Occupy This!

By Alan Bean

Thus far, the Occupy movement has set up camp in parks and in front of symbolic centers of power.   Alec MacGillis of the New Republic has some excellent suggestions (in today’s Washington Post) for some other sites that are highly deserving of occupation; places like Wal Mart, the Bill Clinton library (Bill oversaw a massive reduction in the capital gains tax), Harvard University, and several other deserving targets. 

Melanie Wilmoth and I are in Philadelphia attending a human rights conference and our hotel is located just a few blocks from the city’s historic city hall.  There wasn’t a lot of life at 9:30 am, but Mike, the guy at the Information booth, told us things would be hopping if we came back at 7:00 this evening. 

I asked Mike about the demographics of the movement and he admitted that “we’re mainly white and college educated, so far.”  Mike is fifty and, like me, a trained theologian and pastor with Baptist roots.  “I’m mainly into house churches now,” he told me. 

But Occupy Philly is actively reaching out to the minority community. I asked about the digital divide and Mike smiled knowingly.  “This movement is driven by technology,” he admitted.  “That’s probably a big reason why most of us are so young.  I’m fifty, and I try hard to stay on top of the social networking innovations, but there’s something new out there every time you turn around.  We’re in constant contact with all the big Occupy operations across the country and we’ve got people working on all the big issues all the time.

If you go to the Occupy Philly website, you can see a video of Mike marrying a couple outside City Hall yesterday.  That’s something they’ll never forget! 

Now comes the big challenge; preparing for the onslaught of winter.  “We’ve got that covered,” Mike tells me. “We’ve got people working on tents that are 100% insulated.  People are already wearing four layers of clothing in Philly and it’s only November.  Occupy Philly hasn’t had a lot of press, largely because local law enforcement has been very open and flexible and political officials drop by occasionally to chat. 

We’ll try to get back to City Hall later this week and give you an update.