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.”
Montreal police will investigate after a 22-year-old man said his eye was badly injured by the blast of a police stun grenade during Wednesday’s student protest over tuition fee hikes.
Francis Grenier, a student at Cégep de Saint-Jérôme, told CBC News from his hospital bed that he doesn’t know if he’ll regain vision in his right eye.
Student movement leaders are calling him a victim of police brutality and are accusing riot squad officers of overreacting after snowballs were launched during the afternoon protest on Sherbrooke Street.
Grenier said he was in front of the Loto-Québec headquarters Wednesday afternoon playing the harmonica when an officer told him to leave.
TVA also reports that apparently after Grenier ran from the scene badly injured to find help from a police officer, the officer refused to help him or to call him an ambulance. He was eventually helped to the hospital by fellow students.
More images from today.
A flying live streamer, sprinting rain soaked activist clowns, Taking cover underneath a momentary tent in front of the Bank Of America (2 seconds later we were attacked by the cops,) a fallen clown is arrested with a mandolin player, my camera shuts down right about there….
Will put up the rest on my flickr later tonight.
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.”
Anyone who is involved with the #OCCUPYWALLSTREET movement is strongly encouraged to read the linked article. Fighting for justice and defending the marginalized is about amplifying their own voice, not interjecting your own. It is frankly quite shocking to me that anyone could be so clueless and hurtful.
White people, recognize your privilege and accept that you aren’t always the fucking
centre of attention ringleaders.
As marginalized people in this country rise, new forms of oppression are at work – those who have not experienced systemic oppression are claiming it anyway, turning social justice on its head and diluting the messages and movements that have been our hearts and souls. I think this quote from the New Jim Crow sheds a lot of light on why OWS emerged the way that it did: “Following the collapse of each system of control, there has been a period of confusion—transition—in which those who are most committed to racial hierarchy search for new means to achieve their goals within the rules of the game as currently defined. It is during this period of uncertainty that the backlash intensifies and a new form of racialized social control begins to take hold.”
There are those who said early on that one of #OCCUPYWALLSTREET’s weaknesses was it’s decentralized structure. The idea of #OWS was initially to bring large groups of people from all over the country to New York, to Wall Street, as the largest possible singular demonstration would logically have the largest possible impact. Centralization was thought to be necessary if the media was to take the movement seriously and to get their message out. While this was the initial focus, eventually people began to create Occupations in their own home cities across the country. And this decentralized model proved to be a great success: once there was an occupation in almost every town in the country, a resurgence of political awareness and meaningful communication began. We, the people, had truly found our voice.
Occupy started as a political movement, an expression of dissatisfaction with the status quo imposed constantly in the bourgeois political sphere. In the days following the initial push to reclaim public space, however, the movement transformed into a very fight for survival. Occupy had the attention of the people in whatever city it was gathering in, but this means nothing if the movement cannot sustain itself. Soon, kitchens opened up, bringing food and drink to Occupiers in the public squares. Libraries were started with donated books, bringing literacy, entertainment, and the spark of new ideas to the embryonic communes. Media centres, art production, and other forms of community sustenance began to take root in these reborn public spaces. In this, people began to rediscover - on a personal level - their connection to themselves, the work of their hands, and their fellow citizens. No longer were they alienated through the structures of capitalist society.
Though this light of hope burned brightly in most Occupations for several weeks, the time soon came for the institutional reaction. Occupations across the country were raided, pepper-sprayed, and generally harassed into oblivion. Due to a combination of severe repression and the onset of winter, #OWS has entered the twilight of its first phase. Only a handful of camps remain, and their numbers are light. However, the aims of the new Occupiers have shifted in an important way: from creating a media spectacle to capture the public interest, to concrete and meaningful direct actions. An example lies in the “Occupy Our Homes” movement, helping homeowners stay in their homes when facing foreclosure by a faceless financial institution. Another great case is in the reclamation of private space to serve the needs of the community in cities like London, Oakland, and Chapel Hill, NC. Along with the cold air of winter descending across North America and Europe, the passion of direct action is slowly reappearing in our communities. With the burst of awareness and the excitement therein now passed, the focus of our new-found consciousness will develop itself.
A popular meme in the early days of the protests was “They don’t even know why they are protesting. What are their demands?” It is time to provide solid alternatives and to lead by the example of direct action in our own communities. The resounding message of Occupy is clear: we cannot afford to rely on the will of others in order to make the society we want. We must “take the bull by the horns” and propose our own alternative to the sterile capitalist vision. We can build our new societies on the praxis we are currently developing in these new communities.
This blog is aimed at providing local alternatives to the globally-connected capitalist exploitative system. With a focus on individual actions, community projects, and creating local, sustainable systems of self-reliance, we will try to share items that inspire people to look forward. What is the best vision for society? There will not be a spectacular revolution as long as the masses are alienated from their fellow citizen, so how can we begin to achieve this vision of a more compassionate, more equitable, more ecological society? How can we break this alienation on a personal level, without needing to rely on the very systems that alienate us? We will try to answer those questions here, all the while focusing on providing concrete actions and ideas people can take on to enrich their own communities.