Archive for October 5, 2011
This action is an echo of the Occupy Wall Street resistance in Liberty Square in New York. According to the web site, “Occupy Wall Street is leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants.”
When I describe the gathering as an “echo” I mean that tonight it seemed a derivative movement closely following the action in New York. For example, at one point some in the assembly wanted to talk about “demands” during the occupation and a participant suggested that we could go on line and vote for demands on the Occupy Wall Street web site and use those as our demands. Whether that will be the case is undecided.
Tonight’s “general assembly,” was facilitated by Shay O’Reilly, a self described “antiwar, pro-democracy journalist” who covers LGBT issues for Campus Progress. O’Reilly graduated from the University of Iowa in May, 2011 with honors in religious studies and plans to attend seminary or divinity school in the fall of 2012. O’Reilly did a good job of facilitating the well behaved group.
O’Reilly was not the only journalist in the room as in addition to Blog for Iowa, Lynda Waddington from Iowa Independent was present, FOX News sent a television crew and Iowa Public Radio sent a reporter. It seems likely other unidentified news outlets were present, based on the number of fancy cameras clicking.
Des Moines Catholic Worker David Goodner attended and offered some tips about organizing. During multiple discussions about engaging the media, Goodner pointed out the obvious that the media was already engaged. He also pointed to similar gatherings scheduled this weekend in Fairfield, Mason City and Des Moines.
A majority of the people in the general assembly were either students or recent graduates as indicated by their concerns about the high cost of textbooks, the lies about the amount of debt that can be incurred by students, and the corporatization of the university. There were also people from the community, including members of organized labor, veterans, environmentalists, retirees, undocumented immigrants and mothers. There was a good mix of men and women, although white men dominated much of the discussion.
A comparison to the taxed enough already party seems inevitable, with the talk about revolution and being a leaderless grassroots movement. The difference is that Occupy Iowa may be the real thing as opposed to an astroturf organization funded by the Koch brothers. The next General Assembly is scheduled for 7:00 P.M. October 6 in College Green Park in Iowa City.
~ Paul Deaton lives in rural Iowa.