I'm working strange hours this month from 5 pm to 9pm. I decided to drive down to the Chamber of Commerce after work to see how many people were still camping out in the Occupy Orlando protest. As I approached Senator Beth Johnson Park, I saw a tall man in an overcoat and fashionable hat balling up yellow police caution tape. I asked what the police tape was for and he told me he was souvenir hunting. People aren't allowed to sleep in Orlando Parks so the protesters moved to the vacant lot across the street. Before long the police forced the protesters off the vacant lot since it was private property. The yellow tape was put up to remind protesters to stay away.
There were between 20 and 30 Occupy Orlando protesters who looked like they would be sleeping on the sidewalks that border the park that night. One guy had a hammock set up between several trees and he slumbered peacefully, an American flag tucked into the hammock rope at his head. I was told one man was sleeping on the sidewalk and he accidentally rolled onto the park's grass. He was arrested. There was a folding table set up which had kitchen supplies.
It is fine to be in the park so long as you are awake. There is however a curfew. I heard drumming and walked into the park. Political protest signs were lying in the grass. I approached the make shift drum circle and started sketching. Another fellow listened, lying on the sidewalk and resting his head on his skate board. The rhythms punctuated the night. I rocked as I sketched. The drumming was interrupted when someone walked up with his laptop open. A live streaming video showed the thousands of people gathered in Oakland, California. The fellow with the cigarette and Amish beard looked at my sketch and did a happy jig. "That is so cool." He said.
Two young college girls were seated in the grass next to me. The red headed girl had come from NYC's Occupy Wall Street to join the Orlando protest. She was upset that her boyfriend didn't join her in the protest. The other girl calmed her, explaining he was probably afraid. On November 6th eleven people were arrested in Beth Johnson park in Orlando, so the 0ccupation does have risks. On Halloween the red headed girl had to come up with a make shift costume out of the duffel bag of clothes she had brought from NYC. She told people she was Molly Ringwald and sure enough, she was a dead ringer.
I didn't talk to anyone about politics, grievances or changes that need to be made. For me, It was enough to be witnessing a peaceful national demonstration that is unprecedented. Americans are assembling, and their voices are being heard. People suddenly realize, they are not alone, they are the majority.