Rating the Occupations: The OccupyDC Score Card

Our reporter is visiting five East Coast #Occupy movements in five days. Follow along as he rates them on everything from message and organization to bathrooms and grub. 

First and foremost, I'd like to salute the women of the Washington DC Hooters for being an outstanding pack of hotties and some fine hosts whose grasp of politics is as firm as their titanic breasts. I first met the ladies last year after Glenn Beck's Restoring Honor rally – back then, I was hankering for a glimpse of something human-looking that wasn't wrapped in a red, white, and blue bed sheet – and found glorious salvation in their wings, boobs, and 25-ounce drafts. 

As it turns out, I wasn't the only sweathog ogling cleavage en route to a politically-correct revolution. At a table near me was a motley crew of SEIU workers, their Obama-Biden '08 jackets slung over their chairs as they bitched about K Street lobbyists and other nefarious creatures. It would be the last pro-president statement I heard that day: the Stop the Machine anti-war rally that dominated the DC protest ecosystem yesterday was decidedly upset with Barry.

The Stop the Machine folks – who are also collectively billed under the “October 6” banner, and who are occupying Liberty Square through Saturday – are not to be confused with Occupy DC. In fact, earlier in the week, Occupy DC voted to remain independent from STM, creating something lke a rivalry. Dozens of the overwhelmingly young Occupy DC activists joined the anti-war march, but were not interested in any kind of official affiliation with the group – at one point they even walked through the Liberty Plaza wrap-up session beating drums.

As a unified front, though, Stop the Machine and Occupy were effective, teaming for a wild ride by the White House, which then jolted two blocks north to the Chamber of Commerce staircase. Beneath ironic banners that spelled out “J-O-B-S” – and that plugged the oh-so Rand-ian Chamber website, – the front screamed together: “WHERE ARE THE JOBS?” Making the offensive that much more badass, Raging Grannies from as far as Seattle lent hollers to the mix.

All together it was a fun rip through Washington, with what I'm guessing will be the most diverse horde that I encounter all week on the east coast. DC is a protest hub; I even met folks who trekked all the way from Hawaii for Stop the Machine. I'm not sure how many of the October 6 people will stick for the prolonged occupation after the weekend, but hopefully the college contingent, camping out nearby, learns something from the passionate radicals who came before them.

CITY Washington, DC
LOCATION McPherson Square (with Stop the Machine at nearby Liberty Plaza)
HASHTAG(S) #OccupyDC #Oct6

The Occupy DC activists tell me that they first attracted about 25 people last Saturday, and that many from that crowd have been crashing there regularly. As the occupation matures, though, so are their numbers – last night the general assembly had more than 200 participants, only some of which spilled over from Liberty Square to check them out. They're a trendy bunch – wide-eyed and college-aged, cleverly dressed punks, bleeding hearts, and even preppies (plus some local homeless dudes, who seem to be playing an important role). To keep this up, however, they'll need increased age, experience, and diversity.


While the Occupy DC people have yet to build an official camp in McPherson Square – they're not allowed to pitch tents, and for now the assembly has decided to obey all laws – for the time-being Liberty Plaza is set up as a bazaar for far-left and even conspiratorial causes, from Greenpeace and 9/11 Truth craziness to a guy picketing for “movie-goer rights” (plus there was free face-painting). For grub, Liberty had pasta and such provided by Food Not Bombs, while over in McPherson, their vittles are limited to warm drinks and dry goods at the moment.


As mentioned above, McPherson isn't really occupied yet – at least not in the sense that Boston is, with tents, tarps, and a spiritual center. Needless to say the bathroom opportunities are few, and I was asked not to reveal where they've been sink-showering. Stop the Machine's Liberty Plaza, on the other hand, has a plethora of port a-potties – and I don't use the words plethora or potty loosely. I have to hand it to DC; of the dozens of rallies I've covered down here over the past few years, I've never had a problem finding somewhere to roll joints or take dumps. My tax dollars at work, I suppose.


Police here know how to handle angry citizens, or, better yet, they know how to handle them without letting them realize that they're being handled. There are some ridiculous laws in the capitol; at McPherson, the grass is federal property and thereby off-limits for sleeping, while the sidewalks that cut through the park belong to the district and are fine for napping on. Despite some confusion, though, there haven't been any problems yet, as police have made it clear that they'll warn people first before throwing the cuffs on.


Hundreds of Occupy DC soldiers joined the Stop the Machine march that howled through the capital yesterday. With their Guy Fawkes masks and face wraps – I need to invest in a bandana company, by the way – they followed a teeming force of anti-war protesters. That observation aside, I'd be bullshitting if I didn't express disappointment in the young occupiers' reluctance to give a real damn about their older, more seasoned counterparts. Much like in Boston, where protesters decided to occupy on the same day as a massive anti-bank rally that was planned months earlier, there was little effort here to dispel stereotypes that lefties can't work together.


At this juncture, the only clique I really have to compare the DC occupiers to isOccupy Boston, which, as a whole (and I'm not kidding here), is less amenable than most Tea Party entourages I've spent time with. The Dewey Square squatters have utter disdain for the media, and are extremely testy with newcomers who don't understand the general assembly process. In DC, however, the movement is relatively young, and in my experience seemed extremely welcoming to fresh faces. Still, they need to work on communicating with one another, and might want to co-opt the so-called “people's mic” call-and-response system that's worked well in other cities.


From what I understand, this group has yet to compose a definitive message. That's not necessarily a bad thing though; unlike assemblies I've seen elsewhere, they don't spend most of their time bickering over whether they should have a message in the first place, and about what that message might be. Perhaps I just caught them at a good time, on a bright sunny day, but my sense is that they're more or less aware that other wrinkles – like where they can camp out – must be ironed out before the resident poly-sci majors get a chance to pontificate.

BEST SIGN “I'll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one.”

SIGNATURE CHANT “We got sold out / Banks got bailed out”

DEFINING FASHION TREND Palestinian neckwear


I heard that Wale was in the mix, but don't like him enough to check his Twitter feed and find out for sure. It's hard to take someone seriously as an activist when they've done tracks with Lady Gaga.


You bet your ass that the LaRouche nuts are here. For the sake of the Occupy movement, I was hoping that their despicable presence was limited to Boston, where they're been allowed to set up their Obama-as-Hitler placards at the side entrance to Dewey Square. But I was wrong; the miserable brainwashed fucks are all over the capitol, clandestinely threatening to compromise Occupy like they did the Tea Party.


For the sake of smelling like dog farts in a Parisian cafe full of yuppies and conservatives who were laughing at the rally-goers, I brought my ass to the ridiculously named Cafe du Parc across from Liberty Plaza. Full of methane as a result of breaking my diet with a dirty water dog and pounding two Budweisers in 10 minutes, I even crop-dusted the joint on my way out, making sure to wave a hand at the pinstriped dipshits by the door. As for the McPherson Square situation – I didn't look too hard, but a quick survey turned up no affordable dives within blocks of the place.


There's no politically correct way to say this, so I'll just come right out with it: I cannot fucking believe how many Chinese and Japanese tourists there are in this city. I'm from Queens, and I still don't think I've ever seen this many Asian people in one place at the same time. Of course there's an irony there, considering how our country has suffered while pacific economies have flourished – but that's not why I bring this up. Rather I think it would be prudent for activists to bulk up their numbers by starting a company that coaxes tourists into thinking that protesting is the cool American thing to do. Just an idea.

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