Saturday, October 8, 2011

Occupy Minnesota

How could I stay away?

Minnesota folks got organized and set up an occupy site in the plaza between the Hennepin County Government Center and Minneapolis City Hall. Spokesperson Osha Karow was on MPR on Thursday, and I thought he did a great job of explaining a necessarily messy event.

According to MPR, about 160 people slept out Friday night. I stopped by on Saturday morning, and I would urge anyone interested to stop by any time. The focal events tend to be later in the afternoon so far, so I missed those, but it was still well worth it.

What's It Like at Occupy Minnesota?

The official welcome table is on 5th Street, right near the light rail stop:

Occupy Minnesota welcome table with large sign that says welcome to the people's plaza
I wasn't sure what to expect, but while I was there, the feeling was less like a protest than a laid-back occupation. I suppose that's appropriate.

People and tables
The large fountain in the middle of the plaza has been turned off, which leaves a big, ugly, unusable space right in the center. But at least it affords a lot of places to sit down:

People sitting on the stone edge of a fountain

One thing that impressed me was how much people were talking to each other. I struck up conversations with at least a dozen people in the hour or so that I was there, and as I walked around, I saw people who didn't know each other talking about all sorts of issues.

The occupation is functionally very organized, down to the impromptu recycling containers taped to all of the trash cans. Only blue painters' tape is allowed by the county:

Stone trash container with cardboard box taped to it with blue tape, labeled Recycling

And important info: There are lots of port-a-potties along the edge of the plaza.

The county shut off the power today, but Occupy Minnesota countered with a donation of solar panels, which they were installing while I was there.

Man and two solar panels

The county has prohibited the occupiers from using a generator, although the county is using one (white box near center bottom of the picture below) to run the surveillance camera up on the pole.

Minneapolis city hall with a white generator and black 2-story tall pole with camera on top

Still, a lot of stuff is needed for hundreds of people to occupy the plaza. At least during the weekend, donations can be dropped off on the 4th Avenue side of the plaza without having to pay to park. That's near the donation desk. (Go down the left side of 5th Street from the Dome, turn left on 4th Avenue, and then stop alongside the plaza.) When I swung back to drop off some water, tape and trash bags, the sheriff's deputy who was watching the area had no problem with me carrying my stuff in while parking illegally.

White board with hand-written needs list
The full list of items needed is here.

The OccupyMN Facebook page is very up-to-date, especially if you're trying to figure out how to help out in any way. There is a live video stream on the OccupyMN website (a general assembly meeting is going on this evening as I write this).

What the People Had to Say

As with the Rally to Restore Sanity and the Wisconsin union rally, I couldn't help but take photos of the great signs.

Sign saying when the planet is trashed, the 1% will realize they can't eat money

Some folks just wanted to show their signs to passing cars...

Man walking with sign reading Save the American Dream
...or anyone who was nearby. The guy above was just slowing walking around the fountain.

Handmade sign saying We do all your work for you and guard you at night, don't fuck with us
I talked to this guy for a while. He's a security guard, and I shared information on Samuel Bowles, whose research shows that as many as 1 in 4 Americans is employed in "guard labor" -- from retail to movie theaters to security guards -- protecting the property of owners from people who might take it.

Two young guys talking to a guy in a tie, one young guy with small sign that says Kill corruption not people
That sign says "Kill corruption not people."

Woman holding sign that says the the idea corporations are people idea undermines democracy
The "corporations are people" travesty was on a lot of people's minds.

Monopoly's Mr Moneybags with words Public ignorance is corporate bliss

Students are people, not consumers

Your house of credit cards is collapsing
Love this one, since as regular readers know I am no fan of credit cards.

Three guys in red t-shirts with an IBEW flag
A few union folks were in evidence, like these guys from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Whiteboard with message 1% fed, 99% fed up

Man sitting, slumped and possibly asleep, holding a sign on his shoulder that says We Create Jobs
I hesitate to post this photo, since it could be misused by the wrong elements, but it captures something about the wearying nature of occupying an outdoor space.

Corporate Greed Runs Our Schools into the Ground

Dear 1% if you want a country go buy an island
This sign belonged to a guy named Doug. We talked for quite a while.

Why are people the only species that has to pay to live on the earth?

Our forefathers died for freedom and all I got was this lousy two-party system

Stop calling economic extortionists 'job creators'

99% of the cookies are eaten by 1% of the monsters, with photo of Cookie Monster
"Occupy Sesame Street" appears to be a meme running around the interweb today. On Facebook, I saw doctored photos of Grover being wrestled to the ground by police.

Young woman with sign reading Poverty is not the American dream

Profits privatized losses socialized

The Top Two

In my opinion, the two best things I saw today at Occupy Minnesota were:

Man with black shirt, white letters, reading Tend Errorism
Probably the best shirt ever.

Young man with sign reading A protest can be about many things and ONE THING (with the O in One the planet earth)
An answer to those who don't know what to make of a leaderless, multi-issue protest.


Ms Sparrow said...

Wow, thanks for the tour and also the insights!

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Oh, I'm so glad you went, and that you gave us this report. I'm thinking about it, but not sure when I can get there. Thanks again.