Friday, November 18, 2011

Guest Post: Katrina Ford Occupies Baltimore

"Great Pyramid" is the final statement on side A of Celebration's most recent LP, Hello Paradise. The band channels a card in the tarot that deals "the boss, the king, male influence and authority, planning, building, construction, seeking stability, ambition and confidence, tradition, order, and structure." The song begins with a simple question, “Hey Kingdom, where do your ambitions lie?”

It concludes with Katrina Ford demanding you to "stand up, to the top." Last weekend Ford's band, Celebration, were asked by Occupy Baltimore to play at McKeldin Square, the site of Occupy Baltimore's encampment. The Baltimore Police Department got wind of the performance, and shut it down before it could even take place, threatening to confiscate instruments and "remove" individuals that performed.

Now more than ever is a good time to "stand up, declare damn! God damn! I’m alive!” To be alive is to be free, and we can all at least agree on the right to freedom. Right?

The following is an open letter to the universe from Celebration's Katrina Ford.

OWS! Occupy! Occupy! The idea is grand and hopeful, it has crept in and gained momentum and support from across the globe. I feel my depression finally lifting. OWS to me, is a tribal community of care in a world I thought had forgotten how to dream big. The cat is out of the bag, on the street, and the world is watching!

I believe the more it is resisted and evicted the more it will grow, which is beautiful and scary to me. Beautiful because of the utopian ideals that it represents, to see people sharing and believing that we can make a better life for ALL,  not just the 1%. Scary because the resistance has shown it's true colors, and they are violently violating the law they represent, AND they have weapons.

As I watch video after video of these brutalities I ask,  Where's the humanity? Has basic human rights gone straight down the tube?!

A month ago, representatives from Occupy Baltimore contacted us and asked us to come down and play. We had been to Mckeldin Square a few times over the past few weeks and wanted to help. It's cold and sometimes boring standing around waiting for a wave. We hoped by bringing some dancing and music we'd give them some much needed entertainment and something to bounce around and warm up to. So we agreed on a date and started to plan our equipment to fit the space and energy limitations.

The Baltimore Sun announced our upcoming performance, which alerted the authorities. A week before the day, Occupy Baltimore was told by the city that no generators could be used for the performance and that they would require them to have security for the event. So at the news we scrambled to find a battery powered version of us.

On the day of the show, police showed up to the encampment and told Occupy that if we brought in any PA it would be confiscated. Furthermore, if anyone performed they would be "removed." So we left our bongos and pump organ at home and showed up empty handed. We had to at least explain to our friends why we couldn't play.

After an hour of standing around and asking ourselves questions like "if I clap my hands is that performing?" or "will they arrest me if I sing and stomp on the street?" We saw the humor in it and felt like the heroes of Footloose. Then I began to see the gravity. We dared not challenge it at the request of Occupy, they felt like their relations with the city had been good but strained and didn't want to push it.  We had all but given up, then at some point two of the officers walked over to bridge the gap, so we thought.

It ended up being a dodgy conversation on what kind of music will be played and what equipment they allowed. Basically it was micro diced until we were left with no real option. They didn't want us to make any noise, we had no permit to.

We feeling somewhat of a coitus interruptus, pulled together a renegade performance at Holy Frijoles later that night.  As for playing directly for Occupy we are still waiting word to see if we can perform SOMETHING for the big day this coming Saturday and I'm still determined to bring a little celebration to the movement.

I am part of the 99% and I am behind it 100%. ---K. Ford

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this is a great anecdote, i wish more friends artists slightly cared about occupy