January 5, 2012

Why I Like Occupy Louisville

On the heels of some negative Occupy commentary … 
So, I’m listening to the radio on the way home from work, and Louisville mayor Greg Fischer is being interviewed.  He takes a call from someone who wanted to discuss Occupy Louisville.  Right now, OL’s status is in question: they were originally given a permit (after being moved site to site several times, getting permits at each site) which has now expired.  But the little square of land that OL had been shunted to apparently is operated by the board of public works instead of the parks department, which means that, technically speaking, there are no rules against overnight camping in the location.  The city is now waiting for the courts to decide what is going on before they take any kind of action, so everything is currently in a more or less benevolent holding pattern.
In the meantime, the caller (let’s call him Sir Asshat) wants to know what Fischer thinks of Occupy Louisville.  Asshat identifies himself as a “social justice” type of guy, inquires about the future of the OL site before opining that OL needs to be taken out to the East End (that’s where most of the rich people are), then proceeds to randomly drop a few liberal political signifiers totally unconnected to each other, and finally starts foaming on about his own visit to the current OL site.  He blathered on about how disappointed he was, because it seems that the OL site has more homeless people than activists. 
For shame!
Seems that said homeless people weren’t able to answer his questions about liberal political activism in any coherent manner.  According to Sir Asshat, “I asked them some questions, and they were like, ‘Huh?’”.  Asshat then went on to say that these “homeless mercenaries” where taking advantage of Occupy Louisville to get a warm place to stay, and didn’t really care about the politics of the Occupy movement.
“Homeless mercenaries”.  Is it any wonder that people fucking hate liberals?
It seems that a large portion of the Occupy Louisville encampment is indeed composed of the homeless from the streets of Louisville.  I’m not sure exactly how this evolved, but it is at very least a symbiotic relationship: OL is small in numbers, and the homeless bolster OL’s visibility.  In return, the homeless become much more of a focus for Occupy Louisville … more than, say, student loan forgiveness, or other such bourgeois concerns … and, given the concrete day to day struggles of homelessness, the grand “branding” movement to push OWS into the mainstream political market is short circuited.  The exact aspects of homelessness that push it away from Sir Asshat’s market liberalism are the things that make Occupy Louisville interesting to me. 
At the end of the day, “social justice” liberal Sir Asshat implicitly wanted Mayor Fischer to close down the Occupy Louisville site because he didn’t approve of having homeless people representing the movement, to the point that he begrudges homeless people the warmth and shelter of Occupy Louisville tents.  Sir Asshat apparently has no problem speaking for the homeless, just as long as he doesn’t have to see and hear them himself.  Or take care of them.  Kinda makes you wonder exactly for whom Asshat’s “social justice” applies.
Fischer, who is turning into a pretty astute political fellow, immediately guided the conversation away from Sir Asshat’s despicable implications, and talked about taking care of the homeless - which, for a pro-business Democrat, always turns back to jobs.   Later, when one of the leaders of Occupy Louisville called in to counter Asshat (albeit in the most wet noodle way imaginable), he called Fischer to task over the homeless problem in the city.  Fischer promised that, if (or, more accurately, when) the Occupy Louisville encampment is dismantled, he would make sure that social workers showed up first to facilitate the placement of all the homeless protesters into shelters.  Louisville is actually “good” at taking care of its homeless, much like it is “good” at recycling: the homeless are sheltered, the recycling is carried away.  Not that anyone in Metro government is getting to the core of the homeless problem, which is why a homeless presence at Occupy Louisville is so necessary; but for today, we will give Louisville a pass because it at least goes out of its way to get a roof over as many heads as possible.
Occupy Louisville is not the presentable face of Occupy.  It’s not circus hippie drum circles, it’s not articulate young activists shouting and carrying clever signs.  Like the Arab Spring, Occupy Louisville is driven by the disenfranchised themselves.  More power to Occupy Louisville.


Matt said...

"homeless mercenaries" - that's rich. That's tragically hilarious.

i had a friend who wanted to write a rock opera about abe martin coming to nashville, IN as an old testament biblical god; leveling all the tourist shops to rubble, leaving it as a haven for outlaws and deer. perhaps you could work up a similar rock opera for OL that somehow incorporates an army of homeless mercenaries.

maybe we should be grateful for people like sir asshat because "homeless mercenaries", if not a great name for a band, would be a great name for a song.

Sharripie said...

It's been strange seeing all the tents down there this winter - they're in a space next door to where I get building permits. For the most part, they seem to be taking care of the space, but they only have one portable toilet and I have no idea how they're managing bathing. The Metro building has stationed a security guard at the front door to make sure the only people in the building actually have business there. It was never the case before the protestors stationed themselves next door. Let's hope that the Cathedral across the street is doing something for them.

Bill Zink said...

Well, it's not like the homeless are showering anyway. And the OL folk just go home to grab a shower and a bagel in the morning. Probably do it in shifts, since there aren't a lot of them.