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I just watched this most incredible speech by Vermont’s Independent Senator, Bernie Sanders. Quite frankly, I’ve never seen or heard anything like it. He is publicly chastising Congress for it’s assault on the middle class.
If anyone is wondering what the Occupy Movement is all about, watch this speech which I believe ranks right up there with the greatest in American History.
Newly elected Mayor, Michael Brennan, in his first city council meeting said, “The issues here are deep enough…that we should continue to go the extra mile” in keeping the dialogue open between the city and Occupy Maine.
Mayor Brennan also said, “We are not interested in being Oakland. We are not interested in being New York. We are interested in respecting the citizens in this city who are trying to articulate legitimate concerns about our economic situation.”
While the city council voted 8-1 to deny Occupy Maine a permit to occupy Lincoln Park 24/7 for the next six months, all expressed their belief in the rights of free speech, peaceable assembly, and agreed with many or most of the concerns of the movement.
Unlike other cities and the University of California Davis that have unleashed police in riot gear to forcibly evict Occupy protestors from public places, the City of Portland, Maine is exercising patience and tolerance of the Occupy Maine encampment in Lincoln Park. The council could have ended the Occupy Maine encampment immediately.
Councilor John Anton summed up the dilemma between the right of free speech and peaceable assembly and the city’s obligation to enforce local ordinances when he said, “I believe we do our best work as a council when we are challenged out of our comfort zone. That’s what you are doing and I’m willing to take that challenge.
That is precisely what the Occupy Movement is all about: moving people out of their comfort zones by the encampment, the protests, and yes…civil disobedience. Councilor David Marshall broke ranks with his fellow councilors by casting the only “yes” vote in favor of granting Occupy Maine a permit. In doing so, he said, “I respect the opinions of my colleagues in wanting to uphold the ordinances of the city, but I’m going to uphold the right to peacefully assemble.”
And that is the question that will eventually be settled in the courts: does the United States Constitution trump local ordinances?
And so, for now, the City of Portland, Maine will continue to work with Occupy Maine to find a solution and to go the extra mile. In doing so, Maine has become a model for the rest of the nation.
On December 7, 2011, the Portland, Maine City Council will hold an open hearing on the future of the camp at Lincoln Park. The City deserves praise for not resorting to violence and threats in dealing with the people who have been camping in the park for two months. It seems that the city and the Portland police have respected the right of protestors to exercise free speech and have exercised understanding and patience while much of the rest of the country has resorted to violence and brutality on innocent citizens.
However, I believe the city has legitimate concerns about health and safety issues at the camp such as the danger of fire. Smoking and the use of propane heaters in proximity to bails of hay and straw surrounding tents is a tragedy waiting to happen. Concerns about cleanliness in the preparation of food is also another legitimate public health concern.
Serious discussion about the future of the encampment has been ongoing for two weeks and many of the occupiers are resigned to being evicted. Before it comes to that, it would be best if the occupiers would leave on their own and seek a compromise with the city to allow the dome, library, and an information tent in Lincoln Park as a focal point for the protest and a visible symbol of the movement.
Unfortunately, all of the attention by the media has been on the camps and violence while the core messages of corporate greed, political corruption, and the crimes committed by Wall St. and the banks have been ignored.
The fact that occupiers of the camp are mostly homeless people says more about the city’s homeless policy than it does about the Occupy movement. Most of the 99% live at home; we work, raise families and pay our bills. The park should be available as a focal point for the exercise of freedom of speech and public discourse on the state of the union.
Not everyone is talking about the camp. Here’s what some of Maine’s 99% had to say on Sunday in a strategy sessions looking to the future of the movement.
Last night, we watched a wonderful docudrama based on the true story of a man who fought one of the world’s largest corporations….and won. Flash of Genius tells the story of inventor Robert Kearns, who developed the modern intermittent windshield wiper. Kearns submitted the invention to each of the big three auto companies, each of which stole his invention. Kearns spent several decades fighting the Ford Motor Company and eventually was awarded over 30 million dollars in damages. (Actually the court scene in the movie portrayed Ford, but in reality he defended himself against Chrysler and won. The Ford trial was conducted by his attorneys and ended with a big settlement, but no verdict that Ford willfully stole his patent. Check out Wikipedia for the facts. A little artistic/Hollywood license)
Flash of Genius shows how large corporations will stop at nothing to make a profit and how one man who stood fast on his principles and beliefs brought Ford and Chrysler to their knees. This true story should inspire those of us who believe that we can change the corporate, political and financial systems that have forced our economy to the brink.
Occupy is a global movement against corporate greed and corrupt financial and political systems which support and protect them at the expense of the common good. We, the 99%, can and will win this battle because we now are controlling the conversation and we have more votes than the 1%. Democracy is coming to the USA!
Check out Wikipedia for the facts and details of the case and the life of Robert Kearns.