Occupy is by design a leaderless movement, but in Des Moines, David Goodner had emerged as a major de facto leader. I'd feuded with David and others, most significantly in August, about the role of civility in political discourse. I threw the phrase "getting their kicks out of getting arrested" around a lot. I like David and I think we're basically on the same side of things. But I think his personal commitment to confrontationalism has colored the direction of the whole Des Moines group from early on.
Goodner was arrested again on Friday as a part of an Occupy march, but unfortunately a drug charge was thrown in. He sent a very sincere letter of apology to movement members and says he's going to step back for a while.
It must be a very painful time to take a semi-voluntary break when so much excitement is happening. Occupy's enemies will no doubt use this to try to discredit a whole movement. But it's really just one very smart, very sincere, very passionate young man working things out.
Goodner talks of possible drug rehab in his letter. I don't know his situation, but it's not necessarily substance abuse just because the substance is illegal. Putting yourself in a risk of arrest situation while you're holding is just a dumb mistake, one that a veteran protester like David should never have made. You know what's even dumber? Marijuana being illegal in the first place. "Rehab" may be less necessary than just some time for Goodner to think about his priorities and approach. I wish him well and hope we can be on the same side more often than not.