Monday, October 10, 2011

On Speaking for the Movement

#OccupyCharleston organizer responds to anonymous spokesman

Posted by Paul Bowers on Mon, Oct 10, 2011 at 4:23 PM

  • Paul Bowers
  • The revolution has a business card, and it looks like this.

Last week was a big one for the people behind #OccupyCharleston. Hundreds lent electronic support by liking the movement's Facebook page, and around 80 people showed up at a Thursday night organizational meeting.

While the movement was still nascent, it was often difficult for the media — City Paper included — to discern who was really in charge and who could act as a spokesperson. Amberjade Mwekali Taylor, one of the head organizers, was out of town in New York City, and no one in Charleston answered requests for interviews through the group's e-mail account until this week. In a blog post before Thursday's big meeting, we quoted the only two people who would answer questions: Attorney William J. Hamilton and a group member who requested anonymity.

At the meeting Thursday night, some people in the crowd lamented the fact that the anonymous member had acted as a spokesman for #OccupyCharleston. When asked in an e-mail what his role was in the group, he had written, "I'm your voice. The people's voice. I'm the lost American dream." When asked whether the movement included a lot of College of Charleston students (and for the record, it does), he wrote, "I would say no in all honesty. They are too busy watching Justin Bieber or trying to find the next house show."

On Friday, one of the facilitators from the Thursday assembly called us on the phone and cut through some of the snark.

"Anyone who claims to speak for the movement is probably not totally understanding the point," said Jenna Lyles, who had helped guide brainstorming sessions at the meeting. The group now has a media liaison to handle interview requests, and Lyles says the leadership is working on establishing a protocol for talking with reporters.

"Especially somewhere like Charleston, the media could just ruin this thing," she said.

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