Activist and writer Natalie Solidarity spent much of her time on the front lines of the protests against the NATO summit in Chicago all weekend. On Saturday [May19], at an anti-capitalist march, police attacked protesters with clubs after stopping the march on State Street and Washington. Later in the evening, a police van drove through the crowd, striking at least one demonstrator and sending him to the hospital. Natalie recaps the events in this video.
Aaron Cynic of Diatribe Media and the Chicagoist (and on our website, this account of #noNATO action) sent us this video last night in which, around 8:30 outside the Art Institute, he gives his audience an update on NATO protests as well as what’s happening in that moment.
View the video here:
For those of you in other parts of the world, Tacoma is west-coast port city and is quite close to the northwest corner of the United States. At the time of our May Day rally, we experienced what was typical weather for this time of the year here in Washington State (For those of you not familiar with American geography, Washington State is not the same place as Washington DC, the USA capital, thousands of kilometers away).
We had periods of sun and warmth, then rain, and even a bit of ice, followed by warmer sun. The sky looked spectacularly dramatic, a mosaic pattern of clear sparkling blue patches intermixed with other patches of dark clouds, sometimes with bright fringes. The scents of spring floated in the air, wafting up from the many trees, plants, flowers and the moist good earth under our feet. Eddies of chill wind whipped around us, stirring up nature’s perfumes, and then the air would be still and warm. One minute, the sun shown brightly, and then just seconds later, a big black cloud would obscure the sun. As I gave my speech, we went through spots with sun and still air, followed by spots of icy rain, followed by brisk cool breezes, and then more warming sun embracing our faces.
At the time of our May Day rally, the hospital workers had had an informational picket line at several nearby hospitals, and many of those picketers had taken some time off to come to our rally. And before our rally, many of us Occupy Tacoma supporters and friends had joined the hospital workers in their picket line to show our solidarity. After our rally, many of us attended their union rally at a nearby church, and it was quite inspiring to hear these workers talk about their situation and their plans.
I support those workers. My wife spent her last days in one of those hospitals now being picketed, and the workers were super, making every effort to make the last days of her life as comfortable and pleasant as possible. She was very grateful to them.
Representatives from other unions attended our rally and walked with the hospital workers on the picket lines as well, and supporters and members of Food Not Bombs and Jobs With Justice also came by. We had food cooking, and some homeless people came by and shared a meal with us.
The speech I gave at the rally was a bit different than many of of my other speeches in that I delivered this speech in verse, mostly blank verse. When you see the video, you’ll probably notice that.
The sound recording was a bit problematical at times because sudden gusts of wind whipped by the microphone, muddying the sound, and sometimes the microphone picked up too much ambient noise.
Nevertheless, I’m quite happy with the way this video turned out, despite a few technical difficulties in producing it, and I hope you enjoy seeing my speech as much as I did in delivering it.
I’ve lived a good long time now, and the sudden rise of the Occupy movement, the related European movements, and the movements of young people in Africa, Asia, and our sister countries of the American continents has, in the autumn of my life, warmed my heart, more than I can say in mere words. These wonderful young people have given my soul reason to soar high on the wings of hope and sing a song of the new spring.
To the activists all over the world and here in the USA, thank you for all you are doing to make this a more decent world and to challenge the rule of the 1%. This can be a difficult and tedious process, even irksome at times. But I believe in the end, we will win, and the world will rise on new foundations.
Karl Marx said these interesting words:
When people speak of ideas that revolutionize society, they do but express the fact that within the old society, the seeds of a new one have been created, and that the dissolution of the old ideas keeps even pace with the dissolution of the old conditions of existence.
At this historic moment of history, we are creating the seeds of a new society, and they are sprouting and taking root in the very fabric of the old.
We shall overcome! ¡Venceremos!
Editor’s Note: You can check out more May Day stories and coverage here.]]>
I noticed people running around near the main stream media–live streamers. I started asking questions: who are you? Why are you filming? Where does your work go? Lorenzo Serna explained that he was streaming. This grabbed my attention. Then, Bill Boggs at the press tent handling PR was loaded with intensity. Then Hero Vincent was doing some kind if Skype chat. I started asking all of them questions. This led to meeting Justin Wedes and Priscilla Grim and Flux and Haywood Carey–and Tim Poole. Of course, Jesse Lagreca made a splash with the Fox News people. I knew this was the angle for my film: the media people. They had a job to do. Help drive a story. Whether it was filming, editing, getting out a press release or a newspaper, this was new, exciting, living media happening from Zuccotti in the rain, snow. Anybody getting out a story to the world with this feverish energy was exciting, and to me, the first time in a long while in New York City that media wasn’t old, stale and redundant!
I made a 40 minute film that was almost live. I made some good friends and they shared with me some great video that I couldn’t film alone. I needed a team of 5 camera people 24/7 .
I made a film that mirrored the days and nights of Zuccotti. Raw, fast and real, I wanted the sound rough. The shaky camera from when I was shoved. Zuccotti was not a glossed-over filtered fantasy. I am a hard New Yorker, and this energy was real. The OWS media team is brilliant. From the Direct Action to the graphic artists to Sophia writing the Spanish paper, I tell the story of many people. Personal, yet showing their commitment to OWS media, I filmed it.
This is new journalism. They don’t need press passes and insignias to get out a story. This is greatness in action. I’m happy they trusted me to tell the story. And, regardless of criticism, they know how to create a story, and they work hard.
It was a once in a lifetime event in New York. Finally people said “Enough with the bullshit. We are citizen journalists. This is what we do. We will tell our own story.”
I used my energy to capture it.
Editor’s Note: You may view #WhileWeWatch in its entirety here at SnagFilms.]]>
Most city police ware dark blue uniforms, and here are a few cop cars and the bus parked on Woodward:
The talk last night was that these guys where Homeland Security. At about 9:30, they announced that everyone must leave the park by 10 pm. With the understanding that the sidewalks where a legal public space, a group of people congregated around the Pingry statue. Then the guys in black, with the company of about 40 city police, decided that we were not aloud to assemble on the sidewalk, saying that this was an illegal assembly. The protesters asked where they could go and were told to go south. To me this indicated that no one cared where we were as long as we didn’t stay in Grand Circus Park.
We regrouped in another park for about an hour or so and started getting visitors from the city police. They asked the group to go back to Grand Circus, and when told that that’s where we came from and why, they didn’t even know about the events. That makes me wounder just who was calling the shots in Grand Circus…
All in all, it was a good day. Occupy had a food line for the homeless people in the area and a few musical groups played some tunes.
Editors note: Check out our other May Day stories here.]]>
Today it was my privilege to sit down with Rose and Pam Hogeweide at Anna Bananas in North Portland to discuss Rose’s arrest on the morning of Occupy Portland’s eviction. They are a dynamic and strong mother and daughter that I first met after seeing proud mother Pam’s Twitter posts announcing Rose’s first court date on December 13. They have been involved in Occupy Portland actions since October 6 and recently celebrated Rose’s 18th birthday in very Portland-like fashion with a tattoo that matches her mother’s.
I briefly visited with the family prior to court and we’ve kept in touch in social media circles. As was the case in many Occupy related arrests, Rose’s charges were dropped. By her account, this left Rose feeling very discouraged and ultimately dismissed, in the same way that she felt the entire Occupy movement was dismissed and disregarded. In the next 90 days, Rose actively participated in several actions, such as Occupy The Ports, with the full support of her family. Still feeling no sense of closure about the initial arrest, they decided that they needed to take further action and filed a complaint with the City of Portland. As a result of this complaint, earlier today [April 15, 2012] Rose participated in mediation with the officers who arrested her . She met with the pair of officers she was handed to after being pulled from the crowd in the following video around the 6:44-8:04 mark.
One of the most important questions Rose wanted answered was: why? Why her? She was 17, smaller than the protesters surrounding her, wearing a knitted hat in the shape of a lion, and as you can see from the video, was presenting no threat. Rose’s question initiated a tactical discussion in which she learned that she was arrested because she was in the “bubble”–the area defined by the supervisor standing behind the line of riot police. Anyone located in the bubble was subject to arrest, having supposedly been notified by the infamous “Ice Cream Truck” bearing the sound apparatus calling out a repeated warning to disperse. Rose stated she doesn’t remember hearing the dispersal warning and was suddenly being pushed forward right in the center of the line of scrimmage, in what was reported by officers as a somewhat tense situation. The police also told her that someone had thrown a water bottle or some small item, and that that was what began the series of arrests.
Simply put, Rose was arrested because she was there. She was detained for a short time, and asked a very reasonable question as she was being processed. She asked if she would still be able to attend college and one of the officers stated “this is Portland, this will help you get into college!” She was also told that she was “the nicest Occupier” they had ever arrested.
On that note, we discussed how her view of the political landscape has changed. She stated that prior to Occupy Portland, she wanted to go to college elsewhere, perhaps the east coast. She really had no thought or involvement in local or national politics. Pam stated that Occupy has caused a moment of enlightenment and a growth process in Rose and it is evident that she both supports and loves this awakening in her daughter. It is apparent to me that Rose began to Occupy as a child, and has emerged a more confident, self possessed and empowered young lady with a very bright future.
Through the past months, as Occupy has grown and progressed, Rose has learned that there is a method by which to express her feelings, and that there are solutions to the problems we all face. It has turned her into somewhat of a celebrity in her school, especially with her political science teacher, who looks to her for an opinion whenever Occupy is mentioned. She has gained a fierce sense of community pride and continues to demonstrate a civic consciousness that makes her mother’s eyes light up. Most importantly, she has found her voice and a sense of empowerment that will serve her well as she heads to Portland State University, to perhaps study political science.
When cars and trucks pass underneath our glowing signs, the drivers and passengers retain a memory of the message, distributing it to both nearby and far-flung locations. We hold the letters one-side-by-each, short-form messages of protest against long-form extremism, semaphores of solidarity picked up and swept across social media. This is the OLB, “coming soon to an overpass near you,” a group dedicated to tactics of visibility and voice, the importance of physical witness, community coherence and the power of purposeful play.
Last evening even the 80% prediction of rain broke in our favor. The 20% chance of no-rain won the early evening. It was odd being out and not feeling bone-cold. We had scoped out a pedestrian overpass we had never occupied before, a long arcing structure built over an extremely wide section of Milwaukee’s I-43, a bridge from East to West within an African American neighborhood of Milwaukee. These often overlooked structures are like fords in roaring rivers, stitching two banks of bisected communities back together.
I do understand the logic of our embankment banishment, even though we were way up on the side, quite far from the freeway. The problem is in getting the pictures. You’ve got to get close to get the shots. I ask myself, “What would Werner Herzog do?” and begin to think of ninja gear, camo-paint and invisibility cloaks. Proceed and be bold…
Last night, our encounter with the law was a lot less friendly. Everything was fine, but it was pretty terse and tense. OLB gently yet insistently pushes at the constraints around public assembly and peaceful protest. We are not there to argue with cops. We are there simply to be there, and to be visible.