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Michael Moore: “There’s No Turning Back!”

Occupy Oakland Host: “ Mic check one two. Can everyone, even in the back, can hear me?” Crowd: “Yeah!!” Host: “Okay, great. It’s my pleasure to introduce Michael Moore.”

Occupy Oakland Host: “ Mic check one two. Can everyone, even in the back, can hear me?”

Crowd: “Yeah!!”

Host: “Okay, great. It’s my pleasure to introduce Michael Moore.”

Michael Moore: “Greetings, Oakland! Occupy Oakland! Occupy Oakland! Occupy Oakland! Occupy everywhere!! I, I am honoured to be here, to be part of this. Uh, to the media who are present, uh, let me stress to you, this movement has no spokesperson. Everyone here is a spokesperson. Everyone here, everyone here has a story to tell. There are people here who have no health insurance. There are people here who do not have a job. There are people here who are living in poverty. There are people here who have jobs, but have been told to take less. And I invite you to interview the thousands of other spokespeople who are here at Occupy Oakland. Someone asked me, ‘Who is the leader of this organisation?’ [Guffaws] And I said, ‘We are all the leaders! Everyone here!’ We are all leaders. And we are all followers. We are all doing this together. The media and the power establishment is having a hard time figuring this out. So, be patient with them. They are used to just a few people showing up with a few signs and then they go away and have a meeting in the basement of the Unitarian Church. God bless the Unitarians, by the way. Those in charge in this country and the media arm of Wall Street and corporate America were not prepared for this to be happening in hundreds, hundreds of cities across this country right now! Hundreds! And it has, it has happened with no leaders, no organisation, no dues pay, no dues to pay. It’s happened organically from the grassroots, the true grassroots. And in my lifetime, I have never seen a movement like this take hold this fast with this many people all across the country. Thank you, everyone, all of us for doing this. And there’s no turning back, is there?”

Crowd: “No!!!”

Michael Moore: “There’s no turning back!!”

Crowd: “No!!!”

Michael Moore: “I was at Occupy Wall Street last night, in Zuccotti Park, Liberty Plaza, and I am here to bring greetings from the original Occupy Wall Street. Thank you, Oakland! Thank you, Oakland!”

Audience Member (male): “Power to the people! Power to the people!”

Michael Moore: “I said, I said, ‘What are we gonna do with winter coming?’ It was almost a freezing rain last night in New York City. I said, ‘What are we gonna do with winter coming?’ And they said, ‘There’s two guys over there right now who have flown in from Occupy Anchorage.”

Crowd: [Laughs]

Michael Moore: “And they are here to consult with us on how to make it through the winter!”

Crowd: [Laughs Cheers]

Michael Moore: “They said there’s even an ice company in New Jersey that has offered large blocks of ice to build igloos in Zuccotti Park. The Mayor, and the Police, and Wall Street are hoping that the winter will kill the movement in the same way that they don’t understand that this is a leaderless organisation with tens of millions of spokespeople. They also don’t understand that weather is not the problem facing us right now. Climate change is facing us. But the weather in New York City is not going to stop this incredible movement. Let me just give you an idea, uh, because I’ve been travelling the country, what I’ve seen. Uh, there’s a town about, maybe a hundred and fifty miles east of here called Grass Valley, California. Are you familiar with it?”

Crowd: “Yeah!!!” [Cheers]

Michael Moore: “Where the hell is Grass Valley, right? No, I know where it is. Nobody across the country knows Grass Valley. And, of course, the media doesn’t know Grass Valley. But last weekend, in Grass Valley, there were 400 people participating in Occupy Grass Valley. 400 people! There’s, there’s only a few thousand people in the town. Alright? And, and everyone was there, old, young, out of work, people with work, the spread of American society is at each of these. You could see it right now. I can see it. I am sitting here looking at the mosaic that this country is right now, right here in Oakland. This is—”

Audience Member (male): “Hey cameraman, turn around and take a picture.”

Michael Moore: “We’ll get the cameras to turn around here, just a sec-, you know, I don’t understand it either. I’ve wondered this for a long time. Uh, and I’ve tried to explain to them that this is not what people want to be looking at while they’re eating dinner and watching the six o’clock news. So, I’m sorry. But I’m getting healthy. And I’m now in my tenth month with no red meat. [Guffaws]”

Crowd: “Whoo!!!”

Michael Moore: “And that will be the sound bite on the evening news.”

Crowd: [Laughs]

Michael Moore: “Now, this is the first of these that I’ve spoken at where there’s an amplified sound system. Um, what laws are we breaking here?”

Audience Member (male): “A lot.”

Michael Moore: “A lot of laws? [Chuckles] Um—”

Audience Member (male): “We set it up just for you!”

Michael Moore: “Thank you! Thank you. Um, Mayor Quan is having a press conference right now. Uh—”

Crowd: “Boo!!!”

Michael Moore: “—upstairs. I sent her an email asking if we could, uh, speak, um, while I was here. Uh, but I have to tell you the other night, uh, both Tuesday and Wednesday night, um, not being here and watching from afar, uh, what took place here, um, was really horrifying, uh, to see this in this country. Um, it made, it made, it made the rest of the people in the United States aware of something that maybe many of you had been aware of for the last decade and that is the militarisation of our local police departments.”

Crowd: “Yeah!! [Cheers Applause] Fuck the police!”

Michael Moore: “The Congress is not allowed to tell the public how much is spent on Homeland Security, but these local police departments all across the country over the last ten years have sucked up, literally, billions of dollars to buy sophisticated equipment, to buy armaments that you use in a warzone—”

Crowd: “Boo!”

Michael Moore: “—to buy tanks, to set up spying systems.”

Audience Member (male): “On our tax dollars.”

Michael Moore: “Yes, we paid for this. And, um, and to prepare for what they believe is the inevitable, which is the people, sooner or later, aren’t going to take it any longer.”

Crowd: “Whoo!!!”

Michael Moore: “Ten years—”

Audience Member (male): “Don’t protect the corporations!!!”

Audience Member (male): “Fuck them!”

Crowd: “Shhh. Shhh.”

Michael Moore: “Ten years after 9/11, the majority of Americans realise who the real terrorists are. They are the people who, who create policies and who do things that literally do kill people. For instance, a Congressional Committee last month released these figures. They wanted to find out how many Americans die every year because, simply from the fact, that they don’t have health insurance. They didn’t go to the doctor ‘cos they didn’t have insurance. Nearly 45,000 Americans die every year simply because they don’t have health insurance. My friends, that is fifteen 9/11s every single year! A system, a system that is set up to harm our own citizens! A profit-making insurance system! Who said that it is morally correct to make a profit off people when they get sick? Do ya, how, how sick is that? I can tell you—”

Audience Member (male): “Neocolonialism!”

Michael Moore: “How much money—”

Audience Member (male): “Free America!”

Michael Moore: “—has corporate America made from these two wars? These two illegal, immoral wars? How much have they made? We are still spending over $2 billion dollars a week on these wars. What could we do with that money if it was here in Oakland and Flint, Michigan and across the country? Somebody asked me, coming in here, ‘Who organised this?’

Scattered Members of Crowd: “We did!!”

Michael Moore: “Who organised this? I know, I know, I know you think we, the people, organised it, right. [Laughs] Where is Wells Fargo? I just passed it on the street. If you want to know who organised this, they organised it! The people on Wall Street organised this! Bank of America organised this! ExxonMobil, BP organised this! They did more by simply putting their boot on the necks of millions of Americans. And like any human being, like any human being, how long can you keep a boot on your neck?”

Audience Member (male): “Not one more second, we ain’t takin' it no more!!!!”

Michael Moore: “Not for one second with the boot on the neck.”

Crowd: “Whoo!!!”

Audience Member (male): “Go, ‘head, Mike.”

Audience Member (male): “Oakland style, brotha.”

Michael Moore: “[Laughs] I know. He said, 'It’s Oakland style. We’re doing this Oakland style.’”

Audience Member (male): “Occupy!”

Michael Moore: “Let me tell you something else I’ve discovered across the country. Um, and that is, um, America, contrary to what maybe many here believe and the way it’s portrayed to us in the media, America is not a conservative country. Most Americans are actually quite liberal in their beliefs. They may not call themselves liberals, but if you look at any of the polls, the majority of Americans, come down on the liberal side of the issue on just about every single issue. The majority of Americans are against these wars. The majority of Americans want universal health care. The majority of Americans believe women should be paid the same as men. The majority of Americans—”

Audience Member (female): “That’s because they are the majority!”

Michael Moore: “—want stronger environmental laws, not weaker ones.”

Audience Member (male): “School closures! School closures!”

Michael Moore: “And for the first time last month, in a poll that was taken, for the first time 54%, the majority of Americans, say they believe gay marriage should be the law of the land.”

Audience Member (male): “…legalise marijuana!”

Michael Moore: “That’s the country you live in. That’s the, that’s the country you live in. And I know to people in the Bay Area it may seem to get a little scary as you head toward Richmond.”

Crowd: [Laughs]

Michael Moore: “Did I pick the right town?”

Crowd: [Laughs]

Michael Moore: “I need another town. What? As you head towards Walnut Creek!”

Crowd: “Whoo!!!”

Michael Moore: “I was, I was just trying to remember BART stops. Um. Can I just put that down there? ('Yeah. I got you.') Um, but as you go, as you go across this country you see that that’s the country you share, the people out there. That’s why they’re int-, that’s why 72% last week said they believe taxes should be raised on the rich, 72%. So—“

Crowd: “Whoo!”

Michael Moore: “So, to the media who are here, um, this is a few thousand people. But everybody here represents a few thousand more, or a few ten thousand more, everybody here. That’s how large this is. That’s why it can’t be stopped. Too many people have been thrown out of their homes. Too many people have had their schools decimated to where their kids aren’t getting a proper education.”

Audience Member (male): “Five schools are being shut down in Oakland!”

Michael Moore: “We now live in a country with 40 million adults who are functional illiterates. How did that happen?”

Audience Member (male): “We’re being oppressed!”

Michael Moore: “It benefits, it benefits those in charge to have an ignorant population. To have a population with 40 million people in it that cannot read and write above a fourth-grade level. Who benefits from that? It’s like they’ve set up the schools now to make sure that you can operate the cash register at McDonald’s and you know how to greet someone in a sentence with a noun and a verb in it as they come into Walmart. Let me tell you, let me tell ya who does know that this, that the people of this country have had it and that there’s a very progressive thread and vein going through this country right now. That’s the other side, Wall Street, corporate America, the right-wing, they know, they know this is a liberal country! All you have to do is turn on talk radio or Fox News, they’re so angry, they’re so angry aren’t they? Let me ask you this. If this was a conservative, right-wing country, wouldn’t, if you turned on Fox News every night, wouldn’t they just be, ‘Yip-a-dee-do-da, Yip-a-dee-day?’ They’re not that way, are they? They’re like, ‘Aargh!’ Every night, it’s ‘Raargh! Raargh!’ They’re, they’re just, they, there’s a reason why they wanna suppress the vote next year. There’s a reason why they’re passing laws throughout the country to make it harder for poor people, for senior citizens, for people of colour to vote. There’s a reason they’re doing that. What’s the reason? They know, they know, no, it’s very simple, they can do math. They know they’re in the minority. They know they’re in the minority. Otherwise, really, why would you wanna suppress the vote if you thought America agreed with you? You wouldn’t do that, would you? No! If you believed, if you believed that America was with you, you’d be setting up voting booths in every aisle of every Walmart all across the country!”

Crowd: “Whoo!”

Michael Moore: “That’s not what they’re doing. Um, I also want to tell you, especially those of you who have been camping out here, um, thank you for doing that. You are better; you are better men and women than I am. Give me another year without the red meat. ‘Wait, we’ve got our second sound bite.’ Um, but watching the other night, um, [long pause] Scott Olsen.”

Crowd: [Applause]

Michael Moore: “It is absolutely criminal that this young man was willing to go and risk his life in a war that he, once over there, didn’t agree with, that he would risk his life like this and the only place he had to worry about was here in his own country, in Oakland, California. Um, I think, um, well one thing we can do for the media who are here is to let them know that we are all Scott Olsen. We are all with Scott Olsen! And we are all Scott Olsens! And we will not tolerate our fellow citizens being treated that way by the people that we fund with our tax dollars. I don’t, I don’t pay people, I don’t pay people to take a gun, or a tear gas gun and point it at me and hit me in the head with their ammunition or their tear gas canister. That would be as crazy as me coming up to you right now and saying to you, ‘Oh, by the way, would you just punch me in the face?’ Why would I do that? Um, I think all of us want to send our best wishes, our prayers, our good karma, everything that we could muster to Scott, so that he is better and well. And, yeah, and I think, I think that, uh, let’s have 30 seconds of silence in honour of Scott Olsen and our hope that he will recover quickly from his injuries. Um, I’m goin’ on too long here and, uh, I—”

Crowd: “Nah!!!”

Michael Moore: “Well, well, yeah, but. No, no, but I—”

Audience Member (male): “You gotta get to Richmond!”

Michael Moore: “I know. Now that I’ve, now that I’ve singled out Richmond, I’m going to have to go and participate in Occupy Richmond.”

Crowd: “Yeah! Whoo!!”

Michael Moore: “Or Walnut Creek.”

Crowd: [Laughs]

Michael Moore: “Walnut Creek is where we need to be, right? Isn’t that where the money is? Alright.”

Crowd: [Scattered shouts and appeals]

Michael Moore: “Um, I, I, I understand that Mayor Quan is, uh, she’s finishing up her press conference. And I am gonna try and, uh, see if I can, uh, talk to her. Uh, you know, I saw her, I’m sorry, I’m sorry that when she came yesterday to talk that she didn’t wait to speak at the General Assembly because I, I think the, uh, well, there’s a, there’s a process, we’re not in a General Assembly right now. But there’s a process at the General Assembly where you sign up to speak and we’re all equals. You know? When I’ve, when I’ve been down, you know, I’ve been at New York, so I’ve been at Occupy Wall Street and if I’m number 17 to speak, I’m number 17 to speak. And it doesn’t matter if I’m Michael Moore or Michael Schmoe. You know. It doesn’t, and, and it’s the spirit, that’s why this movement has built because it is a movement of equals. Everybody has something to give to this. We’re all in this together. We’re gonna sink or swim together. That’s our choice right now. When, when they, when I was there last night, somebody asked one of the people in the media tent, ‘What are the goals? What are you trying to accomplish?’ And he said, well, he said, ‘Our mission is in our name, Occupy Wall Street,’ and then he said, ‘Period.’ I thought about that for a second. Occupy Wall Street, period. In other words, it isn’t just about these encampments; it’s that we’re not stopping until we, the people, occupy our economy that runs this country! This is our economy! It’s our country! We’re the ones that have a say. And, and when somebody says to me, ‘Well,’ you know, ‘What’s the goal? What’s the end-game?’ And I say, ‘Well, let me tell you somethin’ first of all, we’ve already had a number of victories in our first six weeks. And let’s acknowledge those victories. Alright? Number one, number one, we have killed despair across the country. The despair that people were feeling, that despair is dissipating right now. This movement has killed apathy. People have got up off the sofa! They’ve turned off Dancing with the Stars! And gone out in the streets! This is a victory! There’s something very important we’ve done. Six weeks ago, what was all the media talking about? All the politicians in Washington? All the pundits? What was the, what was the national discussion that we weren’t part of that they determined? What were they talking about? The debt ceiling. The debt! The debt ceiling!! The deficit! We gotta reduce the deficit!! We gotta reduce the deficit!! Over and over and over all summer long! The debt ceiling! The deficit! The debt ceiling! The deficit! Can I ask you honestly? When’s the last time in the last few weeks you heard them talking about the debt ceiling? Or the deficit? When was the last time? This movement has shook down that bullshit discussion.”

Crowd: “Yeah!! Whoo!!!”

Michael Moore: “That is a huge victory. You have altered the national discussion. You have altered it! This is what people are talking about in every town, village, and city across America. Occupy Oakland!! Occupy New York!! Occupy San Francisco!! Occupy Grass Valley!! Occupy Walnut Creek!! Occupy Flint, Michigan!! Occupy everywhere!!! This is the discussion we’re gonna have!!! And we’re not ceding the discussion to anybody else!!!

Crowd: “Yeah! Whoo!! [Applause]”

Michael Moore: “So, in conclusion, in conclusion, um, I am—”

Audience Member (male): “Move your seat!”

Michael Moore: “—did you just yell at a disabled guy to move his cane?”

Crowd: [Laughs]

Michael Moore: “They told me there were plants here from the police. Plain-clothes, plain-clothes officer, let me just remind you, when you yell too loud at a disabled person, ‘Put down the cane,’ we know who you are. But welcome! Welcome! Because police officers, you’re part of the 99%, too! They’ll be coming after you! They’ll be coming after your home and your health care and your children. There’s a number or towns, there’s a number of towns across this country that are behaving differently than Oakland. There are police departments and police unions, hang on, there are police departments and police unions across the country supporting the Occupy movements in their towns. Albany, New York, a beautiful example, the Governor told them to remove the people and the police said, ‘We don’t consider that part of the police work.’”

Crowd: “Yeah! Whoo!! [Applause]”

Michael Moore: “So, the police do have a choice, even in Oakland. It’s still America, Oakland P.D. It’s a free country. You can join us. You can join us. You don’t have to join them. You don’t have to be here defending Wells Fargo and Bank of America and BP and everybody else! You can stand up for yourselves and everybody else! Alright. Um, so, please keep this alive here. I know there’s gonna be a lot of snow this winter.”

Crowd: [Laughs]

Audience Member (male): “Not here!”

Michael Moore: “I wanna say one more thing about something I saw last week. Pete Seeger was, he had a concert, he did a concert up on the corner, it was he and Arlo and Tom Chapin and a few others. Um, he had a concert up at the corner of 95th and Broadway at Symphony Space in New York. And afterwards, they decided to march from Symphony Space down to Columbus Circle. That’s 36 blocks. Pete is 92 years old on, on two canes. On two canes he walked the entire way.”

Crowd: [Applause]

Michael Moore: “And when we got to Columbus Circle and he was leading everyone, thousands of people, singing ‘This Land is Your Land.’ And he looked over and there were two New York City policemen singing along.”

Audience Member (male): “Fuck the police!”

Michael Moore: “Um, right—[Michael Moore passes the microphone to man behind him: “There’s good and bad police just like there’s good and bad people.]

Crowd: [Applause]

Michael Moore: “We are stronger than any rubber bullet or bean bag or tear gas canister. There’s too many of us. And what are they defending in the first place? A broken system in a country that has benefited the few at the expense of the many. The time for that to end is right now. And when the history of—”

Background: [A blast is heard in the distance, as Michael Moore flinches and turns around]

Michael Moore: “—when the history—”

Audience Member: “We’re from Oakland!”

Michael Moore: “[Laughs] You know how sad it is? He says, ‘We’re from Oakland we’re used to that.’”

Crowd: [Laughs]

Michael Moore: “You shouldn’t be used to it. You know if you lived in any of the Weste-, other democracies, the one to the north of us, you know, you would never say a statement like that, ‘Oh, we’re used to that.’ You know, other people in other countries have decided to organise themselves differently. We can do that, too. And, don’t worry. For those of you who aren’t quite sure, who may just have stopped by to see this today and you’re wondering, ‘Yeah, but where’s this goin? I need to know more. I gotta figure this out.’ Don’t, don’t approach this like other movements from the past. Don’t approach it like a term paper. Um, just join in because the group itself, something will come out of this and it will be good. It will be good and generous to each other. So, everybody’s gotta come into this on some level. And we could make this happen. So, I just, the thing I want to say, before the, uh, sound effects truck, um, was that when the history of this movement, uh, is written about these first few weeks where—”

Audience Member (male): “Or filmed.”

Michael Moore: “No, it’s not going to fail.”

Crowd: “No, filmed.”

Michael Moore: “The what?”

Audience Member (female): “Just let him talk.”

Michael Moore: “What film? Oh, or filmed? Yes.”

Crowd: [Laughs]

Michael Moore: “Yeah. Are you making a film? No, I’m not making a film, no, no, no, no way. I’m not mak-, no, no, no. I’m sorry.”

Crowd: “[Applause] Whoo!”

Michael Moore: “I’m here as a citizen. By the way, haven’t I made those films? I was, uh—”

Crowd: “Yeah! Whoo!! [Applause]”

Michael Moore: “I’ll tell you what I’m happy about and I have been a bit giddy and overjoyed these past few weeks because at the end of my last film I was pretty dejected, uh, if you did happen to see it. And I, and I didn’t, and I said at the end of the film as I was wrappin’ the crime scene tape around the New York Stock Exchange, um, that, uh, I just, really, I don’t know if I could keep doing this. I don’t know if I wanna make another film ‘cos I keep making these films and it’s, you know, when’s this gonna happen? When’s this gonna happen? And I said at the end of the film, ‘Let me know, audience, or people, when you wanna, when you wanna do something and I’ll do it with you.’ Um because, um, it’s, uh, it’s a little rough being the poster boy on Rush Limbaugh or Fox News, uh, everyday. And they can get away with it when it’s just the Michael Moore or Naomi Klein or even a number of great people that have been busy on this issue for many years. Um, but when there are a million Naomi Kleins or ten million Michael Moores they won’t know what the eff to do.”

Crowd: “Yeah! Whoo!! [Applause]”

Michael Moore: “So, and that’s why they’re confused right now. So, when the history of this movement is written this week in Oakland, California will go down as a watershed moment. People, people across America were disgusted by what they saw here, when average Americans trying to stand up and peacefully assemble, to be brutally savaged and attacked by the police department that they pay for! That, that, let me tell you, the footage, you’re here. Okay? You’re here. We’re out there. We’ve been watching. Millions have watched it. And millions have been inspired by you because the next night you didn’t go away! You came back!!”

Crowd: “Yay!! [Applause]”

Michael Moore: “You came back!! You were supposed to go away!!! You were supposed to go away!!! What are you still doing here??!! And then you came back today!!! And you’ll be here tomorrow!!! And I’ll be with you!!! Thank you very much!!! Occupy Oakland, thank you!!!!

For more of Michael Moore at Occupy Oakland, visit Media Roots.