Editor’s note: A version of this story originally appeared on Suicide Girls Blog. Part one of the story may be found here; part three is here. You can read more #noNATO coverage on Occupied Stories by clicking here.
Chicago, IL–Day 2 of our epic journey was very flat, but literally, rather than metaphorically. Having made it through Denver’s Rocky Mountains under the cover of darkness while most on the bus were asleep, we woke up to a spectacular sunrise as we sped across the border into Nebraska. There the terrain was level, very level, as were heads on our designated LA media bus.
California Dream Stream Team member OccupyFreedomLA conducted classes aboard the bus on livestreaming and social media. A veteran occupier, she also made sure everyone knew the local Chicago National Lawyers Guild number and also read out a briefing she’d been given on the Chicago Police Department’s provisions for press over the long weekend. The CPD “Ground Rules For Media” included these ‘highlights’:
No “cutting” in and out of police lines will be permitted, or “going up against their backs.” Those who follow protesters onto private property to document their actions are also will be subject to arrest if laws are broken. Any member of the media who is arrested will have to go through the same booking process as anyone else. Release of equipment depends on what part the equipment played in the events that led to the arrest…
There will not be any quick personal recognizance bond just for media members…
But police emphasized that those who choose to walk amid the protesters are “on your own.” The department cannot guarantee the safety of those who do so and cannot guarantee that they can extract any reporter who ends up the target of protesters.
That last line about reporters becoming targets of protesters was particularly inflammatory, and received the appropriate derisive response from our 99% Solidarity media crew, who though not impartial, were there to accurately report the news rather than make it with acts of violence. Indeed, everyone on board all of the 99% Solidarity buses had signed a pledge confirming their peaceful intentions, which was a pre-requisite for boarding.
Talking of peaceful, positive and progressive intentions, after members participated in one of the weekly Media Consortium Inter-Occupy press briefing calls, we had some great conversations on the direction of the movement over the course of the day – and some even greater ones with our bus drivers, who shared their thoughts on Occupy, which were all very constructive if not entirely supportive. Of the three drivers we’d had (who’d operated in shifts due to the length of our trip), it was our last driver who turned out to be our biggest supporter, somewhat surprisingly given his former occupation: though a former Marine, he shared many of our anti-NATO sentiments, expressing a frustration at our government’s overseas policy and treatment of veterans, which was naturally tempered by his loyalty to his fellow servicemen.
When the conversation died down, the documentaries Casino Jack and The United States of Money, about corrupt lobbyist (is there any other kind?) Jack Abramoff, and Exit Through the Gift Shop, about street artist Banksy and his accidental protégé Mr. Brainwash, kept our group entertained. The standard revolution diet of pizza, again, kept them sustained.
As we drove into Iowa, we were confronted by another spectacular sunset. Our livestreamers, who by now had their own designated hashtag #CaliDST, were getting quite competitive when capturing these.
A minor medical emergency delayed us for an hour just before crossing the Illinois state border. As we headed into Chicago almost 50 hours after our journey had begun, those on the bus let out a collective cheer as we spied the spectacular skyline. Another sunrise, this time over the waters of Lake Michigan, greeted us as we drove into the heart of the city.
Our buses stopped at Lakeshore & Belmont, just a few blocks away from Occupy Chicago’s Convergence Center. Local Occupy members kindly met us with promises of a much-needed breakfast as soon as the staging area opened at 8.30 AM that day. Most on the bus decided to take them up on their offer, not wanting to make history on an empty stomach. Indeed news of the protesters arrival in the Windy City in a fleet of 17 99% Solidarity/NNU buses had already made the news, with a photo of the first of four from NYC taking up most of the Chicago Sun-Times front page!
To keep tabs on the progress of the Chicago bus trip and actions, 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.