Monday, October 24, 2011

Bombing at Occupy Maine

Imagine, if you will, that you are a protester at Occupy Maine, the Portland, ME off-shoot of the Occupy Wall Street protests. In the interest of economic equality, you have been camping in Lincoln Park in Portland for a few weeks. There aren't many of you, but you're committed. And while not everyone agrees with you, those who don't tend to brand you as harmless loons. Not a compliment, certainly, but if you can stand Portland nights in October you can stand a little ridicule.

Then, early one Sunday morning, someone tries to kill you. Maybe that's actually their intent, or maybe they think they're being funny or its a "prank," but they throw a chemical explosive device out of a passing car into the tent next to yours. You awaken to an explosion. You realize that if they had aimed a little bit to the side you would be maimed or dead right now. You're shaken. You're scared. Sleep isn't going to come easily the next night, or for a few nights. The police come, but have no real leads.

To you, this is a turning point, not just for you but for the Occupy protests. Now it's not just us vs. the banks, or even us vs. the police. Someone out there hates the Occupy movement enough to want people dead. You wait to see what the reaction will be. Will the anti-Occupy folks denounce this act of violence? Will it galvanize support for the movement or cause others to think twice about participating? Is this the first of a rash of similar incidents or an isolated problem? You wait to see what the press will say.


The sum total of press coverage of this attack in the first 24 hours is 148 words in the Portland Press Herald. Not only is there no national coverage, there isn't even any coverage in other parts of Maine. You're pretty sure that if this had happened while you were just out camping in the park for fun, or if it had happened at your house, it would be big news. But you, as a protester, don't matter. Your movement doesn't matter. Your life is so insignificant that nearly losing it isn't news.

At least there isn't intrusive and inaccurate press coverage. At least the press aren't hounding you. At least no one's trying to spin it as justified.

Somehow, I doubt you feel any better.


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Naomi Zikmund-Fisher
is a clinical social worker, former school Principal and a Crisis Consultant for schools and community organizations. You can learn more about her at
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