While most people had left for other things after the Occupy Congress rally on the 17th, my visit to McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza made me compelled to return at a time where I could better talk with the people there. It is amazing how many people are really at the square, and even early in the morning at 9am there were a dozen people mulling about. Understandably, having only showed up once before and talked with a few people during Occupy Congress, nobody there that early in the morning really knew about me or my blog. Even so, asking as many questions as I was and taking pictures, they were incredibly welcoming and happy to have me aboard for the day.
Early in the morning there were not many people about, as the majority of occupier's were still asleep or not at the McPherson Square yet. Individuals I had spoken to the previous day, like Tracy, were nowhere to be found. I did, however, get a chance to meet and greet some new faces while I took pictures and more closely checked their literature. The Information Booth was the first tent open, and the Occupier's that were awake were already chatting about nearby – breakfast from the kitchen tent was available around 10am; primarily donuts and pastries, along with other items that were very cheap, calorie dense, yet nutritionally empty.
(Edward and a few other occupier's around the information tent)
As I sat and talked with Edward at the information booth, there were multiple people to come up and ask details of what was going on. There were a few people to take pamphlets, a few that stayed and talked, and a select few that seemed to want to argue with everyone there. One such discussion involved a gentleman that was adamant about forming a new currency, claimed it would be legal, and criticized the movement for not doing this … without even knowing what the movement was. Edward and another occupier handled these inquiry's and discussions at the information tent with little ill will, it being evident that this sort of thing happens nearly every day. Some people are interested, some people aren't, and maybe once in a great while a new occupier may show up.
Early on I also met someone that wishes to be identified as "Tentmonster", though also known by the pseudonym "Rush". He had a shirt for people to sign to indicate where they were from in each Occupy, and you'll probably see him around if you visit Occupy DC's McPherson square.
(Rush holding up his shirt. He also had me and a few others sign it while we were there. Images available on the flickr)
This is just an early morning day for the people at McPherson Square. While at the information booth, I also noticed the whiteboard with the day's itinerary (updated daily). Occupy the Court was listed for this Friday, tomorrow, and Edward told me that the time had not been decided on completely. There are all sorts of Occupy events that are up for discussion and action by the people of the camp, rather regularly, but never that get any real fanfare from the media or the surrounding people. The daily itinerary is also listed online at the Occupy DC website, though I am not yet certain who in the camp is updating it. Donation lists are also available on the DC website, but more on that in a moment.
After I had sat around for an hour to wait for more occupier's and residence for the information booth, I decided to go to Freedom Plaza. More of the Occupier's were awake and bustling there, and I had quite a time overhearing various conversations and warming myself in the media tent. At Freedom Plaza they have far bigger tents, more space, and an advanced setup of generators with a much larger kitchen. Their residency is also somewhat higher due to the availability of space, and they have a huge whiteboard with a large meeting area, complete with a hilariously named “soap box” stand for those in the center.
For all of the photos of Freedom Plaza and McPherson Square, I would recommend going to the flickr:
In returning to McPherson Square, I got to finally meet with one of the other people that help with the information booth, Kelly. I talked with her for a bit about the state of the occupy protest, and it honestly seemed as though it was quite busy and full of active demonstration. In spite of the weather, they still had quite a lot of support from the people within the camp, and a lot of protest coordination takes place with every daily meeting. The most important thing is that there ARE meetings, every day, and every day something new happens. Something completely and unfortunately unreported by anybody, in my view, which is what makes reporting on Occupy DC so interesting to me.
Kelly remarked on how frustrating it is to deal with the media at times. People will come by and take pictures of seemingly irrelevant things, like “a pidgin eating a bread crumb” in the square, while completely missing the amazing things about the protest. As an example I am certain none of you know about: They have a library. Did you know they had a library? I didn't! I had walked past it multiple times until, around 11, it opened up and I saw it for the first time. I have said it before, and I will say it again, Occupy protests seem to hold information and ideas as the main currency among the occupier's. Anyone with a good idea can be a leader, and anyone with information can be a distributor.
Kelly also took the time to discuss with me the needs of the occupy camp. Being as she is more of an organizer of events than Edward, I thought she might have a good idea of the immediate needs. While a list of items recommended for donation are available on the Occupy DC website, I thought I would write down the more pressing requirements she and Edward provided. While cash donations are accepted and useful, as some items do need to be bought (and laundry requires cash), donating items is a better option as money tends to walk. A curious item that might be useful to donate would be scissors, which apparently walk more frequently than anything else.
food serving materials (cups, cutlery, plates)
warm weather clothes
pre-prepared or prepackaged food items
batteries (D batteries and AA most important)
Notepads of any kind
The all important SCISSORS!
Male & Female underclothes & Thermals
I am hoping that anyone that reads this can drop by and donate some of these supplies. They'll take them at the information tent, which is open pretty much all day and during the general assembly. Some of the cheaper items I will attempt to donate myself, but being a college student with a retail job, my ability to give anything is limited by poverty. Please help me donate as I continue to cover Occupy DC and other issues!