occupyblogtimore. Day 2

occupyblogtimore. Day 2

Sergio Espana

10/5/11: Day 2 / Day 19

Well, this is it.  Here I sit in a folding chair, on my laptop, enjoying wifi and dessert.  No, I’m not in my kitchen; I’m occupying Baltimore.

There are a few things wrong with this picture.  And when I say “wrong,” I don’t mean “bad,” but, “looks more like Friday at Oberlin College than political protest.”  

There is a small but dedicated contingent (the majority of the occupation circa 7:25pm) on the corner of Light and Pratt, holding signs like “Foreclose the White House” and “PhD =/= Job.”  Every minute or so, a passing car will satisfy them with a honk.  That noise and the ensuing cheer have almost blended with the hipster electronic music pumping from the speakers, prompting one freestyle solo rave after another.

“I’m downloading music to spin with after the General Assembly,” one occupant of the media table tells a young man who has wandered up to ask what our method is.

“We’re just focusing on, you know, telling our own stories,” adds another.

The Food Committee has outdone themselves.  Offers of spaghetti, bean sauce, mashed potatoes, grits, lentils, and this mysterious chex mix/applesauce dessert I just ate are on par with the food at your favorite vegan café.  The pizza donations are rolling in from our local allies.  The Port-A-Potty (for after-hours use only) has been booked through Monday.  And, wait for it, we’re composting.  

The most surprising cooperations, however, have come from the weather and the police.  If tourists don’t know any better, they might guess that this is a city-sanctioned event, or even just a bunch of people hanging out on a beautiful Tuesday night.  I brought my thermal sleeping bag expecting to shiver, but now I can’t wait to sleep under the stars.  Well, if by stars, I mean the shining neon lights of our corporate foes.  

The now-abandoned mass of paper, paints, and cardboard in the center of the square is the work of the Arts & Culture Committee.  It enables any passer-by to get inspired, make a sign, and join the revolution.  Easy, right?

Yeah.  So now what?

As I write this blog, we find an answer:  Some guy with twitter in his hand just arrived at the media table and announced that the protest in NYC is fifty thousand strong.  The police have started making arrests, he told us, and beating and pepper-spraying everyone in sight.  Oh, and Steve Jobs died.

So there it is.  While our counterparts in New York are getting chemicals in their eyes, our Medical Committee is making herbal teas to keep Baltimore’s protesters from getting hoarse.  But we’re monitoring their every tweet, and posting messages of support.  And we will continue to occupy the harbor, past Monday when the Port-A-Potty expires, despite the fact that the police want us to apply for a permit . . . wait, we voted in favor of the permit?  What’s going on here?

A lot of people will tell me that I’m doing this wrong.  My comrades at the General Assembly have urged us to keep dissent internal and join together to counter the critiques of the media.  And to be fair, this occupation is two days old - like Wall Street and wine, it will get better with age.  But the push for unswerving unity makes me slightly uneasy – is it any better than the blind patriotism advocated by the government we’re here to reprehend?

Ideas about action and demands are saved for the end of the meeting, and presented as just that: ideas.  The occupation is well-organized, we’re all having a good time, but at this point the structure outweighs the substance.  We’re making plans to plan things.  Our movement is not baseless - we want corrupt corporate money out of politics, and an end to the laws that favor inequality.  We want a hell of a lot more, if we can just figure it out.  But Baltimore is not Wall Street, and things will not fall into place just because we set up a happy commune in the nice part of downtown.  If days continue to pass without targeted demonstrations, without increasing our presence in this city, our dreams of change will fade faster than they did after Obama’s election.  The time to mobilize is now.  

Then again, if we really start hating on the corporate giants across the street, they might not let us use their bathrooms.