Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Occupy Nashville - Anatomy and Autopsy

I watched the last Occupy Nashville General Assembly I plan to ever watch as it was live streamed last night.  If you missed it, the footage is archived here, but be warned that viewing it will probably be a rather sad experience if you ever cared about ON or believed in the goals the group determined to support last Fall.  In the end, the remnants of what was once an Occupy esteemed as a model by other groups around the country has devolved into perhaps the saddest lot of mopes ever convened on a few square yards of plaza anywhere.

If there's any entertainment value in the two hour charade that was last night's GA, it begins at about twenty minutes into the gathering when Michael Custer presents a proposal to the crowd of seven people (besides him and the person streaming the meeting) who were on the plaza steps.  Michael told the group they needed to make a big sign with the ON Code of Conduct on it to be displayed at future GAs, apparently so the body can, as Custer put it, "protect ourselves" from people who have raised their voices to them in past GAs. He lamented, with appropriately feigned indignation and presumably exhausted patience, his assertion that what's been engaged in here is "psychological warfare."

Sigh.  Because, of course, in Custer's world (mind), the numbers of people who are part of Occupy Nashville have been "decimated," not because the group that is ON tacitly supported liars and more for eight months, but because the victims of their abuse told the story, in some cases, loudly.  Again, still, yet, even, a pattern of assault on those who didn't kiss ass but chose instead to confront what was going on was dismissed as people "fighting about stupid shit," the grievances of those who were attacked were "petty squabbles," and GAs are "not the place" to address any of it.

That brings us pretty much full circle.  Months ago, the ON stream team disallowed any disagreement or even discussion in stream chat and later they would ban posters and delete posts made via any ON social media avenue.  I once had even an album of a few pictures I'd shot of the Walkupy folks on their way to the plaza deleted...because I'm the one who shot the pictures and posted them.  When the ON Internal Restorative Justice group completed a three month investigation into some of these allegations made against one member of that team and presented their findings at a GA last month, should anyone have been surprised that some of the people effectively shut out showed up at that meeting to see if their grievances would finally be addressed?

Pondering the shoulda/coulda/woulda has the potential to keep us here all night, so I won't.  Instead, I'm going to end this blog by suggesting it be regarded as both an anatomy and autopsy of what has been Occupy Nashville.  Besides over fifty blog entries that I've posted here since last November, there is a page on this blog that contains posts I wrote on facebook before I started this blog, and another page that has links to a gallery of ON-related visual media (videos and photographs) I created during the past eight months.  Considered in the aggregate, I believe this blog makes clear, to anybody who wants to know, two things:  1)  A significant number of people who "occupied" Nashville since last Fall either terrorized others within the movement or gave their tacit approval by refusing to confront it in any meaningful way (this is the anatomy of the body, if you will), and 2) The reasons Occupy Nashville is now, for all practical purposes, dead...that's the autopsy.

In closing, I feel compelled to note just a couple more things here.  For starters, if you watched the footage of last night's GA, you may have heard Michael Custer cautioning the group (during announcements, just a few minutes into the footage) to not interact with anybody who presents as part of the ON legal team and to only deal with Tripp.  The problem with that, of course, is that the person he was trying to get people to, yes, shun, is the person that Tripp had asked to act in his behalf while he was out of town earlier this week.

I think it would be groovy if Tripp clears that up when he himself addresses the GA on Thursday of this week, but I'm not holding my breath.  This is, after all, the same Tripp who shamelessly played into the meme that Mickey Russell was arrested because he was part of Occupy Nashville, when, in fact, Russell was picked up because he was being an asshole in public and there were outstanding warrants on him in at least one other Tennessee county.

Now, for extra credit...can anybody explain exactly how what Custer did last night to Darlene was any different from what Jason Steen did to Dorsey months ago when he told at least one reporter to not deal with her because she really wasn't part of ON's media or public relations teams?  Yanno, the offense that the RJ committee took Steen to task for and that the ON GA decided was sufficient grounds to shun him from their group?  And, not to beat a dead horse, but how was this not the same sort of behavior that Custer declared as offensive to him in that GA when he told the group he knew what to do about this sort of problem and the answer was to shun the liar?

Over and over again in the past eight months, I've found myself pondering the question, who are these people?  Who lives in a world in which people treat each other the way this crew has?  Who are the people that can imagine the silliest, most juvenile, outrageous things to falsely accuse people of when they want to attack their character and silence their message?  I found at least part of the answer to my question of who these people are when I found this link to a search form that can be used to access public arrest records for those who have been charged in Metropolitan Nashville.  When you have some time to kill, I suggest you spend a little of it keying in the names of some of the people you've met on this blog.  It won't take long before you begin to understand why so many of these people use aliases.  It will also give you context for the cesspool that has been responsible for so many vicious lies about others who tried to be a part of Occupy Nashville.

And, finally...Some of my most poignant moments as part of Occupy Nashville have come in recent months when I've heard one person after another declare their "embarrassment" at having ever been a part of ON.  I genuinely wish people didn't feel that way...I don't.  I'm not embarrassed at all for anything I've done here...far, far from it, and I don't think you should be either, not if you told the truth.  The embarrassment and, yes, even shame, isn't mine and it isn't yours either.  That, my friends, is the realm of those who did the dirty deeds, not the baggage of those who told the story.

The heart and spirit of Occupy Nashville is not now and hasn't been for a while on Legislative Plaza.  It's out in the community, at Occupy Vanderbilt and the housing group and in the newly formed Occupy Women's Economic Empowerment group now organizing and in other small groups around the city.  People who are serious about working for change walked off the plaza weeks, even months, ago and got busy where they didn't have to fight to work.

There will be no more entries on this blog.  Let it stand as both anatomy and autopsy for Occupy Nashville.  Anything else I ever (if ever) have to say about ON will be related on a new blog.  I've told the truth here.  Let it be.