Skip to main content

Come out and spend some time suspended 30 feet over a freeway, holding signs of resistance while cars and semi-trucks roar by, upsweeping their roadway winds that smell of cement and gas. Their honks are our evening symphony, from rude etude of angry reactive blasts to delicate democrabeep counterpoint. Some idiot on Friday night pulled over to stand and yell obscenities at us. That takes someone really committed to a cause, or perhaps needing commitment to an anger management program.  "Freeloaders! Freeloaders!!!" he yelled, up at the bridge, at the sky, at the world, shaking his fist, giving the finger that forever confuses sex with rage. The lights of our letters asserted WALKER IS A CROOK. We write the anti-ambiguity manifesto. We were getting a lot of response...

We select a location, and send a request for Holders of the Lights to our amazing list of volunteers. We select a message based upon the number of holders, the letters we have or can relatively quickly create, and the general sense of buzz in the news: jobs, corruption, voting, unity, division. We pack up and show up, await the arrival of the dedicated and ever-shifting crew, and hit the bridges.

14westallis-people

We've been getting around twenty volunteers per action recently. This is usually on a two or three day notice and has been two or three times a week. This is astounding. It means we can do longer and longer messages for each side of the bridge. It is a powerful sight to behold the people standing and waving and doing the "air horn fist pump" to the traffic below. It is a happening, an action, a performance, a witness. And, it is really fun: a Friday night to remember. I think we are the best cheap date in the state.

The chorus of honks begins when we first step onto the bridge. Even before the signs are displayed. People know, the trolls pounce quickly. Complaint calls hit the police stations soon thereafter. We're not always visited, but are quite frequently. The various police forces have been polite and professional, some friendly, some more officious, but I have no complaint. We understand the rules (to not affix anything to the fencing, and to not block the walkways) and are scrupulous about them. The police always seem surprised when they see a bunch of young to middle-aged to elder adults laughing and talking and being friendly. I'm not sure what they expect, but I know it isn't this. They always seem relieved when they ask, "How long do you plan to be here?" and I can look at my watch and say, "Uh, 25 more minutes, until 9:15. We go exactly 90 minutes from sunset." We are very disciplined, in a self-organizing and richly organic kind of way.

4westallis-bridge
A police car rushes by...



18westallis-cop
The police arrive to talk with us...



16westallis-cop
Who's in charge? Your name? Are you working for anyone?
Your phone number in case we need to contact you? How long will you be here?

Someone on Facebook offered the following comment about this photo:

"Cool looking photo: it's different from all the others I've seen because you're the primary "subject" of this one. This photo does a good job of showing you being singled out as one of the originating authors of an intentionally communal project which stands defiantly in the background."

One of our members, Joe, sets up a "field office" with his laptop in order to quickly upload photos to Facebook or twitter. We get a lot of people taking photographs, and we distribute them widely. A video we did the other day (below) got picked up by various Occupy networks, and had 400,000 views within 2 hours of its posting. We were interviewed on the bridge by a local and respected radio show host for Wisconsin Public Radio. This was interesting to me because shortly thereafter we were "interviewed" by the police. I need a communications manager to keep it all straight!

5westallis-joejenna
Joe doing uploads while Jenna looks on.



13westallis-interview
Badscience being interviewed for WI Public Radio. The hat protects her from attack.


We had our first "bridge birthday party" last Wednesday, complete with an "Overpass Cake" which was pretty amazing, and was shared with some lovely little kids in the neighborhood. On that day, we had selected WALKER=JOBS FAIL, since his dismal jobs ranking has been in the news a lot lately. It was a pretty mellow evening, with no police interviews - though their presence was clear as a patrol car parked on a turnout and watched us for a while, flushing one of our ninja photographers from the underbush like a hound dog motivates a rabbit.

1atkinson-cake
Our first Bridge Birthday Party. Nice cake!


7atkinson-bridge
The "crash recovery" site seemed appropriate for the message last Wednesday.


We have new people join us each time, along with regulars, many of whom have become valued friends. It reeks of cliche, but this project belongs to so many different people. It is all about communities, and there is a fairly complex network involved in these actions: the community of holders, of potential holders, the located communities of the neighborhoods near the bridges, the transient distributive community of passersby as they move throughout the state, the virtual communities of social media and its amplification potential, the community of writers and readers on Kos and other blogs, the Occupy network which has taken notice of our tactics of visibility,  and the vague and fuzzy rhizomatic quality of word-of-mouth and "buzz."

Last evening, we went to a statewide Occupy event in Fond du Lac. I didn't know what to expect, though assumed there would be a certain amount of jaded and jejune projections of hipster ennui - that weird youthful dance of engagement (We are occupying, after all!) and detachment (all politics suck, so what is the point of action?) that can lead to a certain amount of hand-wringing and brow-furrowing among the elder set. But what I found was light and hope and energy.

3occupy-richest
At Occupy Fond du Lac we brought out a new message.


9occupy-richest
Chants reverberated from side-to-side while people sang labor songs.


7occupy-wave
They're finally getting that "wave" thing down!


It was a daylong event with a lot of people attending, marching, assembling. The stalwarts stayed for the evening and OLB. We had a great time holding new TAX OUR RICHEST 1% signs and making a ruckus on the street corner, flags waving and lights blazing forth. I talked with some older Veterans for Peace reformers who are engaged in Drone Protests, but mostly it was great to be a part of a group of young activists, faces painted, guitars playing, chants and counter-chants echoing through a lovely little civic park which was paid for by tax dollars, from times when towns were built, times less constricted by the pinched notions of individual worth parked in the garages of isolated exurban McMansions, windows blanked and pitiless, objects accumulating in nests like bower birds frantically displaying for a mate who never arrives.



The above video got 378,956 "likes" within two hours of its posting.

Originally posted to noise of rain on Sun May 06, 2012 at 09:01 AM PDT.

Also republished by Protest Music, Badger State Progressive, DKOMA, and ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Renee, David Waldman, scribeboy, tundraman, nicolemm, kainah, Shockwave, Eman, Minnesota Deb, Wintermute, hyperstation, rhubarb, rubyr, x, WI Deadhead, Creosote, fugwb, jalbert, Cedwyn, antirove, Quege, NMRed, flatford39, On The Bus, Pola Halloween, jcrit, Gowrie Gal, 3goldens, NoMoreLies, blueyedace2, liberalcheesehead, kaliope, kazoo of the north, Ozzie, Aint Supposed to Die a Natural Death, coolbreeze, bunsk, bookwoman, JanF, Alan Arizona, martini, Cartoon Peril, ruleoflaw, deha, gooderservice, SadieSue, bleeding heart, BlueMississippi, JugOPunch, fiddlingnero, SD Goat, ms badger, One Pissed Off Liberal, Sapere aude, jeanette0605, operculum, SeaTurtle, uciguy30, on the cusp, minvis, TX Freethinker, ScottyUrb, Seattle Mark, Youffraita, elwior, Deep Harm, moose67, jorogo, mofembot, JamieG from Md, DavidW, maggiejean, Ravenstream, LinSea, bsmechanic, Michael James, zephyr108, Nebraskablue, aunt blabby, petral, Question Authority, Tortmaster, jpmassar, Renie57, pdx kirk, Giles Goat Boy, Polly Syllabic, Lost and Found, freeport beach PA, plankbob, Puddytat, rja, Maverick80229, ericlewis0, Oh Mary Oh, soaglow, cany, sostos, Meggie, anyname, lexalou, Sand Hill Crane, Nicci August, AnotherAmericanLie, Lorikeet, badscience, createpeace, marshstars, Sark Svemes, Calvino Partigiani, poliwrangler, Vatexia, DRo, ParkRanger, Only Needs a Beat, jacey, cwsmoke, We Won, 2thanks, CA ridebalanced, TBug, Olkate, BRog, Margd, AverageJoe42, wasatch, Cady Brownell, quiet is the new loud, isewquilts2, nomandates, Short Bus, kideni, Setsuna Mudo, Sean X, weck, BatmanWI, rosarugosa, tresgray, gracielove, Jeanniebeannie, Fairlithe

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site