iPhones in hand, first NATO rally goers broadcast live
National Nurses United march toward the Daley Plaza to hold a rally Friday, May 18, 2012. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times
Updated: June 1, 2012 5:12PM
“The revolution will not be televised,” spoken word artist Gil Scott-Heron famously said back in 1970.
As novelist S. E. Hinton would later write, “That was then. This is now.”
The 2012 NATO/G8 protests, while not a revolution, are most definitely being televised. And in a manner unimaginable 42 years ago.
In an age of social media and its resultant social immediacy, the sounds and images of Friday’s National Nurses United rally at Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago were captured and promulgated by dozens of professional journalists and hundreds of citizen journalists from every angle.
Of the maybe 3,000 to 4,000 people in present Friday, at least one in four had a digital camera or cell phone in hand.
One man walked through the crowd holding out an iPhone with the label “Occupy Chicago” taped on the back.
As he walked and videoed, he gave a running description of what he was seeing and hearing.
Tom Broderick of the Oak Park Coalition in Truth & Justice said the prevalence of independent media and others documenting the historic event was a major positive. He and others in his political circle have not been unhappy with the way their concerns have been filtered through traditional media outlets.
“I think it’s fine, it’s wonderful. Let it be our media, let it be our message,” said Broderick, adding, “Let it be peaceful. Militant, but peaceful.”
Roger Beltrami, another OPCT&J member, said traditional media outlets have been inordinately focused on the possibility of disruptions and violence during the protests, far more than the actual issues that brought out the protesters.
He said he’s been interviewed several times and “they’ve gotten it wrong each time.”
Broderick and Beltrami and the other members of the OPCT&J who commuted to the National Nurses United rally were decades older than the Occupy Chicago-type protesters who bused and drove and hitch-hiked to Chicago.
Yet they also made use of the internet to coordinate with their local colleagues. In the week leading up to the Friday rally Broderick was communicating with his OPCT&J colleagues via relatively old-fashioned email.
Broderick also used email to reach out to Occupy Chicago organizers to offer his two couches and a single bed to three out-of-town demonstrators.
The Occupy group put him in touch with Vickie Kepling, of Springfield, Mo., who was driving two other Occupy Springfield activists to Chicago on Thursday.
“We just filled up the car and drove,” said Kepling, who said she welcomed the certainty of a place to stay in Chicago.
Of course, modern electronics doesn’t eliminate misunderstanding and miscommunication.
Broderick said when he heard his guests were driving in from Springfield, “I thought it was Illinois, not Missouri. That meant staying up until after midnight Thursday, when Kepling and four other people —not two — arrived at Broderick’s South Ridgeland Avenue house.
He took it all in stride, including the extra houseguests.
“I was excited. The fact that it went from three to four to five was fine with me.”