Occupy “Summer School” Fail
Occupy Wall Street has been working with students at Paul Robeson High School in Brooklyn, NY, for months. This effort to reach out to students was mostly through Justin Wedes, a disgraced former teacher, who resigned for his teaching position in the wake of a grant money scandal. During this time, some of the students were encouraged to walk out on classes to be involved with May Day protests and to protest against various issues at the school. Wedes finally managed to do enough to irritate the principal of the school who apparently asked him to leave the property at one point.
Wedes then came up with the concept of a “summer school”, the “Paul Robeson Freedom School”, not on the Paul Robeson property, but at St John the Evangelist Lutheran School on Maujer Street in Brooklyn. The “school” is open to 10-14 year olds from Brooklyn, according to Wedes, who noted they will focus lessons on discussing the civil rights movement, feminism, LGBTQ rights, universal healthcare and other topics of “social justice”, as well as providing tutoring, lessons in urban gardening and local food, and weekly family nights.
LAST week, on a gloriously breezy Brooklyn evening, Justin Wedes and Rodney Deas, two original members of the Occupy Wall Street movement, were cooking burgers on a charcoal grill in the courtyard of their latest project — an unsanctioned, unofficial Occupy Wall Street summer camp.
The camp, which runs through Aug. 24 at a redbrick former schoolhouse on Maujer Street in Williamsburg, was only three days old, and fellow Occupiers, swept up in the pioneering spirit, had been coming by in droves to lend a hand. A few guys from Occupy Tech Ops had spent the afternoon tweaking the old computers and hooking up the Ethernet connection, and an Occupy artist had silk-screened 20 T-shirts (with a book-and-raised-fist logo) to serve as camp uniforms. Occupy librarians were finishing the reading room, and some Occupy farmers were discussing how to bring in provisions. A tattooed video jockey from Occupy TV was milling about, recording it all on a Sony hand-held camera.
The only thing missing at that point were the campers. By Wednesday, there were three.
“The joke is we’ve been getting one a day,” said Mr. Wedes, who is 26 and a veteran of the food committee at Zuccotti Park. “I figure, at this rate, in another couple weeks we’ll actually have a camp.”
You could blame the slow start on any number of issues: a nonexistent advertising budget (zero dollars out of a $300 operating account); a lack of sufficiently radical activities (no shoot-the-banker archery, say, or color war with flexi-cuffs); or a cultural predilection for horizontal planning.(How fast would a top-down Tea Party camp be up and running?)
Mr. Wedes (pronounced WEE-dis) said the delay was merely a function of grass-roots community work. “We’re starting here from nothing,” he said, “and building up. It’s a process.”
I know, every line is like some kind of love letter to Occupy. What parent in their right mind would let their kids near one of these events much less a ‘ Summer camp’? Let’s ignore that kids have been left alone with rats, abandoned, flashed, intimidated, arrestedand used as human shields by Occupiers. Are people who incite riots, destroy public property, rack up 41 million in damages nationwide and who can’t seem to pick a single focus topic to protest about on any given day really who you want your kids around? Uh, that’s a HELL NO.
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