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Why I Occupy | Occupied Stories

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Diane Emerson: Why I Occupy


Editor’s Note: A version of this story originally appeared at the Portland Occupier.

Seeking love and affection any way I could, I found myself pregnant at 15. Knowing I did not have the parenting skills necessary to raise a child, I gave her up for adoption. Then I went on a drive to prove to the world that I was a good human being. With no help from my family, I got myself through college, and, eventually, with the help of my husband, graduated with an MBA. My goal: to be vice president of a Fortune 500 company. Why? This was the ultimate measure of success for a woman in this country. I worked hard, stuffed my feelings far down into my soul, and started climbing the corporate ladder.

As I climbed, I noticed that the difference in pay between myself and the people reporting to me got bigger and bigger. This made no sense to me. These people were working just as hard as me, and had specialized skills I didn’t have. I couldn’t even DO some of their jobs! At one point I asked the human resources people if I could give some of my pay to my team. That suggestion was met with disbelief, and the response was that the HR department was working to increase the disparity, in order to provide people a greater incentive for for working their way up. I kept silent.

Eventually I reached the point where the VPs started inviting me to their homes on the weekends. I knew what that meant. They were seeing if I would fit into the tight social circle which exists at that level. I talked antiques and gardening with the wives, and golfing and global economics with their corporate husbands. I listened to them discuss their homes in Florida, their fishing and golfing trips, their travels to Europe and the Caribbean.

It became clear to me that they only socialized with others at their level within the corporation – tightly held in their carefully constructed bubble of safety and ignorance. I realized that if I actually reached my long-held and hard-fought goal, these people would be “my friends”, my social circle. It sickened me. I realized that if I actually reached my goal, I would be desperately unhappy, and would have to muzzle my voice and my life 24/7. I saw that the huge salaries were part of an ego game, to which everything was sacrificed. Nothing else mattered. I toyed with the idea of going along with the game, and changing the corporation from within. But I would have been alone in my efforts, and it would have been overwhelming.

So I quit. I quit the company, and ended up quitting my 20-year marriage and my country, and I moved to New Zealand to start a new life. I became an independent business consultant and focused on helping New Zealand entrepreneurs and small businesses succeed. Then 5 years ago, I moved into the gift economy – giving my time and skills to individuals and small nonprofits around the world who were dedicated to serving the poorest of the poor. I had no home, no car, and no worries. A year spent volunteering for people with disabilities in Kashmir, the most militarized place on earth, was the beginning of my activism.

Then, while volunteering for the Catholic Worker movement here in the US, Occupy was born. Now here was a cause that could handle everything I had to offer, and more. I had a plane ticket to take me back to Geneva in March 2012. I cancelled it. There is nowhere else on earth I can do the most good to help the world than right here in the U.S., in the heart of the beast. But this time I am not alone. I am surrounded with like-hearted people. Together, we will create the world we dream of. A world of acceptance, shared values, integrity, transparency, meaning, affection, love, and community. Everything I sought after since childhood is wrapped up in this package called Occupy.

-Diane Emerson-

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Scenes From Occupy Halfway, Oregon (video)


We often hear scenes from the Occupy movement at large cities, and it’s easy to forget what’s happening in the smaller towns that are no less affected by what goes on at Wall Street. A reader submitted this video from Occupy Halfway, Oregon, which features a scene not often portrayed as part of the movement. But as Cheryl, and occupier in Halfway (population: 337) says, “Even in rural populations, we have concerns about what goes on in our government.”

 

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Defining Home


Editor’s note: This story was originally published at thisiswhyioccupy.tumblr.com, and is republished here with the author’s consent. Read the original post.

One Step Back

It is only when we stop seeing each other solely as our roles or affiliated Working Groups – Facilitator, Kitchen, POC, Direct Action, whatever – and start to see each other as people with backgrounds, with histories, with stories – that empathy will prevail over judgment and we’ll begin in solidarity to get some real work done.

And, through our own storytelling and understanding of our histories and what brought us to this moment, this movement, we understand our place within it and possibly where our efforts should lie.

As the saying goes, “If this isn’t deeply personal for you, it won’t stay political for long.”

This is the beginning of my effort to define for why this is personal for me. For me to identify at the root, the heart of things, why I occupy.

Defining Home

Home is not a place, or a building, or even shelter. Home is not defined by where I live or where I keep my things. Home is a feeling, something I understand intuitively through the people I am surrounded by.

Growing up, home was my family – my parents and my older brother.

We moved houses three times between the time I was 12 and 16. I had lived in the first for 12 years, and about for three in the second two. None felt more like home than the others.

I liked the houses we lived in, but moving always kind of felt like an adventure, and I relished in the ability to shed old skins and redefine myself in new spaces.

Moving at age 12 allowed me to replace the bunk bed I had been using since I was very little, the top bunk populated with toys and stuffed animals. In our new house my room was gradually covered, wall to wall, every inch, with magazine cutouts, posters, and music lyrics written on masking tape.

The space became defined by my teenage angst. This room was defined by me, not me by it. It was my room, but it wasn’t my home.

Home was still determined by the people in the space with me.

Leaving

When I left for college in August of 2001 that feeling of home stayed with me. And for the first couple years, that feeling drew me back to Chicago and my family. There was a part of me that thought I might move back there.
When my brother moved to LA the summer before my senior year, the feeling evolved and I started planning a post-graduation move to the West Coast.

But spring break of senior year, in LA with my parents visiting my brother, changed nearly everything for me.

Every concept I had of what it meant to be family – everything I thought I understood of my family – came crashing down around me.

I learned a lot about how priorities, transparency, honesty, money, and love affected my family, and our relationships.

I found out my future was being mortgaged to sustain an unsustainable present.

Only now do I understand that my family was most likely working class, not middle class, as I had always assumed.

I learned that a dramatic explosive event is never where a story begins – there is always something, an action, an event, building up to this reaction. This is a symptom of some other root cause.

And I’ve learned that treating symptoms only delays an eventual relapse.  Root causes must always be the focus of restorative, or better yet, transformative action.

A lesson learned on this trip, and in the months that followed, would be reaffirmed nearly six years later – love alone isn’t enough.

Without mutual effort, trust, compassion – what I now might call solidarity – a relationship cannot be sustained on love alone.

Two Steps Forward

In the years following the trip with my parents, and the months following my breakup, home was defined by my circle of friends who not only helped me weather the storm, but also made it all worthwhile.

And then Occupy Wall Street came along.

I can make a direct connection to how all this is relevant and applicable to OWS and my activism work. But I think for now it’s enough to have put all this out there.

I know that it comes from a place of privilege to talk about home in an emotional sense, without the fear or concern regarding actual shelter that so many people in this nation, and across the world, have on a daily basis, not to mention the actual struggles for basic needs that I will probably never know.

I will be moving forward from this point – acknowledging this is my reality, putting it on the table, with a desire to learn and grow and evolve – knowing this is all just a tiny fragment of why I occupy.

Brett Goldberg | @poweredbycats

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On Conflict and Consensus


Editor’s note: This article was originally published on thisiswhyioccupy.tumblr.com as a two-part post. Part 1 – not included in this story – gives a detailed outline of the consensus process. For readers unfamiliar with consensus process, you can see the author’s explanation here.

Consensus is a process. I laid it out as best I could – tried to make it bite-sized and accessible.

At the heart of consensus is discussion.

Communally we develop the proposal. Ask questions to make sure we understand it, but also to make sure the proposer hasn’t missed any opportunities or details – not to question the motives of the proposer, but to help the proposal be better.

We express our concerns so as to take any opportunities for oppression and place them out in the open for everyone to see and address. To move forward together.

Our greatest asset – as a movement, as a community – is the individual experiences, feelings, and knowledge that each person brings to the collective.

The ability of a group to reach consensus on anything is dependent on the group having some level of shared goals, visions, and principles that bring it together. It doesn’t have to be explicitly stated or documented, but at least on an individual level, we have to acknowledge what brought us here, and assume that some part of that brought everyone else here too.

… in a nutshell …

In its broadest sense, Occupy Wall Street seeks social and economic justice – an end to the systems of oppression that consolidate wealth in the hands of the extreme few at the expense of everyone else. Obviously there is so much more. But if you want my sound byte of what OWS stands for, there you go.

Occupy Wall Street wants to liberate space – both physical and ideological. Without public space in the hands of the people, the community, can a public sphere truly exist? And ideological space, taken up for generations by the moneyed few, utilizing violence and systematized pillars of oppression to hold power over women, people of color, and gender queer (to name a few), is being opened up for those voices to be raised – by taking their rightful place in this discussion,we shape a more inclusive and just society.

… morality …

To be perfectly honest, yes, our system of consensus can be abused. The way it is currently set up, we can only accept a block at face value, as the blocker explains it. Regardless of how well that block is explained, whether it is along explicit moral, ethical or safety lines, or someone only having a few words to say why they can’t let the proposal pass, the block stands.

As a community, we can take their explanation, try to understand it, and try to empathize with their position, their feelings, their experience and offer an amendment that might be found agreeable to both the blocker and the proposer so that as a community we can move forward toward consensus.

What we cannot do – what we must not do – is question the block itself.

And this brings me to my first block.

I’ve regularly been attending General Assemblies since October 17th. When not on a Facilitation team, I have rarely spoken to the Assembly. I tend to think that if I give it enough time, someone else will say what I’m thinking. Often I’m right, sometimes not.

This is what we call, “Step Up, Step Back.” If those of us with male, white-skin privilege step back, opening up the space for those who have traditionally not been encouraged to take it, someone will have the opportunity to step up and say pretty much exactly what we would have said.

There have been proposals I haven’t agreed with, or don’t particularly like, so I down-twinkle them in the temperature check. If I really don’t like it, and it moves to modified consensus, I’ll vote no.

There was a proposal a few days ago requesting the GA to ask two members of the Housing Working Group step down from leadership and coordination roles. I have serious concerns with recent decisions and actions of the individuals in question and supported the concept of this request, but the individuals were not present during this proposal or the discussion surrounding it. I think it’s extremely problematic to essentially put people on trial in absentia.

I stood aside. I had serious concerns with the proposal, but defaulted to the community to make the ultimate decision.

… the proposal …

A proposal that has been bounced around and discussed amongst individuals for a while now, possibly in part instigated by people’s reading of CT Butler’s “On Conflict & Consensus,” is that the community should be able to evaluate the validity of a block and decide if it meets certain criteria. For the record, I have never read CT Butler. I’ve heard him speak some, but have not read his book. Also for the record, I don’t really care what he has to say on this topic. OWS is like nothing anyone has ever seen before, and previously held notions or ideas have to adapt to OWS, not the other way around.

The blocking proposal has gone through various forms, and has come before the GA at least twice. I happened to be on the Facilitation Team both times and therefore couldn’t participate in the conversation. This past Sunday, it came up again, and I was finally able to add my voice to the conversation.

In its current form, the proposal wanted to empower the community to call a point of process on a block if any member of the General Assembly felt that the block was not meeting the criteria of an ethical, moral, or safety concern. The Facilitator would then take a straw poll to see if the community considered the block to meet those criteria. If 75% of the Assembly were in agreement that the block is valid, then it would stand. If not, it would be collectively removed.

… concerns …

I have many concerns with this proposal and the direct and implied effects it would have on the movement as a whole and the individuals that make it up.

I expressed my concerns during that point of the process and being that the proposer or the subsequent friendly amendments did not alleviate them, I chose to block the proposal. I tried to articulate my concerns as best I could, both during that stack and again when I explained my block.

I’ve thought about it extensively in the days since and had conversations with people who were not in attendance, in preparation for when this proposal eventually comes up for consideration at a future General Assembly.

… blocked …

I blocked this proposal because it so antithetical to everything this movement stands for, in my eyes.

Occupy Wall Street, as a movement, is about addressing root causes. We seek to create social and economic justice.

This is not a charity and this is not about bandaging symptoms. If we can address symptoms, and alleviate suffering along the way – as a byproduct of our work – that is great, but our focus has to be deeper – our path must be laid out and must be long-term.

Taking a temperature check on the validity of blocks is not a means to build more meaningful consensus.

This proposal is designed to deal with individuals who make our process more difficult than some feel it needs to be. It is in effect putting a bandage on people’s discomfort and frustration. It is not dealing with, acknowledging, or seeking to remedy the root causes that might result in someone feeling the need to obstruct our process in the only definitive and powerful way we have – the block.

Consensus is about discussion, debate, dissent, concessions, questioning, all with the intent of resolving conflict.

This proposal is a cop-out.

This proposal adds process in place of building community. We need to put in the time and hard work to get to know each other, as people, in order to build this community. It will, and should be, hard, slow work.

But, it will be worth it.

… prefigurative …

As a movement, we must be prefigurative. It is our obligation to embody the ideals and values of the world we seek to create. The ends do not justify the means. We cannot build a new world on the groundwork of an ugly movement.

We can only hope to drown out the negative voices with the even louder voices of positivity. Attempting to silence the voices we find disagreeable is re-creating the systems of oppression we are trying to topple.

Because this is a movement of incredibly diverse people with different backgrounds, upbringings and experiences, we need to acknowledge that different people have different communication styles and unconventional articulation abilities, or prior access to education. But that doesn’t mean their input is less valid.

I think we’ve seen quite often that – while I love this community passionately – it’s not always a safe space. I would like to have faith that in some cases, when someone blocks, they do have a moral or ethical concern, but perhaps they don’t feel safe expressing those concerns, for fear of being a dissenting voice, or facing hostility from the other members of the Assembly.

At some point, we need to trust that people come here to act in good faith.

Obviously not everyone does, and I’m not talking about provocateurs or infiltrators, but people who traditionally haven’t been given the space to have their voice heard and perhaps are acting out now that that space has been provided.

But that doesn’t seem like a good reason to me to add in additional punitive process.

In the absence of community agreement and shared values, which I am conflicted about documenting this early in the life of this movement –this occupation – this proposal feels exclusionary to me.

I’m not quite sure we’re ready to say definitively what our community values are, or our shared ideals, or goals. The Safer Spaces Community Agreement for Spokes Council is a good start for our code of conduct, but I don’t think that’s exactly the same as defining what our values are.

Occupy Wall Street has only been around for four months and our scope is huge. There has to be room for dissent and disagreement and discussion within our movement. We need to be inclusive, not codify punitive measures of exclusion.

There are individuals in this movement who have been labeled disruptors or agitators. People who recently have taken the position of blocking just about any proposal asking for funds that do not address the basic needs of the homeless Occupier population – food, housing, and Metrocards, for example. There is an argument that can be made that these blocks are made along ethical lines – that this occupation has people dependent on it, and we have an obligation to care for them; with funds depleting we must focus on their needs.

You don’t have to agree with this line of thinking, but agreement is not the issue.

… misdirection …

This proposal is clearly a way to target individuals and not the issues at hand. Already we see adverse reactions to certain individuals, regardless of the content. Either their presentations, or they themselves, are enough to make people tune out before they even begin speaking.

Taking a temperature check to evaluate a block feels punitive, and I’m not sure we have a right as community to address the concerns of specific individuals as it pertains to a block.

We should not debate the validity of anyone’s individual concerns. Rather, we can decide communally, having heard the blockers’ concerns and the stand asides’ concerns, that we still want this proposal to move forward. We can do that. We have a process for it – modified consensus.

But what we should not have is a system in place to validate or nullify someone’s moral, ethical, or safety concerns, however effectively they are communicated.

I’d rather have modified consensus at the expense of consensus than consensus at the expense of an individual.

… unfriendly …

A friendly amendment was suggested – and accepted by the proposer – to put in place a one-week trial period to see how this whole process would play out. When I restated my concerns to explain my block the proposer reminded me of the amendment to see if I would be willing to delay my block a week. To allow this trial period to happen so as a community we can evaluate it based on practice.

My response was, “I do not feel comfortable putting a trial period on what I feel is immoral.” I stand by that.

This proposal is ugly. I don’t blame the people who wrote it or the people who support it. I understand why they want this failsafe in place. It would be convenient. It would make things easy. But the more embedded I get with OWS, the more I learn about the history of radical and revolutionary movements and organizations, the more I truly believe this should not be easy.

If it were easy, it would have been done already.

If it were easy, we’d be living in a more just world.

If it were easy we would have toppled the pillars of oppression that uphold the empire.

We have to be willing to put in the hard work – to live better now – to create a better world as we go.

I’m willing to put in the work. I’m willing to struggle. I’m willing to be frustrated and angry and exhausted.

I’m willing because I am looking forward to the eventual victories of our collective struggle.

This – this very difficult struggle – is why I occupy.

 

– Brett Goldberg (@PoweredByCats on Twitter)

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This Little Light of Mine


MUSKEGON, MI – When the banks were bailed out a few years ago, I fucking lost it. Call me hot-headed, but I made up a series of three signs with slogans I don’t even remember— all slapped up in red paint— and hammered them into my front lawn. I lived in a shitty old house at the edge of the northern wealthy section of town, but it was the shitty old house my grandfather had died in and nearly all my friends and family had lived in at one time or another. For those reasons the house embodied many fond memories; it was the kind of place you always wanted to live in until you do.

Anyway, watching the government give up billions and trillions of taxpayer dollars to the very people who had screwed us in the first place, I fucking lost it. I lost my faith in dissent, in people, in the solidarity of mass protest … What could I do? I was just some guy with three wimpy signs in his yard— and it rained constantly, drooping the cardboard until you could no longer read my short stab at the government, blindly swiping at big business, mega-banks and the auto industry. And there were the airlines and a morbidly obese defense budget slaughtering people all over the world in the name of democracy and commerce to boot, too, but that was old hat by then— it’d been done for so long people didn’t know any different. It seemed like no one cared enough to scream and shout anymore. A dissenting voice to the Great Bail-Outs of the 21st century was nowhere to be found.

“We’re behind enemy lines, man!” I’d tell my wife. “Jesus… no one gives a shit! If this doesn’t get people in the streets, what the fuck will?” She’d shrug and we’d eat dinner with the kids. “Eat your fucking rice,” we’d say. “Good fucking beans.”

“SHIT, MOM!” my oldest son would yell. “THE GODDAMN BANKS ARE STEALING MY FUTURE! ASSHOLES!”

“No b-word at the dinner table,” my wife and I would scold him. “You know how we hate that fucking word.”

This is the caricaturized domestic life of a man who was not censored, who grew up memorizing late-night comedy routines on cable, who rolled and cried with bellyaches on the floor at George Carlin, Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy till his mother came home drunk from the bar and would lay down the most basic of life’s lessons— “Tell the truth,” she’d say. “Your life will be a lot easier.” So, I gave myself permission to express myself however the hell I pleased, like those funny people on cable, as long as I was honest, as long as it was the truth and sincere, and as long as the heart was involved.

A year floundered by and the world continued to stink, spin, and spew on down the line. Sure, there were puppies who found homes, bake sales were held. There’s a different colored ribbon for every f-ing cause under the sun. But anyway, a year went by, and in that time my wife and I purchased our first home.

“Put these fucking boxes in that room, and put those fucking boxes in this room,” we told the kids— even our toddler.

“DAMN IT, MOM! OUR GOD DAMN MORTGAGE IS FUCKED!” our eldest son yelled, storming off for the boxes, which our youngest echoed in tearing off his diaper, bending over and shaking his ass in the air.

Our mortgage was not fucked. It was quite fucking good, actually, but by then the media had crop-dusted so many Aqua Net politicians across the news, proclaiming and analyzing fault with the housing market, that our son began parroting all that b.s. back at us. “VARIABLE INTEREST RATES ARE STEALING OUR JOBS FOR CHRIST’S SAKE!” There was no real need to explain it all to an eight-year-old, but a good mortgage didn’t matter so much in the end anyway, either. He might as well have been right. Two years later, my wife lost one of her jobs, and the jobs we had left started providing less work. “THOSE DOUCHE BAGS ARE RUINING EDUCATION! CHILDREN ARE OUR FUTURE!” My oldest yelled again from behind the boxes, helping his little brother learn how to flip the bird—a prediction we agreed with long before.

By then, the whole country had its legs straight up in the air; my household’s income dropped by 75% soon after.

“This shit is all over the world!” I’d shake my head at my wife.

“Yeah, it’s disgusting,” she’d agree, shaking her head, too.

Then one afternoon, pissing away some time on the computer, avoiding discussions in my online classes and working on a novel that’s been ready for a final edit for months now, I came across the Occupy Wall St. movement.

“Some people are camping out in the middle of New York for a protest,” I told my wife.

“In the fucking city.” “Really?” she said. “What for?”

What for is old news now, but that afternoon I was still in my pajamas, still bleary-eyed and willing down a cup of coffee, waiting for it to shock the monkey back to the steering wheel, when this strange protest— this camping protest that had been going on for a little more than a week by then, with no immediate plans to stop— woke me right up, like I pissed myself ice-fishing or something— a sudden, exciting chill grabbed me and shook me around feverishly. “This shit is interesting!” I said, turning to find an empty room, my wife evidently somewhere else.

I’d been interested in counter-culture movements for years. It was always what I considered my passionate hobby reading— mostly 60’s revolutionary swag. I read a lot of books about (and by) a number of Black Panthers. I read a fair amount on the White Panthers, too, and a whole slew of bio books on different 60’s rock groups. I came across AIM at some point, and the Weather Underground, the Motherfuckers and the Yippies, which all came naturally after my earlier interest in the existential Beats, the Wobblies, the Diggers. My father is a musician and my mother’s a medicine woman; I’m Irish and Eastern Cherokee. My grandpa was a junk man and his brothers were hobos who used to fish for chickens from an old shack along the Flat River— I’m primed for this shit, and my wife knows it. Hell, I didn’t even mention Che Guevara, Martin, Malcolm, and Means…

For three or four days and nights I couldn’t work, I couldn’t sleep. Every few minutes I was back on the computer rummaging around the Internet for more news and developments about the movement. “Holy fuck!” I’d blurt out now and then. After a while, my wife didn’t even respond. I had to come up with something else to get her attention. “Holy fuck!” no longer did it. I combed every social website I could think of looking for Occupy Wall St. news, marveling at how fast it spread, and how far! Hell, it had already reached New Zealand! People were talking! Online, that is; mostly online, and I followed. I made it my personal duty to help the various Occupy pages stay connected, shuffling through the various sites obsessively, doing anything I could to feel part of it, helping to spread the information and solidarity.

And then BAM!— 700 people were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge. Watching the footage, my mouth fell open like a rockslide. I shook with a chill that went from my nuts to my chin and all down my spine. An involuntary grin pulled itself up from out of nowhere and put a gleam in my eyes— that wild spark that always makes my wife look at me as if my name is Willis, still pushing Different Strokes after all these years: she sees a scheme in my smile and deflects it with a prudent smirk that makes her squint her eyes slightly.

“Look at this shit!” I told her, pulling her away from her own online classes.

“They arrested 700?” she said, “What the fuck?” ”They kept chanting, ‘THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING! THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING!’ and ‘SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!’ at the police! I have to go!” I told her. “You know me; I’ve talked about this for years! I have to go … It gave me chills just watching it. I have to do this!”

Then I said, “Holy fuck!” again, because I knew that this time I meant it. This time, I saw something I felt instinctually different about. The energy and approach of it all was too high. Liberty Park was constant high noon; it was a line in the sand. Camping out in front of the White House had been something I’d ranted about for years. “I should just take a fucking tent and go set it up right outside that damn place,” I’d say, coming out of the bathroom, tightening my bathrobe, running my hands through my hair, checking for thin spots. “What the fuck have people got to lose?” But camping out to take over Wall St. made even more sense than D.C. You’ve got to show up on the doorstep of power, and OWS had its finger on the bell from the beginning.

But, primed as I was for a more liberal outlook on life, I still gave myself a cushy excuse for inaction. My claim: I didn’t know where to start, how to get involved in a way that makes you feel like you’re making a difference, that you’re not just some asshole pissing away his time when he should be at home, showing the kids how to swear in new and interesting ways so they can really wow their friends on the playground and around the daycare. Those old Andrew Dice Clay rhymes don’t cut it anymore, trust me. Ya, hear? So, recognizing where and how-the-fuck to start can be a catalyst for major change in the way a guy like me lives his life. It can help lend enough direction to spark continuous action— a lifetime of it!

When I saw Occupy Wall St., I knew; I just knew, right from that first sleeping bag unrolled in the name of freedom and democracy— I was Occupy through and through. Suddenly, I had a location and a purpose. I had the interest, the motivation, and I begged, borrowed, and scrounged for the money to get to Liberty Park. The arrow had been released.

Before I left, I called up my cousin and said, “You want to go to New York for a protest?” and he said, “Why, hell yes!” He had to sell a deer rifle to do it. We left two days later, having assembled funds and donations from a handful of kind souls in the local community.

As we drove east on I-80, facing a good twelve hours of driving into the night, I wondered what would be in store for my cousin and I, whether we would be beaten, arrested, or both; whether we would get separated and whether we would be able to find our way back to each other; where we would sleep, use the bathroom and shower … Having gotten a late start, the sun was well above as the wheels spurned us forward. In my head was rock and roll; every movement I’d ever studied; every revolutionary I’d ever had the honor to meet and speak with, learn from; and the last protest I’d been a part of—the sky gray above the land, old WWII bombers circling and roaring in the rain, fake bombs bursting in the mud around me— the lone person who saw fit to call foul on celebrating Brig. Gen. Paul W. Tibbets’ presence at the local air festival in order to raise ticket sales— a festival that has since collapsed.

My sign read, “F the A BOMB!” and “THE A BOMB IS NOT CELEBRITY!” Both sides were printed over large orange mushroom clouds I’d painted days before, and stood out against the darkness like a sudden torch in the metallic gloom.

-Dylan Hock –

http://www.youtube.com/embed/WIyZcfergWY

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HARTFORD OCCUPATION MANIFESTO


HARTFORD, CT- People say we’re inspiring. They use words like wonderful and phenomenal. Older activists tell us this world wide movement is different than any grass roots justice action in living memory. Among the encampment we’re as enthusiastic and optimistic as the grim realities allow us to be. We’re ecstatic after decades of despair to finally see progress. People are talking about what we’re talking about,
and this time last year such a thing seemed utterly impossible. Now we know everything within reason is possible but we need each other to accomplish anything. It’s up to
you and yours whether our efforts are too little too late or instead become a catalyst for the change we need and may well have no hope without. We urgently ask for you to
talk about us to everyone you know so the right people can hear. There’s so much to be done and we’re waiting for people to come into their own, which is an exciting if
not nerve racking experience as our souls becomes invigorated by the threads of our interconnectedness and we discover our own self worth; an invaluable asset.

These occupations are a gift from all of us to each of us. We’ve created wonderlands of truth and justice, so make the most of them while you can and one day we will have the freedom to peaceably occupy the entire planet and evil people
will have no shadows to hide under in the overwhelming light of our truth.

The movement requires foremost people and dedication. This is a global revolution with global solidarity, so don’t be afraid. We’re finally aware. Or almost are at least. The local colleges stand beside us to oppose totalitarianism and we hope you and your fellow people do too. Soon the metaphorical and perhaps literal fires will burn hotter than we ever imagined. Perhaps this calls for a military mutiny… Turn the guns up the chain of command and we will have freedom. This is why we must remain cool and calm like water. Don’t fight fire with fire, fight it with water. Truth is fluid. We’re here for the future generations. Occupy now and work to create justice while you still can, for we are all our brother’s keeper. The truth has made us free. This is a natural response to the fierce urgency of now. This is the
people’s rebellion and we don’t make concessions. We value community, humanity, and sustainability as peaceful means to a peaceful end.

This document is the homogenized and synthesized thoughts and opinions of a random cross section of occupiers from the Hartford contingent of the Wall Street Occupation. We are your friends and allies always and forever, no matter who you
are. This occupation being always for the well-being of everyone, belongs to you personally and no one else. Whoever you are. Wherever you are. Now is the time to take it upon yourself, within reason, to do the right thing regardless of
consequence. This is about liberation, empowerment, resistance, and occupation as a means of truth proliferation. The truth sets us free.

This is about freedom. We’re a loving alternative to the consequences of an economic suicide pact of exponential growth and finite resources. We’ve got to stop the
needless killing of our own kind. There is no salvation in turning your back on anyone. We’ve got to embrace us all. You don’t have to like someone, but always love them. We have to love each other and treat each other like family. We’re all in this together now. It’s the alternative to violence. The options are peace, coexistence, and purity or a cataclysm of unimaginable horror. With such an easy decision it is
no wonder our numbers have swelled in such a way.

A noteworthy request of ours is for results. We want a peace time economy. We want obvious things like a nationwide end to the arms industry, an end to illegal nuclear facilities, an end to the Tesla technologies catastrophic science experiments on the ionosphere, an end to the carbonated acid water, and an end to the ecocide worldwide. We want access to government information, such as about clean renewable
energy that has been covered up. We need a massive energy reform effort now to help us brace for the transition away from burning oil. Also, if we could flip the heads
of state, and get some top secret files, the release of suppressed information and technology could provide a revolution by itself. This is to suggest we invade the
rabbit hole.

Before we began burning oil the global population of this planet was 1 billion people. After 120 years or so of oil consumption the population is at 7 billion and
dangerously close to suffocating, poisoning, and otherwise slaughtering the habitats and inhabitants of this planet as we approach peak oil and face existence with little or no access to the substance which plays the morose tune of our dismal dependance dance. Good riddance.

We want to end the exploitation of the have-nots by the haves. That paradigm has to go. We all require what we need and if any person wants for no reason what another
person needs for a good reason, people should not tolerate that kind of theft. Our enemy, if there ever were one, is the conduct of corrupt men with no morality. This entire situation is a threat to all of us. The propaganda hammers into us these lies about the middle-east and fake foiled terrorist plots and we accept our fear implantation because the assumption of fact after being told a supposedly true story is a backward habit of most people at large. For that reason, honesty is a capable dynamic for keeping information organized. The government should make a note. We
only know any of what we do because the truth cannot be hidden and the serpents in our midst reveal themselves for what they are if you pay close attention. The United
States wages war on the Middle-East and says they’re a threat to us, whether by some vague cover up of a failed shoe bombing or in an epic false flag at ground zero.

Hunger. Clean water. Basic necessities. That is how life lives. All this extravagance creates wealth disparity and suffering and that is a lesson we all have
to learn well. Everything in this world belongs to very few people who own us all like slaves. They neglect the nuts and bolts of their ivory towers. This is what we mean when we say we are the workers, we mean, because you neglected us, the whole structure of this tower is coming down in a controlled demolition. This country exports death. We create death as the foundation of our way of life. In Connecticut
especially, there are industries that exist for the soul purpose of creating machines to kill people across the entire planet. Those jobs are in this state because psychotic people have no conscience and no problem with taking blood money
and turning a blind eye to the aggressive foreign policy against the people of this planet. Then, of course, the rest of us need jobs, so we sometimes take blood money
because it’s all we can get. This is what you can expect when you manufacture death. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. This schema has to end here. All of it. We need a
reversion or we’ll have an extinction. Not more technology, less. Not more oil, less. Not more money, less. Not more lies, less. Not more enslaved minds, less. Always more truth. Social Darwinism is anti-community.

As the system abandoned us we watched the jobs going away before our very eyes, to nations with no regulations and free labor. Oppression is alive all over the world and in countless ways. There are consequences to our actions and if you try to ignore the issues we’re telling you about, then the end result of this situation will reflect that. This effort will take every single one of us- you and your
friends and family. We are aiming to undo inequality. The equation of humanity needs to be balanced; the violence has to end; and to this our sisters worldwide are key, so recognize. Smash the patriarchy and relax.

We are against the privatization of land, and the government seizure of all national lands; which by association become uninhabitable like everything else related to
authority and power. Living in cities like sardine cans is what the ultra rich want us to do. Sustainable living awaits us all beyond the ‘keep out’ signs, but it isn’t
profitable in any monetary way. At home we deal with outwardly extravagant and inwardly tragic suburbanization and we create grotesque, termite like, suburban sprawl when all the while better communal lives await us in wide open lands off limits currently; places in the West outside Babylon and somewhere over the rainbow. In our land, in our time, they strip freedoms away by the day; they own us and
control us if we allow them. We can’t swim in our back yards. Can’t be free to be ourselves in public when the cops harass anyone for anything at all. Can’t be around after dark because the prison industrial complex wants you to be a dollar sign out of mind if you live on the street. This is inequality in your face every day. And crime. In your neighborhoods money for public services is dispersed amongst the shady characters in your midst and the public school systems or the homeless suffer. On average one penny of your tax dollar benefits the people; the other 99
pennies get embezzled or go to war. More war. We need always less war, not more.
And the food… Pray our people can somehow uncompromise the food supplies;
preservatives are not nutrients.

We can do great things and so much more. All people need is support from each other
and they can make anything happen together. We have to empower each other. Power to
the people. Power to the little people. Power to the old people. To the broke
people. To the homeless people. To the different people. The beautiful people. The
everyday people. To the revolutionaries and visionaries. Take the power back from
power tripping legislators, local government or national hiding in plain sight
behind guns, or take the money from insurance executives hiding behind armies of
lawyers. Insurance should be a public service that makes as much money as it costs
to run. As it is now it is privatized thievery from us all.

Take the power back from the police forces. They make us like children punishable by
their false accusations; traumatized by their constant harassment; and subject us to
the obvious extortion of money from the poor to fund local criminals holding office,
making laws, and laundering money behind the scenes. Segregation exists between
north end and south end. This culture is neglectful of the disenfranchised. That
could easily be you with nothing to lose. Then, with nothing to gain the government
casts aside veterans while the insurance blood suckers love to use the sick and the
vulnerable vaccinated children to drain money from our families; while the prisons
consume the best of us and breed criminal non-conformists to suffer at our
prejudices; and in our desperation we turn our backs on each other at every corner,
when that is the opposite of what we need to do. Propaganda and patriotism have
synthesized a hypnotized and satiated population of weak minded, apathetic, arrogant,

ignorant, rabid people. For thousands of years the rich enslaved our minds and

souls so we couldn’t use the truth against them. The internet has set us free. The

whole world knows now what has happened to us. Many of us were raised in a false
security. 9/11 changed everything. And slowly we began learning the truth about
conspiracies and lies. We’ve come together in this struggle against plutocracy. Our
occupations are a worldwide occurrence. Today is the 32nd day. By spreading the
truth, we will win. We have to set each other free from financial tyranny. We have
nothing to gain from lying to anyone and everything to gain by showing the truth to
all.

We are under or un employed. In a very real way we are uncertain anyone will have a
future. We look around and see nothing but instability. Perilous losses are a missed
payment away for most people. It’s not fair and it is dangerous for the entire
planet. Anything can happen at any time in any one of our fragile little worlds. We
have to fight back, not jostle for position each time someone bites the dust. This
is the time for general strikes. Don’t pay the financiers or bankers or any agency
collecting money. If we all stop paying together, no one will pay, and we could
bring down almost any slave driving baby killing capitalist in such a way. The
solidarity of the strikes is like this: If you stop paying, then your peers will not
in good conscience let you stand alone and they will stop paying too. Which will
benefit them in money saved. Soon all will no longer pay out of solidarity to the
universal struggle. We could take back the world with strikes at this point.
Striking is the way to free yourself from any slavery: be it wage, debt, tax, or physical.
Defy your extortionists, but do it with 10,000 of your friends. The 99% will
support this effort because it is tactically sound; we will all be in it together.
Defy now, before striking won’t work anymore. We have to push their hand and see
what they will do if we have any hope of staying on top of this struggle. This is
an insecure time and what comes next might be the most beautiful thing any of us
could have ever imagined. Or, we fail, and capitalism sends us back into the
ground and makes crude oil of us all. It is difficult to see a future for any of
us in this dim light. Our loved ones suffer and that is not acceptable, especially
when we are all each’s loved ones. So step up for a better way for the people who
can’t do it themselves. This economic calamity is none of our faults. But it is
our problem. So, we aim to erase suffering in any ways we can. Our lives are
terrible because the world is terrible. We either allow this tyranny of our hearts
and minds to continue forever unchallenged, or we cease, desist, and welcome the reality
check of this drastic ecocidal situation. Our one demand has to be all demands met.

As it stands, any company with a commercial, a logo, and a shortcut can destroy any
part of the planet they want for any purpose they claim valid as long as it all
falls on the bottom line of profit. Yet, somehow, unfortunate minded citizens claim
millionaires earn their money, when, in actuality there is no way for any one person
to earn such large quantities of money without exploiting somebody eventually, if
not immediately. If we allow capitalism as it functions currently to continue
unchecked, it will kill most life above ground and most life in the water. This is
glaringly obvious to those of us paying extra attention. It is unfortunate the press
has puppy parades to report on and uncovering corruption and injustice isn’t their
main priority.

This movement is for the future generations. We are people. We are animals. We can
be part of the world, for better or worse, or we can be separate from it- worse off
always. Our minds can only flourish to the degree they can grow on fluoridated
water. Our masters keep us trapped inside ourselves with televisions, magazines, and
indoctrinated lying educations; this compartmentalization does not allow us to see
the entire picture of kings and kingdoms and the men behind the thrones giving
orders. There are serfdoms and misinformed armies. One is starving while the other
is slaughtering. Like always. If only we could all live and work together without
money. We are weak to allow them to keep the best of our youth far away in the lands
of the war crimes. People claim to have a clue, but letting our family be sent to
die for no real reason is our first mistake. We are failing them to allow this to go
on. You must learn from those who have found the truth before you. Such people c
an be found at the occupations. You will even find such a person within yourself at
the occupations.

Get the unofficial version of the story of what is happening from us; the version
that rings true to the facts. The real life facts decimate the executive story of
the events that transpired over the last ten years of history in this disaster of
ours. Even hard working people can’t make a living. Even lawyers can’t get work, and
their job was essentially to be criminals on behalf of sums of money. There is
nothing left for any of us. It is an illusion and they are extracting the final
profits from us. Soon they will abandon us, like the homeless, when there is nothing
left to gain. There is too much slavery. There is too much want. Few understand what
we all need. Instead, as we try to put the puzzle pieces together, we find in each
other varying degrees of informed, various degrees of understanding, and different
definitions of ‘ideal.’ Many will advocate for a 3rd party populist movement and
more power to them, but they- perhaps like you- still have faith in a government th
at has done the most harm to the most people world wide; including harm done to
people in our country, for instance by having offices like the USDA, FDA, and EPA
with no accountability or transparency. Really, accountability and transparency are
all any of us can hope from for each other. The truth and honesty are really all
any of us need.

We require wholly different economic designs, ideals, and principles. We need to
want less. We need what we need. And we need to not give away what is rightfully
ours for no good reason. It’s highway robbery. The rich stealing from the poor.
Stealing from so many since all have so little. We should hope for a design akin to
pure communism, which could in theory simultaneously be pure anarchy. Third party
populist movements are fine but unfortunate. Once we succumb to the system we’ve
already got, it’s kind of all lost, because that thing doesn’t work, nor will any
amount of tinkering fix it in any meaningful way. The authorities will try to break
us but must not succeed and indeed must never tame the radical spirit of this
movement. We should strive to cast aside the obsolete machines some of us are hung
up on remaining enslaved to. Be practical: Demand the impossible. There is not much
time. The 99% are combating 235 years worth of lies, misdeeds, and crimes
perpetrated by a bourgeoisie greed and a government, that, while designed for a population of
roughly one million people is all this time later controlling populations
numbering in the hundreds of millions; with no adjustment made for the population
inflation. We want world peace not world tragedy. We want everyone to get what
they deserve. It’s what people have always struggled for, peaceful lives free from
the blood lust and power trips of others. In our eyes we envision utopia and thus
can guide all people there. Our one demand is all demands met. That includes your
righteous demands. Don’t accept concessions and we’ll make it all way to the big
picture together. Solidarity and love from Occupy Hartford.

-Roze-

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