Occupy Wall Street and the 99% are preparing to rise back up – evolved, re-energized and looking forward to “starting some trouble” to celebrate where it all began.
Monday, September 17, now dubbed #S17, marks the one-year anniversary of the protest and occupation in New York City – an event that captured the world’s attention and ignited protests, occupations and grassroots community organizing around the globe.
To celebrate and continue challenging the corporate elite, activists in New York City are preparing for three days of teach-ins and direct actions in the heart of the Wall Street financial district, where it all began.
In New York, a weekend of gatherings and free educational events will culminate in a day of action on #S17. Organizers are calling for massive civil disobedience, mobile intersection takeovers and an evening gathering at Liberty Plaza, aka Zuccotti Park, where the original Occupy Wall Street camp was held for two months last year.
New York police also are preparing for #S17 and have erected giant concrete walls around Zuccotti park, according to reports from activists.
It remains to be seen if #S17 participants will attempt to establish another campout-style occupation. After confronting police and city officials across the country, activists within the Occupy movement say they are ready to tactically evolve beyond the campout spectacle. In fact, much the movement already has.
“The actual camping was as [a] spectacle to get people who were interested in anti-capitalist action to come together,” said Joan Donovan, an InterOccupy.net and Occupy Los Angeles organizer. Donovan was preparing to travel to New York City for #S17 when Truthout spoke with her on Thursday.
The national network of Occupy campouts established in late 2011 and the spring of 2012 became a media spectacle as well, especially when police at occupations in New York, Oakland and Berkeley started cracking skulls and spraying tear gas in response to protests.
As winter and frustrated police forces closed in, the camps began to disappear, and so did much of the mainstream media coverage.
But the end of the camps did not mark the end of the movement. Local and national networks formed in camps across the country, and Occupy soon gave birth to campaigns addressing a range of pressing issues, such as fighting to save families from foreclosure evictions, challenging the indefinite detention clause in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and, most recently, taking on the infamous genetically engineered seed purveyor Monsanto.
The Occupy meme also influenced movements addressing age-old struggles. Occupy the Hood, for example, established a national network of activists fighting to improve the quality of life for disenfranchised people of color.
“I didn’t see the end of the occupation as the end of what this movement is about; I mean, this movement has generated all sorts of different kinds of protests,” said Donovan, who pointed out that Occupiers in Los Angeles were just recently camped out on a family’s front lawn to protect them from a foreclosure eviction.
The Canadian magazine Adbusters, which heavily backed the original Wall Street occupation, recently addressed the evolving nature of Occupy on its web site:
To put it in a nutshell: the Zuccotti encampment model might have passed its heyday, but the spirit of Occupy is still very much alive … evolving and inspiring, expanding our understanding of the possible, exploding our political imagination.
For Donovan, who is excited about “starting some trouble” in New York City this weekend, the past year has been a great one for direct action.
“This idea that everyone has to converge in [Washington] DC or wherever in order to have a protest is starting to wane away a little bit and people are starting to realize that if you can start enough commotion in many cities at the same time … you can be just as effective and not waste resources or the energy of activists,” Donovan said.