Occupational Hazards

By CHRIS FARAONE  |  October 12, 2011

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BALTIMORE: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 7

After a short train ride from the nation's capital I arrive at McKeldin Park for Occupy Baltimore as a flamboyant blue-haired dude in an army jacket is getting walked like a poodle. He's on his hands and knees, barking at folks who are headed to and coming from the half-dozen chain eateries perched on the waterfront behind Occupy. On the other end of the leash, a brunette activist in high heels — the "cruel mistress of capitalism" — snickers at pedestrians. Unclear of what to make of the spectacle, a passerby shouts to her friends, "What the fuck are these kids doing?"

I ask the same thing, only to have a young bohemian chick in a polka-dot smock tells me it's a "Military-Industrial-Complex S&M Pageant." I should have known. It's the John Waters version of the revolution.

In addition to notable artistic flair, these Baltimoreans seem a smart group. One hula-hooping medic, a Johns Hopkins doctoral candidate named Brandie, confirms that observation by pointing to the squad's resourcefulness — they rigged a nearby fountain into sleeping quarters using boxes, foam, and blankets. There's even a hammock, which a twentysomething joker in a Cher wig says he might hijack if a rightful owner doesn't step up.

Like in DC, where people have yet to start acting real, the Baltimore contingent has fewer than 250 people, and is still small enough to tackle simple issues. The group's streamlined general assembly ticks like clockwork, as representatives from working groups (including food, direct action, and medical) deliver updates.

But despite the superficial manners and summer-campy feel – the latter of which is highlighted by a massive and kaleidoscopic arts-and-crafts pit in the middle of McKeldin Park — some disagreements flare up over the course of the evening. Earlier today, the group's resident anarchists painted a jumbo-sized banner that screams "ALL COPS ARE BASTARDS." Now they want to hang it, and potentially compromise what have so far been peaceful relations with police. At one point, a granola-style activist picks a fight with a radical cop-hating long-hair. They squash the beef, agreeing to discuss the sign further at another time. Nonetheless, it's clear that the honeymoon is over.

To read more about Occupy Baltimore, visit here.

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Related: C.T. Butler is back on the front lines, Inside the Occupy Boston media struggle, Photos: Occupy Boston celebrates one-month anniversary at Dewey Square, More more >
  Topics: News Features , Occupy Boston, Occupy DC, Occupy Baltimore
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