Saturday, December 31, 2011

Letter to the Eugene City Council...

(Context: This was taken from a letter I posted on my mayors facebook page, I was acting independently from Occupy Eugene, but compassionately for humanity.)

Ultimately for the function of a society to be healthy with it's democracy their must be a healthy dialogue between all the diverse elements of a society in order fully utilize the 'wisdom of the commons.'

So this debate is good. But for debate to truly happen both sides need to LISTEN. The disenfranchised of this country feel oppressed. And to a degree this perception is accurate. For example, when THE HOMELESS SIGNED UP TO SPEAK AT THE CITY COUNCIL MEETING BUT DIDN'T GET TO SPEAK FOR TIME LIMIT REASONS. The official reasoning was that the city council was obeying standard procedures. Meanwhile The Occupy Eugene people wanted to express themselves. Neither 'side' is wrong, but there is a difference in interest.

The physical public occupation, in part, is an desperate attempt to get heard. For years many people in this 'democratic' society have felt marginalized and silenced, whether they are houseless and unable to find employment or they are a inspired activist wishing to save the world.

I remember, one night talking with a mixed group of activist and houseless Occupy Eugene members. We were sharing songs and stories. Crouched around a little fire, we were having fun. Sure, a drunk would come in every once in a while, at it's worst it would cause a fight, usually minor. Usually, the situation was tolerated and the drunk would be integrated as best as possible into the discussion. In the darkness of the cold wet winter we suffered together, committed to this cause of justice and our experiment with horizontal democracy. AND THAT FIRE WAS SO IMPORTANT. IT kept us warm, kept us circled together, it gave us light. This simple little fire, safe as a camp fire, was our most important resource.

And then 4 cops came with big flashlights, guns protruding from their hips. They asked us to put the fire out, again. Now the cops were not mean, but they were not friendly either. In fact, my experiences as an Occupy Eugene peace keeper made me sad in how hard it was to break through and be able to communicate with the cops on site as a person. Now, to the cops credit, they get approached by a lot of people who talk a lot of gibberish. Plus they are put in a position, as the face of authority, that is uncomfortable in a protest situation.

So in this situation, the cops came and put out our fire. And we were shocked. It literally froze us. And the cops knew they were inflicting pain, And I don't think they liked doing it. One cop even acknowledged how cold it was. Another cop was noticeably afraid.

And as the nights got colder, we saw more and more cops. The cops, employed to serve and protect. Were making sure that the site was safe (We Wondered that if the city must spend money we don't want on us, why don't they spend it on social workers and programs for the poor). And the nights passed and we got colder, instead of a fire, we got big fluerescent lights that beamed down on us all night. These lights were loud, and I remember one night, seeing a young couple, in their twenties and recently unemployed, a woman crying because the lights were blaring over them all night causing migraines into the lap of her powerless partner. And as people got less and less sleep, and as they suffered from coldness, they got more unstable. These conditions, sadly, do not lead to safety to say the least. Sadly, the calls of the peacekeepers could not be heard over the roar of the generators that powered the lights.

I mention these experiences, to inform the city council members, how important that safe little fire was. Now Imagine how emotional some Occupiers might be about losing not only their fire, but their home. 3 days before Christmas, nonetheless. For a second I ask you to imagine how you would feel if this happened to you. If you had to go back to hiding behind the bushes of public property, property you technically have an interest in as an American citizen, afraid you might be messed with by the police for having to pee.

Polling was a former police officer. He blocked the vote for the fire. He insulted the camp in the same public forum that the houseless and inspired activist were NOT ALLOWED TO SPEAK AT. The city council took away the Occupation home. So the occupiers went to Polling's home (and Polling is just the face elected by our city to represent a certain perception.)((I also would like to specify that I was not at Polling's home on either location, although I am not ashamed to be affiliated in a loose way with that action.))

I sympathize with the city council. I understand the importance of rules. I know that they are very important in the running of a city, just as they are of a movement. I also acknowledge, that I do not understand completely where the city council is coming from in their actions.

But I do understand that it can be shocking to have a dialogue with someone who speaks differently, who sees things differently. When the way the other presents themselves can even appear disrespectful to you. Or maybe it's simply uncomfortable, maybe we rather look the other way when we see such pain and discomfort.

And as is tradition, when oppressed people feel silenced they become louder. Some say history repeats itself. I don't think so, I think it rhymes. And if we look at the times, we can hear the echoes of the civil rights movements and the anti-nuclear movement. It especially reminds me of the Serbian Optur movement. Actions like what has happened to Polling, are not new to world history. And if we study history, we can see that these actions do not go away until the people are heard.

Now I encourage you and hope you feel empowered to have a little better understanding of the protesters situation. Please listen to us, work with us. Truly work with us as peers, trust that we have good ideas. Many of us, just like most people in any group of society, intend to do the most good with the littlest harm. So please work with us as peers, and the more we are respected the more inspired we are to be respectful. Hopefully We can come together to not only work for the 99 percent, but rather the whole belly button club of humanity. And if that can happen, just imagine how effective democracy could be. It could be so effective, that their wouldn't need to be protest and all of it's ramifications.

Peace, Love, Joy, Wisdom...

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