“Occupy Chicago to ‘shut down Boeing’ on May 21” ran the headline by Michelle Dunlop on heraldnet.com. Across the city authorities and activists readied, like two great armies destined for inevitable collision. While one side readied for violence, the other steeled itself against that looming possibility, stalwart in their assertion of their constitutional rights, and focused on that better world they whole heartedly believed was possible. One side represented a status quo that had very obviously stopped working for a vast and growing number of Americans. These authorities had become, by purpose or default the defenders of a system that protected a system corrupted by corporate greed and abuse. Peacefully by resolutely opposing them were students and housewives and grandparents, the employed , under-employed and unemployed, demanding that their government by less accessible and less responsible to corporate interests, and more accessible and more responsible to the people.
A cold fog brought a chill to the city, making the city seem all the more intimate and small beneath that whispering shroud. At Multi Kulti on Milwaukee, just off the downtown, a non-commercial cultural center, activists were learning basic first aid and urgent care for the protests. There were meeting at the Cermak Loft space about the NATO summit, and open discussions about the future of Occupy Chicago. Sit-ins and occupations continued around the city, bolstered by a stunning achievement in forcing city hall to keep open a mental health clinic in the Woodlawn neighborhood, which the city had slated for closing. There wasn’t a single story about the victory to save a critically needed clinic anywhere in the media.
Indeed, the media continued a relentless and increasingly assaultive campaign to discredit and mock the movement. Leading that assault was Sean Hannity, who had fixed upon Harrison Schultz, and activist in New York. Shultz had been suckered into an interview the day before by a clever mafia-esque advocate for those siphoning off fortunes from the government, and bleeding the nation by Hannity, whose singular intent was to taunt and paint the Occupy movement as a bunch of confused, lazy freeloaders out to take from hardworking rich people. Hannity, practiced night after night trapped the inexperienced, untrained Shultz into a circular argument…
HANNITY: You’re dirty? You don’t take a shower?
SCHULTZ: Well, no, this is the way your news network is portraying us.
HANNITY: Did I ever say you are dirty or a hippie? Did I say any of that?
SCHULTZ: Yes, in August. You were making fun of my friends.
HANNITY: You mean the ones having sex in public, doing drugs and defecating on cars and those who are in other cities that were actually being violent breaking store windows, cursing out police and all of that? You mean those guys, those guys? Because I have tapes of all of that.
SCHULTZ: No, no, no. Those were the people that the NYPD was sending to the park to discredit us and make us look bad. And actually give your network something to focus on.
HANNITY: So you are in Zuccotti Park.
SCHULTZ: I stopped hanging out right around the NYPD —
HANNITY: Zuccotti Park, “yes” or “no.” Were you at Zuccotti Park?
HANNITY: Why did they have set up a special, protective rape-free zone tent because of the rapes that took place in Zuccotti Park.
SCHULTZ: The NYPD was sending rapists down to the park.
HANNITY: So the NYPD — do you have any evidence about this?
SCHULTZ: This was in the NY Times, New York Times.
HANNITY: I asked you a question — the New York Times said that the police sent rapists to rape women down there?
SCHULTZ: They sent alcoholics. They sent offenders. They sent people who were convicted of rapes.
HANNITY: Do you have any evidence to back it up —
SCHULTZ: I can give testimony. I didn’t bring my files with me, but you can check this out —
HANNITY: The New York Police Department brought rapists in and as a result women were raped so a special rape protective zone was set up?
SCHULTZ: You got to admit, it was a really cynical, really effective tactic on the part of the authorities. They knew that we wouldn’t turn people away because we like to help people, like Christians should — even though most of us are not Christian.
HANNITY: You sound paranoid…*
Meanwhile, the authorities tightened their control over the city and protests. New boating restrictions were announced. Museums would be closed. Lake Shore Drive would be shut down. Protesters it was also revealed would be kept blocks away. The civilian and military representatives of twenty-eight NATO member nations, an alliance created to protect a free and democratic western Europe from Soviet invasion would hold secret meetings insulated from the oversight and dissent of their populations. Here the right-wing and corporate media were silent, as NATO had long ago ceased to be a coalition tasked with defending democracy, but were now beholden to a global corporate arms industry. They were the military wing of a precipitous and dangerous ascension of corporate power and the profits of war over the needs of people. The right was often heard to demand where the money would come from for entitlement programs, while militaries and subsidies for war industries drained public coffers.
Jack and Eva Murphy walked slowly along the empty beach, swinging little Jeffrey between them. He was giggling, wildly kicking his legs up, trying his best to keep off the sand. Each time Jack and Eva would dip him lower to the soft sand Jeffrey would howl even louder. The fog was heavier here, a few miles north of downtown, erasing the city skyline altogether. Even the buildings of nearby Loyola campus were shrouded. Waves tumbled heavily to the shore, rising from the gray lake as ranks of churning white danced over by excitable gulls.
“I don’t know where all that came from,” Jack told Eva, referring to the strange incident at the bar with Angelo the night before.
“I was so pissed at you,” said Eva. She tempered it with a smile. “See, if you’d stayed home like you were supposed to…”
Jack couldn’t help a smile. He regarded her a moment, still finding her as amazing as the moment he first met her, perhaps more so. Eva’s shoulder length brown hair was pulled across her lovely face by the wind off the lake. Behind broad-framed glasses, her introspective brown eyes found his. He nodded in agreement and looked to the baby.
“Don’t let it bother you,” she offered. “Forget about him. He’s revealed himself as a nut.”
“But what if he does something, you know? What if he goes off and someone does get hurt. The media would only be too happy to act as if he represents all of us, and the police are looking for excuses to crackdown on the movement.”
“Tell someone then. Have him banned from the movement. Occupy is supposed to be non-violent.”
Jack nodded thoughtfully. “Ever feel that the whole world is about to come apart?”
“I had a little bit of that feeling last night when I had to do laundry, make supper, clean the house and take care of Jeff by myself,” she scolded playfully.
Jack frowned. They stopped and he lifted the baby into his arms, kissing him gently on the cheek. Eva touched his arm. The moment felt like a commodity.
“What happens in the world isn’t monolithic, Jack. Every situation, relationships, society, history, all of it are all made up constructs.”
“I just have this feeling of impending doom, and I’m afraid for you and Jeff.”
She touched his face. “You need some sleep. Things will seem better after you’ve gotten rest, you’ll see.”
“Hope so, he said, though all the way home he could not shake the feeling. Jack laid his head down that night to sleep beside Eva. Sleep came grudgingly and with that sense of ultimate foreboding stronger than ever.