Occupy Miami Is Growing In Numbers and Ideas
"I slept here last night during the Occupy monsoon," protester Eduardo joked about his time of damp tent living. The torrential rains and some flooding of the campsite didn't keep 60 people from spending the night outside. The numbers have increased, and new tents were being pitched this afternoon.
On this, the third day of the occupation, about a hundred people were talking politics and shop. This level of intellectual chatter has probably never occurred at the nearby Stephen P.Clark Government Center.
CNN Español was interviewing protesters while nonprofit groups and unions like the NAACP and SEIU showed their support with signs. A little girl helped her father set up a tent for the night. Sister Soljar, Paulette M. Darrow, lifetime member of the NAACP, was on the bullhorn talking about how greed must stop. One woman was publicly breast feeding. It was a family affair.
Groups of people stared out from the safety of the government building. Some came out for a minute, standing far away, to snap pictures with their phones. Most had no comment for us and ran by quickly. One older gentleman, Louis, whose English was limited said, "I like this. I want you to stay here one year."
When asked about any conflict or interactions with outsiders, Eduardo noted that there were run ins with homeless people, "but they were all amicable." Occupiers offered them food and thoughtful conversation. He said the police have been respectful, too. The cops, however, wouldn't talk to us.
Activist and organizer Nancy isn't sure she's going to brave the elements for a cause she supports, but she just might. Of the mixed crowd out there today, she said, "What I think is interesting is seeing the non-activist community coming together to do something in this city."
For how impressively organized this seemingly rag tag group of occupiers appear, they did have one set back. The donations committee lost their list, and though they've received dry foods fresh fruit, breakfast bars and even cash in abundance at this point, they're recompiling their list of needs. The group is wisely holding onto the cash, according to Eduardo, "In the event that we need it for bail money." They have wifi and plugs, but two requests they have are porta potties and a generator.
Things are going smoothly. Tonight, Occupy Miami has put together a hip-hop and rock jam starting at 6. They hope more people come out to enjoy a little fun time even in this dreary weather.
Media committee member Bruce was cutting paper flyers for a show. He emphasized the success of Miami's occupation so far, "If you look at the way that October 15 ignited a worldwide revolt and in some instances in some cities, not just in America, but around the world, there were crackdowns, there was violence. Things got really heated up. So far, today, this has been a 100 percent peaceful occupation."
Jorgen Fernandez is also a part of the media committee. He told us that he's staunchly opposed to crony capitalism. "The one percent sitting on their money... not putting that back into the economy. The BOA paying zero dollars in taxes last year. It's just not right."
Ricky Jackson of Bredcrumbs, a hip-hop and rock group that's headlining the show later, had a message for the local press. "We want them to know that this isn't only a Democratic or Republican movement, this is a movement of the people."
They're still working out the details of a mission statement. Bruce noted that they're getting settled in first, "We're mobilizing in a local place that has its own local issues. We are aware of those issues. Once we know that our homebase is secure, we can have the luxury to say, ok, what is our list of intents?" Their mission is thus growing and evolving out of the democratic process taking place in the group's regular public assemblies.
"This is not going to fizzle out." He continued, "This is going to keep growing." Bruce emphasized, "We're changing the political paradigm. Policy is going to be crafted in places like this in the future."
Everyone we spoke with is dedicated to staying until the end. What constitutes the end? We suppose once there's some serious economic restructuring of the system. That's gonna be awhile. Somebody, please get these guys a porta-potty already.
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