The following is a comment I made on seldelaterre's RECord "Occupy?". It was largely in response to a comment by Melanne there. I thought it should also be a separate record, and maybe I'll edit it later to word things better. For now, I need to go to sleep :) so a cut & paste will have to do.
I think we need new tactics that aren't borrowed out of the '60s playbook - because the powers-that-be know that playbook well, and know how to sidestep every move made from it. Protests are hardly effective anymore, because they are only perceived as so much noise.
Someone on the Oakland city council who was calling for this most recent raid which happened Monday had said something like, "OK, you've made a strong statement, now it's time to go home." All I could think was, how strong a statement was made if it can be told to go home? As if all people want is to make a statement, and that'll pacify them?
We need radically new tactics, and they should be ones that will win the hearts and minds of ordinary folks who feel put off by marches and occupations and sit-ins and shut-downs. None of those actions actually affect the 1%. The threat of people en masse moving their money out of banks to credit unions DID get the banks to back down from their plans to charge $5 or more per month if people use their debit cards. That was a good, innovative, and relevant tactic. We need more like that.
I've been saying I think a great tactic would be for people in the movement to do some REAL revolutionary work and just go into the non-downtown areas of cities (i.e., neighborhoods) that are neglected by the city, and do stuff like pick up trash, mow grass (or shovel sidewalks in the winter), demolish burned-out buildings/houses (my idea stems from my hometown, Detroit), and plant gardens.
Not as the whole movement, but as a tactic. It's just a germ of an idea that could use refinement and also needs to be tailored to specific locations.
In Detroit, for example, my one-time roommate lives in the house we bought, gutted, and rebuilt. There's a house down the street that had an overhang over the front porch (it's a bungalow-style house) that's been on the ground for at least 5 years now. Also, the house next door to my friend's is completely unstable and abandoned since its elderly resident died some years ago. People have gone in and salvaged all the copper and other valuable stuff, and now the floors have holes, the stairs are missing - it's unsalvageable, and people are using the back yard as an illegal dumping ground. Now, imagine you're living in a neighborhood like that, and trying to raise your kids there. The city won't demolish the buildings, the banks that own them due to repossessions a decade ago won't do anything with the properties, and the city can't even enforce any codes about keeping lawns mowed or not dumping trash. You'd feel pretty hopeless and helpless, right? Now picture people from this movement showing up with a bunch of positive energy, and tearing down that house and hauling off the garbage.
It would cost a lot or require donations of dumpsters and/or pick up trucks, but it could be done much more cheaply by a movement that doesn't bother with bureaucracy than by a city mired in it.
Some cities would possibly cough up the police force to arrest people for trespassing or something, but I doubt Detroit would. Or if they did, they'd really show their cards - people would be able to come out of the woodwork and talk about how they've seen people dumping and other people salvaging and the police did nothing about that...