It’s shaping up to be a busy spring for Occupy. The movement born last year in a New York City park has come roaring back to life this week after a period of hibernation. It promises to be even livelier in weeks and months to come.
On Monday, according to the Sacramento Bee, a crowd numbering in the thousands, including Occupy protesters, converged on California’s capital to denounce soaring college tuition costs. Chanting “You’ll hear us out, or we’ll vote you out,” they tried to occupy the capitol rotunda. Some succeeded. In what the Bee called “a massive show of force,” 100 California Highway Patrol officers arrested 68.
Occupy is taking credit for the White House’s recent decision to move a May meeting G-8 leaders from Chicago, where Occupy and other groups had threatened protests, to safer and more remote Camp David. “We scored a victory, forcing them to retreat to the back woods of Maryland,” Andy Thayer, Occupier and spokesperson for the Coalition Against NATO/G-8, tells ABC News.
Protests still will be mounted, he says, against NATO, which has chosen not to flee Chicago and will meet there as planned. “There’ll be a mass march on the NATO summit,” says Thayer, “not only a march, but any number of other activities. It’s unclear whether it will be on the 19th or 20th. We will decide in the next few days.”
Successful movements have understood that it’s absolutely essential not to fall into the trap set out by the authorities and spend one’s time condemning and attempting to police other activists. One makes one’s own principles clear. One expresses what solidarity one can with others who share the same struggle, and if one cannot, tries one’s best to ignore or avoid them, but above all, one keeps the focus on the actual source of violence, without doing or saying anything that might seem to justify that violence because of tactical disagreements you have with fellow activists.
I remember my surprise and amusement, the first time I met activists from the April 6 Youth Movement from Egypt, when the issue of non-violence came up. “Of course we were non-violent,” said one of the original organizers, a young man of liberal politics who actually worked at a bank. “No one ever used firearms, or anything like that. We never did anything more militant than throwing rocks!”Here was a man who understood what it takes to win a non-violent revolution! He knew that if the police start aiming tear-gas canisters directly at people’s heads, beating them with truncheons, arresting and torturing people, and you have thousands of protesters, then some of them will fight back. There’s no way to absolutely prevent this. The appropriate response is to keep reminding everyone of the violence of the state authorities, and never, ever, start writing long denunciations of fellow activists, claiming they are part of an insane fanatic malevolent cabal…
Gandhi and his movement were regularly denounced in the media, just as non-violent anarchists are also always denounced in the media… as a mere front for more violent, terroristic elements, with whom he was said to be secretly collaborating. He was regularly challenged to prove his non-violent credentials by assisting the authorities in suppressing such elements. Here Gandhi remained resolute. It is always morally superior, he insisted, to oppose injustice through non-violent means than through violent means. However, to oppose injustice through violent means is still morally superior to not doing anything to oppose injustice at all.
And Gandhi was talking about people who were blowing up trains, or assassinating government officials. Not damaging windows or spray-painting rude things about the police.
Yesterday, Occupy Oakland moved to convert a vacant building into a community center to provide education, medical, and housing services for the 99%. Police responded with tear gas, rubber bullets, beanbag rounds and mass arrests. The state has compounded its policy of callous indifference with a ruthless display of violent repression. The Occupy movement will respond, as we have always reponded: with an overwhelming show of collective resistance. Today, we take to the streets. Across the country, we will demonstrate our resolve to overcome repression and continue to build a better world grounded in love and solidarity for one another. All eyes on all Occupies.
SOLIDARITY SUNDAY, 7pm EST, Sunday, January 29. Check your local Occupation for convergence points.
Washington Square Park 7PM
Over time, the wave of mobilizations that first hit the shores of the Mediterranean and extended outwards over the course of 2011 has overcome its initial, expressive phase. This phase managed to substitute the dominant narrative with our own. We now know that the problem is not some mysterious technical failure we call a crisis, but the intentional crimes of a cleptocracy.
This distinction is crucial: while the first suggests a management dilemma that opposes left- and right-wing approaches to the crisis, the second draws a line between the 1 percent who abuse power in order to steal from the people and those who refuse to consent and choose to resist in the name of the other 99 percent.
Having reached this point, the obvious question becomes, “Now what?” Of course we should continue to protest together, especially if we choose to do so intermittently and massively, favouring a general critique of the system over particular causes. And at the smaller scale, that those specific struggles continue to take the streets is also desirable.
However, it is fundamentally important that these struggles are not overly disconnected from one another or the more general movement; that they unfold beyond their own spaces (hospitals, schools, factories, offices and so on) and into the broader metropolitan spaces of cleptocratic dominance. These processes serve to keep the questions that guide the movement alive and, therefore, adapting to the always changing situations in which they operate. Yet the question of what alternatives we can provide remains.
“We Are Farmers, We Grow Food for the People”
This video by Anthony Lappe offers an inspiring glimpse into this new “Occupy Food” movement. Check it out and then go to Food Democracy Now, a grassroots community dedicated to building a sustainable food system, to find out how you can help.
Occupy Our Homes: protesters bid to move families into foreclosed houses
[The above move] was part of a national day of action targeting the issue of foreclosures and marking the beginning of Occupy Wall Street’s Occupy Our Homes campaign. Various demonstrations were carried out in over 25 cities, including Seattle, Washington, Atlanta, Georgia and Riverside, California.
New York City’s action kicked off with a brief tour of East New York, which last year had the highest foreclosure rate of all the neighbourhoods in the city. Nationwide, an estimated 4m homes have been seized by banks since 2006, according to RealtyTrac, a California-based real estate data firm. Roughly 300 marchers made stops at several foreclosed homes along the route. Filling the stoops of dilapidated Brooklyn houses, members of the community joined with local lawmakers and religious figures to denounce widespread foreclosures.
The march ended at two-storey house with a large yellow sign mounted above the front door. In all capital letters it read: “FORECLOSE ON BANKS NOT ON PEOPLE.”