The Heart of Occupy America

[caption id="attachment_836" align="alignleft" width="432" caption="Riot police take control of the streets as they surround New York's Liberty Square Occupy Wall Street encampment on Nov. 15, 2011. Still from video footage shot by Rebecca Davis and Julia Xanthos, and posted to the NYDailyNews YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/nydailynews"]Riot police take control of the streets as they surround New York's Liberty Square Occupy Wall Street encampment on Nov. 15, 2011. Still from video footage shot by Rebecca Davis and Julia Xanthos, and posted to the NYDailyNews YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/nydailynews[/caption] In the early hours of Tuesday, November 15, New York City police officers attacked and removed Occupy Wall Street Protestors from Liberty Plaza in the city’s financial district, leading to many arrests and the removal of tents, property, and other items. This is Ground Zero for the Occupy Movement sweeping across the United States and other parts of the world. Police have also attacked in Oakland, Denver, and other cities. At the University of California, Berkeley, where students and other Occupy protestors converged against higher ed fee hikes, police beat down people on the steps of the quad that some forty years ago helped sparked the “Free Speech” movement. In the evening of November 14, I took part in an Artists March to Occupy L.A., organized by my friend Susan Tanner and others, going from California Plaza to the steps of City Hall. I spoke about the necessity and vitality of the arts in any movement, and the struggle to bring creativity and imagination to this and other aspects of life. I then read a poem about the power of words in transforming lives. [caption id="attachment_839" align="alignright" width="290" caption="NYPD riot squad surrounds Liberty Square on Nov. 15, 2011. Still from video footage shot by Rebecca Davis and Julia Xanthos."]NYPD riot squad surrounds Liberty Square on Nov. 15, 2011. Still from video footage shot by Rebecca Davis and Julia Xanthos.[/caption] Other friends of mine were there, including Ruben Guevara—known also as Funkahuatl, the Chicano performance art and music icon. Ruben also hosted the rally and sang. John Densmore of the Doors, one of the most big-hearted and generous people anywhere, came with a drum and a strong spirit. Since early October, I’ve been to Occupy Wall Street at Liberty Plaza, to Occupy Oakland the day before their general strike, and briefly went through Occupy Berkeley, Occupy Madison, and even witnessed the Occupy East L.A. College (one of my few schools I actually attended). The movement is growing, but it’s also trying to find its shape. As one activist said, it needs room to breathe. But I also think revolutionaries need to be there with clarity and a deeper scientific basis for understanding capitalism and the vision, strategies, and principles needed to move everything towards a capitalist-free world. We need to be in this for the immediate demands and to address the very real hammering of our livelihoods and homes in the economy—but also for the future of this country, for the long-haul resolution to make this the abundant, cooperative, democratic, and earth-aligned world we are dying to have. I see this also as a massive conversation that more people need to be invited to, including the many estranged members of the 99 percent who have yet to significantly take part like Mexicans and other migrants, other Native peoples of this land, and the growing army of foreclosed and unemployed of this country, particularly among the urban and rural poor and forgotten. [caption id="attachment_842" align="alignleft" width="432" caption="NYPD officers destroy tents and seize property at Occupy Wall Street encampment on Nov. 15, 2011. Still from video footage shot by Rebecca Davis and Julia Xanthos."]NYPD officers destroy tents and seize property at Occupy Wall Street encampment on Nov. 15, 2011. Still from video footage shot by Rebecca Davis and Julia Xanthos.[/caption] Since mid-September, I’ve been holding part of that conversation in places like Salinas, CA, Chicago, New York, New Jersey, San Diego, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Pasadena, East L.A., San Fernando Valley, San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle, and three cities in Wisconsin (De Pere, Madison, and Milwaukee). I’ve had from twenty to 500 people show up to my talks in colleges, universities, libraries, bookstores, juvenile halls, community center, and other venues. Members of all communities took part—including inner city blacks and Latinos—to poor whites and the increasing number of so-called middle class people that are having the economic rug pulled from under them. Many students unable to work are entering colleges and universities, but at great debt and often with no guarantee of a job. The economy is busting at the seams. And the beginnings of a political sense of what to do can be seen everywhere I go. Again, this process needs real leaders, real vision, real teachings, and real organization (and I don’t mean those who want to contain, push in other directions, to “agendize” the movement). Part of this effort during my talks involved the formation of a network of grassroots practical and visionary leaders for the revolutionary transformation of our society. You can find out more at http://conferenceofrevolutionaries.tumblr.com/ This historic moment often appears shabby, hard to get a hold of, in many ways all over the place. At Occupy L.A. there are real homeless, the mentally ill, complaints of molestation, and drug use. But there were also larger instances of people bringing services—of treatment, healing, workshops, skilled personnel, and moving collectively to quell any violence. There are developing means to address any fraying that is common in any movement for deep and lasting change. This is America. It’s complicated, diverse, feisty, and even sad at times. But the undertow pull is for a new way of thinking, of relating, of another economy, and of organizing. Let’s keep drawing on that—and our own immense capacities to pull things together—in the direction of the most equitable and free America we all deserve. c/s [ "The Other 99" independent media group is offering live video coverage of events around the Occupy Wall Street encampment in New York's Liberty Square; you can watch here - www.ustream.tv/TheOther99 ]

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