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Work 4 Peace,Hold All Life Sacred,Eliminate Violence! I am on my mobile version of the door-to-door, going town-to-town holding readings/gatherings/discussions of my book "But What Can I Do?" This is my often neglected blog mostly about my travels since 9/11 as I engage in dialogue and actions. It is steaming with my opinions, insights, analyses toward that end of holding all life sacred, dismantling the empire and eliminating violence while creating the society we want ALL to thrive in

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The shit hitting the fan

I decide to join the Peace Keeping & Security Team today because I feel the way in which a problem is framed determines the response and solutions.

And I REALLY don't like the general consensus of people here which is that the problem is the homeless and they are stealing our things, and we need security to protect ourselves from the homeless.

A womon at the morning G.A. suggests we might call it "involuntary sharing" instead of "stealing".

I like calling it sharing, period but support involuntary sharing too.

And another womon says in the morning G.A. that on this plaza, we 'occupiers' are the 1%, and homeless people are the 99%.

But these voices are the few.

Rumors fly thick, furious, and anti-homeless. I was told by several occupiers that someone last night took a knife to a tent and tried to break in & steal something. When I ask for more details, like how could a knife fail to actually cut into a tent, and what did he take, I'm told security stopped him, that he was drunk & didn't get anything.

We find out the truth, that apparently someone took a pair of scissors to some plastic ties that were keeping an empty tent closed - a tent that person apparently slept in on another night. No one actually witnessed this but believe that this person did it and then found another tent to sleep in.


I have suggested several times that 1) if you are not willing to share it, don't bring it to the plaza; 2) if it is so precious to you, keep it on your body or put it in the security tent (we have a fuckin 24/7 security tent - why is that not the end of the story?).

The facilitator, yet another white male, wants to get into the "real" concerns of the peace keeping & security team and even though we decide by consensus to talk about this framing of the issue, he constantly reiterates how he doesn't want to talk about this now and there are other more important pressing things we need to talk about.

He blames me for some reason for derailing his agenda, even though it was a group decision. He blames me for the "involuntary sharing" argument, even though I was only embracing it as a great idea.Go figure - I don't mind really.

I am pushing hard for a paradigm change, for the decriminalization of homeless people, for the recognition that we are the 1% here on the plaza and homeless people the 99%. Several of the young white males are self-righteously proclaiming their poverty; one older white womon is sick of being made to feel guilty because she is poor too. She claims if any of her property is stolen, she could not replace it.

I try to say we can work together to replace it but what if it never gets stolen? I've had 4 tents up now for several days, some since the beginning, full of sleeping bags & stuff and nothing has ever been taken.

We talk about the "donations" and how people are "stealing" donations. I do not see how that is possible but then it becomes clear that not only do people think they have the right to decide who gets donations, they have the right to decide if the reason the person even wants the donation in the first place is valid.

I say put all the donations out in an area with a sign: "Please take what you really need, leave whatever you can". If there are donations we do not want to share - as tents - they should be set up around the plaza for anyone to occupy. Sleeping bags can be put inside the tents to be used by any occupiers, homeless or not.

A white womon I haven't seen before reiterates the paradigm change siting the Indigenous People here not even having a concept of possession, not of land or things.

A young white man I haven't seen before pipes up and says something about those "natives" in such a derogatory manner I do a major time-out and suggest he speak of "Indigenous or Native American at least", but he insists on calling 'them' natives...

I ask people to consider a huge paradigm change. I know they are reeling, as I am pulling hard. I feel if I close my eyes and just listen to them, I think I could be hearing the rich 3 piece suiter talking about his woes with the poor and defending his rights and deservings of the things he possesses.

It is stunning. It is not unlike quoting Obama speaking to West Point and quoting Bush - and people thinking Bush said both things.

The prejudice against - mostly Black - homeless people is overwhelming, at least to me. I don't know how to hold the mirror up quickly and effectively enough.

I try repeating the 1%/99% picture. I try sharing that in ancient Jewish times, if someone stole something from you, YOU were the one that was punished. You were not supposed to hoard things, especially something someone else needed. You were supposed to care for each other.

Paradigm change. Isn't that what we're here for?

Several of the youth stomp off, angry, believing I'm advocating for their things to be gone. Tim grabs his expensive name-brand jacket and tells me he would not be able to survive without this coat & how he would never involuntarily share it.

Tim is a white man who I thought was ally and his coat was very nice and warm - and i'm sure he had several others in his closet.

I look this white man in the eye and ask him to tell me really, if someone who was so poor, shivering, barefoot in this frigid D.C. weather that he was forced to begged Tim for his coat, would he really begrudge that person?

I asked him if someone who had to live on the streets in this frigid weather, if someone was freezing and coatless, if someone took this coat, liberated this coat, would he be okay with sharing?

I can't see he would be that cruel.

He was outraged, outfuckinrageous, outfuckinraged that I could suggest that he might be okay if somebody who really needed it, if someone who was close to dying without it, took it. 

He asked me did I have any idea how much he spent on this coat. He said no homeless person could ever afford a coat this 'good'. And so they don't deserve it and you do, I glared at him.

I asked him are you able to replace this coat? Are you able to buy another coat just like this?? Well yes but….

Yes butt...
But I know I can go to a local thrift shop and find that very jacket Tim probably paid top dollar for new, for a few bucks.


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