A comment on Occupy Bloomington facebook page hits the mark, and explains the funny feeling I got as I entered the People’s Park yesterday evening, as well as the negative signs that, at first, turned me off. See this post. I told a friend this morning that perhaps “People’s Park” has been a place the homeless in Bloomington think of as theirs, their territory. This comment affirms my sense of the situation, expands its implications, and was so clear and pointed it made my ears burn:
“It was interesting for people, like myself, who have been “occupying” the spaces like People’s Park (by “living” on the streets and in the alleys and abandoned areas and having already formed our own evolving network of exchange and interaction “outside” of this corrupt system for most of our lives) to see the whole dichotomy between the local ‘street people’ or ‘Parkies’ and the “Occupy Bloomington” folks who have converged upon the Park.
“It was also a little disturbing to see so much time and energy going towards COMPLIANCE with the systems set ordinances and laws. Wasn’t it the system that you were standing AGAINST? For those who put up their tents when others were debating where and if to put up tents, I commend and support you! For those of you who resumed playing music and singing even after the piggies told you not to, I applaud you!
“Keep it REAL! THINK 4 YOURSELF and not only QUESTION AUTHORITY, but DEFY AUTHORITY!”
Okay, enough of that. The atmosphere morphed anyway, with the addition of more signs and some of the more negative signs being pulled down. This I know because Jim, the young permaculture student that is staying with me and who decided to join the occupation, just came back this afternoon for a shower. He said that the homeless people are fine now, integrated in with the others. And he said that the 11 p.m. curfew arose and fell with no police action, so they did stay all night, about eight tents worth. Jim forgot a blanket, and so was cold all night, but said that this morning someone gave him a sleeping bag.
Here’s a running photo series that chronologically documents my visit yesterday:
First, on arrival, about 40 people there, it seemed; okay, so it’s going to happen!
My son Colin helped Jim get the dumpster treasures from yesterday out of the car and onto the bench. Jim says lots more food has arrived, though they have yet to set up a kitchen. The street people that usually stay in the park use a grill; they cooked stuff and offered it to the occupiers, but a lot of it was meat, and many of the younger ones are vegans.
A sweet young family agreed to pose with their signs and, unfortunately, a shy two-year-old.
Sign language . . .
I didn’t realize it, but those in the park with me were a remnant, the others having marched to Chase Bank and occupied the sidewalk there for about an hour, singing songs and speaking. Just before twilight, they started marching back, their voices hoarse with repeated call and response? “What does democracy look like?” “THIS is what democracy looks like!”
Now there was a swelling crowd, at least 200, maybe closer to 300, in little Bloomington, on the very first evening of the occupation!
Now what? As a young woman had written on the sidewalk prior to the parade’s arrival:
Well, speeches! Started by a facilitator or two, but emphasizing that this occupation has no leaders, that it is a leaderless movement, that we all need to step up to the plate with whatever we need to say.
The big question? Would the police try to stop them from staying the night? Would Dunn Meadow be a better bet? On and one, first one speaker passionately advocating one solution, then another very calmly arguing for the other. Colin and I left before it was settled. And, in any case, as the comment that headed up this post shows, maybe they (oops, correction, WE) shouldn’t have worried about that so much.