You’ve changed my life
I’m so grateful to you guys & the whole movement! You’ve woken everybody up to the fact that together we CAN make a difference, that there’s no giant that can’t be brought down if we don’t give up the fight.
I’m an aspiring screenwriter & I have been inspired by this movement to write a story where the heroine, despite great personal heartache, disabilties, & the odds against her, becomes involved in the struggle to change the status quo our corrupt gov’t has fallen into, by running for public office. I hope to feature OWS street rallies & other public heroes from the OWS movement to make a statement in the film. Wish me luck so we can all profit from my endeavor & maybe inspire other artists.
The Alaskan Occupation
What does #S17 mean to me, and why would an Alaskan care about Occupy? These questions come up a lot in my life. There’s validity to the questions. After all, Alaska has a Republican stripping it of union rights and our northern shores are being prepped for drilling. States like Alaska are the reason there’s Republicans, after all. We are rich with resources to be exploited and sold around the world. While this occurs, our state sits in surplus while making cuts to education and law enforcement. So who should care in Alaska?
The question gets even harder to answer when the public points out that my state represents the creation of a political nightmare, Sarah Palin. My state gave the country a VP pick because we, as a state, were too lazy to throw her out as she used her position to fly her brats around the country on the dime of the tax-payer and squirmed through Trooper-Gate. Why should any fair-minded Alaskan care?
Well, let me tell you why Alaska, and every other state needs to care - needs to pay attention. We need to care because the finest moments of our history were prefaced with civil unrest. We need to care because Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn worked their entire lives for a moment, a moment when the everyday hero would put down their tools of destruction and instead lift up their heads and wonder “Why am I doing this?” We need to care because those who have had no struggle have controlled our rules and laws long enough, and those who have always had to struggle might finally have a chance to rest.
We need to care, my brothers and sisters, because our children are at risk, our old and wise are at risk, and our poor and hurt are at risk. We need to care because two ways of thinking will meet tomorrow morning, and only one way of thinking will be allowed to evolve - whichever movement receives the most care.
We need to care because the young are finally inheriting the earth, and it is nearly impossible for those youth to screw up this planet as badly as their parents have. We need to care because everything good and righteous and true is at stake, and all it will take to realize this a group of like-minded individuals who care, no matter what town they live in.
That is why I care, even though I live in a state with abysmal voter turn-outs and drunken nights of “Who Gives a Shit?” That is why I care even though I am alone in Alaska.
That’s what September 17th is to me - it’s my entire future. It’s the reason I get up to teach, and the reason I cannot sleep soundly at night. That’s Septermber 17th.
Taste of OWS
28th of October 2011; I took a bus to the big city; New York. After just winning a war against the Immigration Department, my partner had come up with a perfect celebration plan; a weekend visit to Zuccotti Park and the Occupy Wall Street Movement.
Between being half asleep and absolutely nervous about the bus driver texting, dozing off and speeding (all while still driving) my mind still managed to paint pictures of probable sights different from the ones here in Occupy Greensboro. Moreover, I was looking forward to hopefully, sharing the sentiment that my partner had been bragging about since returning from her first experience getting the whiff of this revolution in her beloved big city.
11:30 am; And then we were there; At the now infamous park, which from a distance looked smaller than what I had imagined. But it only took me a minuet or so to realize that the illusion of size was only the result of my unintentional comparison of the site with the grey concrete giants sorrounding it. As I made my way inside the camp, I saw more of how “big” the “occupation” really was, and in more than just one way.
The pictures I had seen on most social networking sites and then the main stream media, hadnt been very impressive to me. As a citizen of a colonized “third world country” , pictures of white kids (maybe just seeimng “white”) with Keffiyeh around their necks and Om tattoos on their skin, holding signs of revolutions don’t fully convince me. Simialrly, ninteen years of living in Buddha’s country does not allow me to jump in the bandwagon of angry protestors being extra and unnecessarily violent either. Unfortunately those were the only images being fed to me. Fortunately though, those images did not entirely match up to what I was seeing in front of me right there and then.
01:00pm; I fell in love with that moment right there, when I passed by waves and more waves of black and brown faces; different ages, different genders, different personas. I felt powerful and strangely at home, comfortable in my skin and confident with my accent.
We walked all over the campsite. We talked to anybody who wanted to hear us and, we listened to everybody who wanted us to hear them. The only thing bothering our expedition was the all-pervading and prodding cameras that I had to avoid in order to prevent certain personal risks.
Nonetheless, even with the dodging and the ducking every two minutes, I felt more contented and connected than I had ever felt before in any act of “activism” in this country. I felt more whole- like I wasn’t just a token, or just an awakard or exotic immigrant; a feeling that “southern hospitality” of North Carolina doesn’t always bless me with. Here, I seem to have identity that was different but never, not even for a slight of second inferior.
2:30 pm; With every passing hour, I uncovered the politics behind why the movement was being written and read as “white people’s fight”. Most media groups- professionals and students from the surrounding universities, were wandering around, interviewing people with certain personas. White young people with facial tattoos and piercings attracted these journalists and their cameras, while older and “simpler” looking non-white participants seemed to be too “simple” for them.
Weather it is an intentional strategy to debase the movement by painting it as being racially un-diverse and un-unified, or an unintentional, subconscious journalistic decision to select what looks “hip” yet “safe enough”, it became very clear to me that the media was’nt doing a fair job at representing OWS.
4:15 pm; Our rescue from this let-down came in the form of a young African-American woman named Ijeoma Iheanacho.Wandering around the camp with her camera and a recorder, she stopped us and asked us for an interview and a picture. I had to refuse; again courtsey of my lack of the right to Freedom of speech; but my courageously extrovert and beautifully eloquent partner spoke about the need of black and brown communities to be more involved and active in fights like these. Ijeoma shared her aggravation about the media bias against “non-white women” and her mission to forever fight against this frustration. We left her to share more stories with more strangers after thanking this young journalist for her opinion and efforts around something that my partner and I both, very passionately feel and constantly fight about.
6:00 pm; Another unexpected encounter was the NYPD stationed all around the camp. Not their presence obviously, but their civility and diversity. It felt as if the presence of so many national and international media houses and human rights groups had led to the NYPD intentionally deciding to send groups of ethnically and racially diverse officers who were told to be more civil, act more polite.
6:15pm; At a quick glance the Occupation at Zuccotti Park looks like a giant crowd of chaos but as your eyes and mind slowly adjust, you start to notice an order; a seemingly chaotic order that to me seemed and felt like it was functioning with a grace often absent from a large and diverse group activity such as this one.
For instance, the “human microphone”. This technique not only assured that people heard the announcements and the speakers without the conventional (and now boring to me) megaphones but also gave life to the words, making the speeches more powerful and persuasive. This dependence on one another to communicate, united people in a way that to me was innovative, efficient and very impressive.
Similarly, the camp was carefully organized with taped off walkways, making commuting easier for the protestors, the tourists and everyone in between. The site was also dividd intovarious categories; a makeshift medical facility, an information booth, a kitchen, a media area, “comfort zone” with clothing and other necessities, a library, drum circle area, newspaper distribution table and some more.
8:00 pm; The resources inflowing, both human and materialistic were striking to me. In spite of the abundance of donated goods that the protestors were welcome to, I did’nt see anybody trying to abuse this opportunity at bagging free supplies just out of greed. My partner and I, our feet drenched in northern snow, walked to the station hoping to get new pair of socks. The volunteers kindly, without any questions, gave it to us.
8:30pm; There were volunteers with trash bags cleaning the campsite. There were volunteers running the various different resource areas. There were volunteers giving away the Occupy Wall Street Journal- These volunteers were large in number, and would often stop by to check on each other and on everybody else in their current home.
The lawyer sneaking legal books from his firm to the OWS Library, the Chinese food restaurant owner delivering boxes of hot soups, the “ex-bank robber” sharing his wisdom, the genius- street philosopher looking out for camp safety, the Pakistani activist who hugged me as his way of saluting Nepal..these people, their actions, their intentions together were inspirational to me. This was all inspirational to me.
9:15 pm; We didn’t get to attend any GA while we were there but I have heard and read reviews of how these meetings are frenzied and, often lack consensus. But to me that doesn’t matter too much. The decision process does not have to be perfect as long as the outcomes are as impressive as what I found at this campsite.
The weekend was filled with moments that I will relive in my head and my heart, whenever I will think of America that is truly and finally the “land of the free,”
Meeting Angela Davis, whose speech was as powerful as her intellect was honorable. Witnessing a rare moment in this nation, where a scholar (Davis) was given more attention than a rapper (Russel Simmons) was promising. Listening to leaders of varying faiths, come together to sanctify and support this struggle was empowering. Watching hundreds of Brooklyn residents march around the park in support of the movement was beautiful. And being blessed enough to share this moment with my partner who was tearing up from joy at being able to be part of a rally that represented her childhood and her hometown Brooklyn, was beyond blissful. This to me was the glimpse of a better America.
10:30pm; I understood the “feeling” that my partner had so passionately been talking about. And as I left my prayer beads in the little temple on the campsite, amidst all the other special and spirutual symbols underneath the tree, I also understood the mission of this movement. At least from my perspective. To have our voices heard, to fight against corporate greed, to unite, to assert our power, to build a better, more fair system, to reclaim from the one percent what belongs to us and the universe. Yes , all that and more.Furthermore, for now, to experience, to share and to spread the taste of revolution and of the new , possible, beautiful America.
Community Organizer and Occupier perspective on the road.
I hope you take a look at this current climate of today’s conversations and existence with the understanding that we need to move and move now. However, for far too long the subordinated groups in this United States of America. We are your workers, Musicians, politicians, Etc. We are amongst you and we will be heard. Our social contract in our country has been undermined and attacked buy the corporatist, to the ignorant right wingers and the “tea parties”. We must take our contract back, and say as a country of “progress” and enlighten movements with social, economic and legal justices. We must bring the truth to the citizens of this country, that they are being taking advantage of by the Religious right, Wall Street and Fox news. I urge you to help me restart the fire, and give one last push for justice in this country and around the world. We need to restore faith in the people. I ask why is our rights always subjected and have the ability to be “negotiated” about. These leaders work for us, not for lobbyist, but for the American people. Their comes a time, when one must realize that yes, I am different and Yes I am human. And tell the world that, they will be heard, known, and understand. Please you are not alone, come join the front lines we are waiting. In conclusion I would finally, like to say. In America, We got clout; we finally got clout, let’s use it, with this clout we had indeed defeated them in New York, We will beat them in Tennessee we have beaten them in Wisconsin and we will beat them in every state in this union until equality is breathed throughout the nations across the Earth. In addition, we will look globally and fight until every man woman and children have the social contract to fight the oligarchies, corporate backed organizations. To Justice, to social equality to basic human rights, let’s move forward to victory onward to equality onward to occupy for Justice, It must be the imitative of the people to wish this to be, and when it happens The promise land will come about.. As Bayard Rustin Said ” We need in Every Community a group of angelic troublemakers” with that being said we are who were waiting for, It’s just a matter in time for the rest to support full Federal Equality. And to End Greed Happy B-day OWS.
In solidarity, Get Out, Get Active and Get equal Nothing less.
Eyad M. Alkurabi
Day Five of the CTU strike:
I’ve been through a tornado, a house fire, the death of a dog, and three minutes of CPR for my oldest daughter. But this strike—the facets to it, the swirl of vitriol and misinformation, the heft of it, its dimensions and nooks and crannies—it’s in some sense more terrifying than the other travails. A cloud of uncertainty. If we lose, if all of this were for nothing, I don’t know. The job would feel tarnished. I would feel betrayed by my profession.
Read more from the day here.
Out of the Classrooms and Into the Streets!
An occupier takes part in several picket lines in support of the teacher’s strike in Chicago, then takes to the streets with thousands of teachers, students and supporters:
“What struck me about joining the picket lines was the power of having public spaces for communities to gather and discuss topics such as workers’ rights and the state of our public education system. It’s what I have spent the last year seeking out, with the help of Occupy. Want to talk about the economic crisis? Let’s meet in the financial district. Mental health clinics closing down? Meet us across the street and we’ll discuss why we need them to remain open and public. NATO bombing civilians without your consent? Time to show up outside their summit and bear witness to veterans decrying the War on Terror.”
As we approach our first anniversary, a time of storytelling & recollection knocks on our doors, inviting occupiers to remember the stories that they lived and imagining the stories that they wish to live beyond #S17.
In this celebratory date for the global #occupy movement, Occupied Stories & RevPlay invite all occupiers to share a story of what #S17 means to you; of what #occupy meant or means to you.
Everyone is welcome to take this loosely and write a story about an unforgettable moment, encounters, waking dreams; all first-person stories are welcome.
From North to South, East to West, New York City or Budapest, DC, LA, Sidney, Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, MyTown, you name it! Come share your stories with everybody!
My Occupy Birthday
An activist reminisces on his past year at OWS, while reporting back on new projects to tackle in year two:
I’ve had my share of personal successes and failures in life, leading a more or less comfortable existence, and therefore have remained complacent (and complicit?). Last year, though, when I witnessed innocent young people, right here in New York City, brutalized and arrested just for publicly stating that they believed our world was in peril and that they wanted there to be a better tomorrow, it triggered in me an uncontrollable desire to help. This is something I hadn’t ever encountered before and I didn’t know how to start, so I went to investigate what these kids were doing in Liberty Plaza (Zuccotti Park), and found at least a sliver of hope in the bravery of these young’uns.
Ethan’s story tells of self-actualization while presenting some projects on how others may become involved with the movement moving into year two!
Denver police use intimidation to try to squash an anti-police-brutality march in solidarity with Anaheim, causing some arrests:
Sergeant Andrejasich barked at us that “if you go in the street again, we will arrest you.” This threat seemed absurd given that whenever we march, DPD’s vehicles that follow us essentially shut down traffic anyway. Sergeant Andrejasich was clearly hoping that by threatening arrest and possible violence, he could frighten our solidarity march into giving up and going home. He should know by now that Occupy Denver doesn’t play like that. Having seen DPD use violence or the threat of violence countless times to attempt to silence dissent, I figured someone should resolve Sergeant Andrejasich’s confusion about the relationship between his department and our subversive assembly.
Occupy: 12 Events That Defined Year One
As we approach the one year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, Occupied Stories takes a look back at the events and actions that defined the first year of the movement. In the run-up to #S17 we will be posting stories from our archives for every month of the past year of occupy, starting with stories on the first days at Liberty Square and the spouting of other encampments nationwide. Be sure to check back often!