A remarkable thing happened several weeks ago in a small city in North Carolina. A group of Occupiers from Chapel Hill affiliated with the national movement, emboldened by similar actions by Occupiers in Oakland, California, reclaimed an old used car dealership that had sat vacant for years. The owner, a deadbeat who has been apparently at odds with city government for some time now, has kept the lot vacant and undeveloped for the better part of ten years. This large building and land, unoccupied and unused for a very long time, was converted to serve the interests of the people of Chapel Hill…

Of course, soon enough, the police decided to intervene in this ugly display of wanton public compassion and unity. That brought us photos of police dressed in full military fatigues and flak jackets, brandishing assault rifles, heading in to clear the building of the people who had attempted to give it a viable purpose to serve the community…

Through the occupation of both public and private abandoned space, the Occupy movement, as well as anti-capitalist political movements across the globe, are showing that they have the capability to escalate their tactics in a meaningful way. The reclamation of public space for political thought and dialogue is an important first step to breaking the bonds of capitalist hegemony in the sphere of public consciousness. This has been done in the past few months by brave Occupiers willing to risk arrest to get the public to pay attention to the issues staring them in the face. It has been proven to be a successful tactic, and should be continued. Now, an important next step is to carry the occupations to private space that can be converted to better use serving the wider needs of the community.

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In all of these instances, most people think the problem is that these are the acts of a “few bad apples.” But taken together, one has to ask: Should an orchard producing so many bad apples be allowed to continue operating?

Another question is raised by the attitude of some activists in the Occupy Wall Street struggle who believe that the police are part of the “99 percent” that the movement is speaking for. For example, when the arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge were taking place, some marchers who hadn’t been trapped appealed to police with chants of “Join us, you’re one of us.”

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