Here’s what the beginning of a movement looks like: A few dozen people standing in the dark in the Snohomish County Courthouse square on a Wednesday night. They don’t have a leader but they do have Jim, in his blue union T-shirt, who explains the ground rules (no violence, no discrimination, respect for others) and gets the gathered working through the messy basics of trying to change the world.
One man reports that he’s already made contact with Snohomish County Deputy Executive Gary Haakenson and they have a permit to allow Occupy Everett to put up tents near the Snohomish County Administration building. The permit, they say, is open-ended. They also were promised porta-potties and Sheriff’s deputies for their protection.
Somebody wants to talk about dismantling the banking system. Somebody else wants to get politicians to say whether they support the movement or not. Yet another person points out that’s pointless. It’s about people, not politics, he says. When people agree, they raise both arms in the air and wave them. That statement gets some hand waving.
Then there’s the business of getting people organized. The first of the group’s committees – the most immediately important – are tactical, medical/safety, communications, legal and food/logistics.
One man points out – for the sake of transparency, he says – that he’s heavily involved in local politics. Others don’t talk about where they come from or what they do. There are older couples in warm, sensible jackets; a young person with piercings and another eating pizza straight from the box; a man who comes wearing a bandana over most of his face; a gruff, older man with a peace sign on his jacket.
Jim explains later to me that the group has decided they don’t have a spokesman. Nobody is supposed to talk on behalf of the group. And what’s their message, why are they here? That seems as varied as the people who showed up.