SIDEWALK OCCUPATION DURING NETROOTS NATION
Occupy Providence’s round-the-clock protests are back. OP is planning a four-day, three-night sidewalk occupation outside of the Netroots Nation conference June 7th to June 10th in Providence. The Netroots Nation conference is a convention for American progressive bloggers, scholars and other activists. Netroots bloggers have often played a major role in fighting the Democratic Party’s battles, and the conference attracts major politicians from the local and national level to participate. Although Occupy Providence is not protesting against Netroots as such, OP’s free sidewalk occupation will ensure that the people’s voice, the voice of the 99%, is present and active at this high-level political convention. OP plans on having teach-ins, workshops, concerts, protests, daily General Assemblies, and a people’s “open mic” during the conference.
The same economic injustice that caused thousands of people to march in the streets of Providence in the fall and winter has not gone away, and neither has the Occupy movement. At a national level, after the election of 2008 where fundraising and other efforts from Netroots played a significant role in the Democratic victory, the Obama administration and national Democrats have supported the interests of the top 1% in a way similar to what politicians have done in the past.
Meanwhile, here in Rhode Island, the Netroots Nation conference coincides with the fallout of the 38 Studios scandal. At a time of mass layoffs and school closings, when thousands of Rhode Islanders were losing their homes and pensions and even firefighters were working without a contract, an insider deal allowed the RI Economic Development Corporation to funnel $75 million dollars of taxpayer-supported money to Curt Schilling’s video game company, 38 Studios. The company was supposedly going to create new technology jobs and put 450 Rhode Islanders to work. But 38 Studios never brought more than 290 jobs. That’s 75 million dollars to create 290 jobs, and a significant percentage of those 290 were out-of-state hires, which didn’t help Rhode Island’s shocking number of unemployed people. Now, less than two years later, the company is folding, and RI General Treasurer Gina Raimondo and other state officials are promising Wall Street that RI taxpayers will bail out the loan if need be.
As local politicians, present and former Obama adminstration members, and other movers and shakers descend upon the Netroots Nation conference, Occupy Providence will continue to be part of the fight against these abuses at a local, national and international level. OP will protest day and night from June 7-10, for transparency in government, economic equality, and solidarity instead of austerity. Any Rhode Islanders wishing to make their voices heard are encouraged to attend. Occupy Providence will be using sleeping bags, but no structures such as tents. The protest will be conducted, as always, in accordance with the values of Occupy Providence: No drugs or alcohol. No violence or discrimination of any kind against any group. Language and actions that are homophobic, trans-phobic, sexist or offensive toward people of different religions, levels of ability or legal status are not welcome.
The sidewalk occupation will include a daily General Assembly along with working group meetings. There will be an opportunity for both Netroots bloggers and elected officials to observe and participate in the Occupy movement’s direct democracy, which has given a voice to ordinary citizens who are largely unheard in the corporate-dominated electoral system.
The 1% will be sure to represent their interests at Netroots, and OP will be there, in solidarity with others, to help represent the interests of the rest of us.
Facebook event page: http://www.facebook.com/events/360876557305416/