Early, early yesterday morning I met with my friend Matt (from Manchester) and about ten other activists (all of them active in OccupyNH; none of them were "Ron Paul people" at all) in Concord. Matt had secretly invited me to participate in this day of action a few weeks before. The day was the day of the last big presidential debate before the New Hampshire Primary. We couldn't let this day go uninterrupted. Carefully, we planned out everything we were going to do. Our goal was to get backstage during the debate (possible since two of Matt's friends were ushers and could let us through) and "mic check" the politicians in true Occupy fashion. Other occupiers were set to drop a banner overlooking the debate center. The thing is, most of the people who were in our little circle came from other Occupy events. A few were from Occupy Burlington (in Vermont, my brother's college town nonetheless), one was from Asheville, NC, and another was from Denver.
From Bicentennial Sq. we walked to the Capitol Center for the Arts where the debate was taking place. I chose to leave my purse in another occupier's car, hence the reason I have no pictures or videos of our actions, since we were all told that having any sort of ID or electronic device on you would make your time being arrested even worse. Street demonstrations were already in full-force when we arrived at the Center. There were Huntsman and Ron Paul supporters on our side of the street, most of whom were blocking the steps to the Center's front door. On the other side of the street were Gingrich and Romney supporters. On the far side of the street were union members who were rallying against disgusting anti-union legislation which had just been passed in NH. A few of the union members came over to join us. Vermin Supreme, the true "outsider" candidate, also joined in. He gave me a bumper sticker with his campaign slogan.
The mainstream media was also there. As one reporter and cameraperson took footage of the rallies, I shouted, "The election is BS!"
The reporter put her microphone up to me and asked me why I was there. I started rambling on about the occupy movement, and how I was only here for them, and how the capitalist system and the state will never be fixed so our only hope is to build an entirely new system, and how all of that starts right here with Occupy. I don't remember which mainstream media outlet it was exactly, but I get the feeling that if my words were aired they were severely butchered.
It wasn't too long before occupiers dropped our banner. That was awesome.
Things got even more amusing when the "wedding" began. A young woman dressed in a bridal outfit stood besides a guy wearing a "Bank of America" costume. The woman stated, no one was screwing her harder than BoA, and since corporations are people now she thought she might as well marry it. Hilarious. Oh, and Vermin Supreme did the honor.
Matt finally gave us the que to go. We slowly moved away from the street rally to behind the Center. As we gathered on the sidewalk, a middle-aged woman from our group spoke to all of us. "If you're not looking forward to being arrested, then stay here," she said. No one stayed. We all approached the back of the building. Standing in front of each back door was a security guard. We stood there for a few minutes. One of the guards asked what we were doing. Someone in our group said we were there to meet with the candidates, as it's within our rights to do so. The security guard then told us we needed to leave.
The woman spoke, "Excuse me, but this is public property -"
"No it's not," said the guard. "This is a private event on private property. I'm going to ask you all to leave."
"No, this is public property owned by the Town of Concord," the woman replied. She went on about how the debate was supposed to have been made public but all the invitations to the event were handed out to members of special interest groups and 1%ers beforehand to ensure that the general public had no access. Instead of getting in security's faces, we decided to retreat and plan out what we were going to do. We were bummed.
Ridley, who was there covering everything that morning with his video camera, asked me what happened.
"The tyranny of private property," I said.
"Well, how do you know it's private?" Ridley asked.
"The guards said it's private," I answered. "That's why private property owners love the state. It provides them with thugs to kick people off of it."
We were upset. Our first attempted didn't go as we planned. We went over to the side entrance. The woman and Matt both sat down at the little opening, which was being heavily guarded as well. The woman told those security guards the same thing: this is public property which should be open to everyone.
A bit later we attempted to get in the back entrance once again. Matt had told us that his friend was certainly behind the door and she would let us enter. As we approached the doors once again, security watched us like hawks. I don't remember exactly what happened, but the next thing I knew I saw Matt rush in one of the back doors to try and let us in. The security guard instantly grabbed him. About five or six other security personnel rushed over to detain him. All of us were shouting. We stepped back. The cops had Matt handcuffed and walked him over to the cop car. One of the other occupiers, a young man named Eddie, asked the cop where exactly he was taking Matt. The cop responded by saying Matt was going to be held in the Concord court. All of us were stunned but fired up.
We ran back over to the side of the building. Security was watching our every move.
"The real criminals are inside!" shouted Emily, one of the occupiers who came from Burlington, at the security. "Newt Gringrich, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, all of them are millionaires and all of them are criminals! Arrest them, not us!"
All of us occupiers stood there, some of us shouting more and more at the guards. It wasn't long until we were joined by a few Ron Paul supporters. They were young men - probably younger than I - who held huge campaign signs. Of course, they tried to suck up to us occupiers. Emily tried explaining to two of them that she doesn't support Ron Paul at all because she knows full well of the horrible effects capitalism has on people. Both of these paulbots tried to convince her, in true vulgar libertarian fashion, that the capitalism she's talking about is not the "real" capitalism, and Ron Paul supports "real" capitalism which, apparently, is ethical.
I asked both young men, "So, when has capitalism ever been a free market?"
One of them went a little wacky. "See, that's it," he spewed, "true free market capitalism has never existed. But Dr. Paul is going to lead us towards a true free market."
"How so?" I asked skeptically.
"He's going to get us back on sound money."
Now I had to say it, "There's no such thing as 'sound money'. That's an absolute myth. Anything can be money as long as both parties agree that it's money."
"But gold has been proven to work the best!"
Looking for a good debate, I asked him, "So tell me, how did money originate?"
He paused and said, "Um, I'm not really sure."
His friend to my left said, "Well, see all money has to start off as a commodity. Before money people used barter -"
"Nope," I replied. "Anthropologists say economies based on barter never existed."
"Oh, come on."
"There's this book you should read called 'Debt: the First 5,000 Years' by this anthropologist David Graeber. He proves that the original money was debt. That's all money is. All money is is debt. All of it."
"It is now that the Fed -"
"All of it. Even gold. It's an IOU and nothing more."
Both of them didn't get it.
From there, I had to quickly leave. The other people from Occupy were gathering at the front of the building to plan what we were going to do as the debates ended. We ended up splitting into four groups with each group taking an exit. If that exit was where the politicians were pouring out of, a person in that exit's group would text people from the others to have everyone gather there. I joined Emily and the guy doing the livestream coverage. It wasn't long before we were called.
The scene would gradually get bigger within minutes. For the most part, it was Occupy on one side, and a swarm of Ron Paul supporters on the other. I would say that our side outnumbered theirs by quite a lot. Media, both independent journalists like Ridley and a few from the mainstream press, stood in the parking lot.
Ron Paul came out first. His followers went wild. Above their cheers we heckled him and shouted at the top of our lungs:
"Mic check -
The system is broken.
This is not a debate.
The people standing behind us are puppets.
We demand democracy!
Tell me what democracy looks like - this is what democracy looks like!"
Vermin Supreme chased Ron Paul to his car. "Ron Paul, Ron Paul, let me have an abortion Ron Paul. Ron Paul, Ron Paul, you chicken?" he said casually with his blowhorn. At the same time, us occupiers let the millionaire politician have it as his chauffeur drove him away.
We did the same when Huntsman came out. Then Santorum, only we were much more intense for him. The LGTBQ activists in our group wanted to rip that guy a new asshole.
As he drove away we all shouted, "Shame, shame, shame!" By that time, all of us were going nuts.
Before everything died down for good, Eddie gave one more mic check, this one aimed at the Ron Paul supporters on the other side of the street. He talked about the horrible things politicians have done: whither away civil liberties, allow for mass inequalities of wealth, and support extremely bigoted policies towards others. He asked the Ron Paul supporters if they will prove that their politician is truly someone who would oppose all of this. None of them spoke up to answer him. Though as we walked away from the Arts Center a handful of them spurted down the street chanting, "End the Fed! End the Fed!".
I seriously wonder if there's going to be riots in Manchester and Keene tomorrow night after Ron Paul loses the primary. So much for the non-aggression principle.