Ironicschmoozer’s Weblog

Occupy Sacramento Visit the Saturday after Thanksgiving, with a stop at the downtown library

At noon, on my way back into town after a Thanksgiving trip, I parked and walked over to Occupy Sacramento.  (I stopped at the Central Library for a book.  The front desk was busy, and the library staff eager, polite and helpful with everyone in line.  Government employees, ready to serve.  I went up to the fourth floor for a book.  A homeless man and homeless woman (or so they seemed) were talking at a table and taking their pick of some winter accessories (gloves, hats, a Santa cap, socks) lying there, new with labels on them.  There are always a lot of homeless folks in the library–resting or reading, staying warm or dry, killing time or looking for work.  By this pair was a short, young woman of color in a black and yellow security guard uniform.  Contracted labor, not receiving civil service protections or benefits.  I met her eyes and said hello, and she responded.  The pair finished and wandered off.

Homeless people also hang out in Cesar Chavez Park downtown.  That’s where Occupy Sacramento takes place.  (By the way:  the large bronze statue of Chavez was made by artist Lisa Reinertsen, daughter of a beloved late member of our church.)

A few tents hugged the sidewalk on one end of the park, across from City Hall.  On the other side of the street, several folding chairs sat on the lawn of city hall, with signs posted around them calling for an end to money’s control on politics and the end of personhood status for corporations.  At the corner of the intersection a gray-haired woman stood with a big home-made sign on posterboard with slogans and a quotation from Barack Obama from those pre-election days. I said hello and asked her how things were going.  She comes out when she can on a part-time basis.  We introduced ourselves.  She’s a member of an Episcopal church in a suburb.  I told her about my ministry and my congregation.  She said, “The police should be out here with us, rather than arresting us.  They are part of us.”  I asked if there had been arrests.  She said yes, but didn’t know what they were charged with.  She said their trial date is Dec. 13, though she had heard the District Attorney was dropping the charges.

She spoke of her concerns about corporate personhood and the big banks.  She knows several families who have lost their homes to foreclosure, including one in-law.  Soon she introduced me to her husband as he walked up with a cup of carry-out coffee.  She asked:  “Did you move your money to a local bank a few days ago?”  I told her I already use a credit union.  Her husband said they do as well, but noted that hundreds of thousands of people did move their bank accounts. She had been part of the march to the downtown Macy’s store yesterday (Black Friday, the biggest and longest shopping day of the year.)  She had said a few words there but had not gone in, but reported that some others had.

I thanked her for being out there and said goodbye, then crossed the street to the tents and tables on the edge of the park.  Behind this area stood a number of young adults, chatting.  A couple of electricity generating motors chugged along.  Two middle-aged women sat at the information table with fliers, a pumpkin-shaped piggy bank for donations, a petition.  I added my signature to the 500-600 already there.  She gave me a flier about the Facebook, Twitter and Livestream media sites for Occupy Sacramento.  She pointed out the U-Haul truck, which is being subsidized by at least on donor.  She told me they need sleeping bags, tents, food, water, first-aid supplies, and cash donations.  I told her where I was from, that several church members had been out here and at occupations in other towns and cities, and that I planned to give a sermon about the movement.  She was polite but was not bowled over by this news.  I suspect she has seen plenty of faith-community leaders and members in the past few months.  She gave me a flyer announcing the General Assembly, “5:30 p.m. Every Day in Cesar Chavez Park.   She told me it happens every day except Tuesday afternoon, when folks attend the City Council meeting.    I thanked her and her friend for being here and wandered past the other tents and displays.

I walked toward the center of the park.  Next to the fountain in the center three male Sacramento Police officers were mounted on their bikes, but stationary.  I said: “Good morning, officers.  How’s it going.”  All said hello, but only one spoke at length with me.  The others didn’t contradict him or add to what he said.  The occupation had become lackluster, mostly a “homeless encampment.”he said.  When a national event would take place, a larger crowd will come, but the local group is not very good at organizing.  We talked at length.  I learned that staying overnight at parks is not allowed, and Occupy volunteers take down the tents every night and set up camp again every morning.  (Hence the U-Haul.)  The sit-in across the street, on City Hall’s lawn was not allowed at any time, he said, but the city is allowing it.  Indeed, tents are not allowed in a park at any time, “but we’re letting them do it.  They’ve been good to us, and we’ve been good to them.”  He said,  “The organizers have been good” in dealing with the police.

He said, “Too bad you came down here for nothing [to see.]” He told me to  “follow it on Facebook under Occupy Sacramento,” and I could find out when special events will take place and more protesters are likely to show up.  I said, looking at all of them, “Thank you for being here” and they said goodbye, and I went on my way.

The flyer says General Assembly is

  • A time for the public to meet and share opinions in their own words.
  • A place to spread the message of how e plan to discover how society can function better… the problems we all face and the solutions we may find.
  • A chance to share what Occupy has experienced in the previous 24 hours and to inform everyone about what is being planned in the near future.
  • After these discussions we hear proposals on specific things people would like to make happen and take a vote to democratically decide what will be our next actions.
  • All are welcome to listen, speak and vote.
  • Anyone my propose bi-laws [spelling original] and have them passed, regardless of it if is their first General assembly or their 36th.  Bi-laws determine how future General Assemblies will function.
  • There is much to be learned when we share personal stories, events of other places and individual ideas in an open and respectful meeting.  This problem is complex:  We need perspectives.  YOURS! 
  • Join us was we pursue the healing culture of feeling free to express our beliefs.




1 Comment so far
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Great Job!! Thanks!

Comment by Bruce M Moulton

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