I left the apartment just after 11:30am. It was later than I had initially planned, but it adds drama to the otherwise dry story (can he make it? Stay tuned!).
My first stop was the Walter’s Art Museum to see their new Egyptian themed show “The Mysterious Book of Faiyum.” Technically, I had already seen part of the show on Thursday night, but I had such a headache that I couldn’t stay for the rest of it (and I didn’t have enough material for a full blog post about it either).
Fortunately, this was their Egyptian themed “Fall Family Fun Festival” so they waived their $10 entry fee, and garnered a sizable crowd of parents and children in the process though most of the younger kids were kept busy making simple crafts in the main lobby. This enabled me to get through the second half of the exhibit far quicker than I had anticipated so I had to figure out what\where I was going from there.
As I headed north on Charles Street, I ran across a large group of protesters. I have no idea what they were railing against (there are a lot of things to protest in this city) as their chant seemed a bit generic and I couldn’t quite read their signs from across the street. There was no cursory write-up in the Brew when I got back so I may never know what they were chanting about.
They turn off to the right towards the monument and I continued straight uphill before finally ducking into the Starbucks on Preston Street. I was too hot for a hot beverage, but it was too cold for a frozen drink. I didn’t stop to think so I just ordered an iced Pumpkin Spice, and felt bad as I passed the half dozen or so homeless people working the area (carrying around a Starbucks cup tends to undermine the whole “I don’t have any money to give you” canard).
It took me about fifteen minutes or so after leaving the store to find my next destination. I thought a “street festival” would be pretty simple to find, but the 1st annual “Fall Festival” at the newly opened Baltimore Design (High) School was a pretty small affair – four tables, a DJ and a bounce house plus a nominal $5 “donation.” Unfortunately for them, I continued walking (hey, there’s always next year) and eventually circled back to Mt Royal Station, but that didn’t mean my day was over yet…
I bought a ticket and waited about five minutes for a southbound train to take me downtown. I got off at Convention Center and walked over to the Maryland Science Center for their new show called “Mummies of the World.” It’s a fascinating subject, but it tried to tackle too much at one time. Worse it felt hypocritical to admonish visitors to respect the human dignity of the very specimens you brought out for them to gawk at – particularly since the science portion of the show was perfunctory and literally shoved off to the sides.
It was early yet as I left the exhibit, but I still decided it was easier to eat at the museum café than go back to the apartment and make something there. The food was overpriced, but still slightly better than I feared it would be. I put the empty tray on top of the trash can, put my hat back on and then left through the glass doors out to the plaza and started my way back to my apartment…
I normally don’t cover events in Baltimore County, but as a semi-employed journalist (who spent the past year working without pay) I feel it is important to stand with people who are struggling to stay in their homes. That’s why I joined approximately 20 other people at the Hunt Valley light rail station this afternoon for a press conference on behalf of a family facing foreclosure.
Unfortunately, I got to the event, which was more of a photo-op than a press conference, just as homeowner Tia Cordoni was finishing up remarks her remarks. I thought this was a tad odd since the event announcement said “meet up at 2:30pm, march begins at 3pm,” and I arrived at 2:34pm.
When she finished, she posed for another round of photos with her family. I really wanted to like her as she is effective speaker with a natural media presence… but I couldn’t shake the feeling I was listening to a stump speech.
She then hands the floor over to the event organizer, a young woman in her mid-20s, who calls everyone to “huddle up” and then asked if I everyone had a “chant sheet.” A man starts passing out pink slips of paper. I tried getting his attention a few times, but he never gave me one. She then decides we need a “run through” of the first chant. She turns to the man beside her and has him bark out the chant.
“Pre-da-tory len-ders – Crim-in-al off-en-ders!”
She ruffles her pretty face a bit: “a little madder.”
“PRE–DA–TORY LEN–DERS – CRIM–IN–AL OFF–EN–DERS!!!”
“Good, NOW, you sound angry,” she said with a broad smile. She then turns around and asks the group: “Did everyone drive here?”
I tried to tell her “no,” but the man who was leading the chant beat me to it. She volunteers to drive him…but not me, even though I was standing directly in front of her. Her next question: “does everyone know how to get to the bank? Good.”
She then goes over the basics of what they will once they get to the bank, telling us to be quick with getting into the lobby with our signs and immediately begin our chants, “before they shut the doors in our faces.”
“Let’s go,” Ms. Cordoni said impatiently (the camera was not on her at the time), and even though the march wasn’t slated to begin for another twelve minutes, she began the mile long trek….to their cars parked 10 feet away.
I, however, am left standing alone in the back of the now empty station as I hear a series of car doors slamming in front of me. Alone and abandoned… the perfect way to spend Valentine’s Day.
Occupy Baltimore seems to be on a bit of a reflexive kick lately with not one but two events celebrating Sunday’s two month anniversary at McKeldin Square. Why not? A lot can happen in two months – heck, I was fired from Mickey-D’s after only one – but their list of achievements consists almost entirely of “not being evicted yet.”
This isn’t to diminish the marches, rallies and art shows they have held (mostly off-site and organized through Big Labor, kind of ironic since OB is protesting high unemployment rates). It is important to have some concrete events for people to meet up with like-minded individuals and express their dissatisfaction with a system so obviously stacked against them. It’s also a LOT easier to get people to commit to one afternoon rally than for an “indefinite protest” (especially since most people don’t have “indefinite” free time to give to your cause).
In fact, the Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Brew and even Kalle Lazne, publisher of Adbusters magazine and the chief instigator of Occupy Wall Street, have called for a “change in tactics” for the young people in the square – even OB supporters like Prof. Lester Spence of JHU, have stated that the movement has gotten “stale.” No-one is saying that OWS (or even OB) should disband – however, Lazn does suggest:
“We declare ‘victory’ and throw a Party… perhaps the 3 month anniversary of OWS on December 17th…and invite the world to join us.
“Then we clean up, scale back and most of us go indoors while the die-hards hold the camps. We use the winter to brainstorm, network, build momentum so that we may emerge rejuvenated with fresh tactics, philosophies, and a myriad projects ready to rumble next Spring.”
As Spence said in the above link, the Occupy movement isn’t about any one particular space – that’s why we have satellite movements in DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia and other cities around the world – but rather it is an idea. You can break up an encampment, but you cannot break an idea and the more you try to do so the more momentum it acquires.
As the Brew pointed out in their piece, the momentum behind this idea can be used for a variety of social causes such as: fixing schools, monitoring city hall, or continuing their fight against the Baltimore Development Corporation. These are all worthy suggestions, and I hope OB uses their winter downtime to pursue them… at least, until their next “project” is ready to rumble.
In the meantime, there is nothing else going on in the Inner Harbor on the 17th, but if the local Occupiers go through with Lasn’s suggestion, it’ll be one hell of a party – especially since they’ve already got music.
I planned on leaving my apartment around 10am, but didn’t end up leaving for over an hour later. I had a full itinerary, and something was going to have to get cut from it.
I head down to the Light Rail and get to the station exactly as the train pulls in. By the time I have my ticket, it’s already gone. The next train to come by was a short one, but it was going north so I boarded it anyway. I took a seat near an old woman who scowled at me when I sat down and then went back to her furious knitting. Another woman was ranting about her boss making her see clients on a weekend. Your merriness may vary, but I was determined to make the most of my day.
My first destination was “Winterfest” at Baltimore Clayworks. It’s a showcase of various ceramic items in different colors and sizes, each helpfully enough, marked with a price tag so you could purchase them if you wanted. They were interesting to look at, but they obviously weren’t meant as “museum pieces.”
Meanwhile, the Occupiers are having an art show of their own at Baltimore Clay Pots (a Christian coffeehouse in West Baltimore), odd how all the interesting programs they hold are hosted off site by different groups.
The first thing I did when I got back downtown was get a quick lunch before moving onto my next festivity (remember, I’m a full hour behind schedule). In fact, I already missed the “Holiday Laser Show” at the Maryland Science Center (noon) so I took the Circulator west to see the model train displays at the B&O Railroad Museum.
I arrived at the railroad museum at 1:14pm, and spent the next half hour or so taking pictures of the various model layouts. Some of them were quite elaborate and well-constructed; others looked like they were slapped together five minutes before the museum opened that morning. They also had ballet dancers, Santa photos and an indoor carousel.
The Circulator between the museum and Harbor East was more crowded than I had expected, but the people on board seemed somewhat merrier than the woman on the light rail earlier. The bus pulled into the circle around 2:14pm, and I spent the next 90 seconds perusing the four vendors who had set up around the stage on Aliceanna St for the neighborhood’s “Joy-Jingle-Jam.”
It was a less than 5 minute walk to my next destination: “An Old Tyme Christmas” in Fells Point. This event was a lot larger with numerous vendors selling food, clothing and jewelry and a large stage with strolling Victorian carolers and other roaming entertainers wandering around the narrow square.
Unfortunately, my camera battery died shortly after 3pm, and my phone wasn’t far behind it, so I didn’t get too many pictures of the event. I considered going all the way back to my apartment to charge it, but that would give me a maximum of 40 minutes in my apartment (nowhere near enough time for either) before I’d have to leave to come back for the tree lighting at 5pm.
Meanwhile, my hometown of Shamokin, Pa hosted, a very well attended, “A Downtown Christmas” on Eighth and Independence Streets in the former Masonic Lodge. Food and carolers were on site and 20 trees decorated by local merchants and organizations were on display until 6pm and then donated to those in need.
By the time the mayor arrived at 5:17pm, I was wishing I had gone back to the apartment just for a heavier jacket. Fortunately, the program started almost immediately upon her arrival and within ten minutes everyone was filing off to the end of Broadway pier (or in my case, the stone steps behind Bond Street Wharf) for the annual “Parade of Lighted Boats.”
Unlike the tree lighting, the parade started more or less on time with about than 50 boats sailing from Fells Point to the Inner Harbor and back again decked out in “festive holiday lights.” I was initially disappointed about the camera, but it wasn’t that great of a loss as most of the boats weren’t really decorated that well… but they were still festive in their own way!
The Occupiers were preparing for their seminar “Reflections on a Growing Movement” in honor of Sunday’s 2 month anniversary…held at a church in Charles Village. Oh well, at least their “General Assembly” will be held on site, but, frankly, I was too cold to stand outside for another 3 hours (even though it’s been nearly four weeks since I wrote anything about them).
I stopped into the Starbucks in Harbor East on my way back to the apartment, and I was waiting I could see the Circulator pull into the circle. Another arrived as I was picking up my order, but it was already after 7pm so my chances of making it to “Underneath the Moon” in Station North were next to impossible. I took a seat next to a young man who looked (and sounded) like Cullen from Occupy Baltimore and we sat there in silence until I finished my coffee and disappeared merrily into the night.
Occupy Denver has elected a new “leader,” Shelby
a 3 yr old border collie, in accordance with a request from city hall.
NYFD agreed to return
the generators they confiscated from OWS protesters. This is good news for
the electricity-less Occupy Baltimore.
Occupy Seattle protesters shut down Chase bank; others march to CEO Jaime Dimon’s
speech at Sheraton.
Occupy Baltimore: Day 35 – that’s five weeks at the fountain!
Many commenters on Facebook complained about the quality of
the above video; personally, I couldn’t tell the difference between that and
their usual GA feed video. The part I disliked was that they essentially spent
23 minutes proving everything the right wing says about them.
The supposed issue at hand, or at least one of them, is
whether Security has the power to remove troublesome individuals from the
“Occupied” area. When can a matter be handled “internally” (and by whom) and
when do they bring the evil protest-hating cops?
But first, you have to establish what “trouble” is and how
does one recognize when someone is starting it. Stealing is bad, sexual assault
is bad, and yelling about “jobless commies who don’t belong here” is apparently
also bad. Sadly, these rather obvious observations raise more questions than
No-one advocates rape of any sort, but how do you “steal”
from someone who doesn’t believe in “personal property?” Why would get up in
the middle of a discussion about theft in the encampment to criticize the
finance committee for storing the group’s money off site? More importantly, why
does a group of people currently “Occupying” a public site without a permit in
order to protect free speech trying to remove someone who dares not only to
disagree with their politics but remind them that the city has declared their
The local Fox station did a story tonight about drug
use and reported sexual assault over the weekend which was not reported to
police until today – presumably after pressure from Security to keep quiet. Said
reporter was shoved, and had her camera blocked by security members shouting
“NO CAMERAS!” The media team has a similar policy of attacking anyone who
disagrees with them in print\blogs by not only posting hateful comments on the
bottom of said story, but also posting their picture and all available contact
information onto their Facebook site with calls for supporters to “send them a
This report caught the attention of Mayor who sent out a
press release criticizing the alleged cover-up, and sending someone over to
document conditions in the encampment.
The movement says that these issues of drug use, theft and
other homelessness are simply part of urban life. They existed long before the
Occupation, and thus there is “nothing the group can do” to protect against
such crimes though they will do “everything they can to help police” (whom they
don’t trust) in their investigation.
However, some members have said that since the security team
“cannot guarantee the safety” of overnight campers than maybe the group should
either disband or radically shift how it deals with itself internally.
The next day the discussion continued to be about either
disbandment or options for reform (like limiting protests to daytime hours).
Unfortunately, the video feed was cut off at that point (“dead battery”) so I’m
not sure what other options were offered other than better tents and fairer
Person had to be ejected from camp for disrupting the GA. It
is not clear from the 0video what he was doing wrong, but you could clearly see
a man walking off camera and hear a pop tab open with several members turning
around to stare at him before banding together and telling him to leave a few
minutes later. Naturally, the video feed is once again cut off at this point.
The video returns briefly for the group discussion of who is
“allowed” to be part of the group and that Occupiers need to start telling
people who not contribute regularly enough to “get the fuck out.”
This sort of petty (and sadly pervasive) “I
contribute more than you do” or “only people who stay overnight can call
themselves Occupiers” attitudes just piss me the fuck off. Get off your high horse and find some other
group more worthy of your scorn, true democracy – which is what this movement
supposedly about – is about giving voice to ALL people not just those who have
nothing better to do than spend it sleeping in a public park like the homeless
people they’re trying to keep out.
The disenfranchised are just as much a part of the 99% as
the seemingly “normal” people from TU, Fell’s Point or Charles Village.
In fact, as a gay adult with Autism* I know what
it’s like to be an “undesirable” and to have people either yell and curse just
because they can (see here, here and here)
or simply dismiss me out of hand (like Cullen saying I wasn’t worth talking to
because I was just “a freelancer”).
In fact, the reason – the ONLY reason – I started
Park\Mosher Media in the first place was because employers weren’t comfortable
hiring “people like (me).” I can interpret that statement many ways, but I’m
going to defer to what my marketing professor, Ian Scharf said:
“If your company practices sexual harassment, racial
discrimination or condones illegal activity,
than you really don’t want to work for them in the first place.”
I still support many of the demands of OWS, but seeing local
members bullying\slandering reporters and watching GA meetings with people
talking about excluding members for not meeting arbitrary quotas and whether
Security over (or under) stepped their boundaries in dealing with this weekend’s
events makes me happy that I never actually “joined” their movement.
It’s okay, they’d have probably rejected my application anyway.
3pm – “March to Constellation Headquarters” and “Civil Disobedience Training”
6pm– Workshop on “Male Privilege open to all genders” starts at McKeldin Fountain.
6:12pm– Occupy Baltimore puts out call for FB users to come down to the square to
document the night’s events citing “news sources” that police will raid the
encampment around midnight.
7:43pm – Baltimore Sun: Unions, including police, ask Mayor Black to Stand Down on Occupy
8:25pm – “Education for All” rally officially begins.
9:56pm – Egyptianpresidential candidate and organizer of Egyptian Revolution, Medhat Khafagy,
speaks. He is there to show solidarity with democracy and the Occupation movement.
10:27pm –Committee reports: Medical speaks about plastic cuffs, protecting face, and
alerting the medic\legal teams of medications. She reminds overnight protesters
to stay warm.
10:53pm – GA closes “with love from: LA, MIA, SF, LV and PHX”
UPDATE – November 3, 2011
Occupy Baltimore has posted a petition to replace the boiler
at Rosemont Elementary School. As of 5:45 this afternoon, it had 101
10:43am – Baltimore Brew is posting that Occupy Baltimore may get a LOT smaller by this time
tomorrow. The city’s Department of Parks & Recreation has decided not to
approve the movement’s permit for indefinite encampment; though a press
release from the group says that a compromise was offered by the city
allowing protesters to stay during daytime hours but limited camping on the
site (a “maximum of 2 people”) as well as restricting the area of the protest
to the space immediately surrounding McKeldin Fountain. Failure to comply would
result in eviction from the park.
1:02pm – A second press release is posted basically expanding on their previous one, but this time
detailing the full text of the city’s letter to them in which they propose
setting up a “space sharing agreement” with other parties wishing to use the
Square… though if such an agreement cannot be reached than Occupy Baltimore
must “withdraw all set ups within the park for the dates of the [other
party’s] permit.” The movement has until tomorrow to approve or reject
2:10pm – OWS posts 2nd press release on their web site under headline: “Protect
4:50pm – Baltimore Sun posts a story essentially summarizing the initial press release.
5:45pm – Apparently, their “Workshop on White Privilege for White Folks” is still slated
for 6pm; no word on whether “Alternative Economics” seminar at 11am went
forward or not. I find it ironic that their (pre-planned) “Civil Disobedience
Training” is set for tomorrow at 3pm – especially since police will probably
start the eviction around 3am that morning.
8:15pm – beginning of General Assembly.
8:32pm – overview of police procedure should you be arrested in Baltimore City.
8:40pm – Q: When would police evict us? Paul from Legal: We have no answer; the proposal is too
vague to provide an answer to that question.
8:56pm –“1. No overnight tents and no
overnight camping will be allowed except for one tent with up to two individuals…
All others must leave McKeldin Square area by midnight, the time that the area
is closed to visitors.” –fails.
9:01pm – “3. Occupiers may not obstruct, in any way, the rights of way in the area.” – tabled.
4. “Occupy Baltimore has been given a map detailing the footprint perimeter of
their occupied area, the area where any tents or signs or any set ups may be placed.” – tabled.
9:26pm – “5. Occupy group needs to identify a “spokesperson” who will… keep City officials advised of any significant…issues at the site.” – passes. Majority in favor of non-legal number as they feel Legal held permit issue too long.
9:43pm – Agrees that the will NOT vacate space if other groups wish to use space, returns to walk-through
issue but tabled until later date
9:57pm – Cullen announces that GA is being livestreamed on OWS website
10:16pm – more discussion of multiple press releases, call to join media committee
10:26pm – traffic accident in intersection: medical goes to evaluate accident, statements interrupted by
sirens and general audience rubbernecking.
10:42pm – stack on press releases finishes, but discussion of process continues for several minutes.
Online viewership is steadily dropping.
10:57pm – Committee reports: Cullen to appear on Countdown
with Keith Olbermann, direct actions announced, campus outreach needed
11:07pm – Announcements: Baltimore to host regional day of Occupations. Rally for Rec Centers at
Parks\Recs building; partnership with Moveon.org.
11:38pm – General Assembly ends.
2:00am – Indypendent Reader reports that nothing happened. No police
arrived, no arrests were made and no forcible breakdown of camp. The Occupatiion
continues peacefully… for now.