Friday, September 14, 2012

The Anniversary (with training)

This weekend protesters who in their distant memory were occupiers are streaming into New York City. But in sum it has still been a crowded calendar. OWS members are nothing if not creative, God are we creative. You can run your fingers over the pages of June, July, and August and jot down days and nights with pub crawls (don't ask me to explain), pop-up arrests, and meetings. Lots of meetings. All of it building to these days...maybe the last time media's big eye is trained on us. Smile!

In these latter days there's been a welcome shift in emphasis to training in civil disobedience and street tactics. It's a vital thing to do; I've noticed a dark cloud descend over us when we have not committed to this preparation. On both December 15th and May 1st when I--and a few comrades--looked over our shoulders at the crowd of promised support it had evaporated. They had run for cover. It's not a bad thing to avoid being taken into custody but you want to be proud that you chose that option. Saving yourself for other actions later in the day is good thing. 

But this is not the manner of scurrying around of the masses I've seen. Often something provocative is done to a cop or she/he pulls away and an additional charge of resistance gets tacked on. But most times rather than calmly regrouping for additional action everyone panics and skedaddles. (True, at any number of smaller, impromptu arrests protesters stand fast.) But for the most part when we have mobilized larger masses--100,000+--there has been an inverse correlation to how well prepared we are to even be on the street. Plainly it is rehearsal and training which brings "courage" to bear in troops in combat or occupiers facing the NYPD. 

Why is this so important? Because of the three parts of street action: 1) preparation; 2) deployment and result; 3) reflection and consolidation, it is # 3 that bequeaths to the future movement a gift or a curse. We want protesters to think back on their experience with satisfaction, pride and enjoyment. Briefly said this is really a formation exercise which builds the character, and adds to the dignity, of the individuals participating. 

So in any open time slot this weekend...train, train, train. 


  1. I pray that both protestors and the police refrain from violence. I pray that NYP remember that the protestors are fellow citizens standing with them against the 1% and treat them with respect and use no unnecessary roughness. Should the NYP use rough tactics, I pray that the protestors remember that to respond in kind will be to play into the hands of the powers. Resist, but without violence. There is great power in non-violent resistance.

    I pray for peace and courage for all who gather. I can't be there, but my heart and my spirit are with you.

    June Butler