‘Occupy’ Returns to Lansing
Occupy Lansing is back. They’re camped across from the Capitol Area District Library in Reutter Park at the corner of Capitol and Kalamazoo Avenues. They have an agenda, profess continued non-alignment with political parties and organizations, unions included, and told this writer on July 2, 2012 that they wanted to open a dialog with ‘legit’ (read: non GOP-supported) Tea Party groups in mid-Michigan on areas of mutual interest, such as auditing or abolishing the Federal Reserve Board, opposing corporate bailouts and ending special interest influence in government.
The group, in the person of the three members manning the site when I arrived, stated that they face a $500/day fine imposed by the City of Lansing for their occupation of Reutter Park. The campsite – a collection of a half-dozen tents and other camping paraphernalia, well-policed and festooned all about with signs, some hand-lettered and other professionally-made, gave an air of being that of something other than a rabble.
Those present probably would’ve been most likely former Democrats or what used to be termed ‘liberals’ back in the era where such labels had meaning attached to them. However, none expressed an intent to support the President or his party this fall, with two of the three adamant that they would not.
The issues addressed by their signage covered the gamut of the political spectrum, but had a unifying thread – opposition to corporate-state power run roughshod over peace and civil liberties, both here and abroad. Specific issues included auditing the Federal Reserve Board, ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, opposition to NDAA and to corporate bailouts.
The Occupiers were looking to move beyond simple protest, and evinced an interest, as noted above, in working with local Tea Party groups not aligned with the Republican Party establishment on issues of common concern. Their interest may take on added urgency depending on the resolution of their pending court action over the aforementioned $500/day fine, which is being paid by some Occupy members out-of-pocket at present. The group is hoping for a ‘jury nullification‘ verdict that effectively invalidates the statute under which the fine is imposed.
In sum, ‘Occupy’ has returned. This group, at least, states an avowed intention of remaining free of party and pressure-group influence, as they make clear on their website. Should they succeed in doing so, and also in opening a common front with Tea party groups, then we may witness a new phase in these spontaneous, headless protests against business as usual. the blending of two movements normally associated with different ends of the old political spectrum would be yet more evidence that America is entering a new political era, one in which the old sureties will be questioned, judged and very possibly, swept away.