(Article changed on December 24, 2012 at 18:26)
by P. Orin Zack
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Les said, holding a splayed hand up for respite. "You've made your point, Ifan. I agree. Caving to the mayor's new rule was profoundly stupid. But it's done. We folded. The General Assembly voted, and that's that. The question is what do we do now?"
Ifan Davies glanced around the depressingly deserted public square that the capitol city's Occupy Wall Street community had called home for the past year. The two were sitting on the wood and iron bench from atop of which the GA was usually called into session.
A few days earlier, the police department's new surveillance drone had monitored a run-through of Les' latest street-theater project, in which several competing speakers found common cause as their separate contingents of the people's mike began to synch up. The following morning, the mayor issued a new executive order designed to make the event illegal. In the interest of public safety, he'd said, he was prohibiting groups larger than ten people from saying or doing anything in unison. As Ifan had pointed out during the GA, the rule may have been intended to hobble the people's mike, but it was so badly conceived that it also applied to everything from high school cheerleaders to the mayor's favorite church choir. Nevertheless, the GA succumbed to the illogic of it, and voted to acquiesce. The whole thing left a bad taste in Ifan's mouth, but there it was.
"What we do now, Les," he said, "is figure out how to turn this turd to our advantage."
"What, like there's an upside to having the Occupy bound and gagged?"
"That was how the people's mike came about in the first place. No bullhorns in Zucotti Park and all that. It was a workaround."
"Maybe so," Les said, "but there's more to it than just parroting the speaker. The mike demands involvement. Even if you aren't making proposals or running a SIG, you still play a vital role because the people who do speak can't be heard unless you participate. This abomination is going to eviscerate us!"
"Cut the drama okay? There's always--." Ifan was suddenly distracted by the sight of the Occupy's tech team hurrying towards them with an open netbook in her hands. Angela Scarlotti was left holding the community's tech bag solo after the others beat shoe leather following yesterday's GA. As far as Ifan was concerned, their exit spoke more about their value to the community than anything they'd done before adversity had stared them down. He grinned as she slowed to catch her breath. "What's up Ace?"
"You've got" to see this," she said, dropping to a crouch in front of them so they could both view the small screen. "Early this morning, the rule we've been saddled with was also imposed on the downstate Occupy, only for them it was pre-emptive. They hadn't done or planned anything to scare the power structure like we did. I guess they were ticked off about the rule, because they just about invited the cops to enforce it. Someone called for a mike check to greet the stormtroopers, and they dutifully started making arrests. Started. But then, one of them changed sides, and his buddy shielded him when the CO ordered him taken down. Anyway, they hauled everyone off and rent-a-fenced the site."
"But if they've been shut down, what were you going to show us?"
Angela flashed a subversive grin. "The resurrection. Downstate's Occupy has been reconstituted, and their mascot appears to be a kid named Kendrik. I've downloaded the interview he did for their new livestream. Have a look."
When Ifan unpaused the video, the camera pulled back from what looked like a short stack of logoed cyclone fence sections with crude tin-can cornstalks and cattails growing out of it, and panned to a fortyish woman wearing pink coveralls. "I'm Althea Gordon. As you can see, we've converted the JonesCo porta-fences that were brought in to keep the city's Occupy Wall Street community from re-entering this building site into a piece of public art. It's a visual reminder that we grow through adversity. I'm here today because a friend of mine was arrested this morning for calling a mike check to greet the riot cops. Her name is Natalie Knox. When she's not helping people with their research at the downtown library, she helps people to understand their power as citizens with a little help from the books she's promoted from supporters in the wider community. This building site was re-occupied a few hours ago because of some advice she gave to a brave young man named Kendrik Knox, her grandson. But he prefers to be called K2. Would you tell our viewers why?"
The camera shifted to a kid about ten years old who was busy examining a chunk of concrete. "Sure," he said, nodding. "It started as a joke, really. My initials are KK, but there's also a K at the end of my first name, so I started signing my homework KKK."