Jury duty has put me down around City Hall for a few weeks, meaning I’m closer than I’d ordinarily be to the occupation on Wall Street. I’ve wandered by a few times after we’re let out at 5. Today I spent more time there, trying to figure out how I could possibly be useful.
Useful, in a protest setting.
I found out early in the anti-globalization protests of the late-’90s-early-Aughts that I’m really uncomfortable in throngs of people. My gut reaction is to run clear of them. It’s maybe not a claustrophobia thing. Maybe it’s a manifestation of privilege. I dunno. I hate walking behind slow people, want to kick out or thrash when I’m boxed in by a crowd. Being in an immobile mass makes me feel useless. Inefficient?
It’s one of a few reasons I always gravitated to communications roles and to the Independent Media Center. I prided myself on being able to accomplish things by writing (wrong as I may have been) and felt more like I wanted to deliver a clear message to a lot of people than be one of a lot of people chanting. Back in 1999 not many people had cell phones, so there was also a lot of use for someone who could help with walkie-talkies and dispatch. I liked that, too; I had done it for the Humane Society officers in my hometown, and it felt familiar. And safe. More comfortable in the crow’s nest, hearing from the streets by radio, being able to send directions back to guide protesters away from police kettles, cordons, or tear gas.