Organizing Protests

66601641Palermo Continued questions from Cairo to Palermo and a constant stream of email messages received on the road, convince me that the Occupy movement is building momentum.  It is certainly getting attention, increasingly from serious organizers, labor unions, and others.  The news coverage on BBC, Russia Today, and the CCTV Chinese English language station is breathtaking.  The universal comment and consensus seems to be that finally there is an attempt to reckon with the reckless power of banks and financiers in the prolonged recession crippling millions of families in America and tens of millions around the world.

Two things seemed to have moved what started as a somewhat marginal seeming effort to throw something up against the wall to something else that might actually get some traction.  The first was the arrest of 700 on the Brooklyn Bridge.  Clearly, these folks had the sense to tactically fight above their weight class and had stepped up their game.  The second leap for the Occupy forces was allowing an organic and free form way for the movement to grow outside of Wall Street and in effect to bring the war on Wall Street home where our forces are stronger and the anger and impact is clearer.  Perhaps that is not as much an organizational decision as an organizational flexibility, but however it happened there was a quantum leap in involvement and excitement when organizers realized that they could “occupy” too.  The call to be counted is increasing.  This morning I found two calls to occupy in Oregon alone in my inbox.

The Times did not seem to know what to make of it all yesterday.  In the warped world that has conflated politics with marketing, professors were trotted out among others to opine about the “message.”  Count this as the third really smart move by the “occupy” forces:  not mandating a message.  A movement wants to resist “branding” and mono-messaging until its growth curve has peaked.  There’s time for ideology later.  In organizing and growing the biggest tent holding the largest number of people and issues is the one to pitch, not simple sound bites for attention challenged media crowd.

How big can this get?  How real is it really?  I’m not sure this matters.  There have been a number of actions on Wall Street in recent years but most came off as shadow boxing.  The “occupy” people dug in and let the effort grow, so it seems real now and not an artificial construct for an hour until the buses come and take people home.  People are staying.  Even Warren Buffet has been reported as sympathetic.  What kind of a world is this, if it can’t find voice for anger that has been so richly earned by a callous financial and political structure.

A colleague indirectly inferred in an email that I had been critical of the Occupy efforts.  Heck no, I’m a fan! My beef has been with the Beck’s, the Fox forces, the Breitbart’s, and Big Government’s who tried to claim that I was an organizer of this effort or in their oh so delicate words a “conspirator” behind it.  Their proof?  Nothing I did, but everything that I’ve said.  Of course I’ve said the banks have to be targeted and held to account.  And, of course I’ve said that here and elsewhere a thousand times.  That and some real money will get you a subway ride, brother, that’s not organizing!  I am unwilling to take credit for the good organizing that is being done to make this move and grow.  On the other hand every day it builds, I’m proud to be associated with the effort even thousands of miles away.  Maybe there’s a humble service I can provide by continuing to be a whipping boy for the rightsters and the tea people, while the sparks of a real movement for change might be growing in what the Europeans are already calling an “American Autumn!”

Occupy it all and good luck to you…can’t wait to come home and help!