CRACKING WISE: Don’t ‘Occupy’ my backyard


As I write this, I realize that one of the following may have occurred by the time the newspaper hits newsstands:

1.) Occupy Wall Street and its brethren will have made an indelible impact on society and everyone will have returned to their homes as heroes of a new generation;

2.) Occupiers will still be camped, hoping their choice to take up residence in parks for a few weeks can still make a difference;

3.) Everyone will have left the parks disenchanted, except for the homeless people who were being mistaken for sage veterans of the protesting world.

The entire “Occupy” movement has fascinated me since I first heard about it in early September.

A grass-roots movement made up mostly of unhappy 20-somethings, aching to vent their rage at any and all perceived enemies? I was all in, if only to laugh as it dissolved two days in because people missed being able to charge their Macbooks.

I was shocked to learn it survived its first week, especially considering that not one single ideology had been agreed upon other than “blame the rich.” (In these times, that isn’t exactly a bad political stance to take.)

Numbers grew, people fell in love with the idea of camping less than a mile from home and the idea spread beyond the northeast. Tucson’s occupation began on Oct. 15 in Armory Park, in solidarity with Occupy Phoenix and, globally, Occupy Everywhere.

By choosing Armory, Tucson-based protests have allowed the media’s light to focus on a wonderfully pleasant park (during the day) that happens to be less than 50 yards from my back gate.

And I hate that.

Not because I dislike hipster kids latching onto any movement that allows them to feel important, or because I’d like to walk around my neighborhood at night without worrying about getting cited.

It’s not even because they take all of the valuable street parking that I need after the five available spots at my complex get snapped up.

It’s because Occupy Tucson, in being good neighbors, screwed itself.

The Tucson Meet Yourself festival also happened to fall on the weekend of Oct. 15. It sprawled over a good portion of the downtown area, attracting thousands to the city center to bask in the glory of good art and great food.

Occupy Tucson moved its setting from Pancho Villa Park, directly in the center of the festival’s madness, to Armory Park, presumably so organizers of TMY wouldn’t withhold valuable fry bread from occupying protesters.

Though they may have been criticized for taking advantage of a beloved public festival, there’s nothing like adding the eyes of a few thousand passersby to your cause. That’s particularly true if the Internet isn’t another appendage to the visitors, like it is for most of this generation.

I support the general message. I support the right to peacefully assemble as citizens of a free democracy, even in affront to law in an effort to do so.

I even support the fact that not everyone seems to know that solidarity is everyone’s best shot for success. It’s funny to see the five people of feminist-led splinter group Occupy Tucson for Everyone at the corner of University and Park.

But it’s hard for me to support a populist-based movement seeking change when they’re so unfailingly polite. They’re willing to point the starting pistol at themselves just as the race is about to start.

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