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

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of Robert Johnston, Occupy Little Rock

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

People who saved…

Readers also liked…

  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

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

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated itsĀ 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • We're No. 1! in vote suppression

    It's not often that Arkansas can claim national leadership, so give Secretary of State Mark Martin credit for something.

    • Jul 13, 2017
  • Bangin' in LR

    About 2:30 a.m. Saturday, with the Power Ultra Lounge downtown jammed for a rap show by Finese2Tymes (Ricky Hampton of Memphis), gunfire broke out. Before it was over, 25 people had been wounded by gunfire and three others injured in the rush for safety.
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Pay attention

    If anyone thinks that a crisis with the Power Ultra Lounge shooting, then he hasn't been paying attention to Little Rock.
  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Turn to baseball

    • Great column, and terrific response from Vanessa. Everyone has baseball memories. Here's mine, from a…

    • on July 20, 2017
  • Re: Another Jesus

    • Did I miss Bill Clinton's admission to sexual assault? @Investigator - can you help with…

    • on July 20, 2017
  • Re: Turn to baseball

    • Go ahead and destroy the timelessness of baseball. It is in a zone by itself…

    • on July 20, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation