Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Day 3

           Today was even more interesting than yesterday. My predicted trend for the continually improving quality of the days is holding steady. After a very early wake up and departure, we headed to the Marriott and had breakfast with the Georgia Delegation. Chairman Mike Berlon addressed the delegation as we were having a wonderfully balanced and fresh breakfast. He noted KSU’s presence at the convention; this was very helpful in our administration of surveys and will continue to be tomorrow. I met former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin and spotted several familiar state senatorial faces.
             After breakfast we headed to the convention center, but due to the multiple road closings we had to find a parking spot on the outskirts of downtown. The weather was not as humid or hot as yesterday but rain completely drenched the city in the late afternoon. The parking issue caused us to miss nearly all of the Women’s Caucus meeting, so rather than sit in on the last thirty minutes I headed over to the LGBT caucus meeting and administered several surveys. Afterwards, I walked around and found some other activists, among them were two ladies promoting the inclusion of Columbia as the 51st state. I had an interesting discussion with them regarding the rights of citizens in DC and afterwards went to get snack. After my snack, I headed out to a Planned Parenthood protest about which I received information earlier that morning. There was no such protest so I circled around the convention center and coincidentally stumbled upon a large crowd of lined up police officers. After investigating what they were blocking off, I found out it was a large group of Occupy Wall Street protesters. I walked up and down the security perimeter created by the wall of police officers and took pictures of the protesters.
              To briefly analyze their organization that day, it seemed that clear leadership was lacking as well as motivation, direction, and inspiration. The protesters seemed to be there simply to be there. There were no grandiose speeches, prepared or improvised, like there were in the 1960s era of protesting. The crowd consisted mainly of heavily tattooed and raggedy dressed individuals who were either smoking or on their phones. Being engaged in classical activism and modern activism at the same time makes it a little difficult to do each effectively. Certainly their conjunction is proving to be critical but at a certain moment one should be doing one or the other at any one moment. The protest also showed me what may be critical development in the history of activism―the end of marches, at least in cities outside of Washington DC. The protesters were boxed in the entire time and funneled into the fenced in free speech area, to which they refused to go. This has been the strategy used by law enforcement to subdue any major (potential dangerous) activity by the protesters.
             After documenting the event with photos I headed back towards the convention center to meet the rest of the group for lunch. After receiving directions, I headed to a local restaurant where several members of our group were sitting. We had lunch, but the rain compelled us to go inside and wait it out. Towards early evening we headed to the convention center to watch live feeds of the speeches in a large conference room. The speeches were great, and I found it very fascinating how enthralled people became that they stood up and applauded after certain speeches when it was clear that the speakers were not even in the same building and could not see or hear the standing ovations. After many speeches, the final of which being First Lady Obama’s, we headed back to the van, made our way to the hotel, and called it a day.
                With tomorrow less than four hours away, I can say that this has been a day well spent and I am looking forward to tomorrow when there will be more interesting caucus meetings and other events.

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