I arrived at the site of Occupy DC January 15th, two days before Occupy Congress was to perform its first actions as a democratic assembly of citizens. Meeting the few Occupiers that were awake, I learned that I was hardly the first to arrive for the J17 actions before the Capitol, a dozen or so had beaten me there that night. As I write this now, a day later and 12 hours to go before a group of organized citizens demand a redress of grievance from their congress, occupiers are arriving at the rate of a dozen an hour.
“Fuck the GA” someone yells from across the park. People chuckle and go about their work. The GA, or general assembly, is the core of the movements decision making process, where the full body of the occupation tries to reach consensus on issues ranging from legal tactics to the even more important issue of portapotties. Dozens of inside-jokes have developed amongst the core group, and it is instantly obvious that McPherson Square is a fully developed microcosm of contemporary American society. The ever-evolving encroachment on K St. has become the last major outcropping atop the blunt edge of America’s experiment in democracy; it’s sister encampments having been cleared across the nation with gasmasks and violence.
With over 5000 occupation-related arrests nation wide the words “civil disobedience” have once again become common in the national lexicon. Occupiers continue to be beaten and arrested, but the measure of their resolve to change the world has overwhelmingly maintained the movements course through the institutions making up our government. 5 months after the American Occupation began in Zuccotti park, we gather and organize for our first direct and challenge to our elected representatives.
I’ve met individuals from all four corners of the states, and I expect this camp to be at capacity before long. Tomorrow will be a long day, and an even longer night. The West lawn of the capitol, our permitted site to for legal protest, awaits us with a chest-high double fence along the perimeter, short of two small 10 foot gaps on either side. No one has any clue what to expect, besides rain and warm weather.
For now, sleep.