I once had a Dream called Occupy Wall Street #10

Hey all,

This post will be a little different. I’m little frustrated with myself, and decided that maybe i can get past it, with a little bit of honesty. As for OWS, shit, I can’t remember August 3rd, 2011, but I remember August 4th 2011.  So I’ll take the time to just talk a little, share a little, and maybe we can dream together.

It’s currently 10/24/14.

Everytime I sit down to actually type something my mind goes blank. It’s terrible here.. I wrote this on the train on my phone.

What did you do?

I imitated her. You know. I thought she’d smile. She was leaned against the window of the subway car, and had her legs up and twirled her foot. So I did the same.

You didn’t think it was creepy?

How?

Because you were watching her. How long before you did it?

I don’t now. Like 10 minutes.

So you watched her for ten minutes?

Well, isn’t that like the biggest compliment? Imitation?

[Writers NOTE: I usually need to write random shit to be able to start writing. So you just get to see it in it’s raw as fuck form]

So I wrote that thing… A good friend of mine told me she doesn’t think she’s doing enough to save the world. She’s also writing a novel, and I told her that each one of those words was able to save someone. I believe that some what. There’s writing out there that got me some dark times, and writing thats reminded me of why that muscle in my chest beats.

I guess, I miss that thought sometimes. 3 years ago, I came to New York City to write–songs and poetry and to tell anyone who would listen about them,. And when I got involved in OWS, I told anyone that would listen that stories would save us.. That they were the thing that would let a person know they were in the right place. Because, when I tell you my story, and you can see yourself in it for a moment or two, we know that we’re going somewhere else together.

I still believe that, I guess. And that’s sort where I’m at, just been sponging up all these stories, pain and love and hate and disaster. Threads leading back decades appearing like apparitions over firepits, from grandmothers and activist, from the very land itself. Speaking it’s all speaking and I’ve listened. I guess I’ve listened as hard as I could. Or, I listened intently, knowing that it was the only thing I had to do, and that one day, I’d tell you about it.

So here’s one of my favorite stories. It’s 2012, and I’m camped out in February in Minnesota. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, just imagine cold, cold and winter banging into you to remind you that your life can end even when the world sits so still around you. It was beautiful in many ways. I used to pull out my phone and start streaming these cold days, with nothing around. I don’t think anyone ever got it, but I was like come on New YORKERS LOOK! LOOK AT WHAT’S OUT HERE. And it would just be this silence with snow snaking across the ground.

The camp  was called Red Lake Blockade, Enbridge Blockade, and the real name was Ojibwa “Nizhawendaamin Indaakiminaan” it means “We love our land.” And like so many activist camps, even ones made by local communities there was drama. BEEF! GENERATIONAL BEEF! Like that beef that anarchist have towards communist? You know Spanish civil war era beef,  Soviet Union era beef, this little place had beef too, and it had to do with the American Indian Movement, and it had to do Anna Mae Aquash.

You probably don’t know much about either, and shit, I don’t either, but I’ll say this. AIM was attacked by the federal government by  cointelpro programs. And when the government is fucking with your shit, it usually means you’re being pretty effective.

Anyway, this aimster was at the camp, and this woman who didn’t like AIM was also there and started to confront him about Anna Mae, Anna mae, died some thirty years ago on the Pine Ridge reservation, and supposedly was killed by AIM. Again I’m not really a historian, i’m telling you what I heard in these exchanges. So this goes back and forth for days. Arguments over who killed Anna Mae, until this young Aim kid decides he’s just out. And it was a tragedy. because this young aimster was doing so much work, and I mean, his story was amazing. It was one of those leaving substance abuse to join a movement to help his people stories, but now he was out of the camp.

Now the woman who caused him to leave kept on going on this tirade, till most people, even her own kids just stopped interacting with her. And me, well I like to listen, so I just sat by her in this little car port. You know, vinyl walls, no real shelter, and we huddled next to this wood stove for warmth, and she just talked, and talked, and i listened to her. And maybe an hour or two into listening i asked her if I could ask her a question.

She nodded and I asked her, “What do you want? What do you want to happen here?” Now here’s more backstory at bad point in the story. So the encampment was positioned over 4 pipelines that are tresspassing on native american land. Red Lake land if you will, and these native activist had set up this protest camp demanding the pipes be removed. So i’m asking her what she wants of this thign we’re doing, or we’re at–‘What do you want?

and she tells me…

“To win. I have nothing, my children will have nothing, and all we have left to give them is our land. And now they’re taking that from us. I want to win.”

I tell that story a lot, and I don’t think I can ever tell it right, and I’m trying to learn how to do it.  There’s a lot of beef out there, tons of issues, generational issues, ideological issues, but here we are you know? If this is the world we have to work with, we really need to start working towards changing it, because I want to win too… and I want to win enough to not recognize the world around me anymore, because it’ll be governed by such foreign entities as caring and love.

I hope you’re all well.

i just needed to write a little.

all love

@uneditedcamera

We Once had a Dream Called Occupy Wall Street #8

We Once had a Dream Called Occupy Wall Street:

Part one of August 2nd, 2011

Alright, I’m going to be honest, I’m pumped to write this section, and I wanted to get ready for it by watching videos from the August 2nd, 2011 debt default rally and general assembly. I found one, so far, and it features this dood named Caleb: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AypxwJfgDQw from the Workers World Party… Remember that earlier post about the guy with the newspapers, and the list of particulars, he was from that party. Now, I’m not meaning to talk smack about these people, because when,say Palestine get’s bombed, they’re usually the first to the streets, but I just want to say that rallies like the one portrayed on that video were part of the reason I was politically dead. And if I was politically dead, I was killed in the Pittsburgh G20 by a permitted march and rally that snaked through steel cages surrounded by armed officers, only to stop in front of city hall. There, people took a stage and proceeded to yell at me. “Together…we… we.. overcome..” all this while Helicopter blades whined over head, and everyone’s movements were limited by steel cages and monitored exits. Sweet freedom, sweet protest…Now, when I sat their listening to the speakers at the rally speak; I felt I traveled across the country only to be yelled at about what I already knew. I didn’t travel here to listen, I wanted to do something, and I died that day, because that something turned out to be formed into the same classroom I hated as a child–and there I was staring at those elevated above me. And my political death was nailed shut on the the longest march I every took part in.. 4-6 hrs or something, just a forever march, a bloody feet march. And since the organizers had fought to win this permit from the city, the gave them a permit for this march to be within “Sight and Sound” of the convention. After four hours we saw what that promise meant, after countless police, and cages, and helicopters, horse cops, under cover cops, roaming sound canons, the organizers were greeted with their promise, and the march crossed the Ohio river, and to our right hazed by smog, stood the convention center, and we were just close enough to see the specks of posted snipers on the roof. And we were promised that the sound traveled off enough along to river that we were heard–

August 2nd 2011,

I can’t remember getting up, or getting ready to go, but I remember getting there. The rally was set at bowling green park. You know, the park with the big wall street bull pictured on the flyer? I arrived to the rally and general assembly just in time to see the rally folks setting up this tiny PA. They had a line of their speakers next to the mic. I went into police liaison mode, and tried to check in with my co-police liaison. We’d chosen two at that meeting, and I was little rusty. My last police liasoning had been at the Pittsburgh G20 a couple years earlier and consisted of convincing some cops that the hundred or so people behind me–weren’t a riot, they just were some folks trying to radically carol their way to change. No one was then arrested or beat up at that particular action(the Police would eventually attack the local student dorms, because the students “illegally” gathered on their own campus lawn but that’s a whole different story), that was 2009. In 2009, I believed change happened through marches and rallies. In 2011, I believed change happened when the lunch buffet turned into the dinner buffet.

My co liaison was not in attendance, and he was supposed to fill me in and back me up so I wouldn’t feel so lost. He wasn’t there, I wasn’t from NYC and the people on the mic started to yell at me about social change. They started the everything I hate about rallies action of yelling down at all the people there. You know? The worlds broken, we need to do this, we need this, everyone should join this, and blahblahblah. I hate being talked down too, and when most of the world surrounds you with images of what you’re not, coming together in the interest of social change, only to hear again what you’re not.. fuck that. So, I started talking to cops. Basically a police liaison’s goal is to liaison with the police, so I got to get out of ear shot of the yelling at me, and intercepted the Uniforms PD. The rally started, I moved through the people and watched the police, and anytime a cop made a step towards the rally. I’d run up to him waving and smiling and start asking him if he had any questions.

“Hey! I’m Lorenzo, I’m the liaison for these group of people, and wanted to assure you that if you had any questions. I can answer them for you.” I literary said bright little statements like that to the cops and they would usually deflate a little and start bantering with me. This was all based on a case by case sort of experience. See these were blue shirts, now, I don’t know NYPD protocol, or whatever, but it’s pretty apparent, that blue shirts don’t react to rallies until a white shirt gives the order. So, there’s a simple hierarchy for ya, blue shirts=at the bottom, and them white shirts= at the top. Eventually we’ll add in plain clothes and undercovers and who knows what happens to the chain of command then, but for right now, it became important for me to talk to the white shirts.

I had to talk to the White shirts, because a police liaison also needs to help hold space for the action. The people, at the rally/general assembly took space, and part of the liasons work was to keep the police out of that space. I know this might seem a little awkward, but what I really was trying to do, was make sure that the people rallying/ assembling, were allowed to rally and assemble, while I dealt with the police questions and demands. I, as a liaison, couldn’t make any decisions for the people gathered. I’d just been selected to transfer information from the police who were being kept at the edges of the rally with the people gathered who were doing their thing. Does that make sense? A police liason has no power to decide anything, I think people missed this sometimes in the parks. I’ve just thought of countless examples, but we’ll get there eventually.

While I started this process of deflect and content, the rally started to break down into a shouting match. Now, if you recall that flyer, it said something like, “The People’s General Assembly” and if you recall that meeting, the bigger group of folks really wanted a rally. Now, that division that started around that long table in the union was now out in the public. This young woman with a thick accent screamed at the person behind the mic.

“We didn’t come here to listen to you!”

The guy on the mic just continued trying to lay out his programs for change, and people starting to freak out, because theyd didn’t know there was a rally. Remember that flyer, earlier, the one with bull, it didn’t mention the rally and I think that was because we decided their would be both a rally and an assembly, and the people I rolled with focused on the assembly. So, now the people gathered were from the rally folks listservs, and from whatever other outreach went on, and one group didn’t really want to listen to the other group. And the reason, really, is because the other groups had been rambling on about social change since like the earlier 1900’s. Workers unite, fight the oppressor, sort of shit that’s been going on forever. And it won some stuff and that’s great, but it was currently 2011, and everything looked pretty bleak. So, the folks on the microphone sort of represented this old guard social change movement, that I think most of the left was exhausted with, and the assembly people were sort of breathing in some of that movement motion streaming out of the middle east, and wanted something else.

Wait, how about I break down like this. The rallies, all the rallies were lead by these social movement know it alls. You know, the folks who have the plans and know how the people could win, and the issue was that it was 2011 and everyone was fucking losing. The people who gathered for the assembly didn’t want to hear about all the shit that had to be done in order to win, because if they heard it right, it’s all the stuff people have been trying to do that lead to that day.

The people there for the assembly I think were there to just admit it was time to figure out what to do next. At this point their some historical claimants taking responsibility for the first general assembly, as though if they had not arrived the people could not have been lead to what they already planned to do… a convergence of people wanted social change….they assembled.

–to be continued.

Anyway, I also wanted to state that someone offered me hosting space for this blog! So, we’ll be able to move this off this page soon onto it’s own website. I wanted to add a way for people to view me working on the blog. So say, there’s a time I’m writing, and I tweet I’m live, and you can go to the link and see me working on a rough draft. Oh shit! that’s totally against everything I learned in writing school. If people see me drafting, they’ll be able to reallllly see how terrible I am at writing. Anyway, that’s next. Also, thinking about pulling these first paragraphs off the actual text, and make them supplementary,as in linked into the beginning of the text. I’m just talking to you if you’re reading this, in this first paragraph, and maybe I should pull that of the blog post so the blog can be more linear to itself.

by @uneditedcamera

We Once had a Dream Called Occupy Wall Street #7

Okay, ya’ll, I just spent a little bit of time going over some notes, having some conversations, and scanning some other stuff that came out of that meeting for Aug 2nd. I volunteered to be a police liaison. I should mention that, because it’ll be a big part of post about August 2nd . Also, Isham was making the flyer, and people were waiting on the flyer so they could do outreach. I’d say it’s around July 27th, 2011 now. So, we have about 4 days until the Rally/General Assembly. I also wanted to state that this blog is an idea, that as it progresses, it will be expanded on. I plan on building in an optional user experience that goes past reading. I want the reader to choose if they just read the blog, or if they interact with it, or even if they make suggestions that maybe be entered into the blog. I’m writing a novel. That’s the end plan, but I want to get to that end of the novel with you. So, in a way, we’re going to write a novel together. The first thing I want to do is move this blog off wordpress and onto it’s own website. I own the domains, but not the host space. I guess? Where’s a good place to go? Ideas?

I’d volunteered to be a police liaison for the August 2nd general assembly/rally. I’d chosen to be police liaison on purpose. New York, was new, it was like eight days old to me at this time. So far, I’d spent most my time trying to find local spots with cheap food, a dollar slice here, a 3 dollar gyro there, trying to figure out how to feed myself as cheaply as possible, so I could continue to exist. So, the idea of organizing seemed a little distant to me. I didn’t have a community in NYC, besides the house on Bedstuy, so I figured I’d fill in the gaps, and continue to find my away around. Now, I did flyer. I flyered and talked loudly about what was to come in various places with various people. See flyers aren’t about handing them out, their about starting a conversation. I remember walking into some coffee shop and asking the 20 something behind the counter if I put up the flyer. He took it from me and was like, what’s this about, and I said something like,

“Oh, I don’t really know. It looks like some people are going to camp outside of the stock exchange.”

The barista laughed, “Wo’ah, that seems pretty dumb. You think they’ll do it?”

“I don’t know.,”I shrugged, “I know I’m going to check it out.”

After about 20-30 minutes of talking, I scotched taped that flyer onto the window and the guy told me he wasn’t going to come.

And, I think some people would consider that a fail, since I didn’t recruit him to come, or whatever you want to call it–but when the 17th came, and if it went off, that guy would be sitting around eating with friends and someone would look at their cellphone and turn it waving the screen at those eating with him, “Oh look, some fucking tourists set up a camp outside the stock exchange”

And that dood, who wasn’t gonna come would be like, oh I heard about this, this guy walked in the coffee shop and said something about Occupy Wall Street, I think he gave me a flyer.

Anyway, so my goal was to leave as many nuggets of that in as many different people as I could. I wasn’t from NYC, so figured, at least for now, this was the best I was capable of, and early on, had come to the conclusion, that all that really mattered was that I was going to go, and that I made that decision because I felt something needed to happen, something needed to break the flow of everyday disasters. I wanted to open a rift in the perceived world, and I wanted that rift to filled with us… the people? I guess. With you?

Waitwait, one more thing. You also have to understand that at this point of my life, I was completely politically dead. I’d watched riot police spray away crowds with pepper spray and tear gas, and watched marches melt away under a barrages of rubber bullets. I’d organized and…

So, I was flyering before august 2nd, right? Well, the last time I’d flyered for a protest event, my flyering went something like this. I’d extend my arm with the leaflet towards a passerby, and smile. They’d grab it from me and I’d say,

“Hey, could you throw this away for me.”

Needless to say, something had changed…

Image

We Once had A Dream Called Occupy Wall Street #6

We Once had a Dream Called Occupy Wall Street #6:

I’m looking back, you know? Sometimes it’s clear, and sometimes, the haze settles on a little too thick two recall. The past, though, the recalling of it keeps following me. So I feel I need to keep working on this, even if I never finish it. First, the person who suggested the General Assembly, wasn’t named John, he was named Isham. I recently got the “Okay” to use his name, and by recently, I mean months ago. Now, I want to note that all the important people of OWS were not at that meeting. By important I mean most of the self-described founders, and makers, every book seller—the graebers, micahs, justine’s, and justins. Everyone who seemingly catapulted themselves into some sort of notoriety wasn’t at that meeting. And maybe that doesn’t matter. I don’t think a meeting starts a movement, shit I don’t even think the internet starts a movement. I sort of always fall back to the people, and at least at that time, the people, weren’t those people.

Anyway, like I said earlier, and feel compelled to mention again. This is my view of the beginning of the movement, and I assume that many people were doing the very same things in their own places. Meetings and what not…

So I returned to where I was staying in Brooklyn and found myself planning with my roomates the upcoming general assembly. The usual—how, when, what, where,who, all that same stuff that happens anytime you organize an event.

@ reader You know what. You’re reading this. So tell me, do you want more descriptions, or just general outline of events with some names dropped in.. Like, Should the previous be written:

After the meeting Isham and I, with a couple other folks jumped on the 4 train to L to the G. Subways were a brand new thing to me and by this time I’d spent enough time whirling around the city to have an idea how to get back home on any line. Though, I still easily got lost. I just used the subway lines as maps back home.

“You think anyone will show?” Isham asked.

I curled against the hard plastic seat, shifted, and tried to spot other trains lights flicker by as we sped the tubes.

“I don’t know.” I said.

@reader Now here’s the thing, the next person to speak wants to remain anonymous. For always, they don’t want anyone to know their involvement, and I respect that. But I think I’m going to let squeak out that she’s a woman. And this woman walks among all of you, and she’s one of the most amazing organizers I’ve known. In 2011 I refereed to these type of organizers as powerhouses. She was a powerhouse. She told you something, and she made it happen. I knew that if she said she was going to do something. It would get done. And she had the same commitment from me, and Isham.

Samantha(made upname) said, “Something has to happen!” We reached the place I was staying in Brookyn with Isham, and Jeremy, both from North Dakota,. We stayed up late and just talked about why? The financial collapses. The furor of movement and revolution speeding west from the middle east. What would the United States do? We were in the belly of the beast after all, at least that’s we were told, that the United State’s is the beast, and Wall Street it’s heart.

 

On Eviction night. I’ll also start posting regularly again.

On the night of the eviction. I had left a spokes council to head back to Global Revolution studios. The streets looked wet, and I called a good friend of mine form back home. After 3 months of Occupy Wall Street, most of my personal relationships were frayed, and I had been trying to mend my relationships old friends not in NYC. As I walked I saw lines of  NYPD vans stream past me towards the park. It wasn’t unusual, until I noticed that all the vans were full. Each van had cops pressed shoulder to shoulder in them.

I told my friend I had to go and called back to the park to advise members of the media team what I had seen. They told me everything seemed fine back at the park, but I decided not to go to the studio and jumped a train to Liberty…just in case. When I arrived at the park it was cool. The air brisk, and the usual wanderings of people milling, people had taken to coming into the park later and later, some not even staying at all as the temperatures dropped.  I checked in with the media team I was working with and they reported nothing unusual. I relaxed. Every night was paranoia. Every night was our last night.

That night I sat on the steps next to a young women named Tess. Tess, and I spoke back and forth and a NYPD officer in a community liaison blue windbreaker joined our conversation. We laughed, and I remembered thinking that regardless of our laughter he’d be on the other side of the club when the time came. I always think that when I interact with police. That regardless of their nature, when the time comes , or the order, they’ll easily pull the gun, the taser, and let the baton smash into you. The cop answered his phone and then turned to us and said he had to go, that they needed him to clear all the cars around the camp for some reason. I think about that weekly, maybe, daily, I don’t know. Often, how if I had been just a little smarter I could have put it all together and warned the camp. I could have told them what was coming, the pieces are so clear now, but then, I nodded and continued to talk to Tess.

I don’t know how much time went past, but eventually a giant truck would pull up on the sidewalk in front of the camp and extend spot lights into the sky and point their blubs at the tents. Tess and I nodded at eachother, I sprinted towards the media tent, and fumbled my phone out of my pocket. I texted a friend of mine who helped start this whole thing, “Raidraidraid” I reached the tent and told the people inside what was happening and grabbed a laptop, batteries and started to get my stream up. Some guy started marching between the tents telling people what to do. He looked at me and said, “You get that video up.” I said, “Fuck you.” He looked shocked and I continuing working to get my stream up, which I did. I remember walking close to the police lines and back.

I explained to people in the aisle between the tents that I needed to be able to move quickly, that they’ll snatch me if I let them, because I had a camera. Someone said, “Naw dude, you’re just paranoid.” The police did in fact move away any press and cameras as many as they could.  I tucked myself into the center of the camp trying to pan my webcam around. I received text from friends back home, hoping I was okay, saying they were watching. The stream I put out had over 40k people on it, it was mirrored on Bloomberg News, on BBC, and I remembered thinking about my parents, and being horrified. The scene I broadcasted was hundreds of police tearing down the camp as they worked towards the middle where a hundred or 2 hundred folks held arms together. The police tossed tents over their heads and moved closer. I spoke in Spanish, hoping if my family was somehow watching, that me speaking their first language would put them at ease, I said something like, “We are fine. We are all together. We’ve decided to stay and we’re not afraid. There is only love.”  I watched as the police beat at people who refused to let each other go. AS they dragged others out. I watched a young girl scream as a saw cut at the bike lock she used to lock herself to a tree. A cop grabbed my arm and pulled me off a table. I tried to set up my stream to keep working, but they tucked the camera into the bag around my chest. The cops hand crushed my forearm, and I said, “Hey, it’s all good, you got me. Calm down, it’s okay.” And I felt his fingers untense a little.

I was walked out past the screaming girl and sat on a curb. On the street in front of me two men lay in seizure. Their bodies shivering and shaking as police and firemen walked past them, and ignored their withering bodies. This kid, maybe 17-18 was sat down next to me and he screamed, and screamed. His flexicuffs were too tight. “I can’t feel my hands’ They Hurt. Please get them off.” I tried to calm him down a  little, knowing that his struggling only was tightening the cuffs. I asked a cop walking by if he’d cut them off, get him new ones, and the cop laughed at us. The kid, turned on the police officer, and tried to spit on him, but by these time he’d screamed all the liquid out of  his mouth and only a few white flecks of spit touched the cops pants. The cop kneed the handcuffed kid over off the curb. His head was on the cement ridge at an awkward angle tilted up as the officer leaned his knee into his skull. The officer said, “My wife has to clean these pants.” I asked him what he was doing, I asked, is this reasonable force against someone cuffed, look at what you’re doing. The cop laughed again. I asked, “Don’t you feel bad?” The uniformed officer said, “I feel bad for the curb.” He got up and walked away.

I was lead towards a bus and photographed. I sat at the end of the bus and the people around me helped me cut off my flex cuffs. I tried to get my stream back up in the bus, because I wanted to people to see us. See us all together and how we still had laughter and hope. I wanted that be seen, but my batteries were all dead. I was so frustrated and how ill prepared I was. How this shouldn’t have happened. We were driven to some road and the bus parked as the NYPD officers seemed uncertain what to do next. I leaned my head out of the window of the bus and could hear chants in the distance. I knew people were out there, but I couldn’t join them,..

I haven’t written much about  OWS, organizing OWS in that month and half before September 17th, 2011. I think I might be ready to begin now, but I want to start by saying this. I rode a revolutionary wave to September 17th 2011. I road that wave on the shoulders of my ancestors who had struggled in the generations before me. Those who fought for my right to education in a  system that had tried to discard us, and I had arrived in NYC seeing that everything my ancestors had fought for was being taken away, not just from Chicano’s but from everyone regardless of skin color, or belief. I ended up in that park, because I wanted a different world. I want a different world. I’m not afraid to tell you that, not now, not then… it’s always been simple for me…I don’t fear death. I fear living a life riddled with regrets. Know, that when the time comes, and the skeleton of this reality collapses around us. I’ll be there, ready to work with you to get us through to a better tomorrow. All love.

We Once had a Dream called Occupy Wall Street 4/28/13 #4

 

It gets hazy, the haze solidifying in that space between points of memory. I want to say that I started traveling New York City. That I started to mark off all the– must sees– of NYC. I didn’t. I had moved to NYC to live there, and figured that I’d see it as I proceeded to live. You know? I was in no hurry to see the Statue of Liberty, so much so, that I’ve yet to see it up close. I settled into Bedstuy, in my small room and proceeded to just walk around Brooklyn. I’d moved from a city of 60 thousand, which was in a state that was about 700 thousand people. New York, is pretty much everything you’ve heard NYC to be…

 

I spent those first few days walking to all the local Bodega’s, and searching for food spots near where I was staying. I knew nothing of where I was at, so started doing slow spins around the area. It was laundrymats and corner stores. It was sparkling Jewish groceries and take out Chinese restaurants that all sported the same menu.

 

I was in New York, like so many other people were in New York. I was overeducated, unattached, and had nothing to do but kickass. I laugh at that now, but look back recalling my anger after applying for over a hundred  jobs…. “Could you imagine what I would have done for someone if they’d have hired me,” I’d say to my roomates. I don’t know if it was rejection, or cockiness, but I’d ramble on about how any place hiring me would have had an improvement. Maybe I was just pissed.

 

I’d also come to New York through layers of ancestral struggle. Maybe that’s the point of this post. I’m still uncertain of what I’m trying to say here. When I was in New York, I’d tell people I had my Masters in English. It was met with different sorts of acknowledgements, but very few big reactions. Maybe, it’s because I never told anyone what that meant to me, what it meant to me to achieve this sort of mile marker in society. Right now some reader somewhere is rolling their eyes and chucking at my inability to see how societal expectation was a created myth.

 

Well, the past for me was not a myth. The struggles of those who I identify with–is not myth. My mother’s recalling’s at white teachers scoffing at her for believing she’d go on to college–is not a myth. I carry those facts with me everywhere I go. The fact that the small city in Texas where I spent my childhood rose up to fight back against racism, against created blocks to my people’s advancement. The brown girls and boys beat in the streets during the Chicano movement,(current) are no myth. And maybe, the myth, or the naïve thought was that I viewed their struggle, and heartbreaks and successes their failures as my own. When I told people I had my masters in English, I was trying to tell people that all those unnamed folks in history fought for me to able to achieve that education. What I was trying to tell people was how my brother locked away in prison would write me and tell me how he was rooting for me and his Mexican friends were cheering for me….how I viewed myself as connected to all of it.

 

I’m getting to Occupy Wall Street, but I want you to know who’s telling you this story. And when I tell you I have a Master’s in English, I’m not telling you I’m educated, I’m telling you what point I’m at in a the long history struggle. I guess thats the point of view arrived at that July 22nd meeting to talk about the August 2nd debt  default action.

 

 

 

 

We Once had a Dream Called Occupy Wall Street. 04/19/13 #3

Now, i’ve been thinking about my previous posts and all the claims of what I did. I organized this, I did this, blahblahblah,..but when I really think about it, I was always part of organizing, amongst organizing and never alone organizing. I might just be trying to say that “I” can be deceptive and hope that it in no way omits anyone elses involvement in organizing and participating in the various events I may reference. I suppose that memory may be like that, placing you in the center of the event as though it revolved around you… anyway.. my first day in NYC, my first meeting in NYC, “New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts.”

I’m trying to recall the walk. The path that I took to get to the union hall, and what we talked about. I can piece a little together. Maybe I can’t, at least I can say, that I’d heard of New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts(NYABC). They recently organized an encampment against Bloomberg’s, you guessed it, budget cuts. They’d camped outside of city hall for weeks, been pushed around by the police, drums, and music, and finally a final push to stop the budget cut meeting from happening–arrests. New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts had also been part of a large coalition….(do I look up dates) which had marched on wall street earlier in 2011. From my understanding 10’s of thousands of people circled the area, but no one was able to get to wall street. That’s what I knew about NYABC, or what I have come to know.

I sat in meeting with rows of chairs, and folks started filing in. The folks who came in circled the chairs, I remember that, because it made me smile. It made me feel a bit more comfortable to be in a room that projected mutual respect, played at the idea of it. Uneasy at the meeting I didn’t plan on saying much. I was new to New York I couldn’t imagine adding to a conversation when I knew nothing about the context, or history, around various issues. I sat silent and listened to report backs and ideas being flung about a group of thirty or so people.

“What about this call from Adbusters?” someone said that. If I try to recall the text from the call now, A flood, Wall Street, tents, sept 17th, 20 thousand people will. I didn’t think much of it, but the room burst with conflict. Things like, “whose going to plan this, whose going to do this, whose going to do that, and the answers were: no one, no one, no one.” Eventually someone announced they’d contact Adbusters and let them know that they need to have organizers on the ground, that they shouldn’t just put out calls and expect people to do the work for them.

What came out of this conversation was a committee to plan an action around the August 2nd, debt default. And somewhere during this first meeting I had said 2 things. The first, I don’t call, but remember when I said it, the whole room grew quiet and nodded. I remember feeling like the whole room just noticed I existed. I also felt like I hit a right note. You know, like when something reverberates after mentioned. It felt good to be noticed, and good to feel like I’d added something to the conversation.

I also volunteered to be part of this planning committee. A committee to talk about what could be done around the August 2nd debt default, a meeting was planned for Friday, 7/22 to plan for August 2nd.

Arriving in NYC dead to politics, here I was, organizing. I wonder if I could place blame for the next year and a half of my life on this one meeting. Maybe it was coming from the Midwest and seeing 35 people gathered together and working together to accomplish something. Every meeting in North Dakota had been 5 people, or so, and now, well maybe it was scale. Regardless, I was excited. My roommates and I started watching M15 documentaries.

We Once had a Dream Called Occupy Wall Street. 04/02/13

We once had a dream called Occupy Wall Street. I don’t know if it was a dream, but it had the qualities. You know, that New York feel of importance as the sun broke over the buildings and spread it’s warmth across a small concrete park.This blog will be about this event, as it happened to me, as I experienced it. It’s going to be quick and dirty, a lightening recollection timed to the beat of meeting minutes which I attended. It’s going to be critical. I want to critique it, because it wasn’t what I wanted, or expected, but in the end many of the problems came from just that. Everyone wanted something, something built in their own vision, but our visions are just scattered fragments laced with our societies garage. Our perceptions of the poor, of money, of relationships.Love and battle. When the hundreds of people gathered there on the first day, and when that number climbed to the thousands we each brought our own stories, and we each brought our own garbage.

Occupy Wall Street wasn’t the Utopian dream that I hear many refer to it as…maybe to some it awoke that thread, that thread that the world we come from can be better, that somehow we can overcome the sickness, the death and starvation, the many many forms of suffering and oppression that surrounded us. The built-in controls in our everyday life. The points of power colluding to shift reality.

I believed in Occupy Wall Street, because I was there. I’ve told this story countless times now, and I figured it’s time I write it down.

July 19th, 2011 my plane landed at Laguardia Airport. I’d just left Grand Forks, North Dakota. I told myself for good, and as the plane decended I saw the Statue of Liberty flash by, I thought that my new life would be good. When I disembarked I waited for my luggage to spin out and this man walked up to me, he was jerk on the plane, he stopped next to me and said, “You know what I mean, I can see it in you. We got to stick together.” I grunted, out of fear or confusion, i can’t remember, and grabbed my bag and walked out to try to figure out how to get to Harlem to meet a friend.

I was wearing my favorite pearl button shirt and a skateboarding backpack I bought for traveling when I was eighteen years old. I was now 30. Attached to that backpack by carabiner was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles suitcase. It was filled with books. Books on organizing, books of poetry, and my favorite novels. I’d come to New York to be a spoken word poet. I figured a city this big had to have a community to support me doing what I wanted. I guess I still had that forever dream of sharing my views through poetry to an audience who was there to hear it. Back home I’d done spoken word at open mics where crowds of drunks proceeded to drink. Maybe here there was a place that people went to hear poets. That was my goal. I never achieved it.

I bought a metro pass at the airport and jumped on a bus to Harlem. My friend was waiting on the corner for me. We hugged and he said, “Hey, there’s this meeting tonight with some folks i’ve been organizing with, want to come.” I said “Yes.”

 

Audio recording: https://soundcloud.com/uneditedcamera-1/we-once-had-a-dream-called

(This blog will be updated weekly as a sort of serial novella. It also have an audio recording link to each addition. If you enjoy what you’re hearing please, support my media collective work at bit.ly/uneditedmedia)

Then I was in Texas at the Tar Sands Blockade

 

Then I was in Texas at the Tar Sands Blockade.

 

 

 

I arrived in East Texas September 29th, 2012. Drove into a small Eastern Texas Town, where the houses pushed back from the yards sprinkled with drought dried grass. I came to cover a story about some folks who built a wall against the KXL pipeline.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keystone_Pipeline) A pipeline cutting a swath across the belly of the United States like some deep burnt scar. It’s tube to be filled with Tar Sands Bitumen( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_sands ).

 

I learned about the Alberta Tar Sand where the bitumen was being shipped from years ago at a workshop at an enviromental conference called Powershift. Indigenous folks told stories of machines that dug up around their communities pressing the sand into some sort of high pressure goop that’s pushed through the pipes like a super heated laser. Turning the top soil into a dead scar.

 

A place of burnt Earth refereed to by some as Mordor (http://clairefwrites.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/396859_308910712489236_204528066260835_849519_534297420_n.jpg ), the death ground in the Tolkien Lord of the Rings trilogy. The home of the … well, I guess it looks like the images of that dark land when you read those novels, but the truth is that the Tar Sands are located in the midst of peoples homes. It’s a devastated piece of Earth the size of New York State, in the middle of Alberta, Canada. Homes and communities of people such as: Mikisew Cree First Nation,

 

Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Fort McMurray First Nation, Fort McKay Cree Nation, Beaver Lake Cree First Nation, Chipewyan Prairie First Nation, and local Metis peoples. (http://www.ienearth.org/docs/IENFactsheet_2.pdf ) These indigenous folks sacrificed in the name of so called progress, an old tale whose truth bruised reality. I learned all this in a presentation by the Indigenous Environmental Network at Powershift. The stories they told waned in accuracy in each of my retellings as time passed by, but the reality of the situation? Strange cancers seeping their way into indigenous communities . Chemical ponds wafted their fumes into the air. Progress. Colonialism continues to play its racist hand. Human lives sacrificed in the name of profit.
Some risk calculator probably counts the sums numbered off in some sort of heartless tongue. Death/Profit ratio. Lawsuit loss/Profit Gain. The black line pushed up as that red line burns bright as blood into the lives that are left behind. It often weighs in my heart and mind. And I mention that place, the sad tale breaching my lips. I tell it to anyone who’ll listen. The Tar Sands, what I know of them, a disgusting stain on this Earth, a disgusting stain on the idea of a just and humane society. They’re real. In all that people can create and invent on this Earth, the paintings, and architecture, the smooth line of poetry playing that small bone in your ear into a chilling hum, in all this, a manufactured dead land exists.

 

I knew all this when I read the call of the Tar Sands Blockade.(https://earthfirstnews.wordpress.com/2012/09/24/get-your-ass-out-to-texas-and-fight-the-tar-sands-pipeline/) saw the call for media assistance, and livestreaming and felt the urge to go. From what I read there was a literal tree village and wall (http://www.flickr.com/photos/tarsandsblockade/8074381163/in/photostream) erected in the pipelines path, and they needed folks to help cover it with cameras as the construction edged its way towards the blockade. I saw one video link (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Eo-2-VmSp8&feature=youtu.be) and realized that I could help. I could be holding that camera, or stream that video. It might not have needed to be me, but I was willing. I shot up a wepay link (https://www.wepay.com/donations/uneditedcamera-goes-to-texas-to-help-with-media-for-tarsands-blockade) and told myself if one person donated, regardless of the amount. I’d go. It happened and I traveled to East Texas to add my camera and work to the media effort and embed myself, along with my press partner @occupymusician into the wall to help bring out to the public what was happening.

 

We moved through the East Texas woods loaded with gear with the intention of getting up to that wall and figuring out how to cover this event. It felt like a threshold of something big in United States, something happening in the now. I needed to be in it to grasp it, and I needed to be able to hear the peoples voices who held down this wall. I moved along the countryside as the full moon shone our way, and came to the wall.

 

I’d never climbed a rope before and watched as my press partner struggled up thinking that somehow I’d have an easier time. I learned things like prussic knots and footloops, struggled into a belt, and locked carabiners. I’d never done this before, and proved it as I struggled up thef orty feet in about an hour. Sweat spilt down my body and I reached the top just as Maggie Gorry ascended the monopod in minutes. (https://twitter.com/Uneditedcamera/status/253225253893980162/photo/1/large ) The obstruction used to block a roadway Transcanada had cut in order to move equipment around the blockade. I spent the next 42 hours watching and documenting this woman as she blocked the pipeline’s progress. She stopped Transcanada’s work crews from continuing, and while I struggled through cold nights laying on the platform of the wall, she sung her way through them powering a small crank radio with her hands.

 

The cops listened too and seemed confused and awed by the whole ordeal. They’d ask her to come down, back to Earth, but she just let them know she was fine. Maybe, she was on the Earth. You know? Grounded. The monopod laced into it’s four cardinal points. Putting herself in the path of the snaking certain environmental destruction.

 

A person masked sat next to me on the wall and we watched Maggie together. They told me in frustration that they didn’t understand why they were looked at as some sort weird tree hugging spectacle. They said, “This isn’t a spectacle, this is the simple truth. How do you block a pipeline from going into the ground? You get in front of it.” Those words hit like a gong ringing out echoing through the trees, shivering their leaves in agreement. Maggie sat up on that monopod, and the corporation who brought us the tarsands bitumen, also brought in spot lights and paid off duty Police to set up 24hr camps, and suddenly, coming down from that wall without being arrested became impossible, and maybe that was okay.

 

They were right. The blockade isn’t a spectacle. It wasn’t counter spectacle against a giant political convention, that tried to draw away off the attention the convention garnered to get a protest message out there. This was direct action. There was a wall, a monopod and a treevillage. The pipeline flags marked off an ending point in front of the Tar Sands Blockade( http://tarsandsblockade.org/ ), and folks up in those trees let me know they weren’t coming down.

 

Maggie did come down after the police intervened and folks were unable to get her food. They had drawn up a plan to throw a shot line to her and slide some food along the line, “Hey, Maggie, we got some cheese. You want some cheese?” The cops lined up in front of it and let us know that if that shot missed and struck one of them it was a federal offense. Maggie suggested they ditch the plan for the peoples safety on the wall. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JBbY16yTTA&feature=plcp)She stayed up another twelve hours or so…Police lined up around her and watched her rappel down as she yelled gleefully into the night. The police begged her to be careful, explained that she’d be weak after being up there so long, but she slid down quickly and sprung her knees to soften her landing. The police walked her out, forming a sort of honor guard around her. I never saw her cuffed. The cops moved back to the monopod when she’d been carted off and walked to the east anchor and slashed the rope with a knife and the tree trunk toppled back to the ground. Almost 2 days up. I still can’t believe that anyone could stay up that long, but she did it.

 

The next days turned into a blur. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnRy5A7R1PE&feature=plcp)With blimps of extreme joy. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asVbomrZ1qU&feature=plcp ) I meant to spend one day up learning the situation and trying to figure out how to properly cover it, and ended up for seven days. I can’t explain everything that occurred, basically days of talking, eating cold beans and drinking from the stores of water. I learned a lot that week. I learned why those folks had chosen to be up there. I got a variety of answers. The simple felt truth that it’s the right thing to do, that there wasn’t any way to stop a thing unless you got out there and physically stood, or climbed or placed yourself in front of it. Someone also told me that if they didn’t do it the land owners daughter would have a wasteland to play in instead of a beautiful forest.

 

We read books to each other, and listened as we roller coasted through the ride of emotions that were our reality. We were watched 24hrs a day. Spotlights and watch fires in the night. The police and private security trained their eyes on us, as a sitter said, “They’re here to protect and serve their community and they watch us like we’re the criminals. They watch us as their communities are being destroyed, the pipeline primed to poison their water ways. We’re the ones, we’re the one’s who are protecting and serving,” she told me as Transcanada camera people glassed the village with their cameras with their local law enforcement backup.

 

Transcanada Pipelines aren’t rated as indefinite holds out that’ll never burst. (http://insideclimatenews.org/news/20120626/dilbit-diluted-bitumen-enbridge-kalamazoo-river-marshall-michigan-oil-spill-6b-pipeline-epa ) They’re rated in whens…. Bitumen being pumped from the Alberta Tar Sands along the heartland of our country is said to even corrode the pipes faster than other fossil fuels..

 

Fossil fuels. I sat on that wall and realized that it’s all happened before. The land we sat on ripped from the indigenous folks that were here before us. Land now taken in far off countries from the hands of folks in third world countries where corrupt governments sold their people out for instant profit. Neo-liberalisms beautiful formula exploiting people’s lives for fossil fuels, for land, for mineral rights. For anything that can be dug, slurped, and exploded out of the Earth. Now, here we are in the midst of of one of the largest economic disaster in United States history. Federal and States government hemorrhage their economies. They take their queues from the good old U.S. pf A’s own history. What I learned up there, as the bulldozers tore soil, the cutters toppled trees, and the foreign corporation accessed the United States government to tear people away from their land…this moment is the threshold of this country slipping down into third world status. Slipping down into a category it helped create. And these folks up in these trees? They’re trying to save the waterways and land, and trying to put a stop to this destructive direction.

 

9/17/2012 Occupy Wall Street Cover Plan

I’ve recently come from the RNC and DNC. Two convergence events policed by public servants. These are the same police officers that walk our streets, and are put into place for public safety.Through the experience of being policed by multiple different agencies, and now at multiple different convergences, i plan to examine police tactics.  How are we policed? What are the plans the police use to control crowds, target disruptors, and I’ve been told various times, “Keep people safe.”

I plan to focus all my efforts tomorrow to document the police in order to do an analysis across these convergences, of how we are policed,tactics used, and also the differences between different tactics. The RNC and DNC were dubbed extremely police heavy, but policed showed unprecedented restraint.

It’ll be interesting to see how the New York Police Department compares to these different convergences.

9/17/2012  5am: I will be live on ustream.tv/uneditedcamera

I’ll be documenting intersections and tweeting under the #livepress to be able to do a concrete analysis of the event from the point of view of police organization.

I’ll utilize:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Using the freedom of the press to document public servants  in public spaces.

All love,

Lorenzo Serna

#citizenjournalists

@uneditedcamera