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Home from Occupy Tallahassee.
Our “Surround the Capital” event was yesterday evening and today. And apparently continuing into tomorrow! It was truly beautiful. Here’s my experience- and note that all opinions expressed in what follows are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of Occupy Tallahassee as a whole. Also, I probably write too much and if you’re already interested in the Occupy movement and want to find out how to get involved in Tallahassee, skip to the end for links.
Started on FSU campus with a friend and our supplies for the weekend. We helped distribute fliers, then walked to the Capitol where people were just starting to gather. We stood at the street for a while, then stood at the steps to read Occupy Tallahassee’s (still in-progress) Declaration of Occupation. The yelling and “fun times” went on until 7pm when people either left or went to the “Gaines Street Commons” to camp. I had to leave then but returned to the campsite a few hours later.
A bunch of people had guitars and we were playing/singing protest songs and discussing politics and the rally. They gave us a security briefing which involved a “Know Your Rights” information session and pointing out where the cops were located. We discussed and agreed upon quiet hours and smoking areas and talked about keeping the campsite clean. It’s hard ask politicians and corporations to clean up their mess without cleaning up your own.
My wake-up call the next day was, “we’ve got coffee donated!” Food Not Bombs showed up with breakfast things, and after that we planned out the agenda for our general assembly at the Capitol. Once that was done we left for the Capitol, rallied some, and then held the GA. Here we agreed on a process for deciding grievances and read Occupy Wall Street’s official list of grievances through the Human Microphone. It was crazy intense. We agreed to adopt Occupy Wall Street’s grievances as our own and, as one of our point people announced, it was definitely a nontrivial decision; we have now officially decided we stand in solidarity with the Occupy movements worldwide. Fantastic.
Cheering and chanting continued. We had an amazing turn-out for both days and it was so great to see so many people of different backgrounds, of a wide range of ages and abilities, so pumped up for this cause. Right after the meeting, we formed a chain and literally surrounded the Capitol building. Did the wave. Ran a lap around the Capitol. Meetings for the different working groups were held throughout the day and Food Not Bombs again served for lunch. The Education group even got some FSU professors out to speak about how to organize people for activist movements such as ours and how our economy/political climate has reached the point it has. This was not just an angry mob yelling at the streets. This whole thing has been, to me, a legitimate demonstration of the kind of true democracy we are seeking.
They’re camping again tonight and are even screening a movie (I believe it is The Corporation). Food Not Bombs is serving again in the morning and I imagine people will head to the Capitol again. Meetings are being planned for the week and we’re trying to figure out when the occupation will really begin. I’m excited.
All I can say at this point is great job, Tallahassee. I’m absolutely in awe of how much has been set up in the past week, and optimistic about where it’s going. No matter what the media is telling you, this is an organized group of people coming together to ask for reasonable and real change, and earnestly looking for ways in which those changes can be made. It’s a big movement with a lot to tackle, but with the enthusiasm I’ve seen and the ideas I’ve heard this weekend, I really believe it will go somewhere.