Are Occupy ‘Crashings’ A Good Strategy?

Is standing up, interrupting, and getting kicked out of a meeting a good direction for Occupy?  It’s the new trend and has been showing up at conventions, meetings, and fundraisers worldwide. One form of such crashings, known as mic checking, makes use of the #OWS People’s Mic technique. The most inspiring early example, perhaps, was the mic checking of the NYC Department of Education board meeting done by Occupy Wall Street in October:


Earlier examples of this strategy were implemented several years ago by Medea Benjamin and Code Pink to interrupt congressional hearings and the Republican National Convention:

What do you think? Is this a good way for marginalized voices to be heard? Do drastic times call for drastic action to get messages out, or is this just unproductive?

A few more examples of crashings and mic checks around the nation:

Occupy ‘Messenger’ Interrupts Congressional Deficit Super Committee Hearing

99%ers Mic Check Newt Gingrich At Harvard

Occupiers Crash Chamber Of Commerce Holiday Party With Human Red Carpet

JP Morgan Mic Checked At Princeton

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  1. lara says:

    I think the strategy is okay. Annoying at times for some involved, but okay. How else are people supposed to make themselves heard by officials? Sure, writing a letter is the common suggestion but while sentiments are perhaps noted, they are largely annoyed by officials because ordinary citizens can’t BUY their concerns. As people become more desperate, they have less and less to lose. So while those who mic check officials shouldn’t be surprised to find themselves escorted out, I think it’s a good strategy. You’re talking to a breed who typically listens to money. So why not.

    • Ben Zolno says:

      I think Lara is dead on. Or, “alive” on… I guess “on target” is the better phrase.

      As an audience member, I think it’s one of those things where it’s annoying at first, but the third or fourth time you hear it, you say, “Wait, so what are they talking about?” And then, you start to educate yourself, and the like. Maybe.

      Another cool thing is that, if the outspeaker yells about how the people’s voices can’t be heard, then they are shuffled out or forced out, it really makes you think. I’m still disgusted by the silence, then laughter of the Florida crowd in response to the screams of pain at the infamous “Don’t taze me bro” incident. I’d like to think that his pain was part of the movement; a crack into breaking the Shock Doctrine.

    • Amanda says:

      As long as it is not overused….variety in strategy would be beneficial to prevent turning off people who otherwise may consider learning about the movement. I like the Christmas dinner idea. Variety would also prevent media from portraying protesters as just annoying but-in-sks. Maybe then with every sensational clip the message would also be mentioned.

  2. urbaned says:

    Mic Check is a brilliant representation of OWS. It’s transparent, non-hierarchical, and nonviolent…and cleaner than throwing a pie in someone’s face, although maybe not as much fun to watch. If speakers learn to outwit Mic Check, I am sure OWS’ers will come up with something just as creative because many people are now listening to the 99%.

  3. Thehealingsquad says:

    Mic checks highlight the best and worst of the movement as it is today. A lot depends on how it’s done. I think the intention should be less to shut down a speaker (who also has a right to speak and whom the audience has come to hear), than injecting a few powerful and thought provoking points that s/he will have to respond to or look like an idiot. A good attitude (calm and good-humored as opposed to angry and shrill) are also very important.

    I also hope we can start moving away from explicitly “protest” actions and towards more community building actions. How about cooking a giant Christmas dinner for the NYPD?

  4. TomJoadsGhost says:

    As a great man once said–and I’m paraphrasing–a disruption is necessary before people begin talking about the truth in any conference or gathering in the United States. Otherwise it only empowered people blowing smoke.

  5. Dr JWatson says:

    Mic Checks represent Occupy perfectly, in every way. It has non-violent methods, Good intent, and a clear message… but in the case of both the movement and the mic checks, too many people cannot understand what is being said. It is beautifully symbolic, and I just wish that mic-check’s and movements had subtitles.

  6. scodav says:

    My thought is, don’t employ the other side’s methods in the case of free speech. I always feel disgusted when I hear anyone speaking shouted down, no matter their viewpoint.

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