November 2nd, 2011

trek - mirror!hoshi kill you

Spread the word.

I just got the news about what happened to #OccupyPortland protesters - in the city I am currently in - last night by watching video footage on Al Jazeera. I had to get news about #OccupyOakland's general strike which shut down the fifth largest port in the country and a good chunk of their entire city on Twitter. #ActualFirstWorldProblems

The headline news story reported locally? Two elementary-school kids got their Halloween candy stolen by teenagers.

The major news story reported nationally? Lindsay Lohan gets sentenced to jail for the fifth time.

I happen to strongly agree with the message of the Occupy movement and their methods, but the thing is - if this were a Tea Party movement, if these were different Americans wearing different outfits assembling and chanting things I don't agree with, I WOULD STILL WANT TO KNOW ABOUT IT. I would still be horrified at the footage of largely peaceful protesters being tear-gassed and shot at with rubber bullets again and again (because they kept returning to hold the line). I would want to get angry. I would want to get scared. I would want to have real information about what's happening so I could form educated opinions about it. I wouldn't want to think Oakland is some far-flung island nation and that sort of thing could never happen here when it is, actually, happening here.

Remember when Donald Trump was pretending to run for President, and all the networks would not shut up about it, and so suddenly the poll numbers showed that America was practically demanding that TRUMP be emblazoned on the white house? And then some actual news happened, so they stopped talking about him and within a week he was barely on the polls at all? If we hear about something, if we see a lot of people whose names and faces and logos we recognize talking about something like it's important, it gives it legitimacy. They know that. They seem to be hoping the reverse is true too - they can ignore it out of existence.

I don't know who "they" is. I don't know who's making the decision to pretend that Occupy Wall Street isn't as popular as it is, as resilient as it is, as well-organized as it is while being run by consensus. But look, you don't have to know who tripped the breaker to notice the blackout.

Occupy - a movement without a charismatic and media-friendly leader with a PR squad - has just shut down the fifth largest port in the country. Last week, police in riot gear used flash-bangs, tear-gas and rubber bullets to stop a peaceful Occupy Oakland march that happened to be led by Oakland public school teachers (edit: I got confused - the teachers leading the march with giant awesome banners was the day after, when they retook the plaza, but check out some awesome photos and on-the-ground reporting here). A veteran Marine is in a coma. I know it's no Kardashian divorce or anything, but at what point does this become news?

Just because the media isn't reporting on it doesn't mean it's not important. It doesn't mean it will go away. Ask questions. Talk to people. If your city is occupied, go check out the camp. Read the posters. Search their twitter hashtags for news, reasonable arguments on both sides, and plenty of trolls. Consider the sources, but go looking, because the news is not going to come to you.

ETA: Pretty.