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An Anarchist’s Odyssey to Chicago: Part 3


Editors note: This is a three part series. Check out Part one and  Part two. And see all our stories from the #noNATO actions here. 

Monday May 21st 2012

Lucas, Emillio and myself woke up just after 9am, and made it down to the rally for the march against Boeing just before we circled up around 11am or so.  Boeing decided to close its headquarters rather than deal with a demonstration.  We had won.  I popped another party popper since we were all waking up and cheering a bit.  It was a small victory to be sure but a significant one given that slowing down that company’s business for even a day may have very well saved lives.  We learned about how Boeing had been given tax exemptions for well over two decades and free slave labor from prisons in order to build death machines to sell back to the government…in addition to all the really uncomfortable commercial jets they make.

The local organizers prepared some street theater for this action and protestors divided into groups of people who would lie down on the ground and pretend to die while other protestors drew chalk circles around them while pretending to be drones.  Emillio asked if was going to join in and I was, but my job is to play the pandeiro and help keep the beat or make it more interesting when we march.  I also saw other organizers stalking up not only on standard issue Revolutionary Games “weaponry” such as silly string, soap bubbles, bags of confetti and confetti cannons similar to the one’s I always like to bring on marches, but also lots of red balloons, our calling card logo.  Seeing unfamiliar faces flying the colors of my affinity group on their march made me feel completely at home and left me wondering as to which muse had spread the same ideas among so many deliberately disparate strangers.

Everyone on the march had been marching and working hard for days and weeks, but our bodies had grown increasingly addicted to the flow of adrenaline and endorphins and we let everyone who saw us in the streets and online know that we were at war with war and that we knew it had every bit as much to do with our economic enslavement as the devil’s bargains we had been forced to sign in exchange for education and homes.

It was a good march, I caught up with Lou and Matt, I had been playing my pandeiro and chanting when a photographer with a really cool looking old camera asked me if she could take my picture for a project she was working on.  Her name was Annie and she’d been taking pictures of occupiers from occupations all over the country and had accumulated nearly 500 portraits.  I thought it was a really interesting project and we stepped out of the march for a moment so she could focus the camera and get some good light.  She told me she was taking a picture of a movement and not me.  I liked that.  Annie wrote down my name, where I was from and she asked me just as she’d asked the others in her portraits what I would wish for if I were given one wish.  I managed to dodge the question somewhat by telling her I’d wish for the wisdom in order to make the best use of that one wish.

We chatted about Annie’s art projects and my academic projects for the rest of the march up to Boeing headquarters.  I took lots of pictures of the action outside of Boeing which included enough chalk, silly string, soap bubbles, explosions of confetti and paper airplanes to make children from the staunchest republican families want to stop and play with anarchists.

Nicole and John found me on the march again.  We traded our stories from the previous evening, marched, and chanted together through the streets of downtown Chicago from Boeing HQ past big corporate bank branches toward the last conference of the NATO summit on Michigan Ave.

I had been lost in conversation with John while we had paused onMichigan Ave for what must have been a moment of silence when he handed Occupied Stories flyers to three guys who had been casually listening to our conversation.  I’d heard one of them talk about our position next to a bus to someone on the other end of his phone before John asked him about what had brought him to the march and to write about it as well.  I thought that John was sincerely trying to do outreach so I asked the guy the same question a little differently to get him talking.  He said they were machinists and they were just there to check the march out.  He was vague, I asked them why they joined the march assuming they had wandered in having just seen it, but the most vocal of them with shades and cap said they new the march was coming but they were still vague and evasive.  Once the march started again and we drifted away from them  John told me he figured that they were undercover cops given that he saw them recording what we were talking about with their phones.  The thought hadn’t struck me as my mind had been elsewhere.  He also told me he’d seen perhaps six other people who were probably police slip on black block attire the previous evening.

The nature of oppression in our country is such that there is great joy to be found in transgressing against the system however transgression is hardly the same thing as terrorism, and these undercover cops at best caught me ranting, loosely based on the writings of Foucault and Nietzsche about how I think that everyone in society would probably be happier if our criminal justice system was still based on public torture like it used to be during the dark ages as opposed to the modern system of confined imprisonment we use today.  I could only wonder as to what those three undercover dicks and their backup could possibly think of the notion.

I later introduced Nicole and John to Annie and they hit it off as I thought they might.  The four of us decided to take a break from the rally and grab some deep dish pizza before John and Nicole had to split.  I walked around ‘The Bean’ while Annie took Nicole and John’s portrait.  She asked them both the same question about their one wish once we had made to the restaurant.  Those of us who are involved with this movement are able to put a lot of trust in one another because we see each other so often in the streets, but most of us don’t actually know that much about one another other than the raw measure and strength of character which becomes nakedly visible to all out in the streets.  It was a pleasure to slow down, eat pizza far better than almost any which can be found in New Yorkand talk without chants in the background.  A few Chicago Police Officers had stopped by for lunch as well and were seated at a table next to ours.  We exchanged pleasantries and stories.  One of them told me that there were cameras all over the area where I had been clubbed.  He didn’t seem especially fond of Rahm Emmanuel, ‘he’s the guy who signs my checks’ was the officer’s response when I asked his opinion of the politician.

I parted ways with Annie and then John and Nicole after we had finished eating.  They had to catch a flight and I had to retrace my steps and try to figure out the location of where I’d been whacked by the riot place so I’d have something to tell the lawyers.  I figured it was definitely on Wabash just off of VanBueren like the caption in the photo I later saw online of Shon and Becca checking me out when it had happened.

Tuesday May 22nd 

I was scolded by a cashier for using a woman’s bathroom at a rest stop somewhere close to the edge of Pennsylvania during our bus odyssey home, I told her it was a New York thing but that I had remembered to put the seat back down.  I also heard Mandolin say it was a New York thing as well after he walked out of it a moment later.  I used a bathroom in a different area of the rest station after I’d finished some really bad lunch.  The attendant mentioned to another man standing there that she only had another hour left to go in her day.  “The longest hour of the whole day I bet?”  She looked at me and said “honey you wouldn’t believe the kinda day I’ve had.”  I involuntarily smirked as I glanced down from her to pull change from my wallet; I may have also shook my head a bit in disbelief at her last remark and said “tell me about it” in the tersest acquired Brooklyn accent I could manage.  She asked me how my day could possibly be any worse than hers.  I told her I was stuck on an 18 hour bus ride back from the NATO protests in Chicago with five staples in my head from a riot baton.

The cashier stared at me in disbelief.  She made no attempt to convince me that her day had been more difficult than mine.  She paused with disbelief for a moment of such a duration that I wasn’t sure if we were having a conversation.  I angled over to the display case at the edge of the counter where all of the knives were because I have a shameless knife fetish.  I realized I probably shouldn’t salivate over them while talking to these folks and turned my attention back towards them with a polite smirk.  Clearly thrown off by the business suit I was wearing as much as my story, the cashier asked me why the police were beating on me given I was dressed the way I was and not my gritty occupier friends outside the rest stop.  I mentioned that I hadn’t been in my suit at the time, but that the police were still pretty indiscriminate.  It was a lot for them to process.  The Occupy Movement, at least in NYC has certainly not managed to abolish the boundaries of class which still painfully persist even in our community, however we certainly have managed to maintain our solidarity despite those boundaries.

The cashier asked me if I thought our protests had done any good.  I told her that the protests against NATO had turned into a 70,000 strong anti-war statement.  I told the cashier and the other guy in the store about the veterans who talked about what the war is really like before they threw their medals away and the action against Boeing and how they didn’t pay taxes and used slave labor from prisons.  I told them it did a lot of good I thumped my fist against my heart as I left them with a polite nod and smile.

The view of New York City from over that northern bridge over the Hudson was beautiful.  It made all of us anxious to get off of the bus.  Many on the bus wanted to start march directly after leaving the bus.  They got their chance with a Montreal solidarity march from Washington Square Park to Union Square shortly later that evening.  I swung byUnion Square after I’d missed the march.  Thorin, Lauren, Jack and others looked like they were ready for more marching.  Their choice is to take the streets or to live in them but I gratefully marched to the subway stop leading back to my apartment and shortly thereafter occupied my bed.

-Harrison Schultz-

Editors note: This is a three part series. Check out Part one and  Part two. And see all our stories from the #noNATO actions here.

Posted in #noNATO, StoriesComments (1)

99Solidarity Occu-Bus Day 6: ICE and Leaving Chicago


Editor’s note: This is part of a collection of first-person accounts from #noNATO. Don’t let the corporate media speak for you, if you were in Chicago tell us what you saw. Submit your story. This post originally appeared on Suicide Girls Blog. Read parts one, two, three, four (parts one and two) and five.

Chicago, IL–Monday was supposed to start with a march to Boeing’s HQ, but after the craziness of the previous day, this activist, like many I suspect, slept through it.

One of the best things about this whole Chicago odyssey had been the opportunity to meet friends in real life whom I’d previously been conversing with exclusively online. This phenomenon seemed to be universal among the protesters that had gathered in the city. Consequently, over the past few days, at marches, rallies, and at the Occupy Chicago Convergence Center, Twitter handles seemed to be more ubiquitous than names.

Having attempted but failed miserably to meet up with a group of Twitter friends that were particularly dear to me during the chaos of yesterday’s #NoNATO rally, we decided to rectify the situation first thing today. Therefore, at the crack of midday, I headed to one of the best pizza joints in town to break some authentic deep pan pizza crust with my Twitter besties.

There’s always a little anxiety when meeting digital friends in the flesh for the first time. Would/could I live up to my online persona? Would/could they? Fortunately, in this case, expectations were exceeded, and our friendship affirmed. With relief (on all sides I suspect) that our camaraderie was justified, we finished our food and moved on to the next march.

The focus of this afternoon’s action was immigration policy and ICE, however, as our procession passed the Congress Plaza Hotel on Michigan Avenue, the sight of tourists entering the site of the longest ongoing strike in the US prompted spontaneous chants of “union busting, that’s disgusting” and multiple choruses of “Solidarity Forever.” It was heartening to see occupiers embracing the finer qualities of organized labor so enthusiastically, since at times – despite a natural affinity and synergy based on shared goals – relations between Occupy and the union movement have been strained.

Heading towards the Metropolitan Correction Center, we converged with those that had been on the Boeing march earlier in the day. As our numbers increased, the policing got a little more intense. However, clearly not wanting a repeat of the violence that had marred the previous day, the white shirts were mostly making a concerted effort to facilitate our route.

I ducked out around 5PM, since I had the next day’s Suicide Girls blog content to post, and also wanted to edit and upload my last batch of photos before jumping on the bus. All fourteen 99% Solidarity-organized and National Nurses United-funded buses, which had set out from eight different cities to ferry 700 activists to the Chicago protests, were scheduled to depart at 10 PM from the same spot they’d dropped us off at on Lake Shore Drive.

During my pizza breakfast/lunch, LA Occupier b0xcar had called me to express concern at the large police presence outside the Occupy Chicago Convergence Center, where our group was converging prior to departure. That same police presence was now in evidence by our buses.

As my cab approached, one officer attempted to divert us. It was only after I explained I was actually getting on one of the buses, that he allowed my driver to pull up in vague proximity. While gathering my luggage, plus several other bags I was transporting for friends, numerous cops took turns to yell at me to hurry up. Actually offering a hand might have been more helpful than screaming at one girl who was clearly having difficulty wrangling six heavy bags. But since assistance wasn’t offered, I clenched my jaw shut and silently took the utterly superfluous verbal abuse.

Over the past 24 hours, one of the paramount concerns of the 99% Solidarity group had been to track those who’d been arrested and facilitate their release, since leaving any of our number behind would be problematic in more ways than one. Diane Moxley, a veteran activist legal adviser who was running jail support, noted that charges tended to match the severity of the baton-induced injuries so police could justify their use of force. However, as our departure time approached, the reality seemed to dawn on the Chicago Police Department that any occupier who missed our bus would likely just occupy Chicago after their eventual release. Not wanting to add to their problems – or Occupy Chicago’s ranks – all but one of our group was released in time to make their ride.

That didn’t mean everyone was going home though.

To be continued…

– Nicole Powers – 

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99Solidarity Occu-Bus Day 5: #M20


Editors note: This is part of a collection of first-person accounts from #noNATO. Don’t let the corporate media speak for you, if you were in Chicago tell us what you saw. Submit your story. This post originally appeared on Suicide Girls Blog. 

Excitement for the dawn of a day that had taken much planning was severely tempered by the harsh reality of the night before. Sleep deprived but running on adrenalin, our group headed over to Grant Park.

In the same way the powers that be had tried to frame the narrative for the May Day ‘General Strike’ action by conveniently breaking news that morning of a terrorist plot by supposed Occupy activists, news of the arrest of the NATO 3 on the eve of M20 had been a prominent talking point over the past day. However, by now, more details were emerging, which made the whole scenario seem very suspect.

A pattern had started to emerge that had distinct similarities to the alleged May 1st plan to blow up an Ohio bridge – a scenario that turned out to be facilitated by the FBI to entrap a group of unfortunates who, left to their own devices, would likely be barely able to set off fireworks on bonfire night. Similarly, with the NATO 3 there was much talk of planted evidence and a highly suspect search warrant.

Following a speech by Jesse Jackson, Chris Geovanis of Chicago Indymedia briefed members of the media under the shade of a press not-quite-tent. She told us that when the police conducted the search that had lead to the NATO 3’s arrest it had taken them four hours to produce a warrant which was unsigned when it finally arrived. “That is the hallmark of dirty policing in this town,” said Giovanis, “There may very well be police entrapment here.”

The sun was beating down on Grant Park, so as the rallying cries began in the band shell, protesters were mostly scattered to take advantage of any shade they could find. Tactical and medic briefings wisely took place amidst clumps of trees.

Just before 2 PM, the protesters – and police – began to take formation, lining up in the road alongside the park. Protesters took their place in the center of the street, which was lined by police in riot helmets on either side. At the top of the march, ahead of the official rally banner, press were kettled in a pen of their own. Two police trucks were parked in front of the press pen, and in front of them, somewhat bizarrely, there was a red double-decker sight-seeing bus, the top floor of which was filled with news camera crews.

As the march set off, with the indie media segregated from the protesters, they resorted to interviewing each other. This made more sense that it might otherwise have, since the persecution of key livestreamers and members of the Twitterverse and Bloggersphere, had become one of the main stories of the day.

Walking through the streets of Chicago, I fell in step with Luke Rudkowski a.k.a. ‏‪@Lukewearechange, who was giving an on camera interview as he did his livestreaming thing. Listening in, I heard him talk about how he’d spent the night at a “safe house” outside of the city. This was a precaution several other streamers had thought it prudent to take. “We stream live, raw and unedited for people to make up their own mind,” explained Luke to the old guard reporter. “It’s a very weird situation when homeland security is interviewing your friends about you.”

When they weren’t comparing war stories from the past 24-hours, those in the press kettle were gleefully mocking the news crews atop the double-decker bus. Physically separated from the actual march by the two police trucks, these so called “journalists” were limited to reporting a perspective the police controlled. It served as a graphic illustration as to why the world is tuning into livestreams as mainstream news audiences continue to fall.

Halfway through the march, I ducked under the leading “NO to NATO warmakers” banner and worked my way back through the impressively large mass of bodies. I found my friends just as the march ground to a halt at a point where a group of veterans intended to symbolically hand back their medals. Hot, tired, and too far back to hear the speeches, we spread our large banner on the ground and lay down on top of it.

As I lay back and sunbathed with my eyes closed, I could hear the crowd at the head of the march taunting the cops on horseback who were blocking their way (“Get that animal off that horse”). When I open them once more, much of the crowd has already dissipated. Parched, I left my group, and went in search of somewhere to buy a drink. This turned out to be a highly fortuitous time to act on my thirst.

As I headed back along the march route I encountered massive formations of ominously attired officers from a variety of law enforcement agencies. The state police I passed in full RoboCop body armor looked particularly threatening, sporting batons of a size and length more akin to baseball bats. Before ducking into a convenience store I passed one who was clearly in a leadership role. His smile, swagger, not to mention the large, lighted cigar he made a huge show of savoring all seemed highly inappropriate.

Heading back with supplies in hand, I bumped into my California 99% Solidarity media bus comrade @CodeFrameSF. He was one of several new but fast friends I’d made over the course of this hectic and historic weekend. As we made our way back towards the rally the CPD issued their first dispersal warning. A few minutes later the first of several injured and bloodied protesters began to trickle by, the most severe cases were being tended to and/or carried by Occupy medics. At this point, having got a fair idea of what was likely to come watching the livestreams the previous night, this reporter decided to get the fuck out of dodge.

Back in the relative comfort of the 99% Solidarity base camp, I monitored the livestreams. With the permit having timed out at 4 PM for the official march, it had now morphed into one of the wildcat variety, which was being policed with increasing ferocity.

Once again, the mainstream press were paying attention to Occupy for all the wrong reasons. Members of our group clustered around the TV and channel surfed through several network news reports.

The visions of violence were so shocking that the collective tone of the anchors was distinctly sympathetic to those on the business end of the batons. “We’ve also seen police officers pummeling people and we don’t know why,” noted CNN’s Don Lemon. Later on in the same report, after viewing a particularly brutal shot, he exclaimed, “My goodness! Does anyone deserve that?”

Reports of injuries and arrests were coming in thick and fast. At this point one of our number with legal experience peeled off to do jail support.

[“Does Anybody Deserve This!” – CNN’s Don Lemon]
 

Disturbed by the riot porn that was taking over the TV on all channels, and in need of food and beverages of the alcoholic variety, the rest of our group decamped to a local eatery. The conversation was subdued, as our number stared down at their iPhone and iPad screens, keeping tabs on the wildcat marches that continued on for several hours.

As we walked back our base, a by now beyond capacity Red Roof Inn room, a brief moment of semi-delirious levity took hold as we spontaneously broke out in a chorus of our new favorite chant: “What do we want? Time travel. When do we want it? It’s relevant.” Yeah, I know, it’s occu-humor. Like much about the movement, you either get it or you don’t.

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.

Related Posts:

99Solidarity Occu-Bus: Day 1 Of Our Epic Coast-To-Coast Road Trip From Los Angeles To New York By Way Of Chicago
99Solidarity Occu-Bus: Day 2 Of Our Epic Coast-To-Coast Road Trip From Los Angeles To New York By Way Of Chicago
99Solidarity Occu-Bus: Day 3 Of Our Epic Coast-To-Coast Road TripFrom Los Angeles To New York By Way Of Chicago
99Solidarity Occu-Bus: Day 4 (Pt. 1) Of Our Epic Coast-To-Coast Road Trip From Los Angeles To New York By Way Of Chicago
99Solidarity Occu-Bus: Day 4 (Pt. 2) Of Our Epic Coast-To-Coast Road Trip From Los Angeles To New York By Way Of Chicago

Posted in #noNATO, StoriesComments (2)

99 Solidarity Bus: Day 4 (Part 2)


Editors note: This is part of a collection of first-person accounts from #noNATO. Don’t let the corporate media speak for you, if you were in Chicago tell us what you saw. Submit your story. This post originally appeared on Suicide Girls Blog. 

Chicago, IL – The action that had taken up much of the first part of my day had gone down in my personal history as one of the most civilized political protests I’d ever participated in (see previous post). It was in a great neighborhood – the mayor’s – in the midst of a handsome tree-lined street, which provided just the right amount of shade. The neighbors we surprisingly happy to see us, which is testament to how popular Rahm Emanuel is in his own hood. There was lots of beautiful flowering shrubbery, albeit with riot cops popping up out of it at regular intervals, and vendors were serving ice cream and fruit popsicles out of carts.

Afterwards I’d hopped onto a train and returned to 99% Solidarity’s temporary base to edit images and exploit their wi-fi so I could upload them. I’d also intended to post an updated blog, but then shit started hitting the proverbial fan…

I first began to realize that something was awry when several sources warned me it might be best if I refrained from attending a National Streamers Meeting that was planned for that evening. Then Twitter started to explode with news that superstar livestreamer Tim Pool’s (aka @Timcast) Chicago lodging had been surrounded and searched. Later Pool tweeted that his car had been stopped and that he, fellow streamer Luke Rudkowski a.k.a. @Lukewearechange, and three others has been detained by CPD at gunpoint (see video below). Other 140 character or less posts confirmed the monitoring, detainment and/or arrest of several other online personalities and streamers.

 

[Sunday M20 at approx. 2 AM: Luke Rudkowski, Tim Pool & Crew Detained at Gunpoint by Chicago Police]
 

Justified paranoia set in amongst their ranks as they realized they may have become targets of a coordinated effort to silence the truly free media. @YourAnonNewsperhaps summed it up best, when they called it a “a war on bloggers.”

The rationale for this strategy became all too apparent after two marches – one in support of the NATO 3 who had been arrested earlier in the day and another against police brutality – converged and rapidly devolved into a brutal cat and mouse game. After several hours, the police kettled increasingly panicked protesters in Millennium Park.

At this point, I got a call from one of our #CaliDST members @TRWBS, who’d been shooting at close quarters when a police van had seemingly deliberately plowed down a protester (he was later identified as Jack Amico of Occupy Wall Street). @TRWBS’ footage of the incident was among the first to be archived, and rapidly went viral (see video below). There were numerous other images being posted of shocking uses of force, arrests, and bloody injuries.

Video streaming by Ustream

Like a deer in headlights, at one point I just sat head in hands, overwhelmed by what was coming through on the various Twitter and Livestreams. Events were unfolding faster than I could process them. I was at a loss for words, so I stopped even trying to type. And just when I thought shit couldn’t get crazier, it did.

Likely panicked by footage of the carnage on the street, which by now had hit the mainstream news, a call came into 99% Solidarity’s base saying that the bus company had cancelled all of the NNU-sponsored buses which had been booked to transport protesters from Occupy Chicago’s Convergence Center to the main #M20 #NoNATO rally at Grant Park the next day. The tone of the bus coordinator’s voice, which I overheard as it was broadcast on speakerphone, said more than any of the words he actually used as he laid out a litany of so last minute they were implausible excuses as to why suddenly absolutely none of the fleet of 14 buses would be available the next day.

With chaos still raining on the streets, I monitored the livestreams to make sure my fearless #CaliDST friends were OK. One by one they signed off for the night, and as the Twitterverse calmed down I finally succumbed to sleep.

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.

Related Posts:

99Solidarity Occu-Bus: Day 1 Of Our Epic Coast-To-Coast Road Trip From Los Angeles To New York By Way Of Chicago
99Solidarity Occu-Bus: Day 2 Of Our Epic Coast-To-Coast Road Trip From Los Angeles To New York By Way Of Chicago
99Solidarity Occu-Bus: Day 3 Of Our Epic Coast-To-Coast Road TripFrom Los Angeles To New York By Way Of Chicago
99Solidarity Occu-Bus: Day 4 (Pt. 1) Of Our Epic Coast-To-Coast Road Trip From Los Angeles To New York By Way Of Chicago

Posted in #noNATO, StoriesComments (1)

Day 3 on the 99Solidarity Bus


Editor’s note: A version of this story originally appeared on Suicide Girls Blog. Part one of the story may be found here; part two is hereYou can read more #noNATO coverage on Occupied Stories by clicking here.

Chicago, IL–After 50 hours on the road, and three days without a proper night’s sleep, tiredness was becoming a serious factor. Our ragtag group of activists, occupiers, and livestreamers had gathered in Pershing Square between 3 and 4 AM on the morning of Wednesday, May 16, and most, including us, had foregone sleep the night before in order to make last-minute preparations. The expected 4 AM departure of the three 99% Solidarity-organized and National Nurses United-funded Los Angeles occu-buses had been delayed for two hours while we awaited the arrival of the Bay Area Nine – a heroic group of Oakland and San Francisco occupiers who had traveled down via Greyhound after their direct ride to Chicago had been cancelled at short notice. It was therefore around 6 AM before we finally set off from Downtown LA.

Our journey time had been further extended by two separate cases of overheated-engine syndrome as we convoyed through the Nevada desert, and a minor medical emergency 100+ miles away from the Illinois state line. A few over-extended, but essential, pee and smoke breaks had also impacted our ETA. When we arrived at our final destination, a short walk away from Occupy Chicago’s Convergence Center at around 6 AM on Friday May 19, we were nearly half a day late. But despite the exhaustion, our spirits were for the most part high, boosted by the excitement of what was to come, and by the beauty of the city, which the majority of our group had never visited before.

As one of three designated bus captains, I hung around to make sure everyone was situated. Since the lateness of our arrival meant we’d mostly missed our accommodation opportunities for the night, some of our group decided to join other occupiers who were occupying Lake Michigan’s beach, some headed off to meet with friends, and the rest followed representatives from Occupy Chicago, who had kindly greeted us with an offer of breakfast, which would be served was soon as their Convergence Center opened at 8:30 AM.

With photos to edit and upload, and words such as these to file, I headed to a motel room which was serving as 99% Solidarity’s temporary base. Having been starved of a reliable internet connection for the past two days, there was much to catch up on, and very little time, since the march leading up to the NNU organized People’s G8 / Robin Hood Tax Rally was scheduled to star at 11 AM.

Following a shower, and a frenzy of emails, uploads, and social media posts, I grabbed a much-needed Starbucks, a liquid breakfast/boost being all I had time for. (Unfortunately, sometimes, corporate crack is unavoidable – and this was one of those occasions!) I met up with a core group of occupiers and activists at Michigan and Madison, and headed over to Daley Plaza with them.

As we made our way down E Washington, we admired the barricades which the Chicago Police Department had kindly laid out on either side of the street to make out of town occupiers feel right at home. Given the much-publicized increased police presence, which involved importing officers from several other states, the atmosphere was surprisingly relaxed. When a group of CPD officers wearing full-on riot helmets cycled past on bikes, at this juncture, quite frankly the sight was more ridiculous than threatening. But as we closed in on Daley Plaza, the police presence was far less frivolous.

It was heartening to see an impressively large crowd had turned out to support the nurses and their call for a Robin Hood Tax. These overworked and underpaid group of individuals are on the frontlines of the war against the working and middle class, and the breakdown of our economy is particularly salient to those who staff our emergency rooms. There is therefore a natural affinity between the goals of Occupy and the nurses union, who were among the first of the traditional labor organizations to support the fledgling alternative grassroots activist movement.

Another stalwart supporter of the Occupy movement is Tom Morello, who performed at the rally once the talk was done. He gleefully taunted Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who had attempted to silence the Rage Against the Machine guitarist by pulling the NNU’s permit after they announced he was scheduled to perform. The resulting public outcry having forced Emanuel to relent.

“I know damn well I’m welcome in Chicago” Morello said to the cheering and appreciative crowd. “The mayor’s office tried to shut this whole thing down…How ridiculous for the mayor’s office to think I would do anything to hurt Chicago? Chicago is my favorite city on the whole world.”

After Morello’s perfectly pitched mix of rhetoric and rebel songs, the rally dissipated. The nurses took to their buses, occupiers took to the streets, and, after another burst of essential online activity, this activist/journalist voted for sleep.

-Nicole Powers-

 

Visit the gallery at SuicideGirls.com for oodles more images from the event.

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:

OccupyFreedomLA
CodeFrameSF
TheRevolutionWillBeStreamed
CrossXBones

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.

Posted in #noNATO, StoriesComments (1)

Day 2 on the 99Solidarity Bus Trip


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 hereYou 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!

-Nicole Powers-

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:

OccupyFreedomLA
CodeFrameSF
TheRevolutionWillBeStreamed
CrossXBones

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.

Posted in #noNATO, StoriesComments (1)

99Solidarity Bus Trip


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!

-Nicole Powers-

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:

OccupyFreedomLA
CodeFrameSF
TheRevolutionWillBeStreamed
CrossXBones

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.

Posted in #noNATO, StoriesComments (2)