My New Year’s Resolution: Kick some 1 percent butt!

OK, so my New Year’s resolution isn’t ladylike. But then there’s the old saying that well behaved women rarely make history. I’ve never been content to be a well behaved woman.

I grew up in a church that never respected a woman’s right. They fought every advance with all their strength. They didn’t think a woman even had a right to use birth control.

“You should take all the children God wants to give you,” we were told.

They were the religious right, and I recognize what they’re trying to do with “personhood” amendments and allowing those in the pharmacy who don’t believe women should be on birth control to not dispense it, even if they’re the only pharmacist on duty. My right to be able to fill that prescription is moot.

These beliefs, pandered to by the corporate-friendly candidates, have led the religious right to vote for the 1 percent for decades. Abortion is still legal, though, gay marriage is making headway and evolution and prayer are still not a part of the school day.

Some of the religious conservatives have woken up to what’s happened and have either turned to the candidate more likely to try to save the planet or stayed home on Election Day. I have friends who voted for George Bush because he was anti-abortion, only to see him engage in two wars that killed tens of thousands of people and enriched the no-bid contractors beyond the wildest dreams of the rest of us.

Across America, Occupy camps are being broken up in the hope that we will go home and behave like good little sheep. There has been illegal collusion between city governments and the Homeland Security Department. There has been police brutality. There have been lies in the media to try and convince us the unrest is over.

I don’t think that’s what’s happening. I think We the People have had enough of corporate rule and government corruption. We have had enough of the attacks on the working class, and the class warfare from above.

I had a dream last night of standing alone hollering, “Mic check!” For awhile, everyone ignored it, but slowly, people began coming forward. Before long, we had a crowd of hundreds, then thousands.

We have to be the ones to get the truth out there because the media are as corrupt as the war contractors and the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries.

They will continue to attack us, but we can fight back. We have to win this soon or our Democracy will be gone for good.

This is the year. Let’s kick some 1 percent butt!

 

 

‘I’ll do anything’

A rainy Monday in Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC. Occupiers believe they're about to be evicted and arrested, even though they were told they could stay for four months just a few weeks ago.

I drove some winter tents and heaters from a military tent surplus store near my house to Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC, last week. As I was in the office arranging to have my U-Haul loaded, a man came in, cap in hand, and asked if the company was hiring.

“We might be soon,” the woman said. “But it’s really hard, heavy work.”

The man looked to be in his 40s.

“That’s OK,” he said. “I can do that. I’ll do anything.”

He hadn’t worked in a year, and because the job he had before that — setting up mobile homes — was as an independent contractor, he wasn’t collecting unemployment benefits.

That’s a trick contractors play often. You can work for the same place for years, be there on time every day and work hard, and still not be able to collect when you get canned. They avoid paying benefits and they avoid having any responsibility if something happens to you.

The man had applied to several home center stores, but was turned away because he had bad credit. That’s right, Home Depot does a credit check on you when you apply for a job and then turns you away if your score is too low.

He’ll stop back in at the tent surplus company and maybe they’ll have a job for him. They won’t do a credit check, either.

It stiffened my resolve to stay involved with the Occupy Movement, and to be more involved with the one here in Asheville.

The 1 percent is getting out its big guns to get rid of us, though. Reportedly, the federal Department Homeland Security has been advising mayors on conference calls about how to break up the camps. Here in Asheville, ours has moved a couple of times and dozens of people have been arrested.

Occupy is not going away, no matter how many camps are broken up. We will gather elsewhere. We will gather on private property if we have to — there are churches and other organizations that support what we are doing. We will continue to educate people about the many ways the 1 percent is screwing us. We will continue to have direct actions.

This movement is not fading away as the media would have us believe. There were more tents in Freedom Plaza when I was there than there were when I left six weeks ago, and McPherson Square is even more crowded. Both camps have received notice that they will be broken up, but neither is moving. No one is afraid of being arrested because we all are committed to making meaningful change.

The media keep demanding a list of demands. We keep telling them what’s happening to Americans and they say we’re unfocused. Perhaps it seems that way because there are so many things wrong. We all have our favorite issues — I have worked toward quality health care for all Americans, others have worked for a living wage, safe and affordable housing, labor rights, education, mental health and disability rights, a cleaner environment and a move toward sustainable and renewable energy sources. None of us has made much headway on any of these justice issues. The 1 percent’s corrupt money is like a brushfire. No sooner do we put it out in one place than another flame pops up.

Under the banner of the Occupy movement, we are working together now, and we are not going away.

Happy Thanksgiving, especially to the Occupiers

I was in Washington this week to deliver some military tents to the folks at Freedom Plaza. It looks a lot like it did when I left last month, except the stage is gone and in its place is a huge blue “fort,” the creation of Joe Singleton.

“It’s Fort Snoopy,” he said. “It’s the fort I always wanted to build as a kid but couldn’t. ”

Fort Snoopy stands two stories tall, and it’s cavernous. But it’s a place to keep dry in the wet weather — better than staying in your tent, which many occupiers did during Tuesday’s steady, cold rain.

The beautiful thing is that they’re still there. There were as many tents as there were when I left. The place looks a little more fortified, what with the addition of the big blue tent. The Media Tent is enclosed now, and people are there most of the time to make sure nothing grows legs.

There have been a few thefts, but Joe suspects they’re coming from people who aren’t part of the movement.

“You’ll see somebody come in and walk around and then leave,” Joe said. “You won’t see them again. It’ll be somebody else who comes in and takes stuff.”

I was so glad to go back, even though I couldn’t stay long. I took my friend Sarah Skinner along for company (it was our fourth trip to DC together) and we left Asheville about 3 p.m., the U-Haul fully loaded with tents, poles and heaters, and arrived in DC about 12:30.  We dropped off the U-Haul, took a cab to a hostel and then back to Freedom Square for a couple hours before we had to pick up rental car and start home.

If it hadn’t been for the holiday, we would have stayed longer. Next time, I’ll plan on staying for three or four days.

I know the Occupiers here are planning a turkey dinner today, and I’m pretty sure they have turkey cooking in the tent at Fredom Plaza.

No matter what the TV news and other mainstream media are saying, the movement is not falling apart. People are building community, and the movement is growing. Freedom Plaza is just as thriving as it was a month and a half ago, and McPherson Square is jam-packed with tents as well.

I’m thankful to be part of the 99 percent today, and I’m ready to keep working for social and economic justice. If you’re going near an Occupy site today or in the coming days, they need food, kitchen supplies, socks, tents, blankets, sleeping bags, coats and batteries, among other things. Remember that this movement has taken in a lot of people who were homeless and have nothing. Please show your gratitude with something they need.

Thanks.

Where the stage was is Joe's "Fort Snoopy," a two-story PVC pipe and blue tarp structure that serves as warehouse, meeting place and watchtower of sorts.

Who we are

“We. Are. The 99 percent.!”

It’s chanted in cadence. Not that we were marching in time to the cadence, but it felt good to define us as just plain people; the 99 percent who are getting screwed by the 1 percent. It might be why the cops are so cheerful and accommodating in so many cities where the Occupy Movement has taken hold.

It is a movement whose time has come, as evidenced by its incredible growth in the last month. I think a lot of folks were waiting for something to start, and when it did, they joined.

We’ve been called unfocused, loud, a mob, unwashed (there are no showers in parks, for the most part) and more.

But the movement, for all its righteous indignation, is cheerful. There’s a lot of good humor and cammeraderie, a very real sense that we’re in this together to make a better future for ourselves and our children. We are nonviolent and we are small-d democratic.

Yes, we are angry that the banks got bailed out and we got sold out (another chant). We’re angry that long-term unemployed people are being villified as lazy, that people who die because they don’t have insurance are seen as people who made “bad choices,” that unions are seen as groups of thugs, that people can work 40 hours a week and not be able to live on what they make, that the CEOs of the companies they work for make 560 times what they earn, that people’s homes are being taken away by the very banks our tax money bailed out three years ago, that our immigration policy allows mother and fathers to be torn from their children and deported, that children go hungry, that we can’t seem to stop the rape of our environment by big oil, gas and coal companies, that we’re engaged in so many wars and overseas adventures, that unmanned drones kill more innocent civilians than they do combatants …

There’s a lot wrong with America right now, and we, the 99 percent, want to restore this country to its former respectability in the world. We don’t want to be the sp0nsors of carnage and pillage. We don’t want to see the regressive policies continue.

We, the 99 percent, are patriots of the first order. That’s why you’ll see so may flags flown around the Occupy sites.

In 1969, when I protested the Vietnam War, my mother asked me why I would go against my country.

“I think it’s like warning someone you love that they’re doing something wrong,” I said. “I love this country too much to ignore when we do something that’s wrong.”

My father thought that was a good arguement, although he subscribed to the fight-’em-there-or-they’ll-be-on-our-shores Domino Theory. It was the same ploy we used when going into Iraq, and a lot of Americans believed it.

Now, 10 years after we went into Afghanistan to rid the world of terror, we have become the terrorists.

And I believe we, the 99 percent, love America too much to not say something.

The message is clear

 

I’m in the first 9. Can you spot me?

The mainstream media have been saying our message isn’t clear. Well, I don’t know how to make it any clearer.

We want corrupt corporate influence out of our government.

Without the influence of Wall Street, we would have had strong financial reform already.

Without the influence of big banks, we would have gotten credit reform with teeth.

Without the influence of insurance, pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing companies, we would have gotten meaningful health care reform.

Without the influence of the military industrial complex we wouldn’t have wars and other overseas adventures going on.

We want our Democracy back.

The word “mob” is being used to describe what we’re doing, but we are not a mob.

We are nonviolent.

We are acting by consensus, and that’s very hard to do.  It takes painstaking detail and total agreement on each action. In Washington that first night, we spent an hour discussing whether people would sleep in Freedom Plaza, which is illegal, or on city sidewalks, which is legal. The decision came down to stay on the plaza.

Yesterday, after the October 2011 permit expired, the police told demonstrators they won’t interfere for four months.

There has been no violence at Freedom Plaza, although there was the Smithsonian incident where an editor for the American Standard infiltrated our march and shoved a security guard, leading to the pepper-spraying of dozens of marchers. Even after we were hit with pepper spray, several of us walked around calming protesters and reminding them that this is a nonviolent movement and that goes for verbal expression too.

The thing that makes us look muddled is that advovates for a dozen different issues finally have come together. My primary issue is health care; others are working for an end to our wars, an end to the use of unmanned drones, true finance reform, education, poverty, justice system reform, and end to the death penalty, a real living wage … So you’ll see any number of signs.

But we all want the same thing: to get corporations out of government and have it work for the people again.

What scares the 1 percent is that we, the 99 percent, have come together. We are one for economic, social and civil justice.

 

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