This proposal comes from my friend Dorje from the Vision’s and Goals working group.
On September 17th, a diverse, politically minded group of youth marched down to Wall Street, the world symbol of our deliberate exploitation of any resource: plant, animal, human, or the creations of the human soul; anything that manages to take root in the soil, asphalt or concrete and grow within our world. The new group marched against the 1% those who terrorize this planet, the butchers, warmakers, corrupters of the soul and the purity of art, sponsors of terrorists who themselves are nothing more than mental terrorists. On september 17th the group that was to become OWS marched against the root of our problems, those who control not just wall street but the majority of the organizations and institutions of culture still standing in 2011. We protested against, their depravity their increasing enslavement of the free and beautiful human soul and we walked together to protest their calculated brutality against who we naturally are. In the early years of the new millennium we have watched the top of the 1%’s twisted schemes of control tighten around our lives with every morning edition of the NewYork Times. Though not all of us knew who these insufferably proud, cutthroat abusers were by name, we could see their agenda and looking at the statistical data we have now, name them anonymously as the 1%. Those willing to stand against their cruelty answered the call and on September 17th marched and were denied their right to peaceably assemble. We then found a legal haven in Liberty Square and its inner boundary, the elegant opalescent ring that is Zucotti Park. Denied our Constituational right to take our protest to wall street and occupy, we gathered that night in our true protest, to use our legal right to assemble and then work together for transformation, our own, our country’s, our world’s. We gathered to assert our right to become the change we wished to see. When we are united we can work together. When we are in the same place we can learn to get along. When we live together we can eventually understand and tolerate one another. This is the only possible foundation for the peace this war torn world has so long wished for.
It has always been our constitutional right to do just this. According to the idea of Justice still here in America, this right is ours inviolably so long as we are peaceably assembled. All the excuses and spin in the world cannot deny that this form of assembly is exactly what we of OWS did for 58 days under the pressures of constant assault, intrusion, harassment and exploitation.
In the early days as we were assembling our new society in Liberty Square, a vision unfolded of all of us being free for once in our life. Free and not forced to slave in the systems created and perfected against the people and our human soul over the last hundreds of years. Free to instead work together to find the solutions we needed to take back the fading beauty and joy of life on Our Earth.
That was our protest; to leverage our talents and abilities within our newfound circle we could help humanity find her way out of her tightening noose. For almost two months, we continued to hold and sustain one another in one of the last ‘legal’ places to assemble in apparently the entire nation and we invited the world to join us speaking as the seed of a new society. The people supported us and we had become a sanctuary, a workshop, a kitchen, a library, an assembly, a group of dancers, drummers, singers, workers, builders, protesters, marchers, outreach workers, recyclers, composters, artists, chess players, programmers and designers, newspaper publishers, merchants, pamphlet discussers, public speakers, neighbors who actually knew each other, lovers, meditators and assembly members who had created a welcoming haven for those most scarred by the schemes of the world’s tyrannical, those who had been most rejected simply because they had had enough integrity not to comply. We sheltered all who journeyed to join us despite the wagging tongues of the New York press. Despite the fact that you just don’t do that here. That you don’t help people unless they ‘deserve’ it. That you will not be kind to your brothers and sisters unless they have somehow earned your kindness. We assembled against such a philosophy and this was the heart our protest: Human need not Corporate greed. This philosophy of acceptance and providing kindness was our constitutional right. We became everything that has been mentioned, artists lovers and activists. but most importantly we became friends united in a new community that was continuing to refine and organize herself. Then the Police Department of New York City came upon our sleeping community with ten minutes warning saying that we were a ‘fire hazard’. They did not give us an advance notice. They did not give us the option to change things ourselves so that no illegal raid would be ‘necessary’, instead they came in secret at 1:00 a.m. Surrounding the square with public funded spotlights and threw a peacefully resting community into chaos. They penned those who wished to stay into the circle of the camp and surrounded us in the center while they tore our property to pieces. in a matter of an hour the fire hazard, our new city, was gone and when nothing was left they closed in on 220 hundred of us linked together in solidarity. When there was nothing left within the park but people, peaceably assembled and in line with our right as stated in the constitution, wide awake at 3:00 a.m. and also outnumbered by 400 policemen and women, the NYPD moved in to rip us away. We were not a fire hazard. There were no longer any fire hazards left in the park and still the force that is in theory meant to protect our people brutally moved in harmed, collared and hauled us away like so many animals. All on a law that they invented in a printed declaration they tried to force upon us in the early hours of Tuesday November, . Hauled away in the people’s prison busses for trying to change our way of life in a way that would work and thus hopefully show our world the way to peace as well, we watched everything we owned thrown into a garbage compactor by the orders of one of the 1%. We had no physical power and they took our home.
I The Occupy Movement
For the political movement that is OWS to suceed we must assemble within urban spaces. Holding spaces within cities and boroughs is vital for a protest movement. It allows a place for both those within the movement to gather with the public we hope to present our view to. Holding an urban space represents to everyone that we will not bow down to the unconstitutional laws of the modern city until those laws become just and accommodating to the needs of human beings. Strategically by occupying a public space we occupy the police forces freeing others to assemble less harrased the city over. However taking a space in a city like New York is not actually a sustainable act of protest. It drains the painfully earned resources of those who support us, while giving back the returns of political ‘awareness’ and entertainment for those following on youtube and livestream.
So as necessary as our action is to form the movement, we absolutely must find ways to leverage the same real kinds of power those we oppose have slowly monopolized over hundreds and hundreds of years. As the game is set now, protesting within the current laws with a home for assembling like we had for two short months in Liberty Square is not sustainable in terms of human energy, especially in a city organized as New York is.
According to the American rules of protest citizens can protest in the daytime, but then have to leave the assembly to find lodging at night. By their rules, we of OWS still have to be a part of the system which we protest. “Overnight lodging is not tolerated,” to quote the words of Oakland police spokeswoman Johanna Watson. We no longer live in a country where it is the actually accepted that: “If you don’t likes the way things are going you are always free to join together in order to change them.” Instead in 2011 we are not allowed to simply and peaceably assemble for a term long enough to effect any change and when we do assemble we are set upon with every tactic and disturbance the 1% can manage to bring against us. When we assemble to unite and join in friendship and peace, and when we assemble to speak for a better world, they declare war against us and our dream. They refuse to listen to our wishes, our hopes or human needs so it is up to us to find ways to fight back or find places that they cannot legally approach to fight us in the beginning phases of this so very vital movement.
For the 99% to hold as many public spaces as we can is the genesis of this movement. However with political occupations in public spaces where structures and overnight stays are not allowed, as is now the case with the sacked liberty square, it is very difficult to organize our efforts, together, as a real community, on site. With backup locations we are legally free to live on we can strengthen incredibly our blossoming efforts to peaceably assemble.
In America in 2011, We the people live in a land that is an escalating example of legalized oppression. However, when as individuals united, we decide to stand against those who work to oppress us, then when they assert by force the illegal ability to have their way and evict us from public places as well as imprision us, our only option to return the movement to its original strength is to reoccyupy and assert Justice only to be dispersed again. Such a strategy, no matter how unjust the context it would unfold in, only depletes our energies. To be torn down time and time again hurts all of us who care enough to leave our old lives, leave the rules of a broken society and occupy a space. We will likely continue to be torn down so long as the unconstitutional Hooverville laws still exist. To win, as we all wish for, requires that we evolve as a movement because as the scenario has unfolded after our arrest success through our current tactics is unlikely.
We need Real Strength for this movement.
With the current occupiers strategy, every time we take a place we place our freedom at the whims of whatever the legal interpretation of our right to be in that space is. Each time we move to permanently occupy an urban area, we set our necks voluntarily under the guillotine. Those who have joined us and whose lives have always been marginalized from the accepted way of doing things in the 21st century are left with no reason to stand with us. Their choice is either: spend ones energies to survive on ones own or support the movement and hope the movement will take care of you somehow. As the movement exists now, this is not a fair choice to put to anyone. We have not given enough people enough reason to believe the risk will be worth it. Signs and marches and rallies are about public opinion in the hope to effect that opinion enough to someday unite the 99%. The theory being once as 99% we are united nothing can defeat us, in other words once we all agree and stand together we will then start taking the real, effective actions to break the chains we are in and overthrow those who have engineered them. However, why not start those actions now?
If we owned an area of land at least the size of Liberty square, either somehow within the city itself or somewhere within walking distance of one of the Upstate Train lines that leave from grand central station, then the occupiers of that branch of our new movement could not be legally evicted. Those who oppose our dream could not take our generators or solar panels. A true sanctuary to organize withing would act as an incredible support for the continued efforts to occupy urban spaces with our extremely valid philosophy of civil disobedience. Also we could begin to leverage for the movement a new type of strength, that of generating our own resources. Land can grow things Cement cannot, cement can only take life from us and impel us to wander. Beginning to grow our own, healthy, unpoisoned food to help sustain this peaceful revolution is absolutely one of the most powerful forms of protest we could make. Instead of throwing tea into the ocean, lets have the new American revolution grow life from the earth and make things with our own hands. A statement like this is one, our opponents, those who say we are entitled and are simply refusing to work, will have to respect or sound like fools. The people will respect a statement/vocation such as this also, particularly if the strategy spreads to every occupation in this global movement. Occupying at least some outlying and hopefully urban areas also, legally, without the threat of eviction, will give us more of the time and support we need until we can use our voice to change the existing laws and find a way to permanently occupy public parks and the other public sanctuaries as places for constructive change citywide. The fact that we did not own Zucotti park, meant that even if our town planning working group had passed a proposal at a GA no one would have had to abide by it. Also our consensus that no drugs or alcohol were to be within the park boundaries was also not respected and didn’t really have to be. The movement that agreed to that consensus did not own the park. Consensus would have a much strongfer meaning if we owned the property we hold general assembly in, a true general assembly that can actually decide what it is we will agree to and do as a new community. I also feel it is extremely important to utilize the tremendous generosity of the people who have supported us with working proposals for occupations and acts of civil disobedience that begin to support and sustain themselves. When we can manage this, we will become just that much more part of the necessary global solution. Having enough of these satellite communities we legally own, could unite the movement nationwide by giving the travelers to the occupations places to learn, work, rest and receive guidance on their diverse tactics. Our network of havens would then become the workshop for the world we would like to see; a palpable alternative to the malevolent systems created by the 1%. The whole nation would be able to see us evolving into something even more real, more solid and much more likely to succeed than we are now.
III Winning a just world
It is not likely the 1% will listen to noise alone. As the awakening 99% we have to begin to work together and support each other. The people united will never be defeated and before we can mobilize as an undefeatable union, one that cannot be denied her just demands, we will need to create a way of coexisting that cannot be taken away from us by a handful of tactical decisions on the banking families part. The sooner we can do this, the sooner we will be free of the annoyance and terrible harm that can be inflicted on us by a few phone calls, memos and emails. Instead, with our awareness on the day of the people’s happiness and freedom we can work together, sit together, assemble together, sing together, eat together and rest the nights together and dream of the world about to be born. The inspiring future everyone in Liberty Square and the inner ring of Zucotti is gathering to work for, the one we have expressed to the nations with all of our hearts.