Hey everyone -
I've been pretty busy working on a site that I think will help all Occupy supporters network and swell the ranks, so I've been kind of quiet lately… but I saw the news about the arrests. :( I called the Mayor's communications office, and it was the expected nonsense… they are willing to humor you for a couple mins, then they get annoyed… doesn't matter how calmy and rationally you present your concerns.
Anyhow, I wrote the following email and sent it to the Mayor; but since I don't have any faith in American government right now, I thought I'd share it here where at least it might be read. :)
Dear Mayor Parker -
I'm writing to you today to communicate my frustration with the city of Houston over the decision made recently to arrest several Occupy Houston protestors over the presence of a tarp in Tranquility Park.
While I am not present at the group in Houston each day, I consider myself extremely sympathetic to the issues being raised by Occupy groups all across America. I do not in any way speak for the group in Houston, I think it's important to state that. But I've watched in dismay over the last couple decades as multi-national corporations grew increasingly powerful, and used that power to stack the deck in their favor at almost every turn in American society. All throughout human history, we have seen the problem of the powerful oppressing those without similar means. Do we think that we've evolved somehow to the point where THIS time it would be different? That somehow THIS time we can let the powerful elites run un-checked by the rest of the people who occupy this planet? Will we ever learn?
Nothing about human nature has changed. We're still the same race that we were during some of the most horrible chapters in human history. African slavery, Roman slavery, the slaughter of American Indians, the Inquisition, the Crusades, Nazi Germany, religious persecution, Stalin's purge, to name some of the more known chapters. More recently in America, we have watched African Americans continue to fight for equal rights and equal opportunities. We've watched women endure lower pay for equal work, and suffer the indignity of sexual harassment at the hands of bosses in positions of power over their lives. The examples of abuse of power go on and on. To have a fear of power that is concentrated in the hands of a few is not only right, but it's NECESSARY for a healthy democracy. And has ever the power in America been so concentrated in so few?
Regarding Houston and the Occupy movement here, this city has what I would consider to be one of the tamest Occupy groups. I did have a chance to attend one of the meetings in Tranquility Park and to meet many of the protestors in person. These are really good people, and also important, they are on the right side of history.
I spoke today for a couple minutes with a Ms. Evens in your communications department, and the pattern of the call was predictable. At first she spent some time trying to humor me, but it was immediately clear she wasn't really interested in talking to me — I was just a pain in her daily routine. She quickly decided my couple minutes were up and it was time to more directly dismiss my call. Because she was so eager to get rid of me, she missed an important point that I was trying to make — although I have no doubt she wasn't interested in it anyway. Additionally, I have no doubt that since she decided I was just a bother to her day, she did not relay my message to you. So, while I don't have much faith in email as a good means for communicating with government, I am trying this avenue nonetheless in hopes that my message will reach you directly. This may not be a quick and simple message, but we don't live in simple times, do we?
The message I'm hearing from the city of Houston regarding the recent arrests of several protestors is that the arrests were warranted because, after all, the protestors "broke the law," although I don't think they were convicted of anything yet — so much for presumption of innocence. But I wonder, can you see how it looks to citizens when multiple people are arrested over a tarp, intended to protect electronics during a bit of rain, while not a single person from Wall Street has gone to prison after nearly bringing our great country to its knees?
I was in California back when Enron scandal hit, I moved to Houston in 2002. Do you have any idea how many of us there in California had to pay more than 100% increase in utility bills for an extended period of time, which many could not afford, because the misdeeds here in Houston by powerful 1% energy company elites created a mini electricity disaster in CA? And of all the people involved, so few were held accountable. What an omen of things to come, and even with 2008 behind us, I don't think we've seen anything yet in terms of the damage the arrogant elites will do to the rest of us in pursuit of more power and profits for themselves.
Meanwhile, putting a tarp over your computer in a park in crossing the line!?
When you have two classes of people… a 1% who is above the law, and everyone else who needs to submit to their authority, don't you think that's a recipe for disaster? Surely you can see how that kind of situation poisons the general public's view of "authority" in general?
If you haven't been paying attention to Oakland, California, now might be a good time to do so. Watch the video of the protestor who was shot by police with a rubber bullet because he had a video camera. All caught on tape. Watch the video of the Iraq war veteran whose skull was fractured by a police tear gas canister, even though he was just standing there peacefully. Watch the video in New York of a police officer spaying pepper spray into the face of a women who was just standing on the street, likely because the office just like hurting women… he quickly disappeared back into the crowd after spraying her. And consider that NONE of these shows of force by police happened during the violent rhetoric of Tea Party protests. Where were the police in riot gear when the Tea Party crowd showed up at rallies with assault weapons?
As Mayor, you have an opportunity to be a leader … and to be on the right side of history. As I told Ms. Evans, this movement isn't going away. (She responded by thinking that was a "threat"… which makes me wonder if people in government are so defensive of the establishment that they're a part of that they can't even communicate effectively with citizens anymore.) The point is (and was), the Occupy movement has struck a chord in America AND abroad, there is a deep truth to what it is saying, and so many of us feel it. We KNOW that we live in an Oligarchy, and we KNOW that democracy is broken. You, as mayor, have an opportunity to champion this cause and be on the right side of history. But if you are in agreement with the arrest of protestors over a tarp, while failing to champion their very just concerns, then you're picking the wrong side of history.
Steve Jobs reportedly warned Rupert Murdoch that he was "blowing it" with Fox News. He warned him that his legacy would be one of tearing down instead of building up. You are mayor of one of the top 10 cities in the most powerful country in human history. That isn't hyperbole, that's simple fact. You have a HUGE megaphone, and you could use your time in this remarkable position to champion the 99% at a time when they desperately need leaders, instead of presiding over the arrest of people with tarps in the rain.
I hope you'll consider what I wrote. I would be more than pleased to hear back from you by email, and even happier if it were possible to meet with you in person someday to discuss the importance of the Occupy movement in America.