Draft copy: Government vs. Occupy Madison

Draft copy: Government vs. Occupy Madison

This is a quote from Heidi Wegleitner over at the post “It was a long day yesterday” on Forward Lookout:
“It continues to amaze me that the county board can pass $600k in funding for a day center without blinking an eye, human services department can intervene to have shelter policies waived to get folks off the hill, but it is essentially impossible to permit camping or occupancy on some county land or in some county structure.”

Here’s my take on what’s going down with the Occupy Madison tent city of 28 or so people at Lake View Hill:

Essentially a bureaucracy is saying to a band of individuals who are without homes in Madison that they should do their homelessness the city’s way or go to jail or be bused out or be “involuntarily committed”.

Meanwhile, the professional class of caregivers to the poor [non-profits] have admitted that they have no ability to offer immediate housing to Occupy Madison folks except for the shelters that people have already said time and time again are unsafe or disturbing or bedbug-ridden.

The City of Madison and Dane County is refusing to quit harassing the Occupy Madison individuals that have established an encampment. Threat of eviction and arrest continues – sometimes empty threats – but they continue.

Lastly, $600,000 is going to be given to create a day shelter that will probably be as mismanaged as the current shelters are.
Take a look at the conditions documented at Forward Lookout’s
Why is a Tent in the Cold Better than the Shelter?.

I’m just going to put this out there: even liberal Madison, Wisconsin – especially Madison, Wisconsin – has the power to both care for its fellow man and spend tax dollars wisely.

What to do about it this situation in Madison:
Follow the Forward Lookout blog. Brenda Konkel has been advocating for solutions and blogging developments there.

What can Dane County residents do:
Sign a petition –
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and Dane County Board Supervisors: Give Occupy a Fire Permit

Paul Soglin and Joe Parisi: Help the Homeless in Madison

A few words on Occupy and “The Storm”
In the The Truth about Occupy Sandy, Michael Shatz says, “Those masses of people who came out last year, erecting tents all across the nation, were not simply protesting. They were delivering aid to the victims of the economic storm.”

Michael is talking about respectful mutual aid and not the Paul Ryan trickle-down variety of “charity”.

For most of my life as an American, to be poor is to be suspect and to be “homeless” is be held in subhuman regard. If you have no home, you should be ignored at best and are fair game for predators at worst. This is an open air prison. It’s not like you can’t break out of it with some effort and good fortune but, well, you know how it is. Good luck with that.

I saw no real change in this scheme until Occupy came along. What’s a bit ironic is Occupy itself has said it has no leaders. If we say who in any given Occupy group is taking responsibility for others, as leaders often do, we would see many. It may be that Occupy is just chock full of leaders.

We all noticed that the media was able to “get” what the 99% vs. the 1% was. One of the less pronounced messages Occupy put out there by their actions is that the homeless are real people.

For those of us who never really became strident occupiers, we were grateful for the shift in the culture. If we had individual economic failures we could see them as part of a systemic failure. If our futures were suddenly lost, at least we were not alone in being set adrift. The lost were acknowledged and human and had a “home” with the Occupy movement even if only in each other’s hearts or on our computers.

Right now those without a physical home in Madison have a place with Occupy and housing advocates like Brenda Konkel. This isn’t enough but this is important. This is a start.


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