Wednesday, Oct 5th at Occupy Wall Street: “The metamorphosis of a revolution”

by on October 6, 2011 · 7 comments

in American Empire, Civil Disobedience, Civil Rights, Economy, Organizing

I simply don’t have the energy to produce a flowery perspective on what today’s action means to me or to the diverse group of people who make up the 99%. Today I was witness to something that was commonplace in the 60’s and 70’s but had, for the most part, escaped my own eyes through years of activism. Today I was brought to tears by the magnitude of a collective voice; today I was forced to reconcile my practicality with the sheer power of numbers. Today, I believe I witnessed the metamorphosis of a revolution.

From Foley Square, around the north end of City Hall Park, and down to Zuccotti Park, I took part in a march that surpassed in numbers and energy any protest I have joined at any point in my life. This was a diverse group of people, a mass of union members, poor folks, students, leftists, anarchists, working stiffs, hippies, yippies, hip-hoppers, buddhists, and everything in between – this was New York City, sure. But it was also a march that extended from the financial district to every other city in America, from Ithaca to San Diego, Boston to Seattle, Asheville to San Francisco.

On Wednesday, October 5th, the Occupation sent a message, and I’m pretty damn sure the powers that be heard it. I started to get emotional as I stood amongst hundreds, possibly thousands, at the corner of Trinity and Cedar chanting “All day, all week, occupy Wall Street” or “What does democracy look like? THIS is what democracy looks like!” or my own little interruption: “The Revolution is NOT for sale”. It was a moment to behold.

However, the differing opinions about “the next move” threaten to dull the glimmering hope of this momentous occasion. As the movement grows, and the arrest numbers grow, and the divergence of voices on the left continue to proliferate, I worry that what I saw once the march had reached its “end point” at Zuccotti Park will define the global occupation rather than the beauty of what went down just moments prior. I worry that those who support armed or at least hostile responses to police harassment will stop listening to those interested in process and peaceful protest, or that those who wish to march until their shoes are falling apart will simply wear themselves out. I worry that what happened once the sun went down – more police harassment, more violence, more wasted time – will tire the dedicated members of this revolution. We need to stay strong, and part of that is remembering that this is a marathon.

If you were able to participate in a solidarity march, make sure you remember what you saw. If you were supporting from afar, make sure you don’t let others ignore it. And on the whole, don’t let the images of cops busting in heads or pepper spraying a crowd sully the beauty of what happened today – it was a great moment in history, and we should certainly record it as such.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar annagrace October 6, 2011 at 11:07 am

Lane- what a stirring account of yesterday’s event! ^ Bump

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avatar Allthink October 6, 2011 at 11:22 am

Lane – keep occupying Wall Street my friend. We’re all grateful OB is represented. I’ll be at Civic Center Plaza this weekend in solidarity with the rest of the Country that has had enough.

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avatar Citizen Cane October 6, 2011 at 11:49 am

I was just reading that Zuccotti Park is private property owned by a large real estate company. I think the the protesters would have better street cred if they rode the subway at night.

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avatar annagrace October 6, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Hey Citizen Cane- I was intrigued by your post and did some more research on it. Zuccotti park is actually a private-public partnership. “It’s a private park, but open to the public by the agreement … that was made originally in return for being able to change some of their zoning rules,” Bloomberg said. “And that will be worked out with time.” Another issue that caught my eye was this “The construction of these spaces seems to have outpaced our understanding of the relationship of the public to private-public spaces. What’s free speech in a private-public park, or the right to peaceable assembly in one?” http://tiny.cc/9hx0x

This is actually a very topical issue- there is a relentless push here in San Diego for private-public partnerships when outright privatization is not an option. Those partnerships should be red flags.

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avatar lane tobias October 6, 2011 at 2:36 pm

I was also amazed to hear this – it seems that if the owners want the occupiers out, they can simply eject them from the park, but haven’t to this point. There are also protections in this, so unlike what occurred in San Francisco, there is little the city can do to harass folks if they are IN the park. Really interesting.

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avatar annagrace October 6, 2011 at 2:49 pm

This raises the important issue- exactly what constitutes the “public” part of the public-private partnership. Allowing the public to be there on private terms makes Zuccotti park no different than a shopping mall. If that’s what a private-public partnership means, in addition to the public giveaways, we (the public) have been screwed.

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avatar Citizen Cane October 6, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Thanks. I should have done more looking, but I was pressed for time. Notice they are called private-public spaces, not public-private spaces. As we continue to widen the gap between rich and poor, we might see more outsourcing of our public places. When we outsource our own Horton Plaza, will union members be allowed free speech? Will there be dress codes? Will the shopping mall management be in charge of the facial recognition cameras?

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