Since late October, 2011, I’ve been involved in Occupy Oakland, the Oakland, California manifestation of the Occupy Wall Street movement that has swept the country and is now popping up around the world.
While I’ve never camped out at Occupy Oakland or any of the other Occupations, I’ve contributed camping gear, was tear gassed a couple times, participated in the Oakland general strike and been on numerous marches throughout the city of Oakland. I’ve acted in both reporter/commentator and street medic roles during events and I’ve been a regular live-tweeter at protests and General Assemblies.
I’m finding Occupy to be one of the most fascinating, inspiring and potentially effective social movements that I’ve seen in 25 years of activism.
On the way back from visiting family in Washington State for Thanksgiving, I’ll be visiting as many Occupy camps as I can as I travel south on Interstate 5, reporting via Twitter and this blog. I’ve had the feeling for a while that those of us in Occupy have not had enough person to person communication between Occupation camps. It’s all about stories, so the more we can share, the richer the movement will be. I’m hoping that a new genre of political travel—”occupy tourism”—springs up soon, with groups of itinerant activists and Occupiers roaming between camps spreading subversive ideas.
I started this trip with a quick visit to Occupy Bellingham this morning, Monday November 28th, then down to OccupyTacoma this evening. I was on my way to OccupyOlympia for the big rally and sit-in that was taking place, but was running so late that it didn’t make sense to go that far. I’m glad, since the camp at Tacoma, while short-staffed today (like Bellingham, everyone was at Olympia), I met some great people. Their short interviews are up on the home page.
I’ll visit OccupySeattle in the morning (November 29th). In the next couple days, I’ll stop in to OccupyOlympia, OccupyPortland OccupyEugene and take a trip out to Longview, Washington, where the International Longshore Workers Union Local 21 has been in a long labor struggle.
The November 2nd Oakland General Strike was in solidarity with them and the December 12th West Coast Port Shutdown action is in solidarity with their struggle and with the struggle of truckers in L.A. against a company owned by Goldman Sachs. There is a very direct connection to Wall Street in all this. I want to get more of their stories out to the rest of the Occupy movement, so we know some of the actual people we are in solidarity with. It makes it so much more personal and meaningful to know the faces and names behind the banners and slogans.
While there have been Occupations in Southern Oregon, I’m not sure if any still have a daily presence south of Eugene. (Clue me in if you know otherwise!) If I find any, I’ll stop there too. I’ll probably finish up this trip with OccupyHSU in Arcata and OccupyEureka on Hwy 101 before getting back to Southern Humboldt County, where I call home part time.
If you want to follow my progress on Twitter, my handle is @mikaljakubal and most of these posts are tagged #oi5 (for Occupy Interstate 5) for easy finding.