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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Live(-ish) Updates from Occupy Congress

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Tue, Jan 17, 2012 at 1:14 PM

The all-Occupy Voltron general assembly in Washington, DC.
  • adam rothstein—the portland occupier
  • The all-Occupy "Voltron" general assembly in Washington, DC.
For the past few days, several hundred Occupy activists from all around the country have spent impossibly long hours crammed inside cars (unless they could afford the luxury of airfare) all to descend this afternoon on the movement's latest target: Congress.

The daylong protest is partly a national show of force for Occupy—with plans to hit up the congressional office buildings where our many dedicated representatives are no doubt working hard on our behalf—and partly a way to link up with other protesters and share strategies and ideas.

And Portland, despite sitting fully across the continent from Washington, D.C., is apparently well-represented. Adam Rothstein, coordinator our local Occupy's news site, the Portland Occupier, is filing a live blog chock full o' updates. I'm pasting in a few of his recent posts (EST, naturally). So far there have been a few standoffs with police, and some arrests, but mostly a lot of handshaking and talking at what Rothstein is calling the all-Occupy "Voltron" general assembly. Stay tuned for more news if and when things get hairier.

2:03 PM—Sitting in on a breakout group about Networking. Most of the ideas being proposed I have heard before, either in passing or being worked on by people at Occupy Portland. It seems like most people are on the same page for where they think the Occupy movement is headed: co-op businesses, indoor workspace, new tech applications for collaborating on media. Also continuing what we are doing here: more traveling groups to have people meet face to face. This seems to be a continuation of the strange sort of group-consciousness that the Occupy movement has displayed so far.

1:45 PM—Just watched a back-and-forth between protesters and police on the pathway diving the acceptable areas of the grass for public use. Portland protesters were in the foreground, but it certainly wasn’t all Portland folks. Police were pushing people back when they stood on the wall, and also attempting arrest them when they sat on the wall and put their feet on the path. Protesters locked arms, and pulled their fellows back to safety. It appears the police leadership were trying to keep the officers from getting too aggressive: one commanding officer pulled back an officer that was getting frustrated and hot.

12:27 PM—The GA is forming up. The coasts are forming on either hemisphere of a large circle, with the midlands on either side. Walking around the circle is an awe-inspiring thing. “Where’s Occupy Texas? Occupy Alabama!” New York City gets together simply by chanting, “All Day, All Week, Occupy Wall Street!”

12:12 PM—The number of livestream-style cameras and monopoles outnumbers the amount of protest signs out here on the lawn. It’s a new age of protest. Is it more useful to display a message, or to record one? Perhaps time will tell. Until then, we keep the record button depressed, and the wireless connected.

11:33 AM—Probably around 2000 people here right now. Wish we could have brought all of Portland with us! But this is a big country, and that is a strange reality of the distributed-unity of this movement. I’m seeing people walking around with signs identifying themselves from Roanoke, from New York, from Texas. People have come, not necessarily with their entire occupation, or even more than a carload. But they’ve come. If my feelings are at all reflected in the group, it’s that we’re all expectant. We are sizing everything up. No one is expecting a hundred-thousand people on this lawn, but they want to see those that do show up. A mirror-moment for Occupy, perhaps. We’ve read plenty on the Internet, and watched the Livestreams, but now we are looking into each others’ faces.

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