[News] Occupy the Super Bowl: Now More Than Just A Slogan

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Feb 3 12:09:11 EST 2012

Occupy the Super Bowl: Now More Than Just A Slogan

By <http://www.zcommunications.org/zspace/davezirin>Dave Zirin

Friday, February 03, 2012

The sheer volume of the Super Bowl is 
overpowering: the corporate branding, the sexist 
beer ads, the miasma of Madison Avenue produced 
militarism, the two-hour pre-game show. But 
people in the Labor and Occupy movements in 
Indiana are attempting to drown out the din with 
the help of a human microphone right at the front 
gates of Lucas Oil Stadium. The Republican-led 
state legislature aims to pass a law this week 
that would make Indiana a “Right to Work” state. 
For those uninitiated in Orwellian doublespeak, 
the term “Right to Work” ranks with “Operation 
Iraqi Freedom” and “Fair and Balanced” as a 
phrase of grotesque sophistry. In the 
reality-based community, “Right to Work” means 
smashing the state’s unions and making it harder 
for non-union workplaces to get basic job 
protections This has drawn peals of protest 
throughout the state, with the Occupy and labor 
movement front and center from small towns to 
Governor Mitch Daniels’s door at the State House. 
Daniels and friends timed this legislation with 
the Super Bowl. Whether that was simple arrogance 
or ill-timed idiocy, they made a reckless move. 
Now protests will be a part of the Super Bowl scenery in Indy.

The Super Bowl is perennially the Woodstock for 
the 1%: a Romney-esque cavalcade of private 
planes, private parties, and private security. 
Combine that with this proposed legislation, and 
the people of Indiana will not let this orgy of 
excess go unoccupied. Just as the parties start a 
week in advance, so have the protests. Over 150 
people – listed as 75 in USA Today, but I’ll go 
with eyewitness accounts - marched through last 
Saturday’s Super Bowl street fair in downtown 
Indianapolis with signs that read, "Occupy the 
Super Bowl," "Fight the Lie" and "Workers United 
Will Prevail." Occupy the Super Bowl has also 
become a T-shirt, posted for the world to see on the NBC Sports Blog.

The protests also promise to shed light on the 
reality of life for working families in the city 
of Indianapolis. Unemployment is at 13.3%, with 
unemployment for African American families at 
21%. Two of every five African American families 
with a child under 5 live below the anemic 
poverty line. Such pain amidst the gloss of the 
Super Bowl and the prospect of Right to Work 
legislation is, for many, a catalyst to just do something.

April Burke, a former school teacher and member 
of a local Occupy chapter, said to me, “I see 
Right to Work for what it is: an attack on not 
only organized labor but on all working class 
 Because strong unions set the bar for 
wages, RTW laws will effectively lower wages for 
all. Rushing the passage of RTW in the State of 
Indiana on the eve of the Super Bowl is an insult 
to the thousands of union members who built Lucas 
Stadium as well as the members of the National 
Football League Players Association who issued a 
statement condemning the RTW bill.”

As April mentioned, the NFLPA has spoken out 
strongly against the bill. When I interviewed 
Player Association president DeMaurice Smith last week, he said,

“When you look at proposed legislation in a place 
like Indiana that wants to call it something like 
‘Right to Work,’ I mean, let's just put the 
hammer on the nail. It's untrue. This bill has 
nothing to do with a ‘right to work.’ If folks in 
Indiana and that great legislature want to pass a 
bill that really is something called ‘Right to 
Work’ have a constitutional amendment that 
guarantees every citizen a job. That’s a ‘right 
to work’. What this is instead is a right to 
ensure that ordinary working citizens can't get 
together as a team, can't organize, and can't 
fight management on an even playing field. So 
don't call it “Right to Work”. If you want to 
have an intelligent discussion about what the 
bill is, call it what it is. Call it an 
anti-organizing bill. Fine... let's cast a vote 
on whether or not ordinary workers can get 
together and represent themselves, and let’s have a real referendum.”

But Gov. Mitch Daniels, who was George W. Bush’s 
budget director didn’t get this far by feeling 
shame or holding referendums. This is the same 
Mitch Daniels who said in 2006,"I'm not 
interested in changing any of it. Not the 
prevailing wage laws, and certainly not the right 
to work law. We can succeed in Indiana with the 
laws we have, respecting the rights of labor, and 
fair and free competition for everybody." In 
other words, he’s that most original of creatures: a politician who lies.

If Daniels signs the bill before the big game, 
demonstrations sponsored by the AFL-CIO in 
partnership with the Occupy Movement will greet 
the 100,000 people who can afford the pilgrimage 
to Lucas Oil Field. The NFLPA, I’ve been told by 
sources, will also not be silent in the days to 
come. As Occupy protester Tithi Bhattacharya said 
to me, “If the bill becomes law this week then it 
is very important for all of us to protest this 
Sunday. We should show the 1% that the fate of 
Indiana cannot be decided with the swish of a pen 
by corporate politicians - the Super Bowl should 
be turned into a campaign for justice and jobs.”

Occupy the Super Bowl. Now it’s more than just a slogan.

[BTW: I like the Giants, 24-20]

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