Friday, April 20, 2012

Occupy the Tea Party?

A few days ago, columnist Dave Weigel was on The Rachel Maddow Show talking about the Tea Party. Rachel suggested that the Tea Party has pretty much fallen off the political map, since their stunning electoral victory in 2010, and asked Weigel if he agreed. He said he still considers them a factor in national politics, as compared to the Occupy movement, which he said “fell off” much faster than the Tea Party did. To bolster his claim, he mentioned that Tea Party still has 600 chapters, down from a high of 1000.

He mentioned that he has gotten a lot of heat for that comment, as well he should.

First of all, Occupy did not “fall off.” It was violently shoved off. The arrest counter on Occupy Wall Street’s direct action page stands at 6,893 after six months. I’m not sure how many Tea Partiers have been arrested since they showed up with their guns at presidential rallies in 2009, but I doubt the total has cracked 100. They’ve tended to be arrested singly for things like stockpiling guns and drugs, soliciting prostitutes and child sexual assault (honest, you Google "Tea Party arrest" and see what you get).

The highest single-day total I found was an action in November 2009, when ten people were arrested protesting the health care bill outside Nancy Pelosi’s office on Capitol Hill. So the Tea Party has clearly not had the help that Occupy has gotten in “falling off.”

Despite nearly 7000 arrests -- many of them accomplished via chemical weapons and resulting in injuries and days or even weeks in jail, as well as the media's efforts to give it a hasty burial, Occupy is far from dead or dormant. I don’t know exactly how many chapters there are now, and perhaps no one ever did, but I would be surprised if it doesn’t top the Tea Party 600. In the Bay Area alone, Occupy Oakland, Occupy Half Moon Bay, Occupy Point Reyes, Occupy San Francisco, Occupy Santa Rosa, Occupy Santa Cruz, Occupy UC Berkeley, Occupy Walnut Creek, Occupy Housing, Occupy Bernal Heights, Occupy Marin, Wild Old Women, Decolonize Oakland, and Occupella have been engaged in continuous activism. Knit-In at the Sit-in, which began at Occupy Berkeley, has continued knitting away and sending warm garments and blankets to occupations all over the world (maybe they can switch to netting and help out Occupy Little Rock -- see below).

Here are just a few of the thousands of Occupy activities over the last few months turned up by a cursory search:

1. Feb. 5, 2012—As Occupy Maine marked 126 days of encampment, they were preparing for eviction by taking “artifacts, resources and tents” to a safe place. “The OM Dome was dug out of the snow … and loaded on to a sedan for transport.” [my emphasis]  Despite the lack of a camp, OM’s page lists activities every day next week, with chapters all over the state.

2. March 15-18: Occupy the Midwest.

“Nearly 300 members of 20 different Occupy related movements, including Occupy Chicago, headed to St. Louis last weekend for the first regional meeting of representatives from Occupy movements around the Midwest. Representatives from across the country met to both organize and network on a larger level and engage in protest actions against Monsanto and Wells Fargo. …The conference was marred by violence on Thursday, when a group of demonstrators attempted to create an encampment in a park. Protest organizers were given a scant 30 minutes to evacuate Compton Hill Reservoir Park by the city’s director of public safety. Before they could lead everyone away, organizers say, police moved in, beating some with batons, using pepper spray, and arresting at least 14 people, according to the Huffington Post.”
The conference was partly planning for a huge protest convergence at the NATO Summit, which begins very soon in Chicago.

3. Occupy Little Rock: Possibly the longest-running encampment in the nation, OLR’s website announces this week:

Protest Site Needs for Summer Heat Preparation
On Sunday April 22, 2012, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., OLR will host at the protest site at 4th and Ferry in downtown Little Rock, a project get-together for all supporters of OLR to accomplish the task of making of the shading for the protest site for the summer months. This shading will consist of cammo-style netting (Occu-net)...
The group plans a bar-b-que for people who show up to help with the shade construction.
4. The Boston Occupier just published 10,000 copies of its seventh monthly edition, carrying stories about Occupy MBTA’s Camp Charlie (Charlie on the MTA) and the April 4 Day of Action for Public Transit called by Occupy together with transit worker unions. 

5. Occupy Boise: The camp on the lawn in front of Old Ada County Courthouse, which went up November 11, was spared the fate of the other Occupy camps because a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order after the legislature hurriedly passed a law against camping in February. The challenge by Occupy Boise is scheduled to be heard by Judge Winmill (great name) on June 7, but meanwhile, the city is negotiating with OB over moving off the grass so they can reseed it. I'd be watching out for a special poisonous Occucide cooked up by Monsanto (see #2).

The April 4 roundup on OccupyTogether lists dozens of other Adventures from the Grave over the last few weeks.


  1. Also: Occupy Mendocino is very active - demonstrations every Friday in Ft. Bragg, on-going county wide anti-foreclosure work including educationals at the high schools and a big Occupy Street Fair on May 12th in downtown Ft. Bragg.


  2. If a government fell in the forest, and it wasn't reported of Fox News -- did it actually fall?