Occupy Lansing: Funeral for Democracy

A couple of us managed to make a visit to Occupy Lansing today in time for their “Funeral for Democracy” event. It was a great chance to visit another one of Michigan’s great occupations and here is our report.

We arrived at approximately 2:15pm and the event was expected to start at 2:30. Almost immediately, we were impressed by the size of the encampment. There appeared to be about 15 or so tents around the area, spread out across a fairly open park. In the central meeting area there was also a “GA Tent”, which was specifically reserved for General Assemblies. As we approached, we saw a little over a dozen or so people milling about, all getting ready for the event. At first, we blended in, meeting a few people, shaking a few hands, but it was obvious that the people who were there were preparing for the event, so we tried not to disturb. Shortly after, Aaron (also known as “Bear”) called everyone to order and the pall bearers took their place and the march began.

The total crowd gathered was a little more than 20 and they appeared to be slightly disappointed with the turn out, as they had publicized the gathering quite a bit. We could tell they had made a great deal of preparation, due to several media presences swarming around taking pictures and shooting video.

Another astounding fact about the encampment was that it was two, maybe three, blocks away from the Capital building! It was just a short walk and there we were, on the steps of the building that supposedly represents the entire state of Michigan. The place where all the “important” decisions are made, including the passing of a ridiculous bullying bill, but that’s a discussion for another time.

Once upon the steps, the casket was lowered and we had a moment of silence, followed by a nice eulogy from Dustin (taken from transcript):

“Democracy was born of a revolution in America as a result of a series of political, intellectual, and social movements sparking a rebellion against a ruling Monarch imposing its will from across the Atlantic. Much the opposite of the creation of our democracy, is its death at the hands of a ruling oligarch perched atop an economic and political system ruling from behind desks made of rare and endangered woods in penthouses within their towers.

Democracy was a reflection of its people. As culture changed and improved, democracy did as well. Because of abolitionists, property rights over human beings were ended. Because of suffragists, women and an imported people of African descent were granted citizenship and voting rights. Because of Labor activists Americans were respected in the workplace and gained comfort in employment age and after. Because of Civil Rights activists all Americans gained the ability to vote, gain education, and to work and provide patronage at local business establishments. American democracy was maintained by the 99%’s participation as firefighters, road workers, teachers, engineers, librarians, manufacturers, secretaries, nurses, home health aides and patient care assistants, attendants and customer service representatives, doctors, builders, police officers, cooks, at the same time as they were active citizens.

Democracy is survived by a 324 year old republican system diseased and co-opted by a corporate elite whose sole motive is greed and profit from war, environmental destruction, corporate taxation of the public, and the exploitation of the global working class, including children. Even making citizens compete with the imprisoned for employment.

We are the change we’ve been waiting for.”

With three sentries remaining behind, the rest of us marched through downtown Lansing, chanting our way back toward the camp. We stopped near a Chase Bank where Dustin informed us that Chase had just been chosen by the Cities of Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Flint to take care of all the income taxes for those cities, as decided by Governor Snyder.

When we returned to the camp, the crowd started to disperse and the sentries returned with the casket. Now we had the opportunity to speak to several individuals, including Dustin, Bear, Cindy, and Pey…

He really liked the button, so we gave it to him and he gave us an “Occupy Lansing” button in exchange. It was nice to get out to another encampment and experience the atmosphere. We left around 4pm and made it back to Ann Arbor by 5pm, beating the rush hour traffic.

Thank you, Occupy Lansing! We really enjoyed the camp and were happy to meet many of you! Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help support you in the future and we really hope to see some of you at our upcoming meetings!