While Occupy protesters nationwide occupy presidential headquarters, take over foreclosed homes and reclaim their encampments, Occupy Chicago has turned to the stage in their efforts to engage citizens in the grassroots’ struggle against corporate elites.
Occupy Chicago organizers produced a show based on a Charles Dickens classic titled Occupy My Heart to celebrate the movement and bring its spirit and message to a broader audience. The premiere was on Dec. 23 outside at the Lincoln Memorial in Grant Park. On Dec. 24, it was broadcast as a radio performance during Marshall Stern’s Awakened America. The play was also performed indoors for free at the Prop Theatre on Dec. 26 and at Studio BE on Dec. 27, according to Occupy Chicago’s website.
“It's a great vehicle to get people interested and to bring more people into the conversation who might not come out to a protest — but who might come to a play," Hannah Friedman, director of “Occupy My Heart: A Revolutionary Christmas Carol,” said in a Dec. 24 Chicago Tribune article about a staged Christmas Carol-esque protest show put on by the Occupy Chicago activists.
Set in front of the Lincoln memorial in Grant Park, “Occupy My Heart” was an artistic attempt at portraying the social evils maintained by corporate influence in the Western world. The play is written by William Turck, who has twisted the story into a tale about a greedy Chicago banker who sells his values to the pursuit of money. The play's audience chanted along with the actor-protesters and enthusiastically expressed approval at the end, according to the Tribune.
Along with organizing creative and artistic methods of spreading the 99 percent message, Occupied Chicago Tribune is a recently founded publication intended to provide accurate and fair representation for the Occupy movement in Chicago.
“We plan to use Occupied Chicago Tribune as an outreach tool to introduce the movement to people outside of the online Occupy network,” Cofounder Joel Handley said in a Dec. 7 TimeOut Chicago article.
The publication will not resemble mainstream press coverage of the Occupy movement and its message. Verifiable facts like income disparity and elite corporate influence will not be presented as unsettled opinions, according to Handley. The first issue includes an article about the consequences of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 2012 budget, a map of the Occupy Chicago encampments so readers can easily locate them and other progressive articles, Handley said.
Emanuel is a former Democratic congressman from Chicago and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair. He was key strategist in President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign and served as Obama’s first chief of staff until he left in October 2010 to run for mayor.
In an attempt to bring attention to the issues of net neutrality, Internet rights and intellectual property threatened by the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), Occupy Chicago’s technical committee took down its website on Dec. 30 in an imitation blackout resembling the potential future of the Internet if it were stripped of First Amendment protections.
“Make no mistake, the next time could be for real, and the police state could be brought to cyberspace,” Occupy Chicago’s tech committee said in a statement on their Facebook page.
Organizers of the Occupy Iowa Caucus movement are taking the caucus approach and occupying campaign headquarters scattered around Des Moines to confront politicians directly and raise issues facing the working class.
To determine where they would go, protesters dispersed into different corners of a room to signify which presidential candidate’s office they wished to occupy. Although President Barack Obama won the plurality, protesters also occupied the rest of the Republican candidates’ campaigns. Fifteen occupiers protested Ron Paul’s opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency on Dec. 29. Five were arrested for blocking the entrance to his campaign headquarters in the Des Moines suburb of Ankeny, according to Dec. 29 a Mother Jones article.
Danielle Ryun, an Occupy spokeswoman, said more protests and arrests will follow, according to a Dec. 30 USA Today Jones article. She said the goal is not to get arrested, but since campaign officials refuse to listen to the organizers’ demands, protesters are willing to take such measures to get their message across.
"I particularly dislike Ron Paul because of his use of popular language to try to make himself appear to be a person who represents the interests of the poor and the middle class." - Nathan Adeyemi, Occupy Cedar Rapids
"They're all going to get equal play on this," Ryun said. "We are very disillusioned with every candidate."
Paul also faced Occupy Iowa demonstrator opposition at his campaign appearance at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on Dec. 28. The handful of protesters were out-shouted by more than 500 people, many of whom were avid Paul supporters. Nathan Adeyemi, a member of the Occupy Cedar Rapids, still attempted to recite many of the hypocrisies of Paul’s ideologies. They included his opposition to abortion rights, support for the elimination of social programs and contribution to a flawed political system through his unwillingness to run as an independent.
"I particularly dislike Ron Paul because of his use of popular language to try to make himself appear to be a person who represents the interests of the poor and the middle class," Adeyemi said on Dec. 29 in the Mother Jones story. "He's trying to basically co-opt the vote of people who are frustrated with the establishment."
Police raided the newly established encampment in West Oakland, Calif., according to a Dec. 29 San Francisco Appeal article. Authorities cited and released 14 protesters and arrested one for trespassing. The encampment was dismantled almost immediately after being set up, but organizers anticipate the arrival of more protesters coming back from spending the holidays with their families around the country.
“A lot of people took time to go home and rejuvenate during the holidays," said Kelly Canavan, a volunteer, in a Dec. 29 United Press International article."But a number of people stayed. And we expect an influx of people from all over the country in January."
Diana Petrova can be reached at email@example.com.