When I have some free time, I practice chess. When my brother Dan has free time, he goes to protests.
He's been in the Occupy movement since October of 2011, a month after it started in New York. But he is in little Muskegon, Michigan, in right wing, factory worker, religious conservative Western Michigan. I am very proud of him.
They still have GA's. They still caravan to Chicago or Kalamazoo or Lansing to join any large gatherings, but it's tough. How can regular, working people keep up their interest month after month, in the face of the general inevitability of corporate dominance? Very tough, constantly having to explain to your spouse that you've got to get to the city council meeting because you're the one filming the proceedings.
There is a paper mill there in Muskegon, or was, anyway. It was connected to Scott Paper Company, but it's been closed for a decade or more. The smell of the pulp is tied to memories of my youth. Some group bought the site and wants to turn it into a golf course, or a marina, and they want the land cleared. But that smoke stack: how do you remove a smoke stack? And isn't it full of the poisons that stuck to its inner walls, and isn't it laced with asbestos?
A year ago, people there got word that it would be demolished in a week. How that could be possible in a democracy is a good question, but brother Dan's Occupy group got on it. They notified everyone they could think of, including local Native American groups, and the demolition was stopped. Victory for the people!
But now, a year later, Dan hears that "Since there is no more community objection," the owners will be blowing up that smokestack any day now.
Corporations don't sleep, and they know how to wait. They know we will move on to other things. How do we keep an eye on them month after month? They know we can't, and they've got big money coming, just waiting for our apathy.
In desperation, brother Dan often films in places he shouldn't be (shouldn't, according to property owners). He has bothered the owners of some property west of town where fracking is happening, filming the waste and pollution. Now, this week, he was seen filming on this paper mill site. The cops came to his door yesterday, and left their business card with his wife.
I am very proud of him, as I said. But I know that, even if he was filming for the good of the community, and that we should all thank him, he will likely be fined or jailed, since he is attempting to inhibit commerce. Very little in this country is as serious a matter as inhibiting commerce. I wish there were someone up there who could help keep him out of jail, or at least make it public that he was being fined for trying to help us.
It's hard not to feel hopeless, or wish to be uninvolved. Even if they can stop this demolition, there's still the takeover of Detroit and Benton Harbor, and the fracking, and the evictions are still happening, and congress is cutting food stamps. I am so proud of you all that just keep at it. Thank you for the months and months of interest and activity you do for all our sakes. I want you to know we support you.