After only three nights occupying part of Miami, a committed group of activists managed to throw together quite the successful concert in under 24 hours.
In order to keep the movement's momentum up in this truly offensive weather, organizers set up a covered stage outside Stephen P. Clark Government Center where they played into the night.
Though earlier in the day the only confirmed band was Bredcrumbs, dozens of locals brought out their guitars, drums, and skills. Yes, there was a heathy sprinkling of spoken word and even a cover of Nirvana's "Lithium." But overall, the music was decent.
When we arrived the group was discussing a point of concern: A police officer had told them that wearing masks might get them arrested. But the American Civil Liberties Union assured protesters that this was not against the law. Those wanting to wear masks would be given the ACLU's number in case of bogus arrests.
Meanwhile, an older guy told a mostly unrelated story about how his friend got arrested on the MetroRail in the '80s for wearing a gorilla costume, just for fun. Pretty sure the ACLU wasn't involved in that case.
Next point of business was eating. Food Not Bombs made tons of chow and collected other foodstuff for occupiers and guests. There were about 150 people out there, maybe more, munching on ribs, potato salad, a curry stew, salad, and bread. There was plenty to go around, and it smelled good. The homeless were invited to join in and grab a plate.
After only one Bredcrumbs song, it looked like the show was over until a jam session started up to the side of the stage. The party had begun.
Two lady singers from Laharii joined Bredcrumbs for a brief but really delightful jam. And then the band continued with its rocking funk hip-hop as the crowd danced and sung along to a cover of Cage the Elephant's "No Rest for the Wicked."
Rapper and activist Black Bobby stopped by to perform "Occupy Everything," which really got people fired up. Chants for an encore were ignored. Interesting fact: Black Bobby has a Master's in Public Policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Impressive.
People spent time going back and forth between the camp and concert, many talked politics. There were some dissenting views and attempts at real conversation.
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One guy, Andres Ramos of The Anthropologists of Nosy Mangabe, came because he'd "never had the pleasure of watching a real protest." He was in the mood to argue a few points of contention. Though not against the occupation, he believes it's more effective to talk to congressmen than sleep out in the rain.
There was a sense, however, that everyone else was feeling the message. Occupy Miami isn't just made up of the patchouli-loving crowd of yesteryear. It's filled with all sorts of people. There were even elementary school kids out there with signs, guided by their parents.
But sadly, there was a significant lack of representation by the local arts community. Looks like these guys'll be occupying for a bit, so hopefully more musicians and visual artists come out to support.