Sunday, October 23, 2011
People, some homeless, some drunk, some just hanging, are sitting at the chess tables, around the fountain, and on neighboring benches when several hundred OBers march into what has previously been their space -- as if they, the marchers, owned it. Any peace and quiet they had been having, any fellowship with others in situations similar to their own, is over, and now they are unwanted, unwanting guests at someone else's party.
Often there is obscene yelling in disagreement with what they are hearing at the people's mike. Signs are torn up. Someone twice tried to jump through a Bread & Puppet INSURRECTION banner, ripping it down.
Small skirmishes occur, with face offs and threats. Claims of "I am homeless, are you?" are met with invitations to go up and say "Mic check," and then to phrase their passionate observations in two-beat phrases. "You're free to speak, too." "Yeah? Fuck you!"
What I'm describing is an occupation different than what most of us think we're doing, an occupation more like that of Palestine than that of Wall Street. What are our assumptions about claiming the park whenever and however we will? What happens to the natives when the Occupy Burlington troops roll in? And how will this situation develop or devolve in the future, if City Hall Park becomes full-time occupied, and the homeless and other chronic park-dwellers become strangers in their own land?
I suggest we be aware of this issue.