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Imprisoned for a Declaration of Interdependence | Occupied Stories

Categorized | #NatGat, Stories

Imprisoned for a Declaration of Interdependence

Imprisoned for a Declaration of Interdependence

Editor’s note: This post is part of our #NatGat coverage. You may read more #NatGat-related stories here.

Philadelphia, PA–There was a synchronicity manifesting at the Gathering:

  • There was a large canvas Declaration of Interdependence at the campsite for everyone to sign.
  • The Direct Action Flâneurs were there with a giant typewriter for everyone to type on a Declaration of Interdependence.
  • And I had brought the Threefold Declaration, which included a Declaration of Economic Interdependence.


In one of the Trainings, there was talk about making a direct action at Independence Hall. A smaller group took the idea up. People agreed that some action should be taken on such a symbolic day and symbolic place as July 4th, 2012 at Independence Hall–but no one could agree on what to do. We started organizing, spreading the word, and drafting a statement, but as the day approached, it gradually fell apart. Me and another fellow decided to make a last-ditch effort, but he was delayed, and so it turned out that on the morning of Independence Day, I was the only one who showed up.

The Occupy Legal Team had requested that they be notified of any Autonomous Actions beforehand, and this was turning out to be an entirely autonomous, Autarchic Action, so I called them and notified them.

At 9:00 in the morning, I continued on to Independence Hall, and took the first tour. At the end of the tour, in the room where the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration, I stepped over the barrier. I said “don’t worry” to the other citizens, and I walked right up to the desk where the original Declaration of Independence was signed by John Hancock. It got really quiet.

I set down the written Declaration I’d brought with me, and I signed it right there on the desk. Then I unfolded the Solidarity Economy flag I’d made, and I spoke extemporaneously to the citizenry. This is approximately what I said:

“In the name of People of the United States–the American People–we declare our independence from Corporations, and our Interdependence with one another. This is a flag for an Interdependent Economy of America–for an Occupied Economy achieved through the Separation of Business and State.”

The other citizens were calm and listened to me. When I’d finished, the ranger said that he understood and related to “what you all are trying to accomplish”, and requested that I leave. I had said what I came to say, and I wrapped myself in the flag and walked out.

In the foyer of the Hall, the National Park Police and Rangers were in full scramble mode. I was arrested and imprisoned in the Federal Detention Center. It was worth it.

In there, I met up with the one Occupier who was still in prison, who’d been imprisoned since the tent-ring on Saturday: 20-year old Nate St.-Martin from New Haven, CT.

I was accused of two misdemeanors: Entering a Closed Federal Area and Interfering with a Federal Officer. We were both released the next afternoon, July 5th.

(Side note: when we organize an Occupy event, we ought to make sure we tell participants to write the phone number of the legal team ON THEIR ARM WITH PEN OR MARKER when they are going on a march or action, because police simply take all one’s papers, including slips of paper with phone numbers, and won’t give them back. Both Nate and I were not able to phone the Occupy Legal Team because of this.)

I got my own “occupy uniform” because the Federal Bureau of Prisons mailed my clothes to my home in upstate NY. So I left with a cool gray federal prison jumpsuit, size XXX Large. It’s actually pretty comfortable, and I felt it was a fitting outfit for present-day America. And it made a striking complement to my “Red Square, Blue Stripes” economic flag that served as my sun-screen and blanket as I continued on.

As I was leaving town that night, I walked up to a random person on the street to ask for directions, and he was astonished (and I was too): he was the Park Service tour guide at the Declaration of Interdependence! We spoke amiably for awhile, he asked to take my picture, and he looked on his phone for directions for where I needed to go. We shook hands and wished each other good luck.

– Travis Henry –


12 Responses to “Imprisoned for a Declaration of Interdependence”

  1. Andrew Gilligan says:

    Travis, inspired! Well done.

  2. Travis Henry says:

    Zoe, unless the inside of the Hall has video surveillance, the only visual record is in the minds of the citizens who witnessed.

  3. meenal says:

    Thanks, Travis, for taking our discussions where you needed to take them. Can you share a link to an image of the flag you displayed? And some text about the Threefold Declaration?

  4. Travis says:

    There’s an image of the Solidarity Economy flag design at this page:

    I’d gotten it made into cloth by a fabric printer.

    This is the text I signed in the Assembly Room:

  5. Travis says:

    Meenal, the Interdependent Economy of America flag design comes up if you click my name on the header of this comment.

  6. Travis says:

    And the Threefold Declaration can be reached by clicking my name which precedes *this* comment. On that page, I say more about the various Declarations that you and I looked at in the days leading up to July 4th.

  7. brian says:

    Travis, we were there, part of the tour group. We have a few pictures of you. The ranger didn’t seem as understanding as you stated but all in all it was a peaceful display of our rights that the founding fathers strived for. Definitely gave us a moment to remember on our tour.

  8. Travis says:

    It’s nice to hear from another citizen who was there. Yep, the ranger-guy did said some other things too, but I try to portray him in the best light. :)

    Brian, would it be feasible for you to email me copies of the pictures?

    If so, the address is traversetravis at gmail dot com.

  9. Brian says:

    Taravis, be happy to get them to you. Probably during the week not sure they’re the best quality. It they are free.

  10. jez3prez says:

    Nice action, Travis! This is fantastic anarchival direct action! Here is the Jez3Prez Declaration of Interdependence, draft 2012.JUN.28

    A Declaration of Interdependence

    I am an alien.
    You know what I mean.
    I wander around the Earth.
    I go in between the layers,
    The ones we try/subvert
    What we attempt to subvett
    What we never avoid
    What we always forget

    Each human
    that I speak to
    I walk into their lives
    I reach to, speak to
    The ones who are concerned
    The writers, the typers, the essay-novel pipers, the dream machine enlighters, the inspiration makers, the common and courageous.

    Oh crystal shakers, oh mustard bakers, oh ceramic Satan-slakers! oh transmuted tyrants! oh trombone pirates! oh great imporous bear! You shall all be no more than the balloons we fill with sweet air!

    Jez3Prez is a WE, its a you and me and you too.
    I am nothing without you.

    You are the aboriginal, the before creations, the pre-birth, the alter-ego the human cloan, the unwritten tomes, the indigenous,
    the Aboriginous, the Life!

    I claim to be Aboriginous, of this Planet, of this earth, of this WORLD, even tho I feel alien, and treated as if I’m a stranger, 9 times out of the week, maybe more, maybe less. But I don’t want to be unreal to you, like passing shadows under the new moon. I’m doing it for me, which means I’m doing it fr you, fr people like me, and probably people you like too. I’m trying to care for every living being with each step, with each thought. I’m doing it tonight, and every other night, eternally, and always, and naught.

    People ought to be able to Claim Their Cult!
    Yoga nerds, home brewers, Wiimote artisans, super-sensing mood changers, detailed orientators, OCD obsessives, strangely self-obsessive sometimes, but ego-plurilians, nihilists of the spriteliest variety, anarchists of time and Capital and the State. We are like this time, we are of this time, but we can be FOUR THOUSAND TIMES at the same as this time. Time is a cognitive illusion, blank spot in yr head. You believe it’s for something all the Time, but it’s still nothing special. Time can be all the time, or just some of the time, or just when, or just now, or just then, or just now.

    We’re on the great what does it all mean trip, the fungus trip, the dirty weed trip, the holistic mountain trip, the holly rawler trip, the open ghost ship. The Trip!

    WHO ARE WE ALL!? Diversity, unveil yrself!

    I’m droning. On and on. In the distance. I hear a dawn. I hear a weirdo, babbling on. Brooklike – he ruined – it’s absent and trite.

    Godot might come…
    He might not…
    Either way,
    It’s a nice day.
    It’s all good.

    So be the Master, play the rank or Prezident among the inestimable weirdos, Novads, cranks, kooks, books, tweets, towoots, and shoots. We’re all one of those, at some point or another. Each of you is president of your domain, and perhaps in the future we’ll live in a nation of Prezidents, not a nation of Finks, where we understand what it means to be autonomous communities, communa mobilis, Rovers of a red and black variety.

    We go, we Rovers, we go
    on and on and on.
    And we’re always on the road of life
    And on, and on, and on,
    and down it goes, and
    where it stops no-
    body knows,
    and you go down fast, and faster, and fast,
    and you ALL. FALL. DOWN.
    In the end.
    At the last.

    [feel free to pick it up from here, friends]

  11. Ed says:

    I met Travis at the Fellowship Community. I knew he was into social threefolding, but didn’t know he’d written these various documents or was planning civil disobedience. I’m a long time student of social threefolding, and very much admire (but disagree with some elements of) Travis’ visionary manifestos and his courage on behalf of them. On the whole I support and am somewhat in awe of his ideas, his clarity, his thoughtfulness and creativity, and his actions, and he seems like someone who will keep reflecting on and revising his thoughts and actions. If so, all should be well, since he’s very clear on refraining from violence or destruction of property. A few items I question in his presentations:

    1. Travis seems to think a nation’s cultural sphere should in some respect be identified with the nation or put under a sort of national label — I think that’s a mistake. Culture transcends nations, and constantly integrates transnational influences. By proposing to put culture that supposedly has its origin in the U.S. under a sort of U.S. label, Travis will get a result opposite to what he wants — he will create a degree of fusion between the political State and culture. It seems apropos to recall that Steiner proposed that there should be no “international anthroposophical society” but only a “general anthroposophical society” — because he said that the use of “international” would excite members’ nationalist feelings. I think the same holds for culture in general. National labels should not be appended.

    2. Travis seems to propose that each of the three sectors — not just the political sector, will have a “chief executive.” I doubt that’s really in tune with Steiner’s thinking about social threefolding, or in tune with social threefolding itself. The economic associations are not directed from a single center or by a chief executive. Nor is cultural life to be directed from a single center. But the suggestion of a chief executive gives that impression.

    3. Travis’ civil disobedience is sort of exciting and dramatic, and I guess its purpose is simply to speak and live the truth, at least as Travis sees it. If that gets him into trouble, he’s evidently prepared to accept that. His actions will have made social threefolding known to some people who didn’t know about it before. Perhaps he hopes that by continuing such efforts at truth-telling, despite consequences, he can help a popular threefold social movement to get going, that more people will start speaking against the current order of things and trying to live in a threefold way. I guess I don’t have any criticism of his civil disobedience at this point. I guess it will depend on the fruits. I’d like to see more enterprises run in a cooperative way (I like the example of the Mondragon Industrial Cooperatives based in Spain, which I think have realized some of Steiner’s key economic intentions, though the people who started them knew nothing about Steiner or his ideas.)

    3. Travis suggests that the main reason we have a military is because of all the harm the U.S. has done around the world. That is a significant distortion of the truth, and Travis will lose a part of his potential audience who can see it’s a distortion. Despite a widespread perception, which Travis’ in this particular case seems to share, that no one outside the U.S. does things for their own reasons, but only as a reaction to U.S. goodness or U.S. perfidy, the fact is that many people and groups outside the U.S. have their own reasons for what they do for evil or good, reasons completely independent of what the U.S. does. There is some real evil in the world outside the U.S., embodied in totalitarian states and totalitarian expansionist ideologies. That evil is not a mere reflection of some font of evil in the U.S. Even if the U.S. were a threefold republic in Travis’ sense, and its people all paragons of spiritual virtue, and we all apologized profusely to Iran, and paid large reparations for what we did several decades ago to that nation, Iran would still today be ruled by very evil, dangerous men with plans for tremendous destruction. I’m not saying there shouldn’t be an apology or even some sort of reparations if appropriate. I’m saying that whatever the U.S. does, it will need a quite strong military for self-defense (and not only because of Iran), unless Travis proposes national crucifixion at the hands of totalitarian states as our best future, and unless he believes the U.S. should step aside and let totalitarian states rule the world. Remember that Christ was crucified not because he was insufficiently threefold or insufficiently moral. He was as pure as Travis wants to be, and he was crucified anyway. He was crucified because there is evil in the world. What Christ did and does is distinct from the task of a State.

    Christ said to give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, to God the things that are God’s. That was a very important seed of the separation of the spiritual-cultural sphere from the sphere of the State. In part because of other statements attributed by the New Testament to Christ, Christians have long granted to the State a limited right to use force on behalf of defending such imperfect justice as the State can maintain. According to the New Testament, Christ told Pilate, “my kingdom is not of this world. Otherwise my disciples would have fought to prevent my arrest.” Christianity teaches that violence and force may not be used to spread Christianity or to make people Christians. But Christianity does not forbid the use of force by the State in order to defend innocents from aggression. The New Testament shows at least one disciple carrying a sword. The U.S. should not unilaterally disarm in a world with quite large powers potentially far more unjust and destructive than the U.S.

    Further, if the U.S. government, adopts Travis’ admirable desire for moral perfection, and therefore refuses to exercise power in the world because that inevitably makes one impure, since one must deal with some very bad actors, and since one is oneself far from perfect, then he is counseling the very withdrawal from the world that Steiner advised against. And the result of entirely withdrawing from the power conflicts of the world is that then other states will fill the power vacuum left by the U.S. For example, the rising totalitarian power of China. Travis’ admirable desire for moral perfection, if expressed in a complete withdrawal from power politics, would thus have the perverse result of a world even darker than the one in which we now live — a world where States even less enlightened than the U.S. would have free sway. One can criticize the specifics of U.S. involvement in the world and seek to reform the nature of that involvement, but one cannot, without terrible destructive results, try to limit that involvement only to situations where the U.S. can be sure of never getting its hands in any way morally dirty. I’m exaggerating the extremeness of Travis’ idealism a bit, but not all that much. Perhaps some far off day, when all the totalitarian states in the world are gone, and only liberal democracies remain, the West and its allies will not have to take part in the roughness, and sometimes brutality, of world power games, because such games will be able to give way to global transparency. But till then, liberal democratic states, for all their flaws, absolutely must exercise power in the world, even though we only have flawed institutions and flawed human beings with which to do so, and even though we must dirty ourselves somewhat, because we are often dealing with states and their agents who have far fewer moral restraints than we do. The alternative to our involvement is even worse than our involvement.

  12. Ed says:

    Addendum to my comment above to Travis. When I said Travis is mistaken if he thinks “national labels should be appended to culture,” I meant only that there should not be a universal policy in the cultural sphere saying that any or most culture originating in a nation will have that nation’s label. That doesn’t mean that if some particular cultural group chooses to append a national label to itself, they wouldn’t have the freedom to do so. Of course they should. The point is, use of a national label should be entirely up to particular individuals and groups in the cultural sphere. If a group wants such a label for itself, there’s nothing to stop them. I think very few cultural groups originating in the U.S. or in any other nation particularly desire to be labeled with a national flag or emblem when they spread abroad.


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