Arrived in Portland Maine around 8 pm and spent the next 4 hours downtown on Congress St. with the “V” parked just adjacent to the Occupy Office space. Wow…what a draw the “V’ was with people coming and going constantly. It was great to get to know the people of Portland and learn a little history from Herb (local politician and history teacher) who happened to drop by as well. While visiting the Portland office we were graced with 3 gals from other cities, Chicago, New Haven being two. People came and went off the “V” until finally we decided to head toward the Promenade and find a final resting place to call it a night. After dropping Heather and Andrei off on we managed to find a nice, quiet spot that wasn’t violating any of the million signs we had seen for the previous 15 minutes, (no parking, no stopping, no camping, no cruising (really?), no this, no that) honestly, are they really wanting tourists to come here? I think not. Regardless we found that 35 feet of “sign free” area, then found out the next morning that it used to be a school which was torn down to make a community center which never happened and was now an empty lot with a tiny corner kids park area.
After our rise and shine moment we managed to roll down to the MAC/Violin store (apparently yes the two are in sync) so we could have our harddrive looked at for the 4th time to see if it was possible to save the data. It was Palma who recommended them as fantastic and surely able to help. With 7 months of my work locked on this crappy HD which conked out 2 days after the 90 day warranty expired, I decided there was nothing to lose. I cautiously left the HD with a very nice man named Andrew, who assured me he would do his best to retrieve the data and not wipe out the HD in the process. So we headed to St Vincent church with Andrei to enjoy one of the best free meals. Not only did we have the grace of their food but it was served to us immediately as we sat down. The volunteers working hard to ensure everyone was fed and dishes removed, trays put away, and oh…don’t forget your free lunch bag and loaf of bread on your way out? Wow. So Tony and I headed back to the “V” where we had left it in RiteAid’s parking lot (Tino working diligently and guarding the fort so to speak) and where a very handy laundry mat was next door. We sat there while laundry was being done wondering how we would spend our only full day in Portland. For the next 2.5 hours we talked to many people.
Tino managed another fantastic de-escalation when an angry man approached and immediately started about… BAD Ocuppy and BAD camp and BAD this and I’m calling the cops. By the time I came out of Rite-Aid he had not only calmed the man down, but after an hour gave him a card and they agreed that, too much money in politics was definitely a problem and the fact that almost every bit of information he had was either wrong or pitted with slant biases. He was actually listening to Tino as he informed him of the facts. He did it in his calm and knowledgable way that he has with people. His skills were put to the test and he passed with flying colors. The man left happy!
No sooner than that was handled, we managed to have another issue, when I overheard a young man saying to another (not sure if they were together) that Trayvon Martin deserved to die and that the “Nigger” was …..and on and on he went. Immediately upon opening the RV door I could see two young men. One was reading the posters on the “V” and the other (entirely in camouflage) was smirking in the satisfaction of what he was spewing. I approached him and asked where he had gotten the information that Trayvon had beaten George Zimmerman (the murderer) and how he knew so much, when no one else had that luxury as yet. After 5 minutes with not much in his information basket he apologized and when another passerby approached for information, was quick to make his exit. With these two experiences within minutes of one another we wondered how many others were so u knowledgeable about what was going on? Where are these people getting their information….oh that’s right main street media, the republicans? “Good Christians” maybe? It was obvious that we were definitely needed and only validated what we do and have been doing for almost 8 months. Educating the public on the truth and opening eyes to seek the truth and ask questions. To search for more than what comes over the TV through paid announcements.
A call from Andrew at the MAC store, and me almost unable to breathe waiting for his diagnostic, gave great news! The harddrive had been repaired and all was there to see! OMG…celebrations were in order! We rolled over to the MAC Store to pick it up and I hugged Andrew and brought him out to the “V” so he could see first hand what I’d been doing all this time. After taking his picture and thanking him numerous times we decided (since we had great parking downtown) we’d head off to get a few pictures of Portland. Oh…and was that NBC across the road? Why I believe we will head over there. I’m sure they’d want to cover this story…..NOT! We got the usual…ok….leave your info and we’ll get back to you, NOT! But we did get to talk to a couple of really nice people who were in a band called Millett and who had just performed. Tony, Heather (who met up with us at RiteAid) and I did our best to sway them to come to Philly but they were scheduled to play some Country/Rock for another gig in Tennessee.
On our way back to the “V” we met the coolest guy in the coolest book/record store who, upon hearing what we do, immediately put our “What is Occupy” and “How can I help” up in his front window. Oh, Michael you make our hearts skip a beat with your innovative shop and great props hanging in this tiny but awesome bookstore. Upon arriving back at the “V” we noticed Tino was talking to a familiar face. Yes, Colin who we had met in Tallahasse, Florida was here in Portland, ME? Turns out he was giving Tino an account of the amazing and sad story (that he was part of unfortunately) about the 8 people who were kidnapped (yes we’ll call it what it was since no charges were laid) and held for 30 hours in Chicago with trumped up charges perpetrated by two undercover cops who had infiltrated the group (who just happend to be the same kids that caught the CPD on tape saying “they were looking forward to busting heads”. Coincidence? Highly doubtful. It was great to see him and know the story first hand. It has traumatized him so bad he has decided to lay low and not do much “Occupying” until he can garner the strength again. I was sad and immediately thought of the other 5 kids sitting in Cleveland prison with much the same story. This is not the Country we can be proud of right now!
All in all it was a very busy day. We ended by having dinner at Heather’s after she donned us with electricity, water and her then her children put on a play (Sophia marry’s Jake the invisible man). Thank you Portland for showing us the good side and the bad side of your city.
We hope to have a really big send off tomorrow and that all the people we met will come see us caravan off to Philly! You’re Welcome!