Occupy Providence met in Burnside Park tonight for General Assembly. About thirty people of all ages, backgrounds and conditions attended. The weather had shifted back into unnatural warmth, but still. Getting thirty people to gather in January in the middle of Downtown, right after work and with no parking–that’s impressive.
I should know, because I used to do events. Getting people to assemble indoors with free food is not a sure thing.
There was a diversity of opinion on the impact of the decision to cease overnight occupation of the park. Some saw it as a surrender, others as letting go of an action that was drawing attention from the core issue– economic justice. The crowd that gathered around the statue of General Burnside bore witness to the impact of the recession. Elders and teenagers, all races and conditions of life, drawn to this action by a common sense that now is the time to act.
I was Downtown in 2001 when the Towers fell. There was a sense, then, of our common humanity. It seemed then like all the veils fell away, and we were all just Americans. And such a love and grief for our country. We all wanted to do something, but our leaders had no good word to give us. And soon we were herded into a war we never asked for.
I think the love of country that rang so true in 2001, lives. A potential energy ready to move us into the next phase. This is what Democracy looks like.
Occupy Providence can still be found in Burnside Park, in the person of some dedicated volunteers who keep a presence there in the day. And the Occupation will hold General Assembly at locations all over the city and state.
This Saturday, February 4 at 2pm, General Assembly will meet at Knight Memorial Library, 275 Elmwood Avenue, Providence, on the bus line. Free and open to the public.