“Occupy New Orleans: A Report Back”
I was out of town last week and upset that I had to miss the many decisions and actions revolving around Occupy Philly. Would we stay at or leave Dilworth Plaza? Would the City forcibly evict us? Would there be a major confrontation?
While I am still upset that I was not here to participate, I did have an opportunity to experience Occupy New Orleans. Attending a conference down there enabled me to participate in a march on Thursday, November 17th—the national day of action. Approximately 150 to 200 people attended the unpermitted ninety-minute high-energy march. A makeshift and moveable sound system provided an eclectic mix of Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, Rage Against the Machine, Black Sabbath, the Beatles, and much more. We marched down Bourbon Street and through the French Quarter stopping at such places at the Louisiana Supreme Court, a Federal Reserve building, and a Citi Bank. Some onlookers cheered while others screamed the typical “get a job.” Despite some antagonism, the march garnered much positive attention and provided good exposure for the Occupy Movement.
The march both began and ended at Duncan Plaza, which is the location of the New Orleans occupation (about a 12 minute walk to the French Quarter). Duncan Plaza is a common area/park located directly across from City Hall. There are approximately 100 tents (that’s a conservative estimate) parched up on a slight hill that encircles the Plaza. The overall visual design provides a definitive “encampment look and feel.” A permanent, elevated park structure with a fifteen-foot overhang sits at the center of the park, which houses the food tent. Based on some conversations I had with folks, the Mayor and police department have been quite cordial thus far. There is no permit for the encampment and the city has taken a hands off approach. But some occupiers are becoming more skeptical given the nation-wide crack downs.
It was night time when the march returned to the Plaza and difficult to see. But local media outlets were awaiting us and their television spotlights lit up the crowd holding a banner that read: Occupy NOLA. It was not only picturesque, but inspiring. This biggest thing I walked away with was hope. This movement is occurring not just in Philadelphia or even in New York. It is happening everywhere. While I may not have been home in Philadelphia, I was home in New Orleans. This should not be a surprise since we are “the 99%!”
Report back by Jason Del Gandio.