Awesome Actions and Demonstrations Planned to Mark 1st Anniversary of Occupy Wall Street
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The action plan for the Monday, September 17th day of “Liberation” is elaborate and intentional in its aim not to be just another march or rally, but to allow people to express their discontent with Wall Street in their own creative ways. Starting at 7am, the “Peoples Wall” will be enacted as people engage in non-violent civil disobedience and sit down around Wall Street to prevent the Stock Exchange from opening. At the same time there will be the 99 Revolutions “swirl” protests in which different groups engage in mobile occupations of intersections throughout the financial district and protest at specific targets that are applicable to their interests.
At 10am the Eco Cluster will gather at Bowling Green to " Storm Wall Street" and demand that Wall Street stop bankrolling climate change. In the afternoon, in conjunction with various unions, there will be a rally at Foley Square and then in the evening there will be a Popular Assembly to bring everyone together.
Starting the next day, on Tuesday, September 18 through September 22, the Free University will conduct an experiment in radical pedagogy, horizontalism and political education at Madison Square Park. Born out of a deep-seated critique and anger about the inaccessibility and inequality of higher education, that is connected to a lack of democracy and transparency in the governing and management of the educational system, the Free University will occupy Madison Square Park with days of radical, free and open courses, workshops, discussions and trainings in order to pre-figure a different vision of what education could be. The Free University is also a space for those involved in the Occupy movement to come together after its weekend of actions to share knowledge, skills, engage in critical self-reflection and practice the kind of revolutionary critical self-education that enduring social movements most invest in.
With its variety of different actions planned and groups involved, the events organized from September 15-22 promise to highlight Occupy Wall Street's original message: that years after the bailout and financial crisis the institutions that caused this crisis have still not been held accountable and now, in another election year, still hold too much power over our political process. They also promise to enact, albeit in a different way then the occupation last year, the practice of not only critiquing, but also making the world that those in the movement want to see.
In an election year these protests and actions take on even more importance. While the context of the elections is not often specifically mentioned at Occupy planning meetings it is there in the background. Occupy has intentionally rejected being aligned with any political party and instead has focused its message around the corrupting influence of money in politics. As organizer Andrew Smith says, “We are inherently in dialogue with the elections by choosing to be non-partisan and firmly behind getting money out of politics.”
On September 17 there are also 22 solidarity events planned around the country in places as far ranging as Burlington, VT to Charleston, SC. There are also international events and protests planned in places such as Moscow, Ottawa and Paris (to name a few) ensuring that the one-year anniversary of Occupy is national and international in scale and takes on the issues that are relevant to these places.
Everyone I talked to about the organizing of these events emphasized over and over again that while September 17 is Occupy's anniversary, these events are not meant to be backward-looking but instead to be forward-looking and to serve as outreach to get more people involved in political action. When I asked why people should get involved and come out for one of the many events and actions planned, the answer I got from one organizer was as simple as it was beautiful: “Because all we have is each other and the streets.”