1. It names the source of the crisis.
Political insiders have avoided this simple reality: The problems of the 99% are caused in large part by Wall Street greed, perverse financial incentives, and a corporate takeover of the political system. Now that this is understood, the genie is out of the bottle and it can’t be put back in.
2. It provides a clear vision of the world we want.
We can create a world that works for everyone, not just the wealthiest 1%. And we, the 99%, are using the spaces opened up by the Occupy movement to conduct a dialogue about the world we want.
3. It sets a new standard for public debate.
Those advocating policies and proposals must now demonstrate that their ideas will benefit the 99%. Serving only the 1% will not suffice, nor will claims that the subsidies and policies that benefit the 1% will eventually “trickle down.”
4. It presents a new narrative.
The solution is not to starve government or impose harsh austerity measures that further harm middle-class and poor people already reeling from a bad economy. Instead, the solution is to free society and government from corporate dominance. A functioning democracy is our best shot at addressing critical social, environmental, and economic crises.
5. It creates a big tent.
We, the 99%, are people of all ages, races, occupations, and political beliefs. We will resist being divided or marginalized. We are learning to work together with respect.
6. It offers everyone a chance to create change.
No one is in charge; no organization or political party calls the shots. Anyone can get involved, offer proposals, support the occupations, and build the movement. Because leadership is everywhere and new supporters keep turning up, there is a flowering of creativity and a resilience that makes the movement nearly impossible to shut down.
7. It is a movement, not a list of demands.
The call for deep change—not temporary fixes and single-issue reforms—is the movement’s sustaining power. The movement is sometimes criticized for failing to issue a list of demands, but doing so could keep it tied to status quo power relationships and policy options. The occupiers and their supporters will not be boxed in.
8. It combines the local and the global.
People in cities and towns around the world are setting their own local agendas, tactics, and aims. What they share in common is a critique of corporate power and an identification with the 99%, creating an extraordinary wave of global solidarity.
9. It offers an ethic and practice of deep democracy and community.
Slow, patient decision-making in which every voice is heard translates into wisdom, common commitment, and power. Occupy sites are set up as communities in which anyone can discuss grievances, hopes, and dreams, and where all can experiment with living in a space built around mutual support.
10. We have reclaimed our power.
Instead of looking to politicians and leaders to bring about change, we can see now that the power rests with us. Instead of being victims to the forces upending our lives, we are claiming our sovereign right to remake the world.
The photo above, taken by Jay Finneburgh, shows Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen being carried away after he was struck in the head by a tear gas canister thrown by Oakland police during last night’s raid on Occupy Oakland.
Video shot at the scene shows police throwing a flash grenade into the crowd as other protesters rush to help him:
Olsen did two tours of duty in Iraq and is a current member of Veterans for Peace. He’s now listed in critical but stable condition with swelling of the brain and a skull fracture. He is also on a respirator due to the doctors sedating him in order to evaluate the possible injury to his brain.
From The Guardian:
Keith Shannon, who served with Olsen in Iraq, arrived at the hospital after protesters contacted him through Facebook. He confirmed Olsen had a fractured skull, and said he had been told by a doctor Olsen also had brain swelling. A neurosurgeon was due to assess Olsen to determine if he needed surgery, Shannon said.
“It’s really hard,” Shannon said. “I really wish I had gone out with him instead of staying home last night.”
Shannon, who is also 24, said he had seen the video footage showing Olsen lying on the floor as a police officer throws an explosive device near him. “It’s terrible to go over to Iraq twice and come back injured, and then get injured by the police that are supposed to be protecting us,” he said.
This is utter brutality. Scott Olsen enlisted in the military, fought for the U.S. in combat, and is thanked for it with a severe head injury while defending his fellow citizens from police action at home. Veterans for Peace have stood with numerous camps, including Boston, where elderly members were beaten by police.
In Oakland, despite police using multiple rounds of tear gas, flash grenades, rubber bullets and beanbag projectiles on protesters, they remained peaceful. Police denied the use of tear gas initially, but confirmed it at a press conference today. It was also claimed this started because a protester threw a rock at police, while Oakland Mayor Jean Quan stated the raid was because of “unsanitary conditions” and “ongoing vandalism” happening because of Occupy Oakland.
As for police denying the use of flash grenades and rubber bullets, the video above shows use of the flash grenade, and here’s a rubber bullet picked up by a demonstrator:
How long will this police aggression against unarmed, peaceful protest be allowed to continue? Scott Olsen is merely one of its victims. We, as citizens, must demand an end to the vicious crackdown at occupy protests across the nation. Remember, be peaceful, but stand resolute.
The tides are moving in favor of occupy movements. For example, Occupy Cleveland just won the right in federal court to occupy a city park around the clock. The judge wrote the demonstrators of Occupy Cleveland had their First Amendment rights violated and ordered the city to grant the protesters a permit.
Solidarity forever, my friends. Do not let the police scare you away.