From the days of June 29th to July 2nd I was lucky enough to attend the National Occupy Gathering; an events which was originally pegged to be the “must attend” activist congregation of the year. However, as time passed it soon became clear that this conference would not so much lead the movement forward as it would signal the inimitable decline of Occupy.
Personally I was able to attend after securing a ride with my state’s Code:Pink local coordinator. She was nice enough to drive us over nine hours to our destination. While on the way we helped a broken motorist, stopped to eat, nearly broke down, and got lost it was a wonderful trip (if one was to exclude the heat) where I was able to both be helpful and consider my future within the Occupy Movement.
By the time my contact and I arrived in Philadelphia we were both exhausted with the car close to overheating. Nearly lost and very near a frustration overload we ended up calling our hostesses to ask for directions. Since they were such awesome people, however, they opted to come and get us in Lou of informing us which turns to take. In no time we arrived back at their house where I fell in love with both their super comfy couch, air conditioned room, and lovely German Shepard.
Sleeping soon after we settled into our areas of comfort my contact friend and I soon crashed into a deep sleep. When we woke up, not too hard to do with all the dogs barking, we felt energized and ready to rumble with the outside heat (which was a dry 100). However, since the vehicle we used to come up was in the shop, and my contact friend needed to wait for the mechanic to call, I would be destined to head down town to the Occupy encampment by myself.
Hitching a ride with one of our hostesses, where during the time we had a sublime chat regarding school and heteronormality, she dropped me off at the train station with instructions on how to travel to 8th & Market Street. Though taking the train for the first time was a personally daunting prospect, and I did end up missing the first such scheduled train, the actual ordeal was much less painful than I thought. Once out of the station and into the daylight I eventually found my way towards the park (though I had to call for help several times).
It was once I was at the park in which things turned different. When I attempted to enter the park the pigs would not let me enter with my sleeping bag (what they considered camping equipment). So I regulated myself to waiting on the sidelines until either my contact friend came down or until a comrade of mine, who said he would come, gave me a call.
After some time, maybe thirty minutes or so, I met up with my comrade-a cadre from Workers Power-and took off, without my sleeping bag, to discuss vital matters of the day. We looked around the park and came to the conclusion that Occupy was near its end; with little more than a couple hundred people there on the first day it was a poor showing at best.
Though there would be a small march later in the day, followed by a small and very needless confrontation with the police, only one person would be arrested that night. My comrade and myself had long ago written off any possibility of participating in such a confrontation due to its completely uselessness in actually achieving results. In truth, it is sad to say that the first day ended with the only inspiring event being that some people had showed.
Hours later we parted ways and returned to our respective homes for the night.
The following was a little more packed. Certainly the attendance was above that of yesterday yet still nothing to cheer wildly about. The events for the 1st of July did manage to go off without a hitch and workshops were presented in a timely manner. The one in which was of most interest was the “Occupy and Labor” outreach workshop. This teach-in, which was hosted by professional revolutionaries who know what they were doing, was able to bring a high amount of energy, humor and radicalism while still appealing to the “average” non-politicked worker. I took mental notes and would try and apply his method to the future struggle.
Speaking honestly this was undoubtedly the high point for the day if one wishes to talk about politics. Though my comrade and I listened in on parts of other workshops and we went out to lunch, and discussed party building some there was little other of consequence to speak of. We hugged, said our goodbyes, and parted ways.
So in the end while the Occupy National Gathering was a splendid event from the perspective of an outsider looking in or a revolutionary socialist considering how to recruit others for the next step of the struggle, for the actual occupy movement it was lackluster to say the least. With reactionary SNAFUs (a poorly planned comedy hour in which all variety of bourgeois humor was spewed), an agonizingly hot temperature, and none within the actual city observing the event, it was a gathering to be remembered in paradoxically unflattering and hopeful terms.