Our reporters have spent a lot of time in Winston-Salem this week as an Occupy movement has taken hold in Bailey Park.
It’s no small thing — the protesters are in their second week of occupation, keeping vigil from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. each day, with programming into the night that includes speakers from other organizations, testimony and entertainment; direct actions almost every day; and an open invitation to other activist groups for fellowship and microphone time.
So far, there haven’t been as many takers as they would like. While Occupy Winston-Salem has been able to gather upwards of a hundred people at times, their actions, while enthusiastic, can sometimes lack the critical mass of bodies needed to make the statement.
And right now, it’s the only action in the Triad.
Meanwhile Greensboro’s streets have been quiet for weeks. But this is the city where activist Free Dope Major and his crew known as the 3 had pulled off successful marches on Wendover Avenue and Friendly Center.
The two groups could use each other’s support, but the connection has yet to be made. This is peculiar, in that John Neville — the man killed in Forsyth County jail at the hands of corrections officers — actually lived Greensboro; he was only in the Forsyth jail because he got arrested in Kernersville. And it’s no less of an outrage than the death of Marcus Smith, who was also hogtied before he died, who also uttered the words, “I can’t breathe,” before he succumbed.
Earlier this month, Free Dope Major and his crew joined forces with Rev. Greg Drumwright to make a historic march on Graham, where neo-Confederate counter-protesters met them at the courthouse, beneath one of the last Confederate monuments in the state. Winston-Salem teams have been to Raleigh for demonstrations there.
Yet these two cities, less that 25 miles apart, have yet to coordinate.
It’s likely, though.
The presence of federal troops in Portland, and the promise of more to come in cities across the country, begs a national response. The next page in the activist playbook calls for consolidation, organization and as many bodies in the streets as can possibly be mustered.
That’s what comes next in this long, hot summer.