St. Louis Mayor Francis G. Slay closed down the Occupy St. Louis site last Friday night – really Saturday morning at 3 a.m. We knew it was coming. Arrangements had been made for recognizance release and to pick up tents and gear in a room at City Hall. Twenty-five occupiers volunteered and were arrested.
That Friday morning, several hundred beautifully printed posters appeared at the site. In big red letters the posters read:
"We are not camping. We have assembled peaceably to petition the government to redress grievances. This is our permit."
Then you looked closer at the printed background and saw that it was the Bill of Rights!
People are maintaining a daytime occupation in the downtown park and a sidewalk occupation on its edges from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Everybody is trying to figure out what to do next. You probably have considered that question, no matter your political stripe or activist bent.
I'm thinking we should post our grievances on the doors of corporations and banks. I got the idea earlier Friday night, the first time I was there in the dark. On the corner next to our assembly, at the top of a big building, was the neon sign, Peabody Corporation.
Remember the song, "Oh, Daddy, won't you take me down to Muhelenberg County, Down by the Green River where Paradise lay?" "I'm sorry, my son, but you're too late in askin'. Mr. Peabody's coal company's hauled it away."
I wanted to print up our grievances right then and tape them to Peabody's door, but of course, everyone was preparing for eviction from the park. Maybe another day we could occupy the sidewalk in front of the door for an hour or so to punctuate the action.
Posting grievances is a step everyone can take. We all have them. But writing them out, posting them on the Internet as well as a company door, acting together, will help us think together about how to get these grievances addressed.
Some call for federal government action. Others may really need local prosecutors to enforce the law. And still others require cooperation from business. After all, CEOs have grandchildren and a stake in the future.
A radio host asked me on air how my faith plays into these political actions. I said it wasn't so much a matter of faith as of love.