My apologies for the lateness of this report, and also the disarray of the Hard Grounder Ustream channel — as soon as I get some serious WiFi sitdown time I will organize the Hard Grounder channel. WiFi access is sometimes hard to come by, and there are also many other jobs each of us have to do on this Occupy Bus Tour that take time away from online work.
We marched on the Waldorf Astoria (Hilton) the evening of May 13 after gathering in Bryant Park. The event was a protest against the President of the United States raising funds from his puppet-masters for the Democratic National Committee. About 140 people attended the event at the Waldorf Astoria, and paid $7,500 to attend or $32,400 to chair the dinner. Nancy Pelosi was also supposed to be there.
The protest action was staged by The Sierra Club, 350.org and many other groups to draw attention to the KXL Pipeline, the Tar Sands oil extraction, the Spectra Pipeline, the Rockaway Pipeline and other dirty energy pipelines. As usual, Occupiers were front and center — and were also the most committed. So much so that news articles protrayed the event as an Occupy Wall Street event. Unfortunately, it was only a permitted event sponsored by conservative conservationists like the Sierra Club — a parade not a real protest. The Occupy hard-grounders lent authenticity to an otherwise artificially radical protest.
The march was reminiscent of the daily “big march” we used to have every day at Liberty Park. At the height of the Liberty Park Occupation we held several marches a day. Organizations from all over would start their march at Liberty Park, or re-route their march to include a stopover at Liberty Park. Liberty Park was the central meeting ground and protester recruiting center — if you wanted more marchers, all you had to do was go to Liberty Park and announce your march. Occupiers who were interested would join and bolster the ranks of your marchers. There were marches morning, afternoon and evening but there usually was a “big march” or two every day that drew large crowds. This march was like that in a numbers way — we had about a thousand or so for this march. The major difference was that the streets were not ours for this march. The NYPD owned the streets this day. The NYPD split the march up at every intersection so as to more easily control the march, and kettle the protesters if necessary. There was a time when the NYPD could not split the march into sections because the streets were ours, and we acted like it.
I streamed parts of the march live on our Hard Grounder Ustream channel at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/hard-grounder, and took photographs throughout the march. Unfortunately, some technical difficulties kept knocking me offline. We are not as well equipped as the other Occupy citizen journalist teams, and have no hotspot yet (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). Videos of the march can be seen direct from these URLs, http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/32799187, http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/32801449, http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/32801547, http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/32801787.
I ran the march as a citizen journalist from Occupy Bus Tour, not as a medic. Our medic supplies are very low, and not having much but band-aids I did not want to advertise medical services. However, I did have my medic kit with me in case medical care was needed. However, as the march was sponsored by the Sierra Club & 350.org I knew it would only be a parade, and so the need for medics would be minimal. Still, I was recognized as a medic by many people, and the knowledge that a medic was on the march seemed to ease the stress that always accompanies a heavy NYPD presence for many long-time OWSers. Thankfully, medical services were not necessary. Predictably, as this was a parade, both the NYPD and the protesters stayed on their own side of the barricades
The marchers were many and diverse, and united against the Tar Sands exploitation and all the pipelines being built to transport the killer crude out of Canada. Besides the Sierra Club’s national organization we had representatives from the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, 350.org, 350 NYC, 350 NJ, Idle No More, YANA (You Are Not Alone), Brooklyn For Peace, Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline (CARP), CREDO, CUNY Divest, Food & Water Watch, Global Kids Inc., Human Impacts Institute, NYU Divest, Occupy Wall Street, Occupy the Pipeline, Occupy Sandy, Occupy Bus Tour, Occupy New Haven, Restore the Rock, Sane Energy Project, United for Action, World Can’t Wait, WESPAC, and more. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) enables the foreign corporations to ignore the will of the people and the sovereign laws of nations (which are supposed to be the same thing but never are), in order to garner the most profit from their endeavors — regardless of the death and destruction their insane greed causes in collateral damage.
It is a terrible situation when the leader of a nation begs money from corporations in order to flaunt his disregard for the will of the people he supposedly serves. It is time to acknowledge that we have no leaders in Washington D.C. — that all our real leaders are on Wall Street, and none of them serve The People. That they do not serve The People makes them masters not leaders. The politicians are simply puppets of the corporate boards of directors. The transfer of power from the political circle to the corporate circle has been happening for many decades and is complete. Oh, there’s a token or two among our politicos who are trying to serve the people — and their efforts will always be highlighted as an example that our governmental system works. But don’t be fooled — the tokens have no power, being merely house slaves rather than field slaves. Now the transfer of power from a represented public to a cabal of corporate board members is almost complete.
Control of law enforcement and national security is firmly in the hands of the corporate masters. The advent of Occupy Wall Street has revealed to us that the police, the FBI, Homeland Security and other security and law enforcement organizations kept the corporations informed about peaceful protester actions, but failed to warn the protesters of assassination plots targeting protesters. The police state is here. Security and law enforcement organizations have been selected, trained and outfitted to protect the corporate power structure. The people have neither a public police force nor a well-organized militia with which to protect their unalienable right of dissent from criminals of the worst sort — the elite. The peoples freedom to speak is thus enslaved by the threat of violent retaliation by the corporate police state. The president of the United States openly receiving money from corporate representatives while police blockade and corral a permitted peaceful public protest is enough of a terrible situation that every American should be trembling with anger. Why are we not? In 1773 the colonists destroyed property because of a 3 cent tax on tea, and yet here in 2013 we are taxed insensible and our entire living environment is in danger of being destroyed by the greed of corporate mobsters — and we are reticent to do anything at all except parade about as if it is all fun and games. To the country at large even peaceful protest is off the table. Protesters are characterized by the mainstream media as every kind of degenerate criminal, conspiracy theorist or naive political fool. Critical constructive discussion is not welcomed nor is it even entertained or tolerated. The Republicans even introduced a bill to stop teaching critical thinking in our schools — as if they actually did teach it.
So, with all this behind the stage curtain, why were most of the marchers acting as if it was a party — a fun get-together — instead of a serious, no-holds-barred, game-over protest? Yes, I enjoyed seeing and hugging and telling stories to all the people I haven’t seen in a while. Yes, I think enjoying the company of like-minded people united in a struggle toward a common goal should be one of the things that happens at a protest action. But party-time should not be the primary reason or goal or result of a serious political action.
One of the iconic scenes on this march for me was the sight of long-time hard-grounder Jack Boyle all by himself facing off a line of dozens of our NYPD guards, while the rest of the protesters mingled gaily as if at a social event. Hard-grounders like Jack remember why we are here.
Another iconic scene for me was when we were stopped at the end of the corral with the protest line stretching back four blocks. Standing atop the base of a lamp post one protester tried to mic-check an inspirational speech while a short distance away a small indigenous group representing Idle No More was drumming, dancing and singing. The resultant cacophonic clash left me bewildered as to exactly what was happening, and I could not follow the speech or properly join the drum and dance action. I think it highlights how we have not yet coalesced into the 99% — we are still separated by the stereotypical descriptions that the 1% use to portray us to ourselves. We don’t pay attention to each other in a serious manner.
A third iconic scene for me was the end of the event — it was as if a silent siren went off announcing the end because everyone just sort of broke up and started walking away. It was over. Nothing was accomplished, yet by silent unanimous decision the event was declared over — and undoubtedly labeled a success in the minds of most. To me it reminded why I love Occupy hard-grounders — we don’t walk away undone and say we went all the way. These people all walked away with the evenings cheap thrill filling their night-time fantasies and future resumes, and yet very little, if anything, of lasting coherent value was accomplished. Simple parade marches effect no change in the status quo. The System can easily and forever tolerate a protest rally and march that lasts a couple-three hours and disperses of its own accord without ever resolving the protester grievances, or even starting a dialogue.
“Game over” for the fossil fuel industry, “game over” for the corporate-political elite, “game over” for The People — which do you choose? The time for games is over.
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