OCCUPY Bohemian Grove
By Robert Feuer
Mary Moore, a major force in Monte Rio’s Bohemian Grove protests, since their inception in 1980, is gearing up for her heaviest involvement in years, she says, during an interview at her home under the Camp Meeker redwoods.
Moore sees this Occupy era as a new opportunity to amplify her life-long opposition to the ruling class, and a good way to connect with young people. “I’m not optimistic,” she says, “but I’m not going to give up. If I give up, they win.”
Comparing the current climate of dissent to that of her youth, during the 1960s, she says, “It’s got its warts. It’s a lot of new young people coming in and us old people want to tell them how to do it. They’re going to have to learn on their own. A lot of people think of all this as new- it’s not new, but it’s wonderful to have that dream and somebody needs to practice it.”
This year’s demonstrations, under the auspices of the Bohemian Grove Action Network, has been titled Occupy Bohemian Grove. Meetings have been ongoing, with details still sketchy. “It’s always been a coalition,” Moore says. Members of Occupy Portland will be involved, Code Pink has expressed interest, and other groups, (“the usual suspects,” she says), are expected to join. Native American drummers will open proceedings, as they have every year.
Connecting to the burgeoning Occupy movement, whose focus on the 1% they believe control this country, echoes Moore’s original message. The intent of Bohemian Grove protests has always been “to expose that there is a ruling class in this country, and who they are. This concept wasn’t there in 1980, even in the movement. Now it’s out there,” she says.
As a member of the state-wide Abalone Alliance, an anti-nuclear collaboration, Moore helped originate these protests. In the late 1970s, this group decided to research the people making money off the nuclear industry. “It occurred to me,” says Moore, “that all our issues are connected, because somebody up there’s making a profit.” Their acquisition of a Bohemian Grove membership list, revealed the names of many men representing this country’s financial, corporate, military and governmental elite.
Since she lives within a few miles of the Bohemian Grove site, the protests seemed like a good way for her to bring attention to the people who attend the encampments, who, though they say they’re there for entertainment, are also involved in major public policy talks, Moore contends.
The focus of the demonstration, as it has been every year, will be at the Grove’s front gate on Bohemian Avenue. There, protestors can get their message to incoming attendees directly. Asked about the possibility of civil disobedience or even violence, Moore says, “We’re not planning it, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. We don’t have any control over what some individuals want to do. The idea is to get the message out there. The media happens to be the bullhorn.”
Moore isn’t a pacifist, but believes that “using non-violence as a strategy is the only intelligent way to go. We’re not here to alienate people – we’re here to educate.”
The 32-year-old Bohemian Grove protest movement has a colorful history. Wild rumors abound about occurrences within these annual encampments, from baby-burning and sex slaves, to underground tunnels. In 1992, a contingent of 14 police cars and a helicopter surprised protestors, moving them away from the gate where they had traditionally collected. “They were in full riot gear,” says Moore, “with helmets, and it looked kind of silly.”
Peak protests, in the early 1980s, involved coalitions of up to 72 groups, with 1,000 people attending, including major figures like Angela Davis, Holly Near, Dolores Huerta and Cecil Williams. “This year it has the potential to go a lot further,” Moore says. “This year I expect them (the authorities) to be very suspicious.”
Two members of the Grateful Dead, Bob Weir and Mickey Hart, have been Bohemian Grove members for years and still are, says Moore, referring to a two-year-old membership list. She once wrote open letters to each, hoping to dissuade them, but received no responses. ‘They’re just people,” she says, “but they were supposed to represent all that we’re striving for. They were cultural icons. I’d like to think Jerry Garcia would never have done that.”
Moore first became politically active in 1962, with racism as her focal point, she says. In 1966, as a result of her activism, her three children were taken away from her and placed with their fathers. “I learned to channel that in a constructive way,” Moore says. She moved to Los Angeles and her political involvement deepened.
Along the way, Moore has saved thousands of counterculture documents, periodicals, and cultural relics, from stacks of R. Crumb comics to elaborate masks she brought back from Africa. Her rooms are filled with the clutter of history, which she has spent years organizing. Their eventual home will be UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library. “It’s a whole history of 50 years. Maybe people can learn from other’s mistakes,” she says.
Moore’s life has been one of dedication to the cause of creating a fair world. “It’s all the same struggle,” she says. “Right now all you can do is hold hands with the ones who are getting the worst of it. It really is about human suffering.”
For developing details, go to www.occupybohemiangrove.org. Contact Anne at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any local housing available for visitors, even just land with room for camping and toilet availability; no campfires.
UPDATE FROM MARY MOORE:
Attached is the interim flyer for the Bohemian Grove protest on July 14. We've rented the Monte Rio theater for that day from noon to 4AM. While the speakers list is not yet final we're pleased to announce that Cindy Sheehan will be with us that day as well as a Mothers delegation from Fukushima, Japan that is touring the state at the time. (lots of connections to nukes at the Grove).
We are focusing also on local activist groups to help us build a day long CREATION OF CARE to counter their 133rd Cremation of Care. CODE PINK (who recently sponsored a conference on DRONES in Washington DC will also be joining us but mostly this will be a very local effort.
The next meeting is June 16 at 1PM at the Peace Center in Santa Rosa and the final flyers will be available soon after. Also, the Occupy Santa Rosa group is hosting a each in on the Grove on July 8 from Noon to 2PM in Old Courthouse Square for those who want to learn more about what the fuss is all about.
I have never used these lists to solicit funds so apologize in advance to any who are offended by this. But we are $200 short of the rental fee for the Monte Rio amphitheater and they want the full amount (around $700) by June 14. Thanks to all who have already contributed as many are on this list. There will be other expenses but this is the main one.
If you can help us make this last hurdle, checks should be made out to the Peace & Justice Center of Sonoma County and on the memo line please put BOHEMIAN GROVE ACTION NETWORK (that part is very important) Checks can be delivered to the Peace Center on Sebastopol Rd. (between 1PM & 4PM) or you can send to me at P.O. Bx. 296, Occidental, CA. 95465 and I'll get them there.
Thanks to any of you who can help here.