The following is from a local blog analyzing Friday night’s march.
I have been spending a large chunk of my already meager free time at Kiener plaza taking part in aspects of the occupystl demonstration. As still fairly new to St. Louis I have been trying to grasp the significance of what is occurring around me… particularly after last night’s spectacular happenings.
In my years of solidarity actions, demonstrations and protests I have not had as many encounters with differing opinions as I have in the 4 evenings that I have spent there; not to mention the way in which these encounters unfold is wholly unique for me. I am used to organizing through collectives and affinity groups, acting on specific grievances and maintaining an insular understanding of intent and tactics among the people I am with. I only know non-hierarchical, consensus based organizing. Solidarity is at the core of my efforts. And I know that lines must be drawn in a way that does not compromise the integrity of the action.
In Kiener plaza, people organizing around progressive movements for decades; young people who are engaging a social movement for the first time; angry, marginalized people who have finally found a place where their experiences have power and anarchists whose critique runs deeper than some can fathom, articulate their respective takes on what is happening and what they want. Never before have I seen one voice describe the violence of the state and the police in a crowd of people with such a sincere and respectful response. Not to suggest that escalation of emotion was not present, or that it is a bad thing, but this individual, my friend, was not singled out or accused of perpetuating violence himself. The opportunity to have radically anti-oppressive dialogues is here – and people want them.
Last night, there was a concert and a march – both un-permitted, beautiful examples of d.i.y. in action. The event was called “music of a revolution.” That word – revolution – has been thrown around with such carelessness that it has lost its meaning; in the same way that the “99%” concept has been used as a way to defend oppressive ideas and disregard critiques. As I understand it, revolution has come to mean reform and the 99% includes congress people and cops. Nonetheless, the space appears to continue, offering room to discuss these ideas. I wonder how the clash of opinions will play out once this movement becomes threatening to the status quo, and shit gets real.
What occurred last night during the march down Washington Ave. and through the Landing (St. Louis’ uber yuppie, loft district and bar/club street) was incredible. On a number of occasions I was in awe of what was happening around me. The resounding chants of “CLASS WAR NOW,” “REVOLUTION,” and “BURN THE BANKS” (upon approaching the fed) made me feel magical. Like people were considering these impossible ideas, and the locus of it all is right here. Granted, some of this is attributable to the group think phenomenon, and people might not have had the slightest clue of the implications of their chants. But these ideas were heard, just as loudly as the “WE/YOU ARE THE 99%” and those chants from the civil-rights era that people just can’t seem to give up.
Last night inarguably gave occupystl some much needed invigoration. The demands of liberating public spaces for people were not met by an authority, nor was that even considered – the plaza, the streets were taken, if only for a moment. I wonder what the people arguing for making concessions to the police and for not blocking traffic or taking over streets in previous marches did during this time. Were they there when people stole electricity to amplify the speakers for hip hop acts that rapped of police brutality and state oppression? Did they march in between honking cars and through red lights in an action that certainly interrupted people’s evening plans? Do they realize that had they asked for last night to happen, it never would have? Do they think about what point there is in demonstrating if you refuse to inconvenience some people or make others uncomfortable?
Last night was awesome. Thank you to all who were there, it was the most fun I’ve ever had at a demonstration. I hope that people continue to grapple with what not having an organizational hierarchy means, and how engrained domination is in our interactions with the world. This utopia has been made a priority in all the related occupations. Taking it beyond our occupied places is scary, but it is so fucking beautiful when you do.