Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Occupying Wall Street: "Don't be afraid to say 'revolution'"

Posters at the Zuccotti/Liberty Park Occupation (source: demotix)

There's been lots of discussion in the media about the risk of 'debt contagion' over the past few months. It would seem that mass protest against austerity is contagious too...

For several weeks now, a protest camp has occupied Zuccotti Park, around the corner from Wall Street, in New York City. The occupation has inspired several other similar actions in other US cities. It has taken explicit inspiration from the occupations of squares and parks in Tunis, Cairo, Madrid, Athens, London and elsewhere that have been underway over the past 12 months. 

Today, on the same day that thousands went on strike and marched in Athens against austerity measures, several unions joined the Wall St occupiers in a march through New York City, which Anjali Mullany of the New York Daily Post tweeted as a 'game changer': "The energy is thru the roof & the message is united." We'll see if it's a game changer, but it's certainly a good excuse to post some resources and reflections on what's going on...

The Occupy Wall Street website contains useful information about the occupation. It is self-described as the "unofficial de facto online resource for the ongoing protests happening on Wall Street", put together by an affinity group involved in the protests. On that website, Occupy Wall Street is described as a:
leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants.
We are the 99% is a website where all sorts of folks are uploading pictures of themselves holding up some words about why they are fed up with the status quo:
We are the 99 percent. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we're working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent.
The thumbnails of all the pictures and messages posted so far are achived here, in what to me is a really powerful image which visualises the diversity of folks involved...

Screen Grab from We are the 99% website

The action on the ground is being 'organised' through 'NYC General Assemblies'. These Assemblies are facilitated through an on-line networking tool, which those involved describe as:
an open, participatory and horizontally organized process through which we are building the capacity to constitute ourselves in public as autonomous collective forces within and against the constant crises of our times.
As the actions spread, the Occupy Together website is collecting and disseminating information about occupations taking place in other parts of the United States.

And those who tweet could follow: #OccupyWallStreet

For some reporting on events, The Guardian in the UK has published a few articles reporting on what is going that are worth a look: check this one from September 21 for a bit of an introduction to what has been happening, and this page which collates all their reporst and articles on the protests.

Keeping up with all mass occupations and protests happening across the world over the past 12 months would be a full-time job in itself! But here's a few thoughts-in-progress ...