Looking back at my last post, I probably wasn’t specific enough in my description of events. (If you haven’t read it: https://11again.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/notes-from-the-la-city-hall-occupation/) Let me supplement those remarks with some descriptions of particular things I observed.
During the first night’s general assembly, I was tremendously impressed at the level of genuine participation and inquiry in decision making. People were trying to decide whether to stay on the city hall lawn (which can only be legally occupied until 10:30 PM) and get arrested or to move their tents onto the sidewalks. People spoke eloquently and passionately for both positions, and though it’s not what everyone would’ve wanted if it was left up to them as individuals, a consensus was reached to move to the sidewalk and that’s what people did. There was no vilifying of those who disagreed, only genuine questioning of what was the right practical step to take at that moment. I believe that the right decision was made for the moment, as even the LAPD acknowledges that the occupiers have been peaceful! Not to say that there is anything wrong with getting arrested, but by choosing not to at that particular moment, the occupation sustained its energy. As one speaker put it, it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon!
Here’s another story that deeply moved me. While many of the occupiers, like much of the population today, are unemployed, one man I met who was spending the night on the sidewalk is a public school drama teacher! As someone who has taught in public schools, and been completely exhausted by it, I cannot imagine having the energy to do that after spending the night sleeping outside! I believe this speaks not only to the courage of this singular individual, but indeed, to the fact that this movement is violating the law of relativity by creating its own energy, which all of us can continue to feed into and feed off of!