Occupying Portland

Spewed from the brain of tom on

I’ve been having a hell of a time trying to figure out my stance on the eviction of Occupy Portland, less than 9 hours from now. Writing this out helped.

Yes, Occupations have an asshole problem[1]. Yes, Occupy is about more than tents, and there may be better places to occupy than a kettled-in park – homes in foreclosure (as in Occupy Atlanta), boiler rooms squeezing tenants by denying heat (as in Occupy Wall Street), empty storefronts in the hollowed-out downtown, and parks in neighborhoods city-wide in need of more direct democracy and horizontal organizing (pain in the ass that it is). Yes, Portland has sent in social outreach to the vulnerable homeless, addicted, and mentally troubled campers, and yes, that shows understanding that problems in camp are symptoms of society, not of Occupy. Even though I disagree with Mayor Sam Adams (and really don’t want his job right now), Portland’s local government has been dealing with Occupy in a way that is non-insane, which is a refreshing difference from the reactions to Occupy Cal and Occupy Oakland.

However, while refusing to leave quietly is inconvenient, and annoying, and irritating as hell, and while refusing to leave quietly may provide opportunities for jerks in black (be it black bloc operators too dumb to understand game theory, riot cops who swing batons when they’re nervous, or one dressing as the other) to do something aggressive and stupid in front of a whole lot of video cameras with potentially global audiences… what else can we do? Corporate personhood has brought us an environmental strategy of “What’s 5 or 10 degrees Celsius surface temperature increase among inhuman single-dimensional decision makers?”, while our elected decision makers underfund social services to pay for robots to kill teenagers protesting overseas[2]. It’s like the bit where a Nazi officer notices he’s wearing a skull on his cap, and it occurs to him that they might be the bad guys[3]. It would be funny, if it weren’t for the killer robots and dead teenagers.

We are fighting invisible monsters; sorry for the inconvenience.

I’m going to head down, enjoy the Occu-fest potluck and music[4], bring a couple of cameras with full batteries, have a bicycle with me in case of swarming[5], and see what happens. I figure the best way to keep things peaceful in a leaderless movement is to bring a lot of people who want to be peaceful down to the leaderless movement. Join in, say hi. If things become too tense, you can leave at anytime. Be merry and bear witness: this isn’t a war, it’s a rescue mission.

[1] http://www.spockosbrain.com/2011/11/04/occupys-asshole-problem-flashbacks-from-an-old-hippie/
[1.5] EDITED TO ADD: Please read “Who? Are? The 99 Percent”, for a critical view on the idea of an ‘asshole problem.’
[2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/15553761
[3] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEle_DLDg9Y
[4] http://occupyportland.org/2011/11/11/open-invitation-occu-fest/
[5] http://bikeportland.org/2011/11/11/bicycle-swarm-planned-to-protect-occupy-encampment-from-police-61878