Winter Warriors: Tents and Sleeping Bags for Occupy

Organizing Protests

Winter-ProtestNew Orleans Every once in a while there’s something close to serendipity in this work.  Yesterday, I was pulling my hair out trying to think through the Occupy problem with winter coming on.  I had opened my blog yesterday, saying:  “the easiest opinion I can offer right now as an organizer is that the Occupy movement needs to prepare to meet the resistance.  Well, maybe it would be even easier to mention my concerns about the fact that winter is approaching in many areas, but later for that.”

As I left a bargaining session in Lafayette after Local 100 had settled an agreement with LARC, I looked at my email and had a message from Jane Hamsher, the founder and life force behind the huge internet site,, that she had tried to call me and, essentially, why the heck hadn’t I picked up the phone!  I sent her my cell number and had hardly gotten the truck pointed east towards New Orleans on the I-10 than she was on the phone.

And, this is the “beauty part,” she was calling looking for help because Firedoglake had put out an appeal for funds to raise money to “winterize” Occupy and get tents and sleeping bags that could handle the cold.   Turned out that had raised $40,000 already through what I now know is the #OccupySupply Fund, trying to support Occupy sites preparing to hunker down with winter coming.  Jane and I were on exactly the same page with this analysis that there would be a push out in the south and warmer climes, and we have seen this now in Atlanta, Oakland, and Melbourne, and for the colder areas, authorities were clearly hoping that winter would do the work for them, as I had feared from my recent visit to Canada.

kolahdooz20111027095542217The small bit of help that Jane and Firedoglake wanted was how to connect with union-made products and suppliers so that they could source the winter goods through union member, labor supporting operations and not the local Wal-Mart or whatever.  They were having trouble getting their calls returned, which I’m sure was just a temporary snafu, though surprisingly she told me of one company that actually refused to sell to them because the gear was for Occupy.  Ownership of that outfit is no doubt in the 1%!

These kinds of efforts are worth a few bucks in order to keep this going.  I’ve reached out to friends in Canada and throughout the USA, suggesting that they mount similar efforts to help keep Occupy alive and in place or to support the Firedoglake campaign.  Either way, this could make a difference!

In another bit of convergence, having been in Egypt I thought, hey, it’s time for a “We are all Scott Olsen” Facebook page to stand with the young, ex-Marine Iraq veteran who was taken down by Oakland police, just like the 1.5 million strong, catalytic effort in Egypt when the “We are all Khaled Said” page was posted after the police killing in Alexandria.  Almost as soon as I whipped the email through the internet, I said, whoa, let’s check and there was fortunately already a “We Are All Scott Olsen” page.  That is definitely worth joining!