Monday, October 24, 2011

A right to be there

I notice that when I talk to friends in other cities, most of them are not nearly as excited about the Occupy movements. I wonder if I’m just excited because I live in a place where anything feels better than nothing. I watch all these pundits from the left speaking at Occupy Wall Street, and of course that makes me suspicious. At least Cornel West gets arrested with protesters, and Jesse Jackson comes down with his supporters to keep the medical tent safe. Most of the pundits refrain from giving advice, and that's a welcome development; maybe something is changing.

My second visit to the Occupy Santa Fe campsite, this time during the day, and it's a totally different crowd – some younger and punkish, traveler types. I'm only there for a few minutes, but it gets me excited again – I mean, it's exciting just to have a place to go. I return at night, and this time it's a whole other crowd – mostly men in their 30s to 60s, many of them men of color. Something just happened where they had to tell someone to leave because he was too drunk and people felt threatened, so everyone is on edge. Some of the women felt threatened, that's how I hear the story told. This time, some people are friendly to me and others seem disengaged, homophobic in the sense of a masculinist type of suspicion. I hear someone talking about how he's been to every Occupy space in the country – I head over to hear what he has to say, but he and the three people with him immediately turn away from me. I wonder about these spaces, who's inside and outside, and how that dynamic is in a constant state of flux.

The next day I’m walking around my neighborhood, and this guy comes up to ask about the street we’re on, does it continue or is it a dead end. Actually, what he says is does it horseshoe? I'm trying to avoid those people, he says. Who, I ask. Occupy Santa Fe, that's what they call themselves. How come, I ask.

Oh, he says – of course they have a right to be there, I agree with what they're saying, but I just can't get another citation. Are the cops over there, I ask. Yes, he says, and I just can't afford another citation – maybe they can, but I can’t – they have a permit, and they have a right to be there, but I just can't afford another citation. Are there more cops around than usual, I ask. Yes, he says, they come by every few hours.

No comments: