rule there is usually an exception, and in this case I hope the criminals at General Motors will be arrested...

Apr 1st
3:55 PM
Read More

How Long Some in the US Will Survive Under New Health Law Donna Smith Those who must access care to live and can afford it are not...

Mar 31st
10:13 PM
Read More

Last night, The Good Wife on the East Coast started 40 minutes late due to the overrun of the NCAA basketball game. If you had your DVR set for the show, you...

Mar 24th
5:41 PM
Read More

Watching films today, looking for the ones I'm going to pick for my film festival this summer. I (and a whole bunch of others!) have this thing we put on...

Mar 23rd
4:48 PM
Read More

When the U.S. Health Care System Keeps Killing, Who Cares Enough to Fight? Donna Smith We have largely forgotten that people are at...

Mar 21st
5:56 PM
Read More

Tell the White House not to give up on Dr. Vivek Murthy's nomination as Surgeon General despite the ferocious opposition from the NRA: Don't give...

Mar 21st
5:38 PM
Read More

This criminal would never see a jail cell, nor would his cronies. In fact, they'd later be rewarded with re-election: Presidential Address on War with...

Mar 19th
9:40 PM
Read More

The crime of the century -- our invasion & slaughter in Iraq -- started 11 years ago tonite in this 7pm (ET) hour, March 19th, 2003: CNN Coverage of...

Mar 19th
9:08 PM
Read More

Washington’s Back-to-the-Future Military Policies in Africa Nick Turse Nick Turse is an award-winning journalist, historian,...

Mar 17th
4:59 PM
Read More

"I think democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world." -- Tony Benn, 1925-2014 Tony Benn in 'Sicko'

Mar 14th
10:07 AM
Read More

RIP Tony Benn, one of the UK's greatest leaders: Tony Benn, veteran Labour politician, dies aged 88 Former cabinet minister died at...

Mar 14th
9:53 AM
Read More

Please read this important story from K. Ford K.: Am I the Face of the New American Middle Class? I began to feel I had slipped so low...

Mar 13th
2:24 PM
Read More

Yesterday Dianne Feinstein revealed that the CIA has been spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is all about the report the committee has produced...

Mar 12th
6:48 PM
Read More

Health Care for All Colorado has brought Mercy Killers, a show written and performed by Michael Milligan about our murderous for-profit healthcare system, to...

Mar 10th
1:08 PM
Read More

Health Care Dramas that Sting and Why We Have to Watch Donna Smith The realities Milligan has written into the show cut deep into...

Mar 10th
1:02 PM
Read More

Did you know the Lehrer Newshour on PBS has been produced for 20 years by a company owned by conservative cable billionaire John Malone? Me neither. After...

Mar 7th
8:39 PM
Read More

Mr. Obama, if int’l law is so damn crucial . . . | The Russian intervention deserves criticism. But let’s be clear. The...

Mar 6th
1:21 PM
Read More

Enron billionaire John Arnold thinks everyone should believe him when he says we've got to cut pensions because he's so incredibly rich: John...

Mar 5th
4:20 PM
Read More

More in David Sirota's continuing series on the billionaire takeover of PBS: More PBS conflict woes as activists move to eject David Koch from board of...

Mar 3rd
12:35 PM
Read More

Ukraine: One ‘Regime Change’ Too Many? Ray McGovern Is “regime change” in Ukraine the bridge too far for the neoconservative...

Mar 2nd
9:25 PM
Read More

Subscribe to Mike's Blog RSS

Click here to suggest an article

Mike's Blog

See More Blogs

Vew the archives

View older articles