In the wake of the "Occupy Wall Street--Oakland Division" mess that's been going on this week, I have decided to offer all future protesters some useful tips in getting a good protest going:
1) No matter what your demands are, or how much effort you go through to control your rallies, they will get taken over by the insane/hateful/stupid. Because anyone who opposes you will know exactly who to interview for their news clips. When MSNBC covers a Tea Party rally, who are they going to get a quote from--the unemployed father of four who can't sell his house? Or the guy carrying the "Obama is Slavemaster!" sign?
2) If you're itching for a "fight" it's a good idea to remember that the police are well trained in crowd control and use some very uncomfortable tactics to deal with you. Pepper spray, tasers, and tear gas are not fun, and the standard for "resisting arrest" is pretty damn low. Not to mention the many jobs in your future that may do a criminal background check before hire.
3) If you're going to "occupy" any park in a northern city, springtime may be a good time to start. You catching hypothermia isn't going to make some Wall Street banker return their bonus. You may be giving jobs to lots of EMTs though.
4) If you're a white guy with dreadlocks, seriously stay home. You could have the most eloquent argument in favor of a complex plan to restructure education loan debt, but all anyone's going to see is a weirdo they'd never let get past their HR department.
5) Make sure you know your numbers. "99%" of this country happens to include a lot of millionaires, and a lot of the people responsible for the mess we're in. And surely some of the "1%", though wealthy, are part of the solution and not the problem. So why not better define what you're against?
6) Drum circles? Really? Are we going for the full Eric Cartman stereotype? At least the Tea Partiers didn't show up to rallies with their firearms . . . oh, right.
7) Anyone with a misspelled sign should be sent home with a copy of the dictionary. No exceptions.
8) Just a thought--show up in your nicest clothes--business attire. A teeming mass of people dressed very nicely would definitely stand out from the dime-a-dozen rallies that go on every damn weekend (at least in D.C.). And I note the last time well-dressed protesters marched in this country we got Civil Rights legislation.
9) And before anyone goes "b-b-but Vietnam war demonstrators dressed like crap!" I'll point out that Vietnam war demonstrators achieved Nixon's election. Enough said.