The spirit of Occupy, which continues to endure long after Occupy Wall Street, 2011, is actually the same spirit that Christ–and other spiritual leaders throughout history–proclaimed (and what we hopefully remember at this time of year): peace, hope, faith and love conquer all; monetary gain is worthless compared to living a moral life; giving is more important than receiving; love others as you would love yourself; be stewards of the earth; punish wrong-doing; practice non-violent resistance in the face of evil. As a former Occupier (or forever Occupier, shall I say?), with time on my hands now that my children are away for the holidays, I thought I would take this opportunity to discuss what we have accomplished, and where I believe we ought to go.
I was arrested along with hundreds of others at Occupy Los Angeles on November 30th, 2011, after what seemed like lifetimes of occupying Los Angeles City Hall lawns. I had been a Welless Tent volunteer–wrapping bandages, handing out water, doing clinic referrals and reiki, teaching about the plant-based diet, and helping run support groups for Occupiers–but I ended up also getting involved with the Demands and Objectives Committee. That committee folded after having put out a survey of demands/objectives gathered from Occupiers, and I helped craft a vision statement to hopefully enshrine what the people wanted, to make clear demands that many had dropped into the “Demands and Objectives” box the Demands and Objectives Committee had set up, and to fulfill to promise of demands set forth at the time of the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City. The Voice to the Voiceless Solidarity Declaration, as it came to be called, was somewhat popular among Occupiers in L.A. and was vetted and modified throughout 2011 and 2012 and during the 2014 Occupy National Gathering. The Voice to the Voiceless Solidarity Declaration, 2014, was one of two statements coming out of Occupy National Gathering 2014 given media attention (see https://www.popularresistance.org/nat-gat-gives-voice-to-voiceless-also-expresses-support-for-gaza/). The declaration basically declared our solidarity and our intentions to save our humanity and our planet through challenging our society’s out-dated, dangerously-entrenched socio-political institutions–without going into details about HOW exactly we would do that.
However, the original did discuss some specific current goals for our society that seemed important and popular such as stopping banks from stealing homes, prosecuting our own high-level war criminals, shutting down the possibility of nuclear disaster, stopping frakking, protecting the rights of all people, including the indigenous, immigrants, the imprisoned, women, the mentally disordered and other oppressed peoples, ensuring a healthy food supply, ending income inequality, stopping police brutality, stopping global warming and protecting animals’ rights among others. What I was struck by during the 2014 National Gathering vetting last July was that NONE of these goals had been met since the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City and the Voice to the Voiceless’ original writing in 2011. People, we can’t stop now! Another world is not only possible–it is urgently needed, NOW, for all of the same reasons we originally protested in 2011!!!!
Since last summer a few moves by politicians seemed to provide a bit of sunlight: Congress took some action on reducing nuclear weaponry, Kerry slammed the oil industry at an international anti-global warming event, a few companies divested from fossil fuels, an immigrant’s rights package was introduced by the President, pro-marijuana laws have been passed, and a European NGO is finally attempting to prosecute Bush, Cheney and friends of war crimes. And there has been some positive activism which has led both to consciousness-raising as well as being movement-builders: the stop global warming actions, the stop-police-murder movement, the internet freedom movement, the housing justice and the immigrant rights movements, most notably. In my location, a neighborhood association is considering taking over a zombie foreclosure to make a community center, which is causing friendships and connections to form. However, it is so difficult for people to think of the future, outside of themselves and outside the box–that’s where we come in, embodying the Occupy spirit!
We need to remember that–despite the corrupt government and the corporate vultures that are increasingly making life in our society unbearable–we have built a movement that cannot be stopped and we have voiced a spirit that cannot be quieted. I have been working over the past couple of months to get people to sign the online (or paper) versions of the people’s solidarity declaration (please sign it here https://www.popularresistance.org/voice-to-the-voiceless-solidarity-declaration/ and to organize a regular every-other-Sunday Interoccupy conference calls to build on the 99% vision and objectives, especially in the face of what I call the upcoming Republicrat Farce of 2016. What direction should we be heading now? We need to get together with our Occupy compatriots again–or just anyone we know who embodies that spirit (since many are now reluctant to identify as Occupiers due to main-stream media hype)–to create a mandate and an agenda for real change in 2016. Although participation in the calls could be said to be little,so far, what I have noticed in our conversations is the theme of persevering, of continuing to act in local issues that matter, of being the change one wants to see in the world and of organizing one’s neighborhoods and communities around issues of importance. So, yes, pledge to sign the Voice to the Voiceless Declaration, join our conference calls (interoccupy.net/events/voice-to-the-voiceless-solidarity-declaration-call-alternate-sundays-9-pm-et-2014-09-28/), message us on Twitter and at least throw an Occupy-style house party this New Years!!!