The second anniversary of Occupy offered up a perfect opportunity to reflect on the past, and to take joy in the present as well. This is a movement that lives on beyond its origins in Liberty Plaza in myriad, multiple offshoots, and in a spirit that will continue to move people into the street, calling out for justice and their rights.
As we look forward to the year ahead, we know that just as it is impossible to stamp out an idea whose time has come, it is just as impossible to predict what brave promise will be born out, and what mad, beautiful work will be accomplished, in Occupy’s third year.
This work comes in stark contrast to the paralysis of our government at the hands of elites flaming out in spectacular fashion through a shutdown of the federal government.
This shutdown is a hostage taking exercise designed to cause suffering to low-income individuals, federal workers, and agencies that protect the 99%. The people are asked to sacrifice evermore for its own sake in this nihilistic morality fable.
Moreover, the shutdown is causing an entirely unnecessary threat to the economy that could throw us back into the fangs of financial collapse. Over 800,000 federal workers have already been furloughed, and who knows what uncertainty and economic pain for working families is yet to come.
Join us as we fearlessly enter another year fighting back against the power-mad 1% driving our world into oblivion, and remember that despite all odds, another world is absolutely possible indeed.
— from your ‘Occupy Network’ team
Occupy’s Impact Continues to Blossom
Taking stock as Occupy enters year 3, Occupy Network team member Harry Waisbren writes about the movement’s ongoing impact and the “increasing body of evidence displaying the raw power of our ideas.”
This particularly comes in the context of Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio’s ascension based on our message. In that vein, WNYC further reports on how de Blasio is aware and vocal about the similarities between his election rhetoric and the ideas behind the Occupy movement, but from an occupy perspective, “They’ll come a time where this mayor who wants to be mayor for the 99 percent will have to put up.”
Despite how Occupy has stayed resolutely disengaged from the electoral sphere, it is clear that it is impacting it, and that what we are doing is resonating in ways we are only beginning to understand.
More examples of Occupy’s Impact
Demos lists seven ways that Occupy changed the national dialogue, including the revitalization of progressive populism, “putting the misdeeds of the financial industry back in the spotlight”, and creating a “growing constellation” of alternatives to capitalism.
Truth-Out.org also shows us six things for which we are indebted to Occupy including “a more deeply networked activist world,” which adds as they put it, “an element of warmth and fun to the often-exhausting project of changing the world for the better.”
Richard Eskow from Campaign for America’s Future writes a memo to Washington: The Occupy Movement Is Very Much Alive. Eskow emphasizes that Occupy “won’t disappear because of wishful thinking” and calls out the present administration for riding “economic populism” into office and then “drift[ing] after the election, diluting the message…and failing to deliver bold economic proposals or aggressive enforcement against criminal banks.”
An OWS Anniversary “Participatory Walking Tour and Cartography Party” took place on Sunday, September 15th — starting at Bowling Green and stopping at all the relevant early OWS sites – Zuccotti Park/Liberty Plaza, Trinity Church, Chase Manhattan Plaza, Federal Hall — and culminating at 16 Beaver. It was a chance for early Occupiers to tell their stories, and for later joiners to become familiar with how the movement began.
S17 itself began at Zuccotti Park at 8 am, with bagels and coffee in the park, and some wonderful signs from The People’s Puppets – each with phrases from the Declaration of the Occupation of New York. With delight, we followed the Declaration of the Occupation of New York around the Stock Exchange — calling out the 1%.
Shamelessly, the NYPD would not let the signs in the fenced-off park, declaring them weapons, so the Puppeteers simply marched around the park singing songs instead. They then led the group – some 250 strong – down Wall Street to Federal Hall – to ring in the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange. Again, the NYPD tried to relegate the group to the “pen” on the steps, and seemed ready and eager to arrest.
A host of actions were further put on throughout the day, with our favorite being the Tax Wall Street march demanding a Robin Hood Tax on financial speculation from the banksters who robbed the 99% in the first place. On the whole the S17 festivities lived out the spirit of that righteous thief Robin Hood who was, as Occupy too aspires to be, “feared by the bad, loved by the good.” (RHT produced a great video about the action: http://youtu.be/4dxiGXfBnds)
Occupy Finance have launched a collaboratively-written book, available free to download via Scribd. In their own words — “we are dedicated to the proposition that citizens are both capable of and entitled to an understanding of how the financial system under which we live operates and that those who corrupt the system should be held accountable for their actions.” The book includes chapters like “Heads They Win, Tails We Lose: How the Members of the 99% Have Become Financial Products,” “How Banks Create Money … and Keep It” and several chapters on new ways we can change the status quo of banking and forge a new way. Read more about the Occupy Finance book on OccupyWallStreet.net.
Mark Bray’s book, Translating Anarchy, has just been launched by Zero Books. Having been part of the Press Working Group and Direct Action Working Group, the book has a special focus on media relations and the politics of the key organizers. Mark is interviewed on OccupyWallSt.org, and the book is reviewed by David Swanson who describes the book as “one of the lasting benefits of Occupy.”
Nathan Schneider’s book, Thank You, Anarchy: Notes from the Occupy Apocalypse, has also just been launched by the University of California Press. It is his personal account of the unfolding of OWS in its first year, from his perspective of a journalist at The Nation, and one of the first journalists to give in-depth coverage to OWS.
Featured Occu-Project: Power Shift
It’s crunch time for the climate, and the Power Shift conference is acting in kind! On October 18-21 thousands of young people will gather in Pittsburgh, PA to rise up for a clean and just energy future.
This year at Power Shift labor leaders, DREAMers, Idle No More activists, students and more will come together to explore how we can fight together for the future we want. This includes taking part in trainings, workshops, panels, and actions that we can take back to our communities, as well as musical performances and inspiring keynote speakers.
One part we are particularly excited about is the conversation with progressive social media All-Stars. It will be held on Sunday morning, and features Occupy Network team member Winnie Wong, day-1 occupier Nelini Stamp, a major occupy-ally in Josh Bolotsky of the Other 98%, and more.
Crazy or Sane? The Nonviolent Militia Idea
At betabeat.com, coverage of an Occupy activist who is seeking to crowdfund a nonviolent militia, “a disciplined group of 100+ in NYC who can show up in a minute for hard, effective direct actions.”
While the word ‘militia’ was off-putting to many, the idea has provoked a lot of discussion on blog posts and twitter. Have thoughts? You can further join the conversation through the OccupyWallSt.org forums.
Occupy in the News
Statement from Strike Debt: Higher Education Can Be Free. “It is becoming increasingly clear that our current system of financing higher education is unjust and unsustainable and that a mass debtors movement may be on the horizon.” Indeed!
Colin Moynihan in the New York Times deftly reports on The Occupy Money Cooperative and how the (controversial) “notion of the Occupy name emblazoned on a financial product, even one made by people with some connection to the movement, has prompted questions about who controls the name and message.” These kind of questions have inspired some occupiers like Drew Hornbein to publicly come out in defense of the venture. The latest news is that the Occupy Money Cooperative is preparing to launch their first product: The Occupy Prepaid Debit Card. Consider donating here to help them get off the ground.
Rebecca Solnit writes about the joy that comes out of being part of a social rupture, placing the emergence of OWS in the context of many hundreds of years of social protest movements – on the eve of S17.
When will justice prevail? Five years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and two years after the emergence of OWS, we still wait for changes to financial regulation, the prosecution of fraudulent bankers, while public opinion of the financial sector is still overwhelmingly negative.
Democracy Now’s coverage of the anniversary focuses on the early days of the movement, as well as where Occupy is now, with activist Nicole Carty summing it up in this way: “the movement is a network at this point and that is what is most important…you have seen us crop back up with Occupy Sandy just last year. The people still know each other, helping people.”
At npr.org, a rundown of the “many voices, many messages” that still bring vitality to the movement, from those fighting to get money out of politics, against police brutality, and for the Robin Hood tax.
For those looking towards the future, wagingnonviolence.org makes a practical-minded and cogent call for a slow network movement, one which looks towards the SDS infrastructure of the 1960s and towards the more recent work of Occupy Sandy. The author suggests that the Occupy infrastructure would consist of databases maintained outside of “highly vulnerable” social media sites like facebook, Twitter, and Google, which are maintained at the pleasure of these large corporations. Citing the words of the SDS Guide to Community Organizing: “Don’t mourn, don’t mourn, organize, organize.”
Occupy These Actions & Events
Wednesday, October 2nd, 7:00pm
Maryhouse Catholic Worker
Two years since Occupy Wall Street began in September 2011, its meaning and legacy remain uncertain. Nathan Schneider covered the Occupy movement for Harper’s Magazine and The Nation, and on October 2 at Maryhouse Catholic Worker (55 East 3rd Street) in New York’s Lower East Side, he will give a reading from his new book on the movement’s origins and ideals, Thank You, Anarchy: Notes from the Occupy Apocalypse.
Sunday, October 6th, 2:00-3:00pm
Columbia University International Affairs Building–Room 402
The Alternative Banking Group just published a book called Occupy Finance. You can see it here or here or get a free copy by attending one of these meetings. Contributors to the book will be leading a discussion one chapter each week. This week, Cathy O’Neil will lead a discussion of Chapter 2: “The Bailout: It Didn’t Work, It’s Still Going On, It’s Making Things Worse.” This will be followed by the regular weekly Alternative Banking Group meeting.
Monday, October 7th, 6:00-9:00pm
304 E 100th Street
Hi-ARTS presents two groups of artists exploring the city in radically different ways. Both blend form and medium to explore the relationship of the community and the individual to home and space. Together, these works speak to the larger narrative of the “US” and the “I” in the context of neighborhoods and their perpetual transformation.
Wednesday, October 9th, 7:00pm
55th Street Church Avenue
Come out and stand in solidarity with the Gray family. On Oct 9, makes 7 month sense Kimani Gray was murder by the police. There is going to be a candlelight vigil/rally/march. We are going to take the streets and let the police, the system and the 1% know that we are fed up and that East Flatbush belongs to the people.
Thursday, October 10th, 6:00pm
310 W. 43 St. (at 8th Ave.) in the basement
Join 99 Pickets, New York’s worker solidarity group, for our new monthly meetings. This month, we’ll discuss how to maintain solidarity during a contract fight or organizing drive and hear updates from worker campaigns around the city.Potluck dinner–if you’re so moved, bring a dish, snacks or dessert! Childcare available–please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re bringing your children, and indicate their age(s). Wheelchair accessible. Spanish interpretation is available (and please let us know if you need interpretation for a different language).
Future emails will includes a partial listing of events with an action focus related to the Occupy Movement in New York City. Find a more comprehensive listing of OWS events, including assemblies and meetings, at NYCGA.net/events. Please email email@example.com about actions to consider for inclusion, and to contact us at large.