Posted 11 months ago on July 20, 2012, 11:08 a.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Last month, three Occupy Caravans traveled across the country in the three weeks leading up to Occupy National Gathering, bearing activists from San Diego, Salt Lake City, Tuscon, Wichita, Atlanta, Asheville, Boston, New Orleans, D.C., and many other cities. Roughly 1,000 Occupiers attended the gathering’s marches, workshops, visioning processes, and theatrical protest.
Despite many positives, the five-day gathering was rife with contention. Some Occupiers rejected the concept of NatGat outright, feeling that a movement geared towards autonomous action should not be centralizing around a national banner. In this vein, a group of Philadelphia anarchists organized a Radical Convergence the same weekend intended “for those who have felt Occupy in its current form demonizes and excludes radical dialogue, strategy, and action.” [Editor's note: OccupyWallSt.org loves anarchists and condemns the scapegoating of anarchists from within and without the Occupy movement.] Over the five days, these theoretical divides became manifest around issues like “step up, step back,” the goals of the movement, and tactics of confrontation.
The heavy police presence, which included officers from the Philadelphia Police Department, the National Park Service, and the Department of Homeland Security, intensified the divisions around Occupy’s relationship with the police. On June 30, Occupiers were prevented from laying down any “bedding material” at the National Historic Park near Independence Mall. In defiance, a group encircled a tent and locked arms, resulting in a prolonged clash and one arrest for assaulting a federal officer. The aftermath was just as confused — some activists joined hands and hummed “ohm,” while others shouted that the cops were Nazi pigs. An ad-hoc General Assembly to discuss next steps (where they would sleep) fell apart when several Occupiers explained that they did not feel safe discussing strategy while encircled by police.
Veterans for Peace and Occupy Marines obtained a permit to maintain a presence on Independence Mall; that permit was eventually revoked, but the riot police deployed to evict them decided to back down when the veterans held their ground. Other Occupiers spent the night on a lot graciously opened by the Quakers. On July 1, twenty-seven protesters were arrested in a nighttime jail solidarity march, raising tensions and anger further. The mini-documentary attempts to portray the internal conflict over police confrontation at the Occupy National Gathering, particularly as it relates to the future of the movement. Interviews include former Philadelphia Police Captain Ray Lewis, Native American (un)Occupy Albuquerque activist Amalia Montoya, and InterOccupy organizer Tamara Shapiro.