Those who think the Occupy movement will die away just because several encampments in major cities have been evicted are likely to be surprised. They remind me of people who think that climate change is not going to be such a big deal because the weather in their area has been rather mild. Or the people who thought alcohol use (or drug use) would disappear because it was made illegal (prohibition). Appearances can be deceiving – especially when one only wants to see what’s obvious.
I remember how the Great Peace March (which I participated in) fell apart bankrupt in the Mojave Desert two weeks after it launched from Los Angeles in March 1986 with 1200 marchers. The national media reported its demise and moved on to other topics, ignoring the fact that it re-started two weeks later with 400 marchers – still a sizable event – and proceeded to have a profound effect on every community it visited for the next eight months – as well as on the larger society through ongoing reverberations long after it ended in Washington DC in November 1986 with 1200 marchers. Not the least of these was the birth of my own work exploring co-intelligence and wisely self-organizing democracy.
Just because some energy or activity ceases to be clearly and publicly visible, doesn’t mean it has died or gone away. Especially when you suppress it with violence, you almost guarantee it will continue, growing and evolving, surfacing with new energy and impacts in new times and places, often to people’s great surprise. Addressing symptoms of a disturbance seldom handles the cause, which will soon find other outlets to manifest whatever need is not being met.
And so it is with the Occupy movement. While many of its most visible manifestations are gone or in disarray, the energies that gave it birth and caused it to expand are very much alive and very busy creating their next manifestations. There are so many of them, and so diverse, that I have not been able to keep up with them at all – especially since the scene is constantly shifting – exactly what one would expect when tens of thousands of brilliant minds and hearts and souls are passionately being applied to creating that scene in hundreds of different ways…
But still, those of us who are following the Occupy movement can’t help wondering what will happen with it and what it will do next. In this series of posts I am sharing what I am coming across as I pursue that question. The activities and questions I highlight will, of course, only reflect a small part of what’s going on now and may or may not have much relevance for what will happen one or six months from now. But they will at least provide you a glimpse into the kind of energy and diversity that are emerging from the painfully predictable and strategically clueless crack-downs we have all witnessed so recently.
I think my next post will explore some of the many conversations now underway about what Occupy should do next…
May some of what I post catch your attention, your imagination, your heart, and your hope and call you into – or support you in – whatever it is you need to occupy – your heart, your town, your profession, your children’s future – to make the world a better place and so the fundamental transition our world faces can be as free of unnecessary suffering as possible.
Blessings on the Journey.
For current and future Occupy activities, a good place to start is
which currently lists
* a hunger strike in protest to the evictions of Occupations across the country
* a hunger strike for DC voting rights
* an OWS “health action General Assembly”
* an OWS immigrants rights march and rally
* a demonstration against the recently authorized indefinite detention of Americans without trial
* support for the Transit Workers Union that supported OWS
* an all-day performance and demonstration to reestablish the Occupy Wall Street encampment on a vacant Wall Street lot
* mobilizing to shut down ports
* and a long long list of other actions
These folks are not waiting around or just going home.
http://www.occupytogether.org – a leading networking site for Occupy sites and activities around the world – has a similar list supporting among other things, eviction activism, human rights and civil liberties – as well as major strategic and mutual education forums and organizing resources.
http://october2011.org – a leading Occupation in Washington, DC – still has an encampment, has recently been focusing on supporting Bradley Manning (the main WikiLeaks US cables and videos leak suspect) during his current trial, but has lots else going on as well.
This is the official OWS statement in response to the “Occupy is over” slant in the news. In the posted article (use the link below), there are dozens of links to the many other Occupy sites that are mentioned.
“Occupy will never die; Evict us, we multiply!”
Dec. 10, 2011
Following last week’s raid on Justin Herman Plaza, San Francisco police evicted Occupy SF from their last camp, in front of the Federal Reserve, at 4am this morning. 55 people were arrested. Occupy Pittsburgh is also facing an eviction deadline today, continuing an escalating trend of harassment and eviction of nonviolent protesters across the country and the world.
To the 1%’s pundits who claim Occupy is over: We are still here. Even as the agents of the 1% evict our communities and eviscerate our rights, we are evolving. What we have set in motion cannot be stopped with tear gas, bulldozers, rubber bullets, or metal barricades.
Occupations across the country have found creative ways to persist, resist, and rebuild. We aren’t giving up our public spaces. Last we checked, tents still stand in DC, Chicago, Boise, Oklahoma City, Buffalo, Miami, Chapel Hill, Cleveland, Providence, Baltimore, Orlando, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Pensacola, Lexington, Newark, Gainesville, Peoria, Eugene, Rochester, Tacoma, Reno, Charlotte, Raleigh, New Haven, Houston, Austin, Tampa, Louisville, and elsewhere. In Anchorage, they even have igloos. On their two month anniversary, Occupy Minnesota will gather at The People’s Plaza to reclaim their space and continue the fight for equality and justice.
Occupiers in cities like Atlanta, Oakland, Fort Worth, Jackson, and Phoenix have cleverly responded to evictions by staying in the parks during the day and moving to the sidewalk at night. In Los Angeles, Toronto, Boston, San Diego, Portland, Tulsa, San Jose, Dayton, Tucson, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Sacramento, Hartford, Charlottesville, Denver, Dallas, Norfolk, Richmond, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and New York, evicted Occupations continue to hold General Assemblies and maintain busy calendars with daily meetings, events, workshops, teach-ins, marches, direct actions, and demonstrations at their local city hall, bank branch, corporate office, and courts.
We are also disrupting business-as-usual from Wall Street to K Street. We have brought the festivity of Broadway into the streets. We mic check corrupt politicians and 1%ers everywhere they go. We have moved homeless families into empty foreclosed homes. We have spread our message by occupying the highway. In DC, Oakland, Santa Cruz, London, and Seattle we have liberated buildings from the banks and greedy corporations and begun to turn them into vibrant community centers.
While maintaining our nonpartisan focus on economic inequality and connecting a diversity of issues that impact the 99%, Occupations have begun to refine and hone our messaging around the big banks, foreclosures, evictions, and housing. Foreclosure auctions have been disrupted in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Bremerton, Reno, and New Orleans. Occupiers foreclosed on bank offices in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Buffalo and elsewhere. Today, a few weeks after Occupiers took over the Washington State Capital, Occupy Providence is marching on their State house to “ask this house for homes!” After the recent Day of Action to Occupy Our Homes, many cities continue to support families, especially in communities of color, as they fight back against unfair evictions. In Atlanta, Cleveland, Oakland, Chicago, Detroit, Philly, Rochester, New York, and Oakland, Occupiers are helping homeless families find shelter and resist eviction.
In solidarity with all oppressed communities, we are actively supporting the many social movements that comprise the global revolution. We have marched on U.S.-companies that supply teargas to the Egyptian government to support our comrades in Tahir Square; with immigrants rights activists against deportation, detention and wage-theft in Birmingham and New York; with seniors to advocate for social services; with students against tuition-hikes, with workers and unions for jobs, better working conditions, and fair wages; and with farmers fighting for food justice. Occupations in solidarity with OWS have arisen in Manila, Auckland, London, Amsterdam, South Africa and beyond. We’ve marched to draw attention to the connections between the corrupt banking system and issues like the prison industrial complex and climate change.
This is merely a sketch of the ongoing work of the Occupy Wall Street movement. It would be nearly impossible to compile a comprehensive list of the brave actions that are happening all across the United States and the world. And we’re just getting started. Tomorrow, December 12th, in response to the coordinated effort to crush Occupy Wall Street, Occupiers in every major West Coast port city – San Diego, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver – are joining Occupy Oakland in a coordinated effort of our own: West Coast Port Shutdown. Solidarity actions are being organized around the world, including in Japan, Houston, Albuquerque, Denver, Greensboro, Austin, Honolulu, Salt Lake City, and New York.
Occupy 2.0: One Month After Raid, Protesters Look Beyond Zuccotti
by Molly O’Toole
December 17, 2011
An engaging exploration of the recent life and spirit of OWS, through the lives and voices of a half dozen diverse participants.
Excerpt: “We don’t have a park to manage anymore, so now we can actually focus on where we take the movement.”
A 2-hour video panel exploring the meaning and possibilities of the Occupy movement, made before the OWS site was cleared.
On Thursday, November 10 at 8pm, The New School in New York City hosted “Occupy Everywhere: On the New Politics and Possibilities of the Movement Against Corporate Power”, a discussion featuring award-winning filmmaker and author Michael Moore (Here Comes Trouble), best-selling author and Nation columnist Naomi Klein (The Shock Doctrine), Nation National Affairs correspondent William Greider (Come Home, America), Colorlines Publisher Rinku Sen (The Accidental American), Occupy Wall Street Organizer Patrick Bruner and Richard Kim, executive editor, The Nation.com (moderator). Sponsored by The Nation and The New School.
Some highlights: Connect with Tea Party, small business, the military, and others in the mainstream. Too early in the movement’s development to focus on the 2012 election. Government in its current form is a corrupting institution, so don’t work through it – or, alternatively, take it back! Support systems that devolve power to the local level – and government can and should be used to do that, to institute urgently needed sustainability initiatives and to support universal human rights that can be undermined by local control. Promote Constitutional amendments that say corporations are not people and take money out of politics, break up media concentration, regulate political advertising, expand recognized people’s rights, forgive debts, etc. Study Iceland’s and Argentina’s resistance to austerity. In Argentina people refused to be fired or go home: They took over factories with the slogan “Occupy, Resist, Produce” – which is a great model. Identify what are the real barriers to democracy here. Address the insane personal debt situation in housing, student loans, and other areas. Not only will many debtors never be able to pay, but the banks will never collect; at that point, it should be negotiated or forgiven; this is the ancient principle of “jubilee” – and Occupy could say “We’re for forgiving the debts. That’s what the Bible says.” Don’t focus too much on Liberty Square; we need to occupy everything everywhere all the time – and soon. Liberty Square can be stopped, but this kind of conversation won’t and can’t be, and as long as it continues, we’ll keep winning. At the height of the Progressive movement a hundred years ago, they had 40,000 lecturers educating people in communities, lots of journalists united by their poverty, and later, elected many state and local officials. Our habits and thoughts are our biggest barrier: When overwhelmed or terrified, we focus on what we know. The fact that this is all uncharted territory makes it terrifying and inspiring at the same time – which stimulates those wild artistic activities we see in OWS, and they support the creativity we need. Occupy needs to hold on to consensus process, despite pressures for efficiency. Finally: It’s time to put away cynicism; just try being optimistic; it won’t kill you.