For perhaps 20 minutes, the Occupy Northampton effort whose numbers seem to be small, occupied the peace picket I stand on for an hour each Saturday morning. Someone walked through the congregation passing out "I belong to the 99%" stickers and people pasted them on their coat fronts. I declined since I already belong to the 99 or 100% and don't need a sticker to prove it.
Leading the Occupy group was Claudia, an edgy and energetic woman who lives down my street and has, in the past, stood on the peace picket line. I think she qualifies as an 'organizer.' But whereas the peace picket line generally stands quietly with signs around individual necks or passing out fliers to willing pedestrians, Claudia wanted to bring something called a "mic check" to bear. Because the police had shut down use of a bull horns in past demonstrations, Claudia said anyone could have a say and everyone else would follow along, loudly, sentence for sentence. Each would thus be heard and supported by all the others...including those on the peace picket. Claudia had a whizzing whistle to indicate the end of each individual "mic check."
And so it proceeded, each individual backed up by a loud Greek chorus repeating whatever the individual sentiments might be. The noise gave me a headache, so I moved to the far edges of the group, surreptitiously eying pedestrians threading their way past the group, picking up speed in order to be out of the yelling. The sentiments expressed were, as you might expect, anti-war, anti-big-business and full of words like "justice" and "freedom." With everyone yelling, there was little or no room for reflection. It was insistent and heart-felt and ... just not my style.
On the one hand, if you don't speak up no one can hear you. On the other hand, where everyone is yelling, people can't hear themselves. The purpose of such a group is partly to assert that a loud group has the benefit of being right, speaking the truth, etc. I don't agree so I didn't join in. Nevertheless, I stayed. The peace picket is something I credit enough to join and it's like being in a great big family ... every once in a while a fractious uncle will hold forth, but it's just family stuff ... nothing to get too excited about.
It was interesting, being occupied by those who revile various other sorts of occupation. It felt like "solidarity" was being rammed down people's throats. After a while the Occupy folks drifted back to their turf further up Main Street.
But the air was crisp, the sky blue, the sun shining. The peace picket only lasts for an hour. I can do pretty much anything for an hour.