Archive for January 12th, 2012

“Mic check,” shouts a young man.

Mic check,” several dozen people respond responsively.IMAG0383

“We have four pizzas coming.”

“We have four pizzas coming.”

“Two cheese.”

“Two cheese.”

“Two pepperoni.”

Two Pepperoni.”

Thus ended the “Occupy the New Hampshire Primary” project at a party downstairs at McNeil’s Banquet Facility on the west side of Manchester Tuesday night.  While the votes were being counted, the candidates were giving speeches, and their supporters were faithfully cheering them on to their ultimate victories, Occupy activists chatted, sang, played guitars, and swapped stories of what they had accomplished over the previous five days.

Barbara feels great that she had been able to host ten visitors from Occupy Wall Street, and said she enjoyed working in the kitchen at St. Augustin Church, which had invited the movement to use its parish hall for a few hours each afternoon.  Barbara also accompanied the OWS group to a Romney event, where they were able to engage him about the2012 01 08 machester occupy the primary 027 role of money in politics. She hands me a leaflet about “Grey Heat on K Street,” a demonstration planned for April 21 to expose corporate lobbyists. 

Getting money out of politics was a popular theme among the activists.  It didn’t  hurt that Brett and Alex had produced a large number impressive signs and banners that were convenient to carry.  “We owned the narrative,” Brett says, emphasizing that it is important to go after the Democrats, too. 

“Mic check,” Alex shouts. 

“Mic check,” everyone responds.

“We are going to the Romney event,” Alex says.”

“We are going to the Romney event.”

“We would really like to have a massive presence.”

“We would really like to have a massive presence.”

Alex and Brett head for Southern New Hampshire University, where Romney’s victory party is underway.

Katie, one of the main organizers, says she is pretty positive about what they had accomplished.  “It was the circus I was hoping for,” she says.  While it wasn’t as planned as it might have been, “everything fell into place.”  She says the highlight was Saturday night’s Funeral Procession for the Middle Class, especially when supporters of GOP candidates joined the Occupiers chanting “Hey Hey Ho Ho Corporate Greed Has Got To Go.”

Jerry, from Occupy Nashua, went to a Gingrich “town hall meeting” intending to try to ask a question.  He didn’t get called on, but still feels like he had picked up useful political skills. 

Darius, from Occupy Providence, tells me he mic checked Rick Santorum at a tow2012 01 07 machester occupy the primary 054 n hall meeting in Hollis, where he was impressed with a young man who challenged the candidate opposition to gay rights. 

One activist tells me he voted for Jon Huntsman, a candidate he “could live with.”  Another tells me she voted for Vermin Supreme, the only candidate who showed up for the Occupy party. Vermin placed third in the Democratic race, with 831 votes (though nearly 6000 people wrote in candidates whose names will never get reported).

“Mic check,” a young woman yells.

“Mic check,” everyone yells back. 

“Who took my Ron Paul pin?”

“Who took my Ron Paul pin.”

Two visiting activists from Massachusetts tell me they met Michael Steele, former Chairman of the Republican National Committee, in the bar at the Radisson.  Steele told them the Occupy movements speaks to “people’s frustration with the way government operates.”

“That’s the only way the system’s going to change, by what you do,” he told them.  Steele parted ways on whether bankers who raked in millions should be prosecuted and jailed. 

Marianne tells me about a woman in Nashua who lost her job due to cancer treatments, and then lost her home to the mortgage company. Marianne and I discuss whether it might be possible to re-occupy the now vacant home. 

Krista has a Masters degree in civil and environmental engineering, but can’t find a job.  She had a position in her field for ten months, funded by the Obama “stimulus” program, but the job ended when the ARRA funds ran out.  “We were told to beg, borrow, or steal to go to college,” she says.  Now she and her husband, also an engineer, are $90,000 in debt.  He’s joined the Army Reserves.  Employers don’t want to hire entry level people who need training, she says.  Krista hasn’t been very involved with Occupy NH, but she did go to Occupy the Capitol in Washington.  2012 01 07 machester occupy the primary 109

Mitt Romney, who is getting heat because he made a fortune at Bain Capital from taking over and shutting down companies, tells his fans that they should avoid “the bitter politics of envy.”  Romney (spelled “Rmoney” in one Occupy video I watched) warns against “resentment of success” in his victory speech. 

One success of Occupy the NH Primary is that it brought together activists from all over New Hampshire plus several other northeast states for five days of action.  While the initial schedule focused on events scheduled for Veterans Park or the Unitarian Church, the Occupiers figured out pretty quickly that they could take their message directly to the candidates, who were cris-crossing southern New Hampshire.  By Tuesday evening, many of them have headed home. 

“I miss the New York people already,” someone says.

Paul is one of the New York people who hasn’t left yet.  He’s impressed by the success of Occupy the NH Primary in reaching candidates, the media, and the people with its message about inequality, corporate power, and the corrosive effect of money on democracy.   He arrives late for the Victory Party.  “I spent the day trying to organize South Carolina,” he says. 


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