In Dubious Battle

After the beautiful solidarity of the march, and fractious GA, we arrived at a controversial decision, and in my mind a heinous mistake: to try, for the third time in five days, to take the park and create a base for Occupy Rochester. By now we were as well apprised of the situation as one could be; there was little drama, and even less political gain, to be had from either outcome, arrests or a continued stalemate, other than a piece of grass and concrete downtown which we weren’t technically allowed to be in anyway. Either way, the scattering crowd when the decision came should have been an alert to the remaining steadfast park camping supporters, that we were alienating our own base, and setting up for implosion. The sentiment of Scott Olsen Day should motivate us, but not guide us – after all, he is (unfortunately just barely) living proof of what can happen in a camp gone wrong, in an action largely wasted on the mainstream media and public zeitgeist. For all that Occupy has given me and taught me, I could no longer subscribe to the actions of the plurality, if not majority, of the group which supports occupying Washington Square.

Chief Shepard arrives and makes things interesting.

The revolution will not be televised. A bunch of people waiting for something to happen, however, will be every time.

Djembe drums. A great way to warm up on a chilly night.

Especially now that it’s a routine, we almost tailgate the arrests. Supporters from the online community and members of the original 32 who didn’t want to risk a second arrest brought a massive table of food before the orderly chaos. As 11.35 approached, everyone began to gather on the steps of the statue.

Uh oh.

Yes, this means you. You can’t do that.

And that led us to the sight no one wants to see, even when we planned and set up for it…

This is the offense that led to 14 arrests tonight: sitting quietly on the steps of a statue. Don’t they just look like Rochester’s most hardened, disorderly criminals? No? I didn’t think so. But of course the RPD sends about 50 of Rochester’s “finest” to deal with the scene. While I admire the bravery of the 46 Occupiers who were arrested this week, I have to sincerely wonder why we sent a second group. Especially since we weren’t even trying to have a camp tonight, only setting up arrests for the sake of arrests. This is where I lost faith in the movement’s main direct actions…

They were paraded solemnly away, one at a time…no surprises here, everyone who signed up to get arrested, in fact, was, and no one looking to stay out of jail had their nights ruined. I guess that’s /something/ to be said in RPD’s favor?

The whole process took only about half an hour this time.

Once all 14 of our comrades were gone, they cleared the park out, conferred for a while what to do next, and ultimately left us to keep a vigil on the sidewalk.

I’m not exactly sure what the point of this was. It was well after midnight already, no one was watching the park, and it’s been clear for a while they don’t give a shit on the sidewalks.

Finally, when everyone else was thinking about leaving, we had two go to sleep in the sidewalk. It shouldn’t have been much of a surprise that they, too, were ticketed this morning, for obstructing traffic, bringing the final count up to 48 arrests thus far.

I doubt I will be reporting much more about Occupy in the coming weeks… there isn’t much left to say, as long as the park sleepers have their way. A few camps are certainly a necessity, for activist minds and wandering youth to come together. I may still take my own pilgrimage to Zuccotti Park, and try to learn how to do this better, but it’s becoming more and more clear that what we’ve done with the park here hasn’t worked. If, as expected, we can hold onto the park legally, and the fight for it is over, maybe it can be a gathering point for a more effective movement, but so far this is nothing but a war of futility, concentrating our efforts in copying other Occupy sites and not continuing the momentum of change we started with our marches and our open dialogues of just what is wrong with Rochester. Not being able to sleep in a park without getting arrested, is a very low priority to make this city a better place, especially when we are more than capable of making an actual difference.

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