The general public witnessed the May 1st protest on the news, watching images of police and occupiers in the street. They read about the the people deploying Black Bloc tactics and smashed store windows downtown. They saw the clowns (literally) interviewed by news reporters. Yet, just a few feet away, the Seattle hip hop community held a peaceful protest full of speakers and entertainment. I already knew who to expect when I got there; members of 206Zulu, folks from the Youth Speaks camp, and of course, Julie C.
In solidarity with International Worker’s Day and the Global General Strike, Hip Hop Occupies to Decolonize presented “Rise & Decolonize 2,” a showcase and rally at Westlake Park. From 9am to 4pm, artists, youth, families, and the broader Seattle community took the day off and come out for music, live art, dance, cypher sessions, and more in the spirit of resistance & Hip Hop.
The park was crackin with live music and dancing, even while the standoff took place a few feet away - some teenagers who sat in the street to block traffic.
Sometimes it seems like everyone participates in the Occupy movement for their own reasons, that the movement isn’t unified. With the different groups out on the streets and everything happening simultaneously you can feel like you’re in the middle of chaos - voiceless and powerless to what is happening around you.
What you see is everyone from all walks of life dealing with it in their own way. What the hip hop community has fought for goes way beyond the current occupy movement, but just like all the different people who came downtown to protest by either marching, dancing, singing, painting or vandalizing, hip hop would not be where it is today without the movement generations before us (which weren’t always so peaceful).
Which gets me to thinking, maybe the occupy movement is more unified than we are able to realize right now.
[Suntonio Bandanaz aka ASun]