Joining the Occupiers

I participated in only one civil rights event, a march on the board of education in Chicago. We were protesting Willis wagons, trailers used as shoddy, portable, “temporary” classrooms in poor neighborhoods and named after the superintendent who pushed them. I’ve been to other rallies and affairs for various issues, but that time through The Loop with a thousand other people was the only time we were surrounded by government goons and on television.

I’d’ve been more involved in the movement, but I knew I wasn’t about to turn the other cheek all the time. I wasn’t ready for that much nonviolence, so I would just get in the way and end up in jail. I could do my bit by staying in school and going to work. That’s what I told myself. Almost a half-century later I don’t think of violence as a viable response to much of anything, and I’ve been lucky enough to outgrow it. I’m grateful for the grace.

Although I tend to avoid crowds bigger than a medium house party—which is why the earlier I get to the Saturday farmers’ market (omitting the apostrophe implies that the market referred to is where farmers may be purchased. Is a strawberry market staffed by strawberries?) the better I like it—I went to a noon Saturday Occupy Chico rally in the plaza, and I’ve got to say it was pretty wonderful.

The crowd was diverse in terms of race, income, gender, age, sartorial judgment, and planetary origin. My people. The vibe was good, too. No commercials, no cops, which I’ll get back to. I was there with my flags, which I should explain.

A couple of months ago I bought my first United States flag. I got it at ARC for a fin and four bits so I could reclaim Old Glory from the bullies and yahoos and then combine it with Tibetan prayer flags, which pleases me on many levels.

The Occupy Chico movement exists “to build a democratic movement where the underlying interests of all people and living things are promoted.” That’s what I read on a brochure. I’m for that, although I’d like to know what “democratic” means and what “promoted” means and would I be expected to promote the interests of the slugs in my garden? I’ll go over to the plaza and ask.

We walked slowly through downtown Chico with an unfortunate bullhorn and not a cop in sight. If it wouldn’t muss my hair I’d tip my hat to the Chico Police Department. Really. I think they’re ready for Nonviolent Communication.