Occupy St Petersburg at 5pm. I’m thinking 300 people the first time out. Not too shabby.
Camera? Check. Water? Check. Camo top? Check. Hat? Check. Keys? Check. I’m outta here. Jumped into my 92 Toyota pickum up truck and headed to the ritzy section of St Petersburg, FL. Straub Park South sits between Tampa Bay and Beach Drive. Beach Drive goes by all the bayside properties, the Vinoy Hotel, where dignitaries and visiting baseball teams go, and further north the expensive beachfront homes. 2nd Ave is lined with upscale shops for the 1%ers to spend their dough. A couple blocks up is BayWalk, the upscale indoor mall and movieplex that is mostly empty now. St Pete for Peace protested in front of BayWalk every Saturday night for over five years. Many city officials and business people blamed the protesters for BayWalk’s decline. MovieCo has a 20-screen complex in BayWalk, driving every other theatre in town out of business. Where did they expect the kids to go to the movies on Friday and Saturday nights? Protesters and kids. Yep, we did it.
Anyhoo, when I got to the park at 2:30 there were about 8 people there. Occupy Tampa has an event that started at 9 this morning and is scheduled to turn into an overnighter to see what Tampa city officials are going to do. Our event was due to start at 3:30. By 3 people were beginning to show up in small numbers.
I’m going to use links for pictures because you won’t be able to see much in the smaller images if I embed them.
By 3:30 people were gathering in small groups and talking. Not many young people at this point. I’m thinking they’re mostly in Tampa and there was another street event happening about 12 blocks up Central Ave. Lot of stuff going on simultaneously. 4:00 and it’s beginning to look like a crowd and the first order of business was to get people off of the sidewalks and into the park proper. A mini General Assembly was held to “human mic” the people into the park. Took all of about five minutes to get everybody gathering around the red whatever that thing is.
A number of dogs with their two-leggeds in tow. Bobby is a short-haired Siberian Husky rescue. Her tail’s been bobbed, hence her name. Another husky rescue showed up but I didn’t get a chance to talk to her two-legged.
The General Assembly started out with a description of the human mic and how it works. A handout of hand gestures used at OWS was passed around. Made things go much more smoothly. A lot of these people were unfamiliar with the process. One man from the ACLU was handing out guidelines for protesters. Next came the general guidelines of how the GA would be held and its procedures. The crowd broke up into small groups to discuss whatever they wanted to focus on and another GA would be held at 6pm with the results and recommendations of the groups. I didn’t stay for the 2nd GA. I’ll catch up with the outcome on Facebook later.
The local corporate media was there. First on the scene was the local CBS affiliate. I saw a truck from the local NBC station but couldn’t tell which of the mounted cameras were which. Four or five that I noticed. I talked to a reporter from a new local independent news org but he hadn’t been following the movement very closely. Methinks now he might.
All the years we protested at BayWalk there was a man who showed up a lot, an old fashioned communist. All these years later look who’s here. ‘Bout fell outta my shoes. The guy in the tan pants and light blue shirt. Same signs he brought to BayWalk. Like readin’ a book on signs. Nice to see he’s still out there pluggin’ away. Little older and grayer but ain’t we all?
Another guy shelled out some bucks for one of those corporate logo flags. All new and shiny, too. See that building in the background? That’s a condo complex. Still not full, far from it. When it got dark at BayWalk we liked to see just how many lights came on in the tower. Not many. An example of money wasted trying to cater to the 1%ers.
I ran into one of the original members of SPFP and we talked about the absence of anti-war signs. Some mentioned the war in relation to the economy but nothing one could describe as strictly anti-war. Lot of energy out there, though. Whatever works.
Very peaceful, very friendly and not one cop in sight nor did they have a drive-by presence. Kudos to the city. Maybe they learned something from St Pete for Peace after all.
ABC’s local coverage is non-existent.
Don’t know how I forgot to put this in the post but being a part of the human mic is quite an experience. In ancient times speeches were relayed through the crowd by people paid to do it. Here it’s just repeated by various layers of the gathering. We had the original speaker and 3 echoes. Really exciting and makes you feel you’re really a part of what’s going on. Should use this method everywhere instead of sound systems, imo. More powerful, methinks.
St Petersburg Times coverage