Occupy Sacramento!

Occupy Sacramento


The movement began with a rally on the Capitol steps, then proceeded by parade to Cesar Chavez park, at 10th and J streets, where it mingled with the folks who had gathered for what was reported as the Indigenous Day of Resistance.

Occupy Sacramento consisted of those pictured above and one gentleman off camera. Their leader was Stephen Payan (on the right), an earnest young man who told your reporter that the rally was off to a late start.

Mr Payan took the steps at 2:10 PM on Friday, 14 October and addressed the assembled crowd. This consisted of your reporter, a man who was lost and who interrupted Mr Payan to ask for directions, and a visiting high school photography class, four members of which who were intent on photographing a distinctive stain left by a leaf on the sidewalk.

The speech consisted of naming the event and giving marching orders, describing the route to Cesar Chavez park.

After the ceremonies wrapped up, I was able to talk to Mr Payan. I asked him if any organizations helped sponsor his event, who paid for the electronics, and so on. Mr Payan named the Indigenous Day of Resistance and the MEChA coalition.

MEChA is “Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Aztlán” (Boys and Girls student movement of Aztlán). The “@” symbol is purposeful, stripping the grammatical gender from the noun. It helps to know that Aztec is the Nahuatl word for “those from Aztlá”, a mythical place of origin.

I asked further details, but as Mr Payan was in a hurry, he gave me his email address and asked me to write my questions. He would email answers later.

At the time this story went to press, Mr Payan had not replied to the questions. But when and if he does, I’ll include his answers as an update below.

The young lady in the photograph stayed with the equipment and busied herself by texting on her iPhone. Mr Payan and another gentleman (not pictured) loaded a dozen bottles of water in a red Radio Flyer wagon (the model with wooden sides) and toddled off down 11th, passing on the way the gorgeous Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament where a large Filipino family milled on the steps, readying themselves for a wedding. The wedding party did not notice the Occupy Sacramento forces.

In the park there were small knots of people, some of which might have been protesters. One was a gentleman lying on a park bench. He had apparently not washed for some time and was oblivious to the teeming events around him. Another man, bearded, sat at the entrance to a small blue pup tent. He was speaking incessantly but there were no listeners within earshot.

There were two groups of size. As prelude to some future event, one group was donning traditional costume, some of which was quite beautiful. These performers did not pay attention to the Occupy Sacramento folks.

The second group was larger. A speaker was standing in the sun by a picnic table in front of a group of about thirty spectators. Behind the speaker were five gentlemen acting as either support or body guards; all had their arms folded across their chests. A sixth man walked to and fro, waving a bundles of sticks which was on fire and which created much smoke.

I could not catch all the speaker said, except for these words, “That’s what Hopi and Mayan prophecies mean. This is going to happen.”

In the shade were a group of five officers from the Sacramento Police. One was on a bike giving directions. Another was chatting on the phone. A third was looking into space, clearly bored. A Sergeant and an officer stood by a picnic table.

I spoke to the Sergeant and asked whether he knew of the Occupy Sacramento movement. “When did this happen?” he asked, “Last week?” I told him it was happening now and pointed to Mr Payan, who was lingering at the park entrance with his Radio Flyer, engaged in conversation.

Today?” he asked. He then said with a smile, “Well, we’re working today anyway, you know. We’re happy to be here.” Clearly a politician in the making.

I left them then, warning them to be careful. The cops laughed and thanked me, and I hurried off to catch my train.


  1. DAV

    It would seem those planning to attend found themselves otherwise Occupied.

  2. Speed


    May I recommend the California State Railroad Museum as a good use of an afternoon if you’re in Sacramento already.

  3. This is getting seriously creepy, Briggs. Sacramento? What in billy-blue-blazes are you doing in Sacramento? Are you sneaking around to each of your commenters’ bailiwicks? Spying on us/them? Researching our/their statistical assets and resources? What gives? Next you’ll show up in Temecula or Tucumcari or Tehachapi or Tallahassee.

  4. Nice writing, but IMHO, you may be (dis)missing something.

    Peggy Noonan in a recent WSJ opinion piece about Occupy Wall Street:

    “OWS is not in itself important—it is obvious at this point that it’s less a political movement than a be-in. It’s unfocused, unserious in its aims. But it is an early expression, an early iteration, of something that is coming, and that is a rising up against current circumstances and arrangements. OWS is an expression of American discontent, and others will follow. The protests will grow as the economy gets worse.”

    And of its potential, she notes that OWS could make a real contribution if its meme becomes:

    “Enough. Wall Street is selfish and dishonest, and Washington is selfish and dishonest. Together their selfishness and dishonesty, their operating as if they are not part of a whole, not part of a nation of relationships and responsibilities, tanked a great nation’s economy. We will reform.”

    So is the OWS the precursor of something serious? Hard to say. Easier to analyze would an analogy from my field of engineering. There is a rule-of-thumb that says 10 minor safety precursors means that a major accident will likely happen. What would a statistician say about that rule? Can such a rule-of-thumb predict an otherwise “black swan” event?

  5. GoneWithTheWind

    The indigenous people who lived in the country now known as the U.S. were not Mexicans they were Indians. The Indians fought wars to protect their borders. When the Spanish came to South and Central America they moved north and their weapons and armor allowed them to dominate the Indigenous Indians. Spanish nobles were given large tracts of the land that had belonged to the indigenous Indians and the Spanish nobles brought Mexican peasants with them to run the ranches and farms. It is insulting to the true indigenous people of California for Mexicans to claim to be the indigenous party.

  6. Annabelle

    Marvellous, thank you. Genuine LOL.

  7. emmaliza

    Thanks for this amusing article providing information on the size of the ‘protest’. I’ve been trying to determine just how big this occupy movement is, since in Ft. Worth only a couple of dozen people showed up. Those in Dallas were a few hundred on day 1, but most of them were from out of town. The old hippies still in our universities and the media are dreaming of the past and inspiring young people to ‘march’, but every one interviewed has a different complaint, so how could one logically call it a movement?

  8. Speed

    Rich, the quote from your link: Most rallies were however small and barely held up traffic. The largest and most violent protest was in Rome, pictured above, where organisers said they believed 100,000 took part.

    Unnamed “organizers” are neither reliable nor unbiased.

  9. dearieme

    Could it be that in Italy some of the organising power of the Communist Party survives?

  10. Reed Coray

    The acronym “OWS” is incomplete without the most important letter: “L” as in LOWS–Leeches Occupying Wall Street.”

  11. @ Reed Coray: That’s just unfair! We’ve been told leeches have a slight medicinal value. There is no indication OWS participants are of the same worth. Please apologize to the leeches of the world. Furthermore, they, at least, bathe regularly.

  12. Rich

    Speed, your point is well taken. “Organizers” routinely overestimate the size of the crowds they assemble. Still, in Rome they did managed to interfere with the traffic. Italians, eh?

  13. Brian H

    Good idea. The “L” has numerous other suitable expansions:
    “Loons”, “Losers”, “Low-lifes”, “Lay-abouts”, “Lefties”, etc.

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