Parked the car on 13th street after searching for a time. The citizens of Ohio began their occupation on the sixth, a Thursday. Today was Friday. Towering buildings surrounded city streets, many bearing emblems of financial institutions. The assemblage location was found empty upon arrival, necessitating further scouring of downtown.
Public Square occupies four blocks in the heart of the city. Cleveland held their evening general assembly next to a statue of the city’s founder. One hundred and fiftyish concerned citizens occupied the space, speakers taking turns on the public address. A
human mic was unnecessary, permits allowing electricity. Discussion focused on the basics of establishing a presence in solidarity with the occupation of Wall Street. Major concerns were addressed; announcements made about areas of need and upcoming events.
General assembly transformed into five smaller work groups, each addressing a specific area. Community outreach and comfort were addressed along with a number of other issues. Some planned the next day’s march while others focused on providing for the needs of a group attempting to live on the city streets. All were welcome to take part, citizens drifting in and out of the square, questioning motives of those present.
The public’s obsessing need to define and easily categorize an entity still struggling through infancy causes reactions at every point along the spectrum. Support slowly grows while many wait to see where it all goes. Conversions occur one person at a time.
The presence in public spaces throughout America creates opportunities for discourse. Communication is needed before real consensus. It’s long since we’ve spoken.
Work groups reported decisions and issues raised to conclude the evening general assembly. Garbage bags appeared, the square combed by volunteers while the evening meal was broken down, tables and gear disappearing. The evening’s entertainment prepared. Friday night open mic. The public address available to any who wished to perform. The cleaning of public square continued, all traces of the protest methodically removed. Due to laws passed against vagrancy, occupiers would be arrested upon sleeping in the park. Instead a compromise with law enforcement was reached during the first evening. A sidewalk across the street filled with activity as performance ended, sound amplification packed away. Cardboard padded concrete while sleeping bags and blankets guarded against the fall cold.
A contingent set out at midnight. Cleaning the streets and chanting while walking through a mostly deserted downtown toward the bars. Dressed up couples jeered. Retreated into thoughts, ducking into a bar while the march sailed on.
College students stumbled passed. Found loud music then an Irish pub. Amused some barflies, one took a picture. The beer can featuring lady liberty dropped next to my eyes. Symbolism abounds even in unlikely places. A long day driving and lost ended with a sidewalk. Guided a few wayward occupiers to camp. They’d just arrived toward midnight. Returned a few hours later to silence.
Sunshine and exploration. Everyone wanted to know why the trip’d been made from New York to Ohio. Told everyone Cleveland had a lot to be agitated about. High unemployment from the death of manufacturing created a population drain on the region, like many throughout the rust belt. Set off to find decline.
A local said East Cleveland. Skipped the highway to drive the city. Pockets of maintained properties surrounded by deteriorating neighborhoods, like everywhere else in this land. Didn’t take long after getting out of the city center. Boarded up windows and failed businesses covered in spray paint.
Everything wasn’t falling apart but enough was to point toward serious economic problems for all involved. Issues anywhere influence elsewhere.
Midday approach, sadness left behind to head back toward the imminent march. Stopped to buy blankets for the comfort committee. Winter is coming.
Parked, walked, Willard Park once again the rally point. The morning general assembly sat circular, discussing the day’s events. Instead of wriggling fingers, thumbs up or down demonstrated each opinion on the topic. Volunteered for set up.
A couple appeared, car loaded down with tables and pots full of food. The revolution is well fed thus far. Others appeared, a public address set up once again. Willard Park sits next to city hall, rock ‘n roll hall of fame and Browns stadium in site along the shores of Lake Erie. The center piece, a massive statue of a hand stamp carved with the word FREE.
Hundreds attended. Speakers took turns, conveying the reasons for being here. A notion born out of citizen concern, rather than fear mongering, requires explanation. No one human descended to gift this message, it sprouted from decades of neglect. The lack of a single, consolidating voice enables greater participation while causing confusion.
The constant question from those on the outside looking in continues to be ‘what is this all about anyhow?’ A babble of voices, ideals and concerns blend into a message if one cares to spend time listening carefully. At its’ heart is corruption, of mankind and the planet supporting us. An end to the degradation of each other and our environment must be the first goal.
The march stretched a block, a few hundred setting out on a long looping route around downtown Cleveland. Infants to the elderly and all the colors of humanity walking together in protest of the way things are.
Scrolling words drew a laugh as they sped ahead of marchers into brick. An ambitious plan covered several miles. Cleveland State the first target, sunshine and a police escort shined upon us. Away from downtown, a beautifully urban campus appeared.
The elderly caught their breath while student center bathrooms were occupied by many for a moment. No students came out, a few looking out from the windows of the dormitories across the road. Apathy of modern university students is a major roadblock to progress. They’re walking into difficult times.
Moving again toward downtown.
Through the city center, past public square toward the final goal. The federal reserve appeared to the right, some chanting ‘end the fed’ as it passed. City Hall ahead.
Chanting on the steps of city hall, cameras rolling with a handful of squad cars parked nearby, silent eyes watching. Day three spent well. The showing wasn’t small but there is much work to be done. Further support is needed from every corner of our communities to achieve the revolutionary change necessary. Real change needs to begin now to save the world our forebearers built for our grandchildren.
Assembly broke off into work groups for a time. Spoke with the media team about goals and methods to reach them. Met a young lady starting something new because she decided to care more than before.
Watched the enlarged general assembly as it reconvened, shuddering through growth. Real democracy is difficult, requiring an enormous amount of empathy, patience, cooperation. The larger it becomes, the more difficult and time consuming. Our current system exists for a reason.
Hit the road, encouraged and concerned. Something is growing and the purity found in liberty plaza at the start is unlikely to exist again. A larger movement means larger problems, but people are talking and devising solutions to allow continued and greater success. Cleveland is occupying and recently faced the first round of arrests.
Support must continue growing and the world needs to learn that
Wake up America, it’s time for