An occupier from Chicago reminisces on her first year in the movement as Occupy Chicago celebrates its anniversary:
"I now recognize our occupation, our movement to occupy every form of oppression everywhere, to be the only possible tide to rise against the financial-governmental machine of privatization, profitization, racialization and devastation of our homes, lives, bodies and thoughts. The one percent demands that we believe in their systems and institutions even as they crack and fall all around them, but the time has come for human beings to evolve. I will continue to use my skills as a writer, performer, and organizer to fuel the worldwide revolution for a sustainable culture until I wake up every last sleepy consumer. I occupy my art and other’s minds as best I can — I see no other way to be!"
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."
On the east side of the street there is a strip of grass. People are often sitting, waiting–usually for hours–for loved ones to walk out of the gates, always looking over their shoulders to make sure they don’t miss them. Sometimes when you’re in the area you get the pleasure of witnessing one of these reunions. People run into the street to embrace their families with smiles and sometimes even tears.
Even further south is the entrance to another division–Division 10–where two of my friends, two of the NATO 5, are currently being held. I go to visit one of them, Sabi, usually once a week and I can tell the guards are beginning to recognize me.
"Parts of the conversation were more difficult. He told me that he’d been “in the hole” (solitary confinement) all of last week, and hadn’t been allowed visitors. The reason they gave him was that there “weren’t enough cells.” I could tell that he didn’t buy that excuse, and neither did I. He looked sad and a bit lost when he said, “I didn’t even do anything, and they put me in the hole all week.” I wanted to give him a hug, because he looked like he needed it."
An activist from Occupy Chicago finds solidarity even behind locked doors and iron bars.
"We played cat-and-mouse games with columns of riot cops all afternoon. They tried to contain us and direct our movements; we tried to outmaneuver them and get to the convention center. We succeeded, making it to the eight-foot metal barricades three times only to be threatened by the Special Forces guarding the dignitaries meeting beyond. I did a stand-up TV interview at one barricade, telling the reporter that our goal was to be seen and heard by those inside the summit. I was only seen and heard by the soldier who cut the interview short, barking a command to leave the secured area immediately."
We return to the #noNATO actions as a member of Occupy Chicago recounts her experience months later.
We moved to two other locations and had the opportunity to talk to many more people–including Ribfest security guards, who didn’t try to stop us at all but actually encouraged us to continue. They told us they agreed with our messages and pointed out open areas that we hadn’t chalked up yet. “You missed a spot over there!” they would say, pointing, a mischievous grin pulling at the corners of their mouths.
UNTIL THE PRISON WALLS ARE RUBBLE
Here’s part two of a three-part series on Jail Solidarity for the NATO 5 “terrorists”:
Even though I gasped in horror and empathic pain, verbally echoing the looks of sadness, pain, rage, and anger emanating from the faces of our friends filling courtroom bench, there was nowhere else I’d rather sit. I had to see, not just for myself, but for the defendant as well. I needed to sit on the front lines of injustice, listen to the lies of state, absorb the fuel to figuratively burn this society down and nonviolently establish more beneficial structures for all people, especially ones like the defendant and the NATO5, whose only crime is raising their voices against a cancerous state.