Occupation: Occupy Portland

2

October 20, 2011 by David Gillaspie

Originally published in The Oregonian.

Who is Occupy Portland?

What is the job description?

Early Sunday morning they were campers in their tents, people lined up in the chow line, and young girls waiting their turn in the restroom, the one labeled ‘Men’s’.

Occupy Portland staffed the first aid tent and the media desk while KBOO-FM 90.5 settled into their studio for the early shift.

Two Portland policemen in full gear walked the Occupy Portland paths; two Multnomah Sheriffs’ personnel with radios stayed on the perimeter before crossing the street to the Justice Center.  A man in a Portland Parks vest monitored the Men’s bathroom.

The peacekeepers saw no laws broken badly enough to act.

The hundreds gathered in downtown Portland know their real estate, and the three rules: Location, Location, Location. With the Justice Center on one side, the Portland Building on the other, the protesters chose prime real estate.

But they miss the most important point, the side effects.

If you’ve seen pictures of Woodstock, or the movie, you remember the rain.  You remember the mud. You remember people living in the rain and mud for three days.

When it was over they went home, they went back to school, or stole their daddy’s cue and made a living out of playing pool. They left the mess and moved on.

Some of the campers Sunday morning looked old enough for the 60’s. They are the parents and grandparents of Occupy.

If they lived through the Vietnam War protests that brought the gas, a Chicago Democratic Convention that cracked heads, and a Kent State clash that opened fire, they ought to tell the younger campers how it felt.

It’s one thing to protest with your physical presence, it’s another being gassed until you vomit, whacked on the collarbone by a mounted policeman, or shot by National Guardsmen with poor fire control. Tell the young campers that what inspires them from Libya and Egypt and China has already happened here.

We had our revolution. You can read all about it in The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage.

Author Todd Gitlin was a mover and shaker as president of SDS, Students for a Democratic Society, and a hustler. Other titles from his pen read perfect for the Occupy campers: The Bulldozer and the Big Tent, and his editing on Campfires of the Resistance.

Use the 60’s to explain how the Counter Culture was counted out, or tapped out on their own.

After living on the fringe, after cleansing their souls in India and their bodies with macro-biotic commune food, this offspring of the Greatest Generation, this Baby Boom, decided driving an SUV and laying down on a Sleep Number Bed with Memory Foam made more sense than miso soup, brown rice, and meditating for world peace.

Learn the secret hippie way of making a deal with yourself: An imperfect world needs a more perfect you. 

Raise the stakes of protest by doing your homework, then bring the results to open debate for better listeners.

         

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2 thoughts on “Occupation: Occupy Portland

  1. Nice comparisons, balanced and original.

    • deegeesbb says:

      There’s so much left to Occupy Portland that the Oregonian printed my first take. The Wall Street Journal didn’t use my second, but now the editorials and regular commentators are getting in.

      It seems the reality is sinking in, especially after the second night a few of the campers were allowed to stay on federal ground locked at the ankles with bike locks. That’s showing something, and it makes sense. “I will shackle myself to throw off the shackles of my culture just before I get shackled by the law from that culture. Feels like math.

      Thanks for coming in. You’d better be a subscriber by now. Don’t want to miss a post hot off the press.

      David

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