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On 21 March, thousands converged onto the Union Square Park, as the 'Occupy' movement joined forces with demonstrators protesting the 'modern-day lynch mob' killing of black teenager Trayvion Martin. On 26 February in Florida, Trayvion, was shot dead by a self-appointed 'neighbourhood watch' member. The only justification for his killing was the the fact that the victim was wearing a hoodie. His killer was not even arrested, as police believed that there was no evidence of any crime being committed.
This is just another way in which the amorphous Occupy movement has galvanised political protest across USA. Another major 'Occupy' action is also being planned for the 1st May, the traditional ‘Worker’s Day’. This week, on 16 March, six months after of ‘Occupy Wall Street’ first happened, a crowd of well over a thousand protesters engulfed Zucotti Park (aka Liberty Square). Determined to shut the protests once again the NYPD responded to the peaceful demonstration with harsh violence and 73 were arrested. Police used city buses to corral mass-arrested potesters. Media were not allowed to cover the events. Resistance became stronger nevertheless.
With the eviction of the camps, the mainstream media would have you believe that the movement was finished. In fact the truth is that the movement didn’t wane away, it only changed tactics and is stronger than ever. Demonstrations are still a constant and the ‘Occupy’ is being taken to a whole new level. Is not possible to relate all actions and demonstrations that are simultaneously happening throughout USA, but here are some revealing examples.
Several demonstrations have taken place outside major corrupt banks and irresponsible multinational corporations. On 15 March victims of home re-posession brought their furniture and set up a living room outside (or inside) Bank of America branches. As one of the protesters in NY stated: “people have lost their homes and don’t have anywhere to go because of Bank of America’s policies and they are able[carry out those policies] because of the support of American government.” The Bank of America is currently facing several lawsuits for foreclosing thousands of US homeowners, law breaking and corruption.
Occupy organisations, such as occupyourhomes.org, are emerging in support of willing individuals and families that decide to re-occupy their repossessed homes. On 16 March, for instance, a Bayview family occupied their home and is refusing to leave until: “ Wells Fargo rescind the sale of my home and offer me an affordable modification.”
Other noteworthy ‘Occupy’ action took place on 23 February in Chicago. Around 70 workers ended up occupying a Goose Island factory, now owned by Serious Materials, to protest being laid off without notice after the factory closed. Workers got inside the factory and after only 11 hours got the new owners to agree to keep the plant running for another 90 days in order to find new ownership.
Initially inspired by the Arab Spring and the ‘Indignados’ movement in Spain, the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement hit the streets and set up their tents on 17 September 2011 at Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District, New York. Thousands of people expressed their disapproval to Wall Street’s drastic influence in the global economy, and in the following months it propelled a huge wave of occupied camps all over USA. The movement spread over 100 cities including L.A, San Francisco, Oakland, Washington, Boston, Chicago to name a few. It was never meant to be an organised movement as it emerged leaderless without any political colour nor a predominant social class. Its model is based on consensus rather than leadership reflecting the model of participatory democracy.
Is a hard task to describe the demonstrators- the wide range of ages and backgrounds found in the camps includes youngsters, pensioners, professionals, homeless, unemployed, students and, of course, anarchists. The unifying concern is the global power structure, typically characterised as 1% versus 99% a balance that enables structural violence against the remaining 99%. More specifically, the current neo-liberal policies allow major banks and multinational corporations to have dominance over democratic processes. The main demand to emerge from the various Occupy camps has been to make the 1% responsible for their own devastating acts.
Unsurprisingly this all-too-accurate finger-pointing hasn't made Occupy many friends amongst the authorities. On 15 November, after 60 days of continuous protest, the NYPD began to clear the Wall Street camp, the signal to clear camps across the U.S. The encampments started to be gradually closed down with the help of tear gas, police brutality and a practically uncountable number of arrests.
With all these major events occurring in the world the media black out has been suspicious, if not surprising. Official and corporate media channels have portrayed the movement as lacking in direction or concrete demands. Luckily of course the parallel web-based information networks made it impossible to stifle the movement as the spread of ‘Occupy’ actions around the world testifies. The movement spread over numerous cities including in Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Holland, UK and many more.
The worldwide potential of ‘Occupy’ is based on two premises. Firstly it denounces the devastating effects of neo-liberalism on a global economy that sacrifices sovereignty and delivers almost absolute power to exploitative multinational corporations. Secondly and most importantly, it calls for self-responsibility. This is a people centred movement taking matters into their own hands and rejecting top-down systems dictating the norms. Is fair to say that ‘Occupy’ is anarchic in the sense of being leaderless, however its nature is far from being destructive as it foments true solidarity and unity among the 99%. New solutions and ways of living need to come forth, and each one of us is fully responsible to find a new way. It is an idea based on true democratic active freedom and, fortunately, ideas can neither be raided nor locked in a prison.
Russian anti-fascist unfairly imprisoned under Putin's new house rules.
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Energy giant EDF seeks to bankrupt chimney climbers