On Sunday at midnight, October2011’s Stop the Machine permit for occupying Freedom Plaza expired. While some, like our group from the Tulane School of Social Work, had to return to our respective cities, many held strong on the Plaza. Instead of leaving the grounds at midnight, remaining demonstrators threw a dance party. They announced that 99 percent of the U.S. population were invited to join. In return, park police proposed extending Stop the Machine’s permit for four additional months. The dance party won us the Plaza.
Dr. Margaret Flowers, Stop the Machine Organizer, speaks in low lighting at Sunday’s dance party on the Freedom Plaza permit extension and Smithsonian Air and Space Museum protest
People are gradually hopping on board this growing movement. One Stop the Machine demonstrator shared that vendors from the annual Taste of D.C. food festival, which had been held this weekend on the streets adjacent to Freedom Plaza, gave occupiers all their leftover food. Another demonstrator’s friend caught a cab to Freedom Plaza. The cabbie said “If you’re one of the protesters, the ride is free.”
Though some out-of-state demonstrators had to leave town, Stop the Machine has stayed hopeful and encouraged. The group has only gained momentum, and more locals continue to join the action. Occupy D.C. has also been growing within McPherson Square six blocks from Freedom Plaza. The groups continue to occupy separate spaces, but unite in city protests with the common goal of demanding change.
On behalf of our “Mardi Gras Crew” of nine who spent four days kicking off Stop the Machine’s efforts on the Plaza, we are thrilled with news of the extended permit. We are hopeful after seeing the movement’s growing participating firsthand. Occupy NOLA is making headway here in Louisiana, and we are energized to continue efforts at home.
“Bring us your reports from around the country at your local Occupations. Fill us in here in the Empire’s Capital. We will fill you in too. We will train and inspire and connect you with the rest of this global movement. Then go back home energized. Come down from New York and go back up. We need to coordinate on a personal level…Join them. Join us. We’re family.”