Archive for December 23rd, 2011

by lizard

In an earlier post that touched on Missoula’s variation of OWS, I mentioned poop and wiping one’s ass.

Well, it appears the poop war between Missoula County commissioners and the occupiers is escalating, with the recent removal of a portable shitter from the courthouse lawn.

Pulling back their shitty olive branch is not all the commissioners are up to. From what I’ve inferred from the article, it would appear there is not yet sufficient grounds for eviction.

“As a result of Occupy Missoula’s unwillingness to help Missoula County solve the problems their camp presents, we are developing a policy that will prohibit camping on county property,” county commissioners Jean Curtiss, Bill Carey and Michele Landquist said in a statement more strongly worded than previous ones.

Such a policy will require a public process.

What we are seeing with our local microcosm of OWS is not merely concern with poop in the bushes. That faux issue is just a stand in for the real issue, which I submit is a general intolerance of the chronically homeless, more commonly referred to as transients by the illustrious Missoulian.

Here’s the problem: Missoula’s occupation has opened up a space where lowly transients might seep in to ratty tents to sleep.

Here’s the solution: from what I’ve heard, “abandoned tents” are already being taken down. Maybe the message is dirty occupiers shouldn’t mix with ice sculpture enthusiasts for First Night. I dunno.

Our other paper, Missoula’s dear Independent, this week has as its feature story an undercover account of being homeless on the streets of Missoula. Jayme Feary does, IMO, a fine job attempting to understand, as an outsider to street culture, what it feels like to live on the margins of acceptable society. To be invisible. It’s worth reading.

With that piece in mind, I can see how the physical occupying presence of maybe a half dozen campers on the courthouse lawn may seem like a meager, vulnerable representation of the broader movement, but it would be a mistake to underestimate the resonance of pointing out how thoroughly the majority are getting snowed by the tippy-top benefactors of this economic squeeze.

Along those lines, I was recently having a not-very-productive argument with Wulfy that somehow became about OWS, which I think may be worth reposting here (sans the nasty stuff):

So, simple factual question: what has the Occupy movement accomplished?

Here’s what I’ve seen, Liz. I’ve seen Occupy Denver burn down a city park. I’ve seen Occupy Missoula deny alcohol on a sight where one in their encampment got an 11 year old so drunk he had to be hospitalized. I’ve seen good people get pepper sprayed and yet not one College President or Mayor (or actually any cop) has even payed the price for the action. So please, instruct me what Occupy has accomplished.

And here’s my response:

first, the shift in messaging. as Obama was letting the GOP define deficit reduction as the most pressing economic concern, OWS forced the issue of income disparity/inequality into the national spotlight. that is not insignificant.

second, the police state. as members of the Obama administration lecture other countries about democracy and human rights, OWS is reminding us exactly what the 1% think about the right to assemble. OWS showed us how Bloomberg’s army, paid in part by JP Morgan and company, eagerly used violence to attack peaceful protestors. and across the country, coordinated raids by militarized police units have shown us, again and again, what our plutocracy is willing to do in order to suppress dissent.

third, direct action. OWS shut down west coast ports. again, not insignificant. there are teeth to this movement, and that has forced attempts to co-opt the momentum, like the president of the SEIU getting arrested to build her street cred, then endorsing Obama to position their org for crumbs from the self-destructive effects of neoliberalism.

and finally, if you listen to Obama’s Kansas speech, even our sellout prez is trying to reignite the illusion of his populism by adopting the rhetoric of the 99%.

thankfully, unlike the tea party, OWS is not interested in validating our hopelessly corrupt two party political system. you can try and claim this movement isn’t “political” because they aren’t endorsing candidates, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been significant political ramifications already from this 3 month insurrection against the US plutocracy.


Before getting to the poem part of this poem series, I’d like to give a nod to Sherri Downing, coordinator of the Montana Council on Homelessness. Helping to tell the stories of those who die on the too often unacknowledged margins of our society is a worthy cause. Toward that end, here is a poem I wrote a few months ago. About Joe. Continue Reading »

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