By Kevin Zeese
This article originally appeared on Nation of Change
Photo: Nere Photography/Flickr
Many in the corporate media like to think Occupy is over, but those of us involved know better. We do not rely on the corporate media to validate the work of Occupy. We see it in our communities. And we know to look to our own media for accurate information. The Occupied Wall Street Journal reports on the actions of the Occupy Movement; its weekly “Reports from the Front Lines” is something many of us look forward to so we can see the movement taking action across the country.
Another visible presence of Occupy is evident this spring in Washington, DC, where the National Occupation began on March 30. The event, which will continue through the month of April, is being organized by members of dozens of occupations from around the country. Twenty-five General Assemblies have passed statements of solidarity for this national Occupy event, which launched with an action entitled Occupy the EPA, bringing people together to protect the planet for a sustainable future.
The event featured Helen Caldicott, a pediatrician known for her anti-nuclear activism who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize; Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, an EPA whistleblower; and Margaret Flowers, also a pediatrician, noted for her advocacy for single payer health care. The march included a pack of alpacas, which garnered worldwide media coverage, as well as a giant Earth and polar bear puppets.
Last weekend included a two-day “Bail Out America” direct action training organized by the Backbone Campaign, which provided information on strategies, tactics and developing creative actions to advance the causes of Occupy. Teach-ins during the Occupation of the Department of Education also took place, where people discussed how to end the high-stakes testing that is destroying schools and being used as a tool to privatize education. The weekend also included trainings for peace keepers to ensure that NOW DC remains non-violent in its challenges to the Washington, DC, power structure.
At a housing protest happened on April 2, people called for a reduction of mortgages to reflect the real value of housing. Also that day there was a strategy conference called “Control the Corporation,” organized by the Center for the Study of Responsive Law, which featured experienced anti-corporate power crusaders like Ralph Nader speaking about countering the impact of corporations in elections, holding corporations accountable for their crimes, creating alternative economic models to provide jobs and increase wages, protecting the “commons” from the insatiable advocates of privatization, occupying the future and mobilizing for action.
The NOW DC Social Forum will run from April 10 to 14. Between those dates there will be activities focused on spirituality, religion and activism to recognize the Passover, Ramadan and Easter holidays. The Social Forum, which will bring occupiers together to learn from each other, will be held at the historic Friends Meeting House on Florida Avenue near Dupont Circle. Occupiers from across the country have developed workshops on policies and strategies to shift power from the 1% to the 99%, lessons and the way forward for Occupy, direct action tactics and strategies, models for building alternative systems, occupy labor and occupy faith.
On April 14th and 15th Occupy will celebrate at the OccuFest a music, arts and political free speech event that will be held at Meridian Hill Park, also known as Malcolm X Park, on 16th Street, NW in DC’s Columbia Heights. Musicians are being brought together by occupiers from across the country as well as by Occupy for Music. There will be an occupy speak-out, spoken word, comedy, arts and politics also at the event.
The second half of the month will be primarily focused on protests, marches and civil resistance against the power structure in Washington, D.C.. This will not be limited to Congress but will include the corporate powers and lobbyists who dominate the government. On April 17, Occupy Congress is organizing “A17” to protest Congress for consistently putting the interests of the 1% ahead of the people. Also planned is Occupy the Department of Justice on April 24th, which will protest mass incarceration, political prisoners, privatization of prisons and highlight the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, whose 57th birthday is the day of the protest.
Education will continue throughout the month with regular movie showings and educational events on or near Franklin Square Park, the center of NOW DC. In addition, on April 28, occupiers are encouraged to participate in the Drone Summit: Killing and Spying by Remove Control sponsored by CODE PINK, the Center for Constitutional Rights and Reprieve being held at the Mt. Vernon Place United Methodist Church. This will be followed by a strategy session on April 29 on how to deal with this new form of warfare.
The goals of NOW DC are to elevate the skills, cohesion and vision of occupiers. People will be able to bring back new ideas, skills, strategies and tactics to their local Occupy. During the month of NOW DC conversations will be held to discuss next steps for the Occupy – where do we go from here?
The reality is, not only is the Occupy Movement ongoing, but it is just getting started. It is escalating its activities and building its skills ,and the best days of the movement to end the rule of the 1% are ahead of us.
Kevin Zeese was one of the original organizers of the Occupation of Washington, DC/October2011 and is an organizer with the National Occupation of Washington, DC.