I intend to spend the 4th at the Texas State Capitol where Occupy Austin is planning a full day of events. The schedule includes teach-ins and the creation of a list of demands in the form of a new Declaration of Independence, using the same visioning process being used in Philadelphia at the National Gathering. The collectively created document will be shared at the end of the day, before we march to dinner at Austin City Hall. Organizers have been calling on participants to bring camping gear, so attempted reoccupation of space may occur.
Some hashtags to watch today on Twitter:
I will update this post periodically throughout the day, but follow me on Twitter for full coverage.
Photo: Lainie Duro
I am en route to the Capitol. Early twitter reports suggest that the Capitol police are arbitrarily harassing occupiers for use of a food table despite rules that only ban tents or permanent structures. Mac from the Occuqueers suggests that tables are the new tent.
I have arrived at the Texas Capitol. Troopers have told us that they will allow our tables as long as there are no tents. If tents appear we will lose our tables.
Occupiers are jokingly calling the food table the Freedom Table. Mac told us 10 state troopers surrounded the table with hands on holsters before backing down.
A growing circle is gathering in the grass with the interfaith group to discuss economic injustice. Knots of occupiers are gathering in other places. A contingent from Iraq Veterans Against the War have their own table and banner.
After watching them chalk on the sidewalk for nearly an hour, 10 state troopers surrounded the Iraq Veterans Against the War and accused one, Lindsey, of ‘criminal mischief’ for using chalk. They have issued a warning & asked for the chalk to be cleaned up. The troopers say no tents or sleeping are allowed, but we may be allowed to erect a small number of shade structures without walls as long as it doesn’t look like ‘a shelter.’
The visioning process for the new declaration of independence has begun, with occupiers gathering into groups to discuss their dreams for a new future. Soon, the teach ins will begin.
I attended the teach in inside the Capitol about direct action at the Texas Leg. Lots of talk of how empowering it can be to take ownership of a public building which our money pays for. Danny from ADAPT told us that being part of civil disobedience let him express his rage at society constructively, and helped him overcome depression.
State Trooper Cummings continues to harass Iraq Veterans Against the War & have told them they must sit on their banner or face legal action. We were also told that even neon plastic water guns could be ‘real guns’ and we are risking being shot by their use.
We are sharing a meal of spaghetti with a chickpea tomato sauce. The second round of teach ins has begun. I am listening to Robert Jensen of the Third Coast Activists talk about radical political speech. He says to know your story you are trying to tell and evaluate the demographics & beliefs of your audience.
We revisited our visioning process for the new Declaration, identifying key human rights, economic justice & social justice issues. Top issues include ending war, true participatory democracy and sustainable living.
The third round of teach ins have begun. The OccuKripz discussed Ableism, both systemic & social. Amanda with #OccupyAISD is discussing the state of education — why should students want to go to school when they spend all their time in boring tests? And the Community Sing group is sharing protest songs as diverse as Dona Nobis Pacem (Catholic liturgy) and War Pigs (Black Sabbath).
From the Community Sing workshop: “I’m occupying the Capitol, we shall not be moved. Just like a tree that’s standing by the water, we shall not be moved!”
Photo: Lainie Duro
Our teach-ins were very successful today. Despite the large number to choose from, all were well attended with at least a handful of people, and often more. The state troopers seemed especially interested in listening in on Antonio Buehler’s teach-in. Antonio discussed his Peaceful Streets project which he formed after being arrested for filming the police on New Years Eve. I led a ‘Conscious Relationships’ discussion of the topic of independence and dependence in our intimate relationships. About a half dozen people came. We discussed the difficulties of maintaining our own identities when our culture encourages us to subsume our whole selves in our loved ones. It was surreal talking about love and independence while being closely watched by state troopers, enforcers of the police state.
The amplified sound portion of our evening is beginning.
The Troopers continue to enforce that we must sit on our banners if spread on the ground but otherwise have bothered us less the last couple hours.
I left the Capitol for a short break at home to check on my cat and unwind in some air conditioning. I erroneously believed that troopers would not bother us during the evening because we had a formal permit allowing us to erect shade structures and have amplified sound.
Apparently just as I was leaving, a tent was erected by Christopher, one of the organizers of the day’s events and the tweeter behind @OccupyURCapitol. Troopers arrested him for this ‘crime’ — despite a long history of the use of tents at the capitol during past anti-war protests. When Corey, Occupy Austin’s primary livestreamer attempted to follow the troopers inside, he was told he would not be allowed to film inside the Capitol and officials deleted his recording of the arrest before it could be archived on Ustream.
I’ll be returning to the State Capitol within the next hour. The evening’s plan includes a reading of our new Declaration, and then a street march to Austin City Hall to watch the fireworks. I will continue to update this liveblog when I return to the scene.
I am back at the Texas State Capitol. The amplified sound permit is ending. Apparently, we are allowed to have THIS shade structure but a tent will get you arrested.
Austin east side radio personality & activist Chas Moore is speaking. Next up is Cindy Noland of FAWN. Soon we we will gather to hear our new Declaration and then take the streets after that.
Occupy Austin took the streets at dusk and marched with about 50 people, taking Congress from the State Capitol to Austin City Hall. Many downtown visitors filmed us, cheered, or even joined our march in a few cases. A few police escorted us but did not interfere.
“Broke, hungry, can’t pay the rent? You might just be the 99%!”
We arrived at City Hall where many people waiting to watch the fireworks watched our arrival as we chanted, waved a Texas flag and held banners. One woman heckled us at length, and turned out to be the wife of a police officer on the scene. After a meal of rice & beans we are waiting for fireworks to begin.
Because many people left when the arrest occurred, we intend to share our Declaration online so that everyone, including the Texans who traveled from around the state to join us, can all read and discuss it together. Other than the one arrest, Occupy Austin seems happy and content, feeling like this has been a successful day of action.
After a pleasant fireworks display, we held a small raffle including the guitar signed by Tom Morello at Occupy Southby. Exhausted from the day, Occupy has dispersed with many heading back tonight to their homes elsewhere in the state. Though there was talk of reoccupation, our energy & numbers are too depleted from a long day. A few members are planning to gather tomorrow morning to provide jail support for Chris our arrested comrade.
Thanks for reading my liveblog today!