Editors note: This story originally appeared on Suicide Girls Blog. You can read part two of the story here; part three is here. You can read more #noNATO coverage on Occupied Stories by clicking here.
Los Angles, CA – In the early hours of Wednesday, May 17, SuicideGirls embarked on an epic cross-country journey in solidarity with Occupy and the 99%. Our “occucation” adventure started out at the current home of OccupyLA, in Downtown’s Pershing Square, where we climbed aboard one of a fleet of three buses organized by Occupy affinity group 99% Solidarity and funded by National Nurses United. The buses are taking occupiers – for free – from Los Angeles to Chicago to participate in the various protests, rallies, and gatherings that are planned there to coincide with the NATO and G8 summits.
The Los Angeles to Chicago bus trip is part of a nationwide effort that will be the largest collaboration between the Occupy and union movements to date. Over the next couple of days a total of 17 buses from around 10 cities will converge, bringing approximately 800 occupiers to Chi-Town.
The organizers hope the bridge-building project will unite protesters and union members, who may have different philosophies but ultimately share common goals. They also hope the mass turnout expected over the course of the long weekend will send a strong message to the 1% and those that are supposed to represent ALL of us, that Occupy, despite losing most of its physical encampments, has not lost its way, and is a force to be reckoned with as the American Spring heats up.
Though the buses were scheduled to set off from Pershing Square at 4 AM, our departure was delayed by two hours to accommodate a contingent who had traveled by Greyhound from Oakland and San Francisco to join us. Once our NoCal comrades arrived, our three buses set out together in convoy.
As we headed up the I15 towards Vegas, the extended incline and the ambient desert temperature took its toll on the first bus in our fleet, which was forced to take a 15 minute ‘time out’ to cool down. This resulted in a very welcome – if unscheduled – refreshment, toilet and smoke break as we waited at a rest area for the ailing bus to catch up. It also provided an unexpected press opportunity, as our stop off and journey through Nevada made the Chicago ABC 7 News.
Our bus, which was at the rear of the convoy, was the designated media bus. It carried livestreamers OccupyFreedomLA, CrossXBones, TRWBS and CodeFrameSF (who was fresh from Occupy The Farm), and a group of passengers who had consented to be filmed 24/7. Those with cameras were dubbed the California Dream Stream Team, and the super-stream-lined vehicle, the Occupy Real World bus.
As we trucked on through Nevada via Arizona to Utah, most of the group took the opportunity to catch up on some Zzzs, our mass cat nap being roused by another minor case of over-heated engine syndrome and a second unscheduled stop. Once back aboard the bus, we watched Kristin Canty’s excellent pro-raw milk / real food documentary Farmageddon. A third necessary stop – this time planned – for a driver exchange, also served as a pizza-grazing opportunity (the highly deliverable dish being the standard issue hot-ish dining option for the revolution).
As we continued our journey along the I70 towards Salt Lake City, the sun began to set behind the rocky hills providing a stunning photo op for the media bus’ highly independent press corp. It made a nice change for the flurry of shutter clicks to be prompted by something of beauty, rather than a case of all too frequent police brutality.
Attention shifted from the stunning view however, when equally stunning news came in that the sun was setting on the most offensive provisions of the NDAA. As CodeFrameSF read a just-in Federal Court ruling, in which a the judge agreed that the unlimited detention without due process allowed by the extremely vague and open to interpretation wording of the NDAA was onerous and ultimately curtailed free speech, a spontaneous cheer erupted aboard the bus. This victory was not only one for reason – and our Bill of Rights – but one for Occupy, since one of the seven co-defendants in the case was Occupy London founder Kai Wargalla (see previous story).
Though the road trip at times has been grueling, news that true justice had prevailed in what had seemingly been a long-shot David vs. Goliath case raised spirits. Let’s hope our trip to Chicago continues to be a cause for celebration rather than confrontation, as the 99Solidarity road trip spreads a message of unity and continues its mission to inspire a critical mass to motivate positive change by way of peaceful protest. After all, as the Occupy saying goes, the people, united, can never be defeated – and we weren’t today!
To keep tabs on the progress of our 99% Solidarity Chicago Bus trip, subscribe to the 99% Solidarity media Twitter list and check in with us via the following livestreams:
Full disclosure: Nicole Powers has been assisting with 99% Solidarity’s efforts and is in no way an impartial observer. She is proud of this fact.