The Occupy Wall Street movement has come to Flint, Michigan, a town that gave birth to General Motors and the scene of one of the signal events of American labor history. An encampment of tents, tarps, and canopies now shelters a group of mostly young protesters have occupied a vacant lot just north of the city center. Unlike similar groups elsewhere, the mostly young protesters have occupied a private space with the permission of the owner. In New York City, for instance, the Wall Street protesters are using a public park as a temporary campground. Occupy Flint began its sit-down protest on October 12.
No violence has been attributed to the protesters of Occupy Flint, who are relying on donations of food and portable toilets to lend some permanence to the camp. The group has received solar energy panels to charge their laptops and other electronic devices and appear to be settling in for the winter.
Occupy Flint have peacefully protested outside of a local branch of the Bank of America, bearing signs attesting that they are members of the “99%” of Americans who do not number among the country’s wealthiest.
However, according to the local daily Flint Journal, Occupy Flint’s protesters are not taking any chances. Flint has gained the moniker of ‘Murder Capital’ because of the staggering murder rate for a city of its size. The Flint Journal reported on November 6 on an inside page that several protesters are armed with guns, serving as guards in shifts for safety’s sake.
Occupy Flint is keeping the world abreast of its plans with Twitter messages and on Facebook, drawing comparisons to the active social media that was prominently featured in the Arab Spring protests that are credited with bringing down dictatorships in North Africa. Every Friday, the group livestreams its weekly assembly meeting.
Comparisons are also being drawn to the 1936-37 Sit-Down Strike that brought the United Auto Workers hundreds of thousands of members during the Great Depression who sought better wages and working conditions from General Motors.
Info: Occupy Flint Twitter