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Monday, October 17, 2011

Occupying Harrisburg

Introduction:

Occupy Wall Street came to south-central Pennsylvania by way of Occupy Harrisburg. Occupy Harrisburg began its occupation of the Capitol at 12:01 a.m. on October 15, 2011 and ran through the day. Various media outlets reported that the group would extend its occupation through October 16, 2011, although they would legally be required to move from the Capitol. This report offers a brief reference list of how local media coverd Occupy Harrisburg and then provides my firsthand account of what happened along with analysis of the event.

How Local Media Covered Occupy Harrisburg:

Various south-central Pennsylvania media outlets reported on Occupy Harrisburg. Some of the stories are written by the local media outlets and others are AP feeds. I did not do an exhaustive search to see if the media outlets that ran AP feeds did stories of their own. Also, I did not check every single local media outlet, although I tried to choose some of the major ones. I’m linking to some of their reports so that the reader can compare and contrast how these media outlets reported on Occupy Harrisburg with how my report on it is.

The Patriot-News: Harrisburg, PA:

York Daily Record: York, PA:

The Sentinel: Carlisle, PA:

ABC 27, WHTM: Harrisburg, PA:

FOX 43, WPMT: York, PA:

My Coverage and Analysis:

I went to Harrisburg and watched the 12:01 a.m. (October 15, 2011) start of the Occupy Harrisburg event. The Capitol building in Harrisburg is located at the intersections of North Third Street and State Street. I estimated that there were between 100 and 125 people during the time I remained there. This intrigued me. I thought that such a relatively large number of people at the event for that time of day could indicate that Occupy Harrisburg might grow into something rather large by the time daylight hours arrived. However, I don’t think that occurred. (I’ll explain later why I say this.)

I left the event after an hour or so and then returned during daylight hours. The crowd now was smaller than the one at midnight. I estimated that approximately 60 people stood on the steps.


Occupy Harrisburg on October 15, 2011. This view is from State Street looking northeast towards North Third Street at the front of the Capitol. The Occupy Harrisburg participants are just visible at the lower part of the Capitol steps. Photograph © Paul Hair, 2011.
The relatively small amount of people is particularly significant when considering that York Daily Record reported that Occupy York combined with Occupy Harrisburg for this event. My own photograph shows one of the participants holding up an “Occupy York” sign.


Occupy York Combined with Occupy Harrisburg. A single person holds up an “Occupy York” sign, showing that the 60 or so people at the event during late Saturday morning consisted of two cells of the “Occupy” movement. Photograph © Paul Hair, 2011.

It’s possible that there were larger numbers of people at the event at other times of the day. (The group initially planned to stay at the Capitol for 24 hours.) However, even when looking at the photographs from local media outlets that documented the participants walking to Wells Fargo, the photographs don’t seem to indicate that a significantly larger amount of people were there. And the walk to Wells Fargo should have been one of the peak points of the event (if not the peak). Furthermore, while The Patriot-News claimed on October 16 that 750 people were at the Capitol on Saturday, commenters in the comment section disputed that, citing (at times) figures closer to mine. York Daily Record also backs up my estimated numbers, writing that, “Organizers said the crowd peaked at about 150 about 1:30 a.m. Saturday, and numbered about 80 at 11 a.m.” One possibility for the 750 count that The Patriot-News presented could be that it was the total number of people who were at the Capitol on all of Saturday—not the total number of people at the Capitol at any one time.

The Occupy Harrisburg participants were largely silent and looked quite apathetic and bored when I first got there. However, when I (and others) began taking photographs, the group started trying some chants. The main chant they kept returning to was, “Show me what democracy looks like!”


This Is What the 99% Looks Like. The Occupy Harrisburg cell has adopted the claim of the larger Occupy Wall Street movement, saying that they represent 99% of the population. Photograph © Paul Hair, 2011.
I photographed each direction along North Third Street. I did so because I wanted to capture an accurate representation of how people near this event reacted to it. The two photographs below look in opposite directions along North Third Street in front of the Capitol. The few people in the immediate area of the Capitol on October 15 went about their business and largely ignored the Occupy Harrisburg participants.


Looking South on North Third Street. This view looking towards Walnut Street and Strawberry Square shows a few cars and some construction workers in the distance. If you look closely, you can see one pedestrian on the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street. Other than these things, the area was largely void of people. Photograph © Paul Hair, 2011.

Looking North on North Third Street.. Photograph © Paul Hair, 2011.

The Occupy Harrisburg participants held honk-if-you-support-us signs. Several people in vehicles did honk but in reality this showed nothing. Some people undoubtedly honked because they supported the Occupy Harrisburg cell but others likely honked simply because they saw a sign telling them to honk. Furthermore, some honked because they didn’t like the protestors. (For instance, occupants of one vehicle that honked called the Occupy Harrisburg participants, “assholes.”) So it was impossible for me to assess how many people who drove by or were in the area supported the Occupy Harrisburg cell.

Occupy Harrisburg: Who Are They?

The web site for Occupy Harrisburg is http://occupyharrisburg.org/. I am going to post some links to specific pages on the site and explain why I am linking to them.

  • Who We Are: The “Who We Are” page claims that Occupy Harrisburg is, “In defense of the 99% of Americans who are wrongfully taken advantage of by the richest 1% of Americans, Occupy Harrisburg will bring about social change through radical, peaceful protest and organization.” The page closes by saying, “We, the people of the United States of America, considering the crisis at hand, now reassert our sovereign control of our land. Solidarity Forever!”
  • Spread the Word: The “Spread the Word” page contains posters for the “Occupy” movement, created by Occupy Together. The posters look like something you would expect from a radical leftist group. Of particular note is the poster that has the raised fist, something often associated with communism.
  • Occupy Harrisburg’s Facebook Page: If you have the time, scroll through the posts and look for the ones that link to news reports of riots and chaos occurring in the U.S. and the world. Now imagine if, for instance, the Tea Party started worldwide riots and destruction. Would the Tea Party highlight reports on them? Would the formerly mainstream media allow Tea Partiers to get away with it?

Occupy Harrisburg Leaders:

I want to highlight three people who seem to be among the leaders of Occupy Harrisburg: Alex Knapp, Alix Jay Bitzer, and Jefferson Pepper.

Alex Knapp:

The Patriot-News article, “Occupy Harrisburg holds first organizational meeting, allied with Occupy Wall Street movement,” on October 5 and the ABC 27, WHTM news report, “Occupy Harrisburg group holds first meeting,” on October 6 identified Alex Knapp as an organizer of Occupy Harrisburg.

A Google search reveals that Occupy Harrisburg previously had a page at http://occupyharrisburg.org/about/. This page no longer is active. However, a Google cache page shows that Occupy Harrisburg initially listed Knapp as a co-leader (with an Alix Jay Bitzer being the other).


I did another quick web search and found that Alex Knapp is on Change.org. His page confirms that he is a hard leftist.

Alix Jay Bitzer:

The Google cache page mentioned above shows that Alix Jay Bitzer initially was listed as a co-leader of Occupy Harrisburg. She may still be one of the leaders but the Occupy Harrisburg movement has been trying to present itself as a leaderless, grassroots movement. This may be why the Occupy Harrisburg “About” page no longer is active.

Occupy Harrisburg having Alex Knapp and Alix Jay Bitzer as their co-leaders is significant. So is the fact that the Occupy Harrisburg movement was started at the Metropolitan Community Church of the Spirit. That church name stuck out to me because any time I hear the words “Metropolitan Community Church” I automatically think of the Metropolitan Community Churches denomination which is openly heretical and embraces sodomy. So I did a quick search and found the Metropolitan Community Church of the Spirit along Jefferson Street in Harrisburg. The Metropolitan Community Church of the Spirit’s website states that, “. . . We are an intentionally diverse spiritual community reaching across barriers of gender, race, sexuality, disabilities, and religious backgrounds.”

The above information means that the Occupy Harrisburg cell was started at a sodomite church by two promoters of the sodomite movement. (Alex Knapp’s Change.org page shows that he backs the sodomite movement. Bitzer’s Twitter account shows that she is a backer of the sodomite movement.)

Furthermore, the ABC 27, WHTM news report, “Occupy Harrisburg group holds first meeting,” from October 6 shows that one of the first things that the Occupy Harrisburg organizers (which would be Knapp and Bitzer) wanted to do was, “Organizers said before the meeting that their first plan of action was to protest and call for the resignation or impeachment of Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson.” ABC 27 says that Occupy Harrisburg wanted to call for Thompson’s removal because of fiscal reasons. However, the leaders of Occupy Harrisburg actually probably wanted to do so because Mayor Thompson (Democrat) has been accused of being “homophobic.” (Google the terms, "linda thompson" homophobic.) I do not believe that this proposal ever happened because the people who joined with Knapp and Bitzer did not want to do so.

Therefore, what this all means is that the launching point of Occupy Harrisburg is the sodomite movement. Most people will want to overlook this at all costs but it cannot be ignored. The sodomite movement is normally a key component of any radical leftist group.

Jefferson Pepper:

The Occupy Harrisburg website lists Pepper as the contact person for Occupy Harrisburg.


Pepper spent the winters of 2006 and 2007 holed up in his cedar-sided home studio in the Conewago Mountains of southern Pennsylvania, sometimes going for weeks at a time without leaving the house. Disillusioned with the social, religious and political climate of the U.S., he became obsessed with the question “What has happened to my country?” He was inspired in part by Howard Zinn’s landmark book A People’s History of the United States and by the Dover Intelligent Design Trial (Kitzmiller vs Dover School Board) which played out in his backyard of Dover, PA. The result was American Evolution, a 50-song, 3-CD series which traces the evolution of culture, society and music, as well as the evolution of the individual in America. Spanning over 500 years of history, Pepper tells the story of America as seen through the eyes of working people, as opposed to politicians and moneyed elites.

I wouldn’t normally trust Wikipedia without outside verification but the history page of Pepper’s Wikipedia page shows that a “Jeffersonpepper” contributed to the contents of the page. It’s also reasonable to assess that the content (not formatting) added by someone other than Pepper likely was someone friendly to Pepper. Therefore, I assess that the remarks about Zinn’s, A People’s History of the United States, inspiring Pepper are true. Accuracy in Media has reported on Zinn’s communist ties, and explained how A People’s History of the United States is leftist propaganda.

Pepper’s biography on his MySpace profile page (slightly down from the top of the page and on the right side) reads like what you would expect from a typical, self-absorbed leftist musician. He also has a YouTube video of the title track from his anti-American military album, Christmas in Fallujah. Pepper spends the majority of the song singing about how American Servicemen unjustly kill and terrorize Iraqis, but then ends the song by crooning that we shouldn’t blame the Serviceman, apparently thinking that such a throwaway line will somehow cover up the message of the rest of the song.

Pepper also recently appeared on The Rick Smith Show which identifies itself as progressive talk broadcasting on the radio in south-central Pennsylvania. The interview of Pepper lasts for approximately 15 minutes and is available for download or streaming audio. I listened to the entire segment but will not offer an itemized analysis of it. However, I will note that the segment begins with the host of the radio show referring to Tea Partiers as “teabaggers” and from there on plays like what you would expect from a left-wing radio show.

Therefore, the Occupy Harrisburg cell also possesses two more key components of radical leftist groups: anti-American military elements (when the American military is used positively for American interests) and communist influence.

Conclusion:

I do not yet know what the long-term effectiveness of Occupy Harrisburg will be. However, the group should be viewed as a radical leftist group and a potential security threat. (The larger Occupy Wall Street is a clear national security threat. See my, “Occupying Wall Street and the Leftist National Security Threat” at Big Peace for additional details on that.)

Why Should Occupy Harrisburg Be Viewed as a Potential Security Threat?

My initial and non-comprehensive investigation into Occupy Harrisburg already reveals common connections that radical, dangerous leftists normally have: sodomites / anti-morality proponents, Marxism and / or communist influence, anarchists (see also the Harrisburg City Councilman’s quote on anarchists being at an Occupy Harrisburg meeting and his seeming lack of concern about this), and anti-American military sentiments. The Occupy Wall Street movement has openly compared itself to the Arab Spring (which overthrew national governments) and is becoming increasingly violent in the U.S. and across the world. Furthermore, the Nazi Party and Communist Party of the USA now openly support the Occupy Wall Street movement. It would be irresponsible to fail to treat Occupy Harrisburg, which aligns itself with the Occupy Wall Street movement, as a potential security threat as well. The group warrants careful monitoring and investigation.

Long-term Effectiveness of Occupy Harrisburg:

The turnout of Occupy Harrisburg was low during the time I witnessed them. They also seemed rather directionless. This could indicate that the group won’t last long or won’t be effective. The fact that Occupy Harrisburg actually consisted of two groups (Occupy Harrisburg and Occupy York) and still could only draw small numbers is another indicator that the cell might not last long or be very effective. Furthermore, while Occupy Harrisburg drew significant media attention on October 15, 2011, the “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” event (located in Harrisburg on City Island) clearly drew more people as photographic evidence indicates. In other words, while Occupy Harrisburg drew a lot of media attention, it wasn’t that popular and at least one other event in the area drew a larger crowd.

However, it should not be assumed that Occupy Harrisburg will disappear soon or that it will not have a significant impact. The initial Occupy Wall Street movement began slowly but gained ground. Occupy Harrisburg could grow and gain momentum, especially if the group receives backing and resources, such as the AFL-CIO promised as seen in a video posted at The Blaze.

Furthermore, a small but determined group can make a huge difference. We should not underestimate the Occupy Wall Street movement or the Occupy Harrisburg movement. Furthermore, our public officials have an obligation to investigate the threat of the national Occupy Wall Street movement, which openly identifies with the Arab Spring and openly expresses desires that run counter to foundational America and its interests.

Countering the “Occupy” Movements:

Here are two brief suggestions for how private citizens can counter the “Occupy” movements that are raging across the nation.

  • Hold Public Officials Accountable for Upholding the Law: Cliff Kincaid at Accuracy in Media wrote an interesting column on how the officials in Washington, DC have failed to enforce the law by allowing the October 2011 movement (not affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement but endorsing of it) to occupy public areas illegally, thus trampling on the rights and freedoms of law-abiding citizens who should be able to enjoy such public areas free of threat and harassment. Public officials respond to those who are the loudest. And if private citizens continue remaining silent and continue to allow public officials to shirk their duties, then public officials will continue pandering to the law breakers at the expense of the law abiders.
  • Peel Off Those Who Don’t Realize That the Government Is Responsible for Our Fiscal Problems: In other words, Herman Cain is right—the Occupy Wall Street movement should be protesting the government. Some of those involved with the Occupy Harrisburg and Occupy Wall Street movements undoubtedly don’t realize this. If some of them are willing to listen to reason, then the facts will persuade them that they are protesting the wrong people and the wrong institutions.

This concludes the report for now. If Occupy Harrisburg makes the news again, I may issue another report on it.