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Occupy isn’t dead

Infamously, corporate mogul Arthur Jensen told Howard Beale in the movie Network that the “world is a business.” That was thirty-eight years ago. On September 17th 2011, a new movement was born to counter this ideology enshrined in neoliberal globalization, with its roots going back to an article in February 2010 by investigative journalist and activist David DeGraw, if not earlier: the occupy movement. The corporate media at first ignored the movement, but after it became such a powerful force, they couldn’t do so any longer, so they just ridiculed it to no end since it was opposed to the two-party system, the corporate-state nexis, committed to democratic practices and stayed leaderless. The movement stayed strong from September to December 2011, facing off police brutality, destruction of tents, etc… As documents show, the national government coordinated the effort to crackdown on this social justice movement with local police departments, which was a powerful use of the supposed ‘legitimate’ force of the state but it did not render the movement dead. [1]

Almost two and half years later, some think that Occupy Wall Street (OWS), which should be called the occupy movement in the United States is dead. This article tries to counter these notions, and set the record straight on the status of this social movement in the United States.

If you look up the words ‘occupy is dead’ on Startpage, a wonderful alternative search engine to  monopolistic Google, all sorts of articles come up. There is no need to go through every one of them.

Rosie Gray, writing for the good-for-nothing entertainment site, BuzzFeed, declared absurdly in an almost tabloid fashion: “Occupy’s final implosion” was when trans* woman and Google employee, Justine Turney took over the @OccupyWallSt twitter account. After being blocked by this twitter account myself, and hearing from other occupy activists, I knew that this article was written in a way that distorted the truth in a disgusting way. An article in The New Republic, a crap-shoot liberal magazine barely worth reading, claimed that the movement in Turkey will be longer-lasting than Occupy Wall Street. An opinion piece on CNN’s website by Stephen Zune said that while Occupy gave voice to the 99%, it was ‘dead.’ Even an article on CounterPunch by sociologist Steven Sherman alluded to a conclusion: that Occupy is dead. I could go on and on with more and more articles, and those who say Occupy is dead.

Internationally, a movement is still present.[2] There are a number of  Occupy groups which are still present in the US: (1) Occupy the SEC which is trying to “ensure that financial regulators act in the public interest, not for Wall Street and its lobbyists,” (2) Occupy the Hood which is meant to bring issues of people of color to the forefront, and Occupy Sandy which was created as a people’s response to Hurricane Sandy and helping the victims of the storm. The last group listed here, Occupy Sandy, has engaged in recent actions such as Occupy Christie which was an encampment to protest  how Governor Christie has stolen money meant to go to hurricane victims and has other branches: Occupy Sandy Staten Island and Occupy Sandy Relief NJ as well. Also there’s groups like Occupy Monsanto which has a website “dedicated to empowering citizens of the world to take action against Monsanto & it’s enablers” in the government along with “processed food companies that use Monsanto’s products.”[3] One of their project are called ‘Genetic Crimes Units‘ where they carry out ‘decontamination’ efforts or actions opposing GMOs and Monsanto, for good reason.

I can’t forget Occupy Our Homes, which is a part of the US Occupy movement that is meant to help homeowners, defining itself as “a movement that supports Americans who stand up to their banks and fight for their homes.” They recently created a new website allowing anyone to “start, run and deliver your own campaign in support of a home occupation or stopping an eviction, with the technology you need at your fingertips.” Additionally, there’s a group called ‘Occupy the Economy‘ which is working to democratize the economy and create an ‘industrial democracy’ in the US, which is still around as well.

Then, there is a group that tries to make sure women’s voices are heard in the occupy movement: Women Occupy.[4] If this isn’t enough, there’s Occupy Design, which defines itself as a “grassroots project connecting designers with on-the-ground demonstrators” that work to “create freely available visual tools around a common graphic language to unite the 99%.” This group is connected to the Creative Action Network which defines itself as a “crowdsourcing creativity for causes.” For environmentalists, there is Occupy the Pipeline, which defines themselves as a “grassroots, not-for-profit, environmental working group” that works to oppose the Spectra pipeline through “non-violent, direct action and civil disobedience.” There’s also an occupy offshoot called Strike Debt which helps people get rid of their debt by buying it  up at a low price and relieving people of their burden, part of a project called the ‘Rolling Jubilee.’ Then there’s groups which are meant to organize remaining occupiers like InterOccupy and Occupy Together which are still existing along with sites like occupy.com and occupyeverything.org which share articles on social justice issues. Oh yeah, and there’s still the twitter for Occupy Weather.

There are a number of occupy groups still kicking beyond this. According to my research, occupy groups are still active in twenty-nine US cities.[5] Additionally, there is also a Google Group still for Occupy Baltimore, along with a page for the New York City General Assembly which is where it all began. The website created by Adbusters, way back, occupywallst.org still is thriving, but is not a voice for the movement since there not one voice for the movement, no ‘official’ website, ‘official’ organization or person that speaks for Occupy. If there is any further indication one needs that this movement is still living and breathing, consider the trial against Occupy activist Cecily McMillian who has nonviolently fought the powers that be, and the trials of Occupy activists (NATO 3 and Cleveland 4, etc…). There’s also hundreds upon hundreds of Occupy Together meetups, but only further investigation would prove how active each of these groups is. Even the Occupied Chicago Tribune is still hanging on and Tidal magazine which analyses ‘Occupy Theory.’

To be absolutely clear, no one should have any illusions about the existing occupy movement in the United States. If I missed some occupy group that is active in the US, please tell me, because I didn’t mean to leave any group out, but this article shows the groups I’ve found so far. Obviously, the movement is different than it was in 2011, 2012, or even 2013. It has evolved, becoming more localized in general. Lets not forget that Occupy still has engaged in some big actions like: protests at the NATO summit in May 2012, participation in Marches Against Monsanto, reclaiming foreclosed homes from the banks, etc… It is clear that those remaining Occupy activists have formed a community which in part constitutes the remaining social movement.

Its hard for me to say what should happen because I’m not involved in the internal mechanizations of the remaining occupy movement but am rather an Occupy supporter. But, I hope that Occupy is reinvigorated with new energy and expand since ‘occupy’ can apply to many, many social justice causes.

Maybe this can be done at the upcoming Occupy National Gathering in California where the remaining elements of the occupy movement meet or with the coming #WaveofAction which runs for three months (between April 4th and July 4th) where “people throughout the world will be protesting corruption, rallying around solutions and taking part in alternative systems” as part of what they are calling the ‘Global Spring.’

In the end, there is one main point that should be clear: Occupy isn’t dead and for those disappointed with how ‘weak’ it is, then they should work with the existing movement so that it can be strong again to challenge the powers that be.

Burkely Hermann is an activist who writes numerous blogs to educate the populace about international, local and national issues. He tries to mimic the idea of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense to appeal to the common people and pushes for nonviolent direct action.

Notes

[1] See articles on Daily Kos, the Partnership for Civil Justice, and Wired Magazine for starters. Also note that the DHS deeply spied on the movement as well along with the FBI not even stopping supposed assassinations on Occupy ‘leaders’ which was covered recently by Democracy Now!. Also see  my article about this in reference to #OccupyGezi, which was meant to be published way back, but I forgot about it.

[2] There are a number of Occupy groups worldwide: Occupy London, Occupy Toronto, obviously Occupy Gezi in Turkey, Occupy Dataran in Malaysia, Occupy Brisbane, Occupy Manchester, Occupy Perth, Occupy Calgary, and many others across the world. Additionally, the Occupy News Network based in the UK is still kicking along with a group called Occupy State House, which is “an independent network of over 100 students is occupying the headquarters of the University of London at Senate House.”

[3] This refers to the main group that uses the name not others that use it as well.

[4] There still is a facebook page and twitter account for a group called ‘Occupy Patriarchy’ but it doesn’t seem to be active at this time.

[5] Through my own research I found active websites or presence on social media for Occupy groups in Chicago, Oakland, Houston, Providence, RI, Denver which seems in utter disarray, Seattle, Austin, Cleveland, Phoenix, Portland, Frederick, MD, Buffalo, San Fransisco, Boston, Milwaukee, Detroit, Santa Fe, Santa Cruz, Salt Lake City, Toledo, Miami, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Youngstown, Clarksville, Sarasota, Peoria, Joplin, and Sacramento. Also there’s an occupy group seemingly for New Hampshire, Arkansas, Daytona, and Long Island as well. Possibly a groups in Las Vegas, Montgomery County, MD, and Brooklyn as well. There’s also Occupy WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) which says they want to “occupy the WWE…to get the message that they can do better, that we expect them to do better, and that we deserve a better sports entertainment product” which I don’t what to think of completely yet. There’s also groups like ‘Occupy Food‘ and ‘Occupy Food Supply‘ with activity on accounts that is up and down.

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