Favorite

A sit-in to re-Occupy LR 

Robert Johnston, the former state legislator and Public Service Commission member and full-time advocate for peace, the homeless and pedestrian safety, among other causes, has an idea.

It's inspired by Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant." Remember it? Why, if just three people walked in singing "Alice's Restaurant," someone might think it was an organization. And if 50 started singing? "... friends they may think it's a movement."

So Johnston has invited sympathizers and Mayor Mark Stodola to join him in a few bars of what I'll call the "Re-Occupy Little Rock Rag."

At 9 a.m. Thursday at Fourth and Ferry, the site from which Occupy Little Rock was recently evicted and four people were arrested, Johnson intends to plunk down on a lawn chair with a cool drink and sit for an hour. He wrote the mayor:

"I will be exercising my 1st Amendment Rights of free speech, free petition to the government and assembly (if at least one other patriotic soul joins me)."

He said he'll leave at 10 a.m., but encourages others to stay and sit a spell longer. And he plans to return every Thursday.

"I hope one or more others will pick up the spot, the chair, the umbrella and the sign (supplemented by other signs perhaps). 

"This is sometimes known as a protest, sometimes as a vigil, sometimes as a sit-in.  It has a long tradition in America."

If nothing else, it could be Little Rock's own "Group W bench," after the place where draft-era misfits like Guthrie were consigned. Out in Chenal Valley, City Director Lance Hines and his ilk can snigger in the men's grill about such nonconformists and their unsightly demonstrations. But you know the lawn chairs will upset his delicate aesthetic sensibilities, just as OLR's tents did.

What is Johnston protesting? How poorly the 1 percent fared compared with the 99 percent during the recession, for one thing. Also the imbalance in political power between the two groups. He told the mayor he and OLR have other protests "most or all of which are legitimate and deserve attention from the political powers in this country, including you."

Just don't call the Occupy camp or Johnston's day camp an eyesore.

"You want eyesore?" he wrote Stodola. "I can take you to 47 worse eyesores in this city. "

Occupy's camp was a "testimonial to American freedom and the U.S. Constitution," Johnston wrote. It made him proud of the country and city. Now he's ashamed by the city's eviction and feels strongly enough to risk arrest himself.

His letter asks Stodola to come down to his lawn chair Thursday and talk. I suspect Johnston understands that the city is through talking. The establishment has ruled, prevailed and moved on.

You might as well try to get Mayor Stodola to talk about the $22 million he gave the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce to throw dozens, maybe hundreds, of people out of their homes to make way for an office building for private enterprise. You might just as well ask him to allow non-establishment representation on the board of the chamber-created, publicly financed agency that will throw Little Rock residents from their home with their own tax money. You might just as well ask him for a full accounting of how the chamber spends the tax money he gives them.

The chamber certainly won't be singing any choruses of "Alice's Restaurant" with Johnston. But it will happily supply the muscle to elect candidates who'll pull the plug on Johnston's amplifiers. City leaders know that tune by heart.

Favorite

Sign up for the Daily Update email

Speaking of Robert Johnston, Occupy Little Rock

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • LR charter school application withdrawn for this year

    Friendship Aspire Academy has withdrawn its request to move up plans to open a charter school in Little Rock by a year to take advantage of a vacant building being remodeled by the Walton Family Foundation for another charter operator that withdrew.
    • Jun 20, 2018
  • Another prison death under investigation

    John Howell, 58, who was serving a life sentence for capital murder in Garland County, died shortly before 7 p.m. Tuesday after being found unresponsive on the floor of his barracks at the Cummins Unit, a spokesman said.
    • Jun 20, 2018
  • With Trump, of course, there's a catch

    So the heroic Donald Trump proposes a compromise to tearing families apart - jailing them indefinitely.
    • Jun 20, 2018
  • More »

People who saved…

Readers also liked…

  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017
  • Along the civil rights trail

    A convergence of events in recent days signaled again how far we have come and how far we have yet to go in civil rights.
    • Jan 18, 2018
  • The Oval outhouse

    One thing all Americans finally can agree upon is that public discourse has coarsened irretrievably in the era of Donald Trump and largely at his instance.
    • Jan 18, 2018

Latest in Max Brantley

  • The Arkansas swamp

    The Arkansas Capitol is a fetid swamp of corruption and the bipartisan lack of concern tells you plenty.
    • Jun 14, 2018
  • The return of 'Freedom of Choice'

    A federal court in El Dorado soon will decide if unalloyed "Freedom of Choice" may be legal state policy, even when it encourages school segregation.
    • Jun 7, 2018
  • Election trends

    Items of interest that emerged from primary and "nonpartisan" judicial elections last week.
    • May 31, 2018
  • More »

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Him, again

    • That's why it is better to bag babes at the bigger libraries. You get a…

    • on June 20, 2018
  • Re: Legislative boodlers

    • The U6 unemployment rate is still at 8%, partly because they can get benefits and…

    • on June 19, 2018
  • Re: Him, again

    • Regardless of my success or lack of it, I've been way ahead of Trump all…

    • on June 19, 2018
 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation