The occupation of a vacant building in Santa Cruz became a complicated and illegal experiment in social change. Eleven people — including alternative journalists and some of Santa Cruz’s most visible activists — were singled out and charged with misdemeanor trespassing, vandalism and felony conspiracy to commit trespass.
The problem is that the one percent has learned ways to tweak the business and economic environment in such a way that they can receive massive amounts of wealth while depriving others. Why do people continue to behave in this way, amassing piles of wealth while others go hungry?
Oh they’ve foreclosed the home of the free/ They mortgaged and sold/ for a little Wall Street gold/ this land of equality/ Oh they’ve foreclosed the home of the free/ Now we are the brave/ Occupy and save the country/ that’s home to you and me/ the country that’s our democracy.
Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world, according to English poet Percy Shelley. Alameda poet Mary Rudge created profiles in poetry of the Occupy movement’s dedicated young organizers, pepper-sprayed university students, tent dwellers, longtime 1960s-era activists, jobless artists, inconvenienced bus riders, homeless squatters, and passive TV news watchers.
More than 5,000 protesters marched in Oakland on May Day to call for economic justice, full human rights for immigrants and poor people, and to demand an end to corporate greed and bank bail-outs. Demonstrators represented Occupy Oakland, immigrant rights organizations, anti-war activists, faith groups and labor unions.
Thousands of marchers protested the unjust gap between rich and poor by nonviolently disrupting Wells Fargo’s shareholders meeting in San Francisco. They confronted bank executives about Wells Fargo’s role in the country’s financial crisis, the high number of foreclosures that reduce families to homelessness, and the bank’s investment in private prisons.
“If we do stuff that justifies — in the eyes of the uncommitted — the repression of the state, we will certainly lose. And the uncommitted are most of the 99 percent. We need a lot more of those people. But the only way to win them over is through strict adherence to nonviolent struggle.” — George Lakey
"We found that during the period of 1900 to 2006, nonviolent resistance campaigns are about twice as effective as violent ones in achieving their goals. We also found that these trends hold even where most people expect nonviolent resistance to be ineffective -- for instance, against dictatorships and highly repressive regimes." — Erica Chenoweth
Virtually everything about capitalism says that only the top one percent of upper-income people really count, while the 99% who struggle for everything don’t deserve to even survive. The Occupy movement is trying to point out this flaw in a very concrete way by camping out and protesting.
Congress already fell for this scam with a tax holiday passed in 2004. But companies didn’t create the jobs or investment they promised — layoffs actually increased. Instead, they boosted CEO pay, stock buybacks and shareholder dividends, and stockpiled even more money offshore to avoid taxes.
Under the brutal economic Darwinism of Reaganomics, the nation was subjected to class warfare between haves and have-nots. Since the Reagan era, the top one percent of U.S. earners has enjoyed a six-fold increase in income. Now, this nation’s economic elites are in for the fight of their lives.
The occupation in Washington, D.C., was a massive outcry against Wall Street, the Pentagon, and a government run by corporations. The Occupy Wall Street movement is a beacon of hope. We are not alone. We are the 99%, and with courage and a commitment to nonviolence, we shall overcome.