Hey everyone — a lot has happened since the last time I wrote here. Two days after posting my call to Burners to Occupy I attended Occupy Austin on November 17. #N17 was the two month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and marked a major march for Occupy Austin in support of the movement as a whole and education reform specifically. After a moving speech and a march of 400 strong down Congress Ave., we rallied at city hall. During our GA, we protected the bodies of about a dozen of our “exiles” — those who have been banned from city hall — with our bodies.
When the GA ended, one Occupier, James, decided it was time for an act of civil disobedience. Previously, James attended a meditation led by Creation Flame, a Burner-led “Church of Awesome” from Austin and found it inspiring. Later, he was given a criminal trespass notice for meditating “in the wrong part of the plaza.” Understandably enraged by this violation of his rights, he chained himself to a tree. 5 other activists joined him in being arrested that night.
Of course, Austin has been more peaceful than Occupy Oakland or the recent events at UC Davis. But even here our police know the meaning of disproportionate response. Police cleared Media from the area “for safety,” police chief Acevedo told us. A row of police the entire length of city hall plaza pushed us away with batons out, all the wall asking us to ‘be careful.’ Two fire engines arrived. All of this over 6 peaceful activists on a tree.
In this video, Jamie Tilley explains what happened in more detail:
Maybe I should feel scared. We hear talk of “police state” but the recent days have proved it more than ever. Egypt is now justifying its brutal, deadly crackdown on its own activists by saying they saw what we did first. All around, the people are under attack — and still there are too few people on the streets.
Instead of fear, I saw how easy it is to inspire others — the chain from Creation Flame to James to inspiring those who saw his brave act. I knew I had to act on one of my ideas, and stayed up all night that night giving it a start.
#OccupyBurners is now a reality. In addition to our blog, we have a thriving presence on Twitter (@OccupyBurners), a Facebook page, and a think tank on a Google Group where we are reaching consensus on our self-definition. Within the last 24 hours, major citizen journalists and a high percentage of the people who work most closely with Burning Man have voiced their support for the Occupation and for this project. We’re growing all the time and I’m incredibly excited by the response and what we have inspired already. Read our welcome message and tell your Burner friends.
Otherwise my life has been really good lately, overall. I am incredibly busy — even before taking on another project — while maintaining my paying work. I’ve had some wonderful times with my lovers recently, and have some fun posts coming in the next few days.
But for now I feel inspired — and very much alive.