As a native Richmonder I've been really curious about how our local "Occupy Richmond" effort is going to go. I've been checking the postings at OccupyRichmond.org regularly and watching Facebook for news about how this is coming together. I've been gratified to see how well this local chapter of the global movement is evolving.
There's been several meetings of the General Assembly and it looks like quite a bit of planning has going into the organizational and logistical structures. That's been a feature of the Occupy movement that has really struck me, by the way. There's a lot of careful planning and execution. It's impressive.
Anyway, Richmond was a flurry of activity yesterday. The Folk Festival kicked off on Friday, "Wicked" is playing over at the Landmark Theater (right across the street from Monroe Park - where the Occupy RVA meetings are held), and a big reproductive rights rally took place in Monroe Park. As I was ferrying my kids around to various activities I made sure that I drove past the park to take a look at how the Occupy Richmond group was doing. This was their final meeting before action began.
What I saw was a nice sized group (maybe 100-200 folks) peacefully assembled with signs and banners. Police were present but weren't interfering with the meeting and were keeping their distance. Considering how busy that spot is (VCU, Monroe Park, Landmark Theater) I'm surprised the scene wasn't more chaotic. Kudos to everyone (cops included) for keeping things orderly and safe.
My father, Terry Rea, is a local writer and artist. He documented some of the General Assembly meeting on his blog. I was really impressed with the "people's microphone" the organizers were employing. The Occupiers made the decision to move their protest down town to Kanawha Plaza. Organizers also reminded participants that Mayor Jones has informed Occupy Richmond that people would be arrested if they remained in a public space after dark.
This morning I checked the OccupyRichmond.org site for an update. I'm pleased to report that the protesters are still down at Kanawha and that they maintained pretty good numbers through the night. Here's a quote from the pre dawn blog post:
About 250 people flooded into the plaza, where another G.A, took place, finding consensus to occupy the sidewalk legally through the night. We have already received donations from community members (all donations are welcome!), talked with passers by (one of them even used the people's mic!), broken into workgroups, made hot coffee and tea, sang songs, and speculated as to the size of tomorrow's G.A. at 12:00 noon.
So they made it through their first night and the enthusiasm is still high. That's exciting news. I plan to make my way down to Kanawha Plaza this afternoon to take some pictures and video and to get a sense of how things are going. I'll continue to post about Occupy Richmond as the situation develops.
I'll be away from my computer for a lot of the afternoon today. I'll be available to respond to comments when I return.