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Why You Should Decolonize and Support Occupy


Indigenous Occupants

At Occupy sites around the country, Native American communities have requested that the name "Occupy" be changed to "Decolonize." The United States has been occupying indigenous lands since its birth, and the word "occupy" has an aggressive connotation especially from the indigenous standpoint.

Native American communities know well the struggles that poor people, veterans, and women face. They've also been dealing with exploitation, violence, and militarism from the ruling class of the western hemisphere the longest. Native American community members have been coming out to show solidarity with Occupy Wall Street efforts, offered blessings to them, provided guiding wisdom to occupants, sat in trees and erected a teepee.

On Sunday December 4, the proposal at the Occupy Oakland General Assembly to change the name to "Decolonize Oakland" won 68% of the vote, but failed to pass as it required 90% approval. With or without the name change, occupies have become forums and stages for important voices to be heard, with indigenous peoples at the forefront.

Restoring justice in the United States begins with the indigenous, so having native voices up front is one organic process in the spiritual evolution that Occupy Wall Street has right. Being that all Americans benefit from being on these lands, to the detriment of its original inhabitants who to this day are experts at every social challenge the left knows, it is a responsibility of all justice seekers to honor indigenous peoples.

International SolidarityTime Magazine reported about the October 28 rally in Cairo, Egypt's Tahrir Square in solidarity with Occupy Oakland. Only a month later, a Time cover spread went viral, revealing that the December 5 magazine cover in Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific showed an Egypt protester wearing a gasmask, while the U.S. edition of the same magazine had on its cover a cartoon about anxiety and health. Weeks later in an act of poetic justice which could not redeem mainstream media from its corporate bias, the December 28 edition of Time named " The Protester" the person of the year, acknowledging "from the Arab Spring to Athens, from Occupy Wall Street to Moscow," in the subtext.

Indeed, solidarity of the protests is real. On the national scale, Occupies support each other. Occupy Wall Street has provided significant funds to Occupy Oakland, for example. And the West Coast Ports Shutdown December 2 was continued into the following day, as Occupies had vouched that if there was any police brutality on that day, they would all extend their massive protests.

When Occupy Wall Street finally started, on the heels of the Israel tent camps, the London riots, and the Arab Spring, I tried to envision what it would look like if it continued on for months. I pictured everyday a fair, with nonprofit organizations tabling, exchanging information and people sharing ideas and getting educated - the left uniting. I have been beyond thrilled to find that the Occupy encampments and actions have gone far deeper than the silos and bureaucracies of nonprofit engagement and enthusiasm.

Instead of a showcasing and pleading for assistance, Occupy is live, it is authentic, it is living its vision for a new future. It is impacting public perceptions of these important issues with real information. Occupy is seeking systemic change, and their actions and priorities demonstrate the seriousness and effectiveness of its effort.

Bank transfers are great - anyone and everyone can relate to those. Millions of private individuals transferring their money out of corporate banks and in to local credit unions around Bank Transfer Day November 5 was an enormous social accomplishment. But let's remember that the people at the tent camps and the 24-hour vigils are holding the physical spaces where many of these types of actions are organized and implemented.

If you're from Oakland or another area, and you've had a NIMBY attitude about the occupations happening in your public neighborhood spaces, I can't totally blame you. I hope once you understand the incredible changes being led by the movement that is based in those sacred spaces, that you will take a new approach. If you think the people out there need services, help get them those services. Donate food, blankets and funds. Speak at the GA. Join in the action.

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