Mic Check Protest

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by Sarah Wanenchak:

"The evolution of the techniques and technologies used by activists – their “repertoires of contention”, in the words of Charles Tilly – is a feature of any social movement. Clearly that’s happening to the Human Microphone now: what was a tool of communication is now also a tool for directed and targeted protest. Communication is still a huge part of this; it can’t not be, given that one grievance common to many members of the Occupy movement is a perceived lack of “voice” in politics. Communication, in this instance, is protest. And the technology and the protest itself are fundamentally intertwined.

This also stands against the fallacy that technology itself is neutral: in its very design the Human Microphone is imbued with the ideology of its makers–especially given that its components are actual human voices, used with intent and consent. It might be used for any number of things, but it is inseparable from the people who created it and the people who bring it into being every time it’s used." (http://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2011/11/17/mic-checking-the-man-the-evolving-human-microphone/)


"Occupy Chicago had planned to "Un-Welcome" Rice and Paulson, saying "Many... Occupy Chicago members are students at the University of Chicago and plan on attending this event." At least one tweet, by the Occupy Chicago Outreach Committee, specificed this would involve a “rally & mic check.”

The mic check refers to the now commonplace means of communication at Occupy events across the nation, also known as the human microphone or people's mic, in which listeners repeat the speaker’s words so as to amplify his or her message (ironically, Occupy Chicago uses the people's mic in General Assemblies less often than some Occupy locations).

The technique has quickly turned into a tactic for activists seeking to protest events, exemplified earlier this month when 60 activists from Stand Up! Chicago, some of them also Occupy Chicago members, disrupted a speaking event featuring Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.). It is likely that tonight's protest would have followed a similar two-part structure, with University of Chicago students eligible to attend the event staging a protest inside while a larger Occupy Chicago presence rallied outside.

A similar "mic check" protest did take place today in D.C. at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event on the 'Future of the Health Care Industry,' at which Blue Cross Blue Shield Association President & CEO Scott Serota was speaking. C-SPAN has video of the protest, during which Serota was described by activists as "an example of the 1% in the healthcare industry influence who testified in Congress and influenced the [Affordable Care Act] health bill to create more profit for health insurers at the expense of human suffering and preventable death." (http://www.inthesetimes.com/ittlist/entry/12291/the_steady_occupation_occupy_chicago_scores_direct_action_victory/)