History of InterOccupy
InterOccupy (IO) is an interactive space for activists looking to organize for global and local social change. By October 2011, the Occupy Movement in the US was in full swing with hundreds of encampments spread across vast distances. The need for a robust communication network became apparent when camps had trouble contacting one another in order to share important information about the suppression of the movement. Members of the Movement Building Working Group at Occupy Wall Street decided to hold an open conference call on October 24th, 2011 so that occupiers could share reports from their camps. The following Thursday another call was held with several volunteers eager to take up the challenge of convening the next general call.
From these general calls, it was clear that participants in the Occupy movement sought to address local issues on a national and global level through open discussions and collaborating on large scale direct actions. In early November, the conference call planning group (spanning between New York, Philadelphia, Kalamazoo, Los Angeles, and Portland) registered the domain name InterOccupy.org, and focused on linking up working groups across the movement and coordinating direct actions. The frenzy of the raids in November overshadowed a lot of the work going on within the movement. By this time, coalitions began forming uniting occupiers on a wide range of social problems from anti-war, college debt, internet freedom, the foreclosure crisis, to getting money out of politics, among many other issues.
After the raids, IO shifted into overdrive to provide more nuanced communication services, albeit with some hitches. Transitioning a once-a-week general call into a series of focused discussions was difficult because of the large demand for calls and the small amount of volunteers who knew how to moderate the calls. IO devised open protocols for training new participants and enrolling more people in the rapidly expanding network. By December, IO not only provided a space for communication to the displaced communities of occupiers, but also aided in the large-scale coordination for distributed direct actions including the West Coast Port shutdown and more. Crucially, IO has worked with local occupations experiencing severe police repression to coordinate nationally distributed solidarity actions. With IO’s integration with Occupy.net, IO hopes to develop more comprehensive communication services to meet the movement’s needs in the coming year.
Mobile communication technologies, such as laptops, wifi, and smart phones, help virtual communities manifest in the streets. As a result, people fighting for social justice have the power to talk to one another as actions unfold locally, nationally, and worldwide in real time. In this global context, IO is just one small node in the massive network of activists seeking to change the world without taking power. IO continues to provide communication services to those who want a dynamic and interactive space for networking, skill sharing, and coordinating actions that hold accountable the oppressive strategies of governments and businesses that do not serve the people.