Occupying Tension

By Noah Fischer (appearing in Occupy Love)

After we were evicted from Liberty Park, I spent the early hours of the morning struggling in the streets of Lower Manhattan with a few hundred disoriented and angry people. Cops in riot gear were turning the streets into a maze of steel barricades. We tried to unify our scraggly numbers and rally, but it became gradually clear that the police had the upper hand. Toward morning, the tension in my body gradually eased into defeat.

Among my company that night was a Chinese man patiently trying to unify the hotheaded crowds. He had been a student protester in Tiananmen Square. He said to me, “Movements do not attract activists, they create them.” So even though we seemed to be losing, we were in fact learning. We were stumbling through the dark that night, searching for a path to walk together, and that’s why this is the beginning of my occupation story, not the end.

The story of my life began at the San Francisco Zen Center. My parents, zen teachers Norman and Kathie Fischer, transitioned from lay practice in Berkeley to a monastic life at Tassajara and Green Gulch Farm in the 1970s. We lived at Zen Center until my brother and I left for college. During these years, I absorbed the rhythms, smells, and tastes of monastic California-style zen.

Interconnectedness, sangha, and non-duality formed the language and spirit of my childhood.

Coinciding with the miraculous changing of leaves, Occupy Wall Street began in New York on September 17th but was really sparked by demonstrations in Tahrir Square, Spain and Madison, Wisconsin, months before. The time for transformation was ripe. In the U.S., decades of exponential wealth disparity and war after war against brown people at home and abroad left our society fragmented and spiritually sick. It was not an optimistic time to be a young person.

In the 2000s, as I pursued an art career, I struggled, often painfully, with finding my place in a culture that appeared to revolve around cutthroat competition, celebrity and immense concentrations of wealth. I even felt that creative freedom—the impulse I was following in my art practice—had been confused with greed, privilege and fear of failure. The big picture seemed hopeless. But then, reading about the uprisings in Tahrir and Madison, I began to realize that resistance was possible. Maybe, just maybe, we could heal our world if we woke up and brought our silent struggles into the strong sunlight—if we tried.

In June, I launched an art project called “Summer of Change: a series of numismatic rituals for Wall Street” and with my collaborator, Jim Costanzo, I chanted oratory at bankers and tourists, while throwing hundreds of dollars-worth of U.S. coins on the ground. For the first performance I chanted:
Oh, Wall Street! Your Great Wall is impregnable to marauding Justice, Equality, and Change!

Later, in another of the seven performances, arriving at the Stock Exchange in a wheelchair and wearing a silver mask resembling a giant FDR dime, I pointed at passersby and shouted:
The ship of our great democracy sinks in a rising tide of greed! Working-class Americans are the first to be cast off into the sea. Some stand by and watch this crime from afar. But who will be the next victim?

By the end of the summer, when the Occupy Wall Street protests started, I was all warmed up and right in the center of it.

What was I in the center of exactly? Something new—that was clear from the start. On that September Saturday, hundreds of people came together in Zucotti Park and didn’t go home. This was no ordinary protest. Rather, we were living change in our bodies. We were mending our connection to each other, mending the tender fabric of a society torn apart by emphasis on private space and money markets. We were re-embracing the right to occupy public space and finding our power as citizens in a shared world—the basic power of the people. It was anger that had awakened many of us. But in the park, love reigned. The beginning was wonderful!
There was a daunting task ahead. Inside the park, non-capitalist time and space prevailed: lost souls were meeting like crazy, creative plans were hatching and music rang out. Going a block away you felt culture shock: everything was the same as before in the same old world. And we knew that to get this work done we had to push ourselves, like caterpillars struggling in the cocoon. We had to transform and develop wings. Every day, all day, we marched and shouted and organized, served and ate free food, held assemblies, and struggled with the police. And so we turned from “protestors” into “people acting freedom,” in search of unbroken physical and social space, free of boundaries.

Yet we can’t live in this world without playing roles, like performers on a stage. In our occupy-opera, the NYPD play the role of protectors of the status quo, standing densely in their dark uniforms, with guns, stern expressions and menacing riot gear, or rolling up with trucks full of steel barricades. I know that these men and women are exquisite buddhas, perfectly imperfect as I am, but as the tension builds, they become monuments to un-freedom, following commands that lead them to bash heads against the pavement and to put non-violent people into little cells and slam the steel door shut behind them.

Meanwhile, we who gather together chanting and marching are “protesters.” We seem to be on the other side; we seem to be a menace, even to threaten social chaos. Passersby on the street are our audience. The stage is set and the curtains drawn. We sing our arias through the human microphone. Time and space contract and expand dramatically as these forces dance together.

These tense situations are the jewel of the movement, the master classes that turn us into activists, and we work hard to create them. We have a better chance of dissolving the boundaries that separate us if we first make them visible. But violence can begin here too, so it is important to not truly believe in the roles. I have tried to remember I am not separate from the cops and other actors, even while surfing the tension of these situations.

Early on in the protest I switched sides as an experiment, wanting to explore the limits of this new social space. As an Occupy Wall Street group marched from Liberty Park to the Wall Street Stock Exchange (a daily ritual in the first few weeks), I dressed in a business suit and waited with a small group at the Exchange. When the protestors arrived we heckled them as we imagined a group of young and entitled Wall Street investment bankers might (and sometimes do). I yelled “Get a Job!” loudly in the protesters’ faces, falling deeply into my new role. It felt a little transgressive too, like a man putting on a dress; I hadn’t realized how many unknowns were at play here.

The tension rose, emotions flared. All of a sudden, one of the drummers turned around at me and shouted, “I am a veteran of Iraq, I have PTSD and can’t get a job! Fuck you!” He hit me, hard, with his drumstick, which I was not expecting. The sting on my arm told me that years of suffering, anger, hurt and aloneness were coming forth. Yes, this was theater, but it was also very real—as real as violence, as real our emotions and bodies. In retrospect, it was like the Shosan ritual in which zen practitioners expose their inner life and pain in ceremony, for the sangha to share and support. In my conflict with the Marine, we shared the sting of disempowerment. Later that day I found him and we both apologized. Now we hug every time we see each other.

A few weeks later, I found a way to protest from my core social and economic struggles as an artist. I helped to organize an action group called Occupy Museums, to bring attention to the ways that major cultural institutions disempower artists and benefit the wealthy. One day we marched to MoMA and found a large police force waiting for us. They herded us into the police pen they had prepared for us. We stepped into the cage, yelling, chanting and waving signs; the tension mounted as our outrage filled the enclosed space. The police ushered away passersby who approached us in solidarity, creating a buffer zone around the magnetic human force of our voices and bodies.

In the midst of the tension, I found energy welling up within, but I let it happen, feeling it as energy not anger. I “mic checked,” invoking call-and-response from the group. “Policemen! (Policemen!) /We are watching you/harass citizens peacefully walking/on New York City sidewalks!/What’s going on here!?” Then my body, compressed in tension, started to move, to stride out from behind the barricades to the sidewalk and into the no-go zone defined by the standing line of cops. This was the corridor of greatest tension, full of the possibility of violence. But I found space, air, and life here! I began to widen my movements—now I was almost dancing—and my language opened: “I am free—I know I can be on this sidewalk!” Pointing to the policeman: “You are free! We all are free, let’s march on this sidewalk, we can be here!” Somehow, all of a sudden, we could be here! A surprise reversal of plot! So we marched out from behind the barricades onto the vast sidewalk.

Two weeks after we were evicted from Liberty (formerly Zucotti) Park, we gathered at Lincoln Center Plaza, a vast open space in New York where protest is forbidden. Lincoln Center was showing Philip Glass’s opera, “Satyagraha,” which speaks about the life of Tolstoy, Gandhi and Martin Luther King—all non-violent protesters who have inspired Occupy Wall Street. Lincoln Center is partly funded by Michael Bloomberg, the very man who evicted us from Liberty Park.

Before the end of the performance, hundreds of protesters assembled on the steps of Lincoln Center, blocked off from the plaza by police barricades and heavy NYPD presence. Thus the private and public spaces, which on a normal day would be seamless, were clearly separated. When a few who dared to cross the line were arrested, there were shouts of “shame, shame, shame!” from some of the protestors. We took off our shoes—a Gandhian symbol of dignity—and stood barefoot on the cold pavement, conducting our assembly.

As “Satyagraha” ended and the elegantly dressed audience finally exited into the plaza, they came upon this strikingly theatrical scene: real life protest at the foot of the grand steps! We called out to them in unison to join us, but the sight of the NYPD barricades seemed to paralyze them.

Then all of a sudden Philip Glass, who had been at the performance that night, popped up in the Occupy Wall Street crowd—he had come to read a statement on the people’s mic. We sat down so that people could see him, and the lights from a video camera illuminated his face. He called out the last lines of the opera, a passage from the Bhagavad Gita:

Mic check!
When righteousness withers away
And evil rules the land
We come into being
Age after age
And take visible shape
And move
A man among men
For the protection of good
Thrusting back evil
And setting virtue
On her seat again.

Chanting along with Glass, whose music had been the soundtrack to my childhood, I melted into the crowd, my body vibrating to the shared voice, deeply encouraged by this ancient text. When I looked up, the opera audience had joined us. The buffer zone was gone. We were one big crowd—the 100%! The physical NYPD barricades still stood among us, but they were no longer barriers, absorbed now into our big warm body. Until late into the night we held our general assembly. The police stood offstage, now relaxed. Two separate spaces had flowed into one, protesters had become people again, and the police could then be people too.
After the first day of the occupation in Liberty Park, I went home thinking that the scraggly core protesters would be gone the next day, booted out by the NYPD. But miraculously, this was not so, and from that moment on, I learned to suspend disbelief—to not kill off this unfolding moment in my mind. I learned to trust my body, which was responding to a desire for freedom and connection. I learned to trust hundreds of strangers. When we lost the park, this was only a stage in an unfolding movement. A few weeks later, we were all standing euphorically on the steps of Lincoln Center Plaza, 100% human, pointing with our hearts toward each other, and finding freedom in this way. Who knows what happens next?!

Noah Fischer is a Brooklyn-based artist activist who grew up at Green Gulch Farm, run by the San Francisco Zen Center. He has exhibited art installations and performances in New York and internationally. Since the beginning of Occupy Wall Street, Fischer has completely committed his work to this movement. He is the curator of the No-Eyes Viewing Wall at Brooklyn Zen Center.

Visit http://www.noahfischer.org.

This is an expanded version of an article that appears in the Spring 2012 issue of Inquiring Mind.

© 2012 Inquiring Mind

Mad, Passionate Love — and Violence

By Rebecca Solnit

When you fall in love, it’s all about what you have in common, and you can hardly imagine that there are differences, let alone that you will quarrel over them, or weep about them, or be torn apart by them — or if all goes well, struggle, learn, and bond more strongly because of, rather than despite, them. The Occupy movement had its glorious honeymoon when old and young, liberal and radical, comfortable and desperate, homeless and tenured all found that what they had in common was so compelling the differences hardly seemed to matter.

Until they did.

Revolutions are always like this: at first all men are brothers and anything is possible, and then, if you’re lucky, the romance of that heady moment ripens into a relationship, instead of a breakup, an abusive marriage, or a murder-suicide. Occupy had its golden age, when those who never before imagined living side-by-side with homeless people found themselves in adjoining tents in public squares.

All sorts of other equalizing forces were present, not least the police brutality that battered the privileged the way that inner-city kids are used to being battered all the time. Part of what we had in common was what we were against: the current economy and the principle of insatiable greed that made it run, as well as the emotional and economic privatization that accompanied it.

This is a system that damages people, and its devastation was on display as never before in the early months of Occupy and related phenomena like the “We are the 99%” website. When it was people facing foreclosure, or who’d lost their jobs, or were thrashing around under avalanches of college or medical debt, they weren’t hard to accept as us, and not them.

And then came the people who’d been damaged far more, the psychologically fragile, the marginal, and the homeless — some of them endlessly needy and with a huge capacity for disruption. People who had come to fight the power found themselves staying on to figure out available mental-health resources, while others who had wanted to experience a democratic society on a grand scale found themselves trying to solve sanitation problems.

And then there was the violence.

The Faces of Violence

The most important direct violence Occupy faced was, of course, from the state, in the form of the police using maximum sub-lethal force on sleepers in tents, mothers with children, unarmed pedestrians, young women already penned up, unresisting seated students, poets, professors, pregnant women, wheelchair-bound occupiers, and octogenarians. It has been a sustained campaign of police brutality from Wall Street to Washington State the likes of which we haven’t seen in 40 years.

On the part of activists, there were also a few notable incidents of violence in the hundreds of camps, especially violence against women. The mainstream media seemed to think this damned the Occupy movement, though it made the camps, at worst, a whole lot like the rest of the planet, which, in case you hadn’t noticed, seethes with violence against women. But these were isolated incidents.

That old line of songster Woody Guthrie is always handy in situations like this: “Some will rob you with a six-gun, some with a fountain pen.” The police have been going after occupiers with projectile weapons, clubs, and tear gas, sending some of them to the hospital and leaving more than a few others traumatized and fearful. That’s the six-gun here.

But it all began with the fountain pens, slashing through peoples’ lives, through national and international economies, through the global markets. These were wielded by the banksters, the “vampire squid,” the deregulators in D.C., the men — and with the rarest of exceptions they were men — who stole the world.

That’s what Occupy came together to oppose, the grandest violence by scale, the least obvious by impact. No one on Wall Street ever had to get his suit besmirched by carrying out a foreclosure eviction himself. Cities provided that service for free to the banks (thereby further impoverishing themselves as they created new paupers out of old taxpayers). And the police clubbed their opponents for them, over and over, everywhere across the United States.

The grand thieves invented ever more ingenious methods, including those sliced and diced derivatives, to crush the hopes and livelihoods of the many. This is the terrible violence that Occupy was formed to oppose. Don’t ever lose sight of that.

Oakland’s Beautiful Nonviolence

Now that we’re done remembering the major violence, let’s talk about Occupy Oakland. A great deal of fuss has been made about two incidents in which mostly young people affiliated with Occupy Oakland damaged some property and raised some hell.

The mainstream media and some faraway pundits weighed in on those Bay Area incidents as though they determined the meaning and future of the transnational Occupy phenomenon. Perhaps some of them even hoped, consciously or otherwise, that harped on enough these might divide or destroy the movement. So it’s important to recall that the initial impact of Occupy Oakland was the very opposite of violent, stunningly so, in ways that were intentionally suppressed.

Occupy Oakland began in early October as a vibrant, multiracial gathering. A camp was built at Oscar Grant/Frank Ogawa Plaza, and thousands received much-needed meals and healthcare for free from well-organized volunteers. Sometimes called the Oakland Commune, it was consciously descended from some of the finer aspects of an earlier movement born in Oakland, the Black Panthers, whose free breakfast programs should perhaps be as well-remembered and more admired than their macho posturing.

A compelling and generous-spirited General Assembly took place nightly and then biweekly in which the most important things on Earth were discussed by wildly different participants. Once, for instance, I was in a breakout discussion group that included Native American, white, Latino, and able-bodied and disabled Occupiers, and in which I was likely the eldest participant; another time, a bunch of peacenik grandmothers dominated my group.

This country is segregated in so many terrible ways — and then it wasn’t for those glorious weeks when civil society awoke and fell in love with itself. Everyone showed up; everyone talked to everyone else; and in little tastes, in fleeting moments, the old divides no longer divided us and we felt like we could imagine ourselves as one society. This was the dream of the promised land — this land, that is, without its bitter divides. Honey never tasted sweeter, and power never felt better.

Now here’s something astonishing. While the camp was in existence, crime went down 19% in Oakland, a statistic the city was careful to conceal. “It may be counter to our statement that the Occupy movement is negatively impacting crime in Oakland,” the police chief wrote to the mayor in an email that local news station KTVU later obtained and released to little fanfare. Pay attention: Occupy was so powerful a force for nonviolence that it was already solving Oakland’s chronic crime and violence problems just by giving people hope and meals and solidarity and conversation.

The police attacking the camp knew what the rest of us didn’t: Occupy was abating crime, including violent crime, in this gritty, crime-ridden city. “You gotta give them hope, “ said an elected official across the bay once upon a time — a city supervisor named Harvey Milk. Occupy was hope we gave ourselves, the dream come true. The city did its best to take the hope away violently at 5 a.m. on October 25th. The sleepers were assaulted; their belongings confiscated and trashed. Then, Occupy Oakland rose again. Many thousands of nonviolent marchers shut down the Port of Oakland in a stunning display of popular power on November 2nd.

That night, some kids did the smashy-smashy stuff that everyone gets really excited about. (They even spray-painted “smashy” on a Rite Aid drugstore in giant letters.) When we talk about people who spray-paint and break windows and start bonfires in the street and shove people and scream and run around, making a demonstration into something way too much like the punk rock shows of my youth, let’s keep one thing in mind: they didn’t send anyone to the hospital, drive any seniors from their homes, spread despair and debt among the young, snatch food and medicine from the desperate, or destroy the global economy.

That said, they are still a problem. They are the bait the police take and the media go to town with. They create a situation a whole lot of us don’t like and that drives away many who might otherwise participate or sympathize. They are, that is, incredibly bad for a movement, and represent a form of segregation by intimidation.

But don’t confuse the pro-vandalism Occupiers with the vampire squid or the up-armored robocops who have gone after us almost everywhere. Though their means are deeply flawed, their ends are not so different than yours. There’s no question that they should improve their tactics or maybe just act tactically, let alone strategically, and there’s no question that a lot of other people should stop being so apocalyptic about it.

Those who advocate for nonviolence at Occupy should remember that nonviolence is at best a great spirit of love and generosity, not a prissy enforcement squad. After all, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., who gets invoked all the time when such issues come up, didn’t go around saying grumpy things about Malcolm X and the Black Panthers.

Violence Against the Truth

Of course, a lot of people responding to these incidents in Oakland are actually responding to fictional versions of them. In such cases, you could even say that some journalists were doing violence against the truth of what happened in Oakland on November 2nd and January 28th.

The San Francisco Chronicle, for example, reported on the day’s events this way:

“Among the most violent incidents that occurred Saturday night was in front of the YMCA at 23rd Street and Broadway. Police corralled protesters in front of the building and several dozen protesters stormed into the Y, apparently to escape from the police, city officials and protesters said. Protesters damaged a door and a few fixtures, and frightened those inside the gym working out, said Robert Wilkins, president of the YMCA of the East Bay.”

Wilkins was apparently not in the building, and first-person testimony recounts that a YMCA staff member welcomed the surrounded and battered protesters, and once inside, some were so terrified they pretended to work out on exercise machines to blend in.

I wrote this to the journalists who described the incident so peculiarly: “What was violent about [activists] fleeing police engaging in wholesale arrests and aggressive behavior? Even the YMCA official who complains about it adds, ‘The damage appears pretty minimal.’ And you call it violence? That’s sloppy.”

The reporter who responded apologized for what she called her “poor word choice” and said the phrase was meant to convey police violence as well.

When the police are violent against activists, journalists tend to frame it as though there were violence in some vaguely unascribable sense that implicates the clobbered as well as the clobberers. In, for example, the build-up to the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City, the mainstream media kept portraying the right of the people peaceably to assemble as tantamount to terrorism and describing all the terrible things that the government or the media themselves speculated we might want to do (but never did).

Some of this was based on the fiction of tremendous activist violence in Seattle in 1999 that the New York Times in particular devoted itself to promulgating. That the police smashed up nonviolent demonstrators and constitutional rights pretty badly in both Seattle and New York didn’t excite them nearly as much. Don’t forget that before the obsession with violence arose, the smearing of Occupy was focused on the idea that people weren’t washing very much, and before that the framework for marginalization was that Occupy had “no demands.” There’s always something.

Keep in mind as well that Oakland’s police department is on the brink of federal receivership for not having made real amends for old and well-documented problems of violence, corruption, and mismanagement, and that it was the police department, not the Occupy Oakland demonstrators, which used tear gas, clubs, smoke grenades, and rubber bullets on January 28th. It’s true that a small group vandalized City Hall after the considerable police violence, but that’s hardly what the plans were at the outset of the day.

The action on January 28th that resulted in 400 arrests and a media conflagration was called Move-In Day. There was a handmade patchwork banner that proclaimed “Another Oakland Is Possible” and a children’s contingent with pennants, balloons, and strollers. Occupy Oakland was seeking to take over an abandoned building so that it could reestablish the community, the food programs, and the medical clinic it had set up last fall. It may not have been well planned or well executed, but it was idealistic.

Despite this, many people who had no firsthand contact with Occupy Oakland inveighed against it or even against the whole Occupy movement. If only that intensity of fury were to be directed at the root cause of it all, the colossal economic violence that surrounds us.

All of which is to say, for anyone who hadn’t noticed, that the honeymoon is over.

Now for the Real Work

The honeymoon is, of course, the period when you’re so in love you don’t notice differences that will eventually have to be worked out one way or another. Most relationships begin as though you were coasting downhill. Then come the flatlands, followed by the hills where you’re going to have to pedal hard, if you don’t just abandon the bike.

Occupy might just be the name we’ve put on a great groundswell of popular outrage and a rebirth of civil society too deep, too broad, to be a movement. A movement is an ocean wave: this is the whole tide turning from Cairo to Moscow to Athens to Santiago to Chicago. Nevertheless, the American swell in this tide involves a delicate alliance between liberals and radicals, people who want to reform the government and campaign for particular gains, and people who wish the government didn’t exist and mostly want to work outside the system. If the radicals should frighten the liberals as little as possible, surely the liberals have an equal obligation to get fiercer and more willing to confront — and to remember that nonviolence, even in its purest form, is not the same as being nice.

Surely the only possible answer to the tired question of where Occupy should go from here (as though a few public figures got to decide) is: everywhere. I keep being asked what Occupy should do next, but it’s already doing it. It is everywhere.

In many cities, outside the limelight, people are still occupying public space in tents and holding General Assemblies. February 20th, for instance, was a national day of Occupy solidarity with prisoners; Occupiers are organizing on many fronts and planning for May Day, and a great many foreclosure defenses from Nashville to San Francisco have kept people in their homes and made banks renegotiate. Campus activism is reinvigorated, and creative and fierce discussions about college costs and student debt are underway, as is a deeper conversation about economics and ethics that rejects conventional wisdom about what is fair and possible.

Occupy is one catalyst or facet of the populist will you can see in a host of recent victories. The campaign against corporate personhood seems to be gaining momentum. A popular environmental campaign made President Obama reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline from Canada, despite immense Republican and corporate pressure. In response to widespread outrage, the Susan B. Komen Foundation reversed its decision to defund cancer detection at Planned Parenthood. Online campaigns have forced Apple to address its hideous labor issues, and the ever-heroic Coalition of Immokalee Workers at last brought Trader Joes into line with its fair wages for farmworkers campaign.

These genuine gains come thanks to relatively modest exercises of popular power. They should act as reminders that we do have power and that its exercise can be popular. Some of last fall’s exhilarating conversations have faltered, but the great conversation that is civil society awake and arisen hasn’t stopped.

What happens now depends on vigorous participation, including yours, in thinking aloud together about who we are, what we want, and how we get there, and then acting upon it. Go occupy the possibilities and don’t stop pedaling. And remember, it started with mad, passionate love.

Rebecca Solnit is the author of 13 (or so) books, including A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster and Hope in the Dark. She lives in and occupies from San Francisco. She will be featured in our upcoming documentary, Occupy Love. 

Copyright 2012 Rebecca Solnit

The Economy of Love

Here’s a short video featuring Rebecca Solnit, a hint of the upcoming documentary “Occupy Love.”

Occupy Oakland’s Declaration of Love

The following resolution was passed by the General Assembly of Occupy Oakland, creating an official Occupy Oakland action on Tuesday, Feburary 14th, Valentine’s Day.

Photobucket Photobucket

In the interest of diversity of tactics, and the spirit of love that we feel for our community, we propose a direct action to take place on February 14th.We encourage our fellow Oakland residents to join with us to express our love for each other, and our beautiful city, on a march through the downtown Oakland area. Participants should wear red and/or pink in celebration of Valentine’s Day, and are encouraged to bring flowers, bubbles, Valentine’s candy to share, glitter, confetti, and flower petals…

This is to be a completely non-violent, family-friendly action, and will be open to all who are interested in joining us in an expression of love for our community and each other.

It has been unofficially titled

Make Love, Not War

in a throwback to the sixties when tens of thousands of anti-Vietnam war protesters confronted police and the National Guard; when “Make Love, Not War” was scrawled all across America on the subway walls and tenement halls.

Those days are gone, but left are the iconic images showcasing this diary. They remind us how any protest movement that dares to take the streets in pursuit of their right to freely assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances will be met by overwhelming, panicked force by the powers-that-be.

Occupy Oakland is adding a new twist to the old tactic, since it is hard to put a flower down the barrel of a tear gas grenade:

In the event of potentially oppressive police presence… couples will be encouraged to stop marching and kiss in the streets…

Which, if some photographer or livestreamer is in the right place at the right time, might well create an iconic image for Daily Kos writers of 2050 to reference!

Time and place information about the rallies and march:

…the rallies starting at 6 PM will be at Fox Park, at 19th & Telegraph, and NOT at the Plaza. This is to include all of our fellow Occupiers who have unjust stay-away orders from the plaza!At 6 PM, we will hold a “Make Love, Not War” rally in solidarity with Syria, Egypt, and other nations whose people are currently suffering from state and/or police repression.

At 6:30, we will hold a “Reproductive Health” rally, complete with safer sex supply giveaways.

At 7 PM, we will have our “Hella <3 Oakland” march through the downtown area.

by jpmassar

Reprinted from  the Daily Kos

Occupy The Dream – MLK and the Power of Love

“Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

Today the Occupy Movement will be engaging in global actions centered around the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The heart of Dr. King’s vision offers wonderful inspiration for the movement – one that is deeply rooted in love.  King’s approach to activism was all about “love in action.”

The activists of the civil rights era faced incredible repression and brutality, yet remained firm in their conviction to love, their conviction to non-violence.  This gave them tremendous “moral capital.”   Violence, as an activist tactic, very rarely is successful.  It is speaking the language of the opressor, and they respond with even greater violence.  But the images of loving activists in contrast to brutality, is poignant, moving and transformative. It opens the hearts of the undecided, and calls them to join in the quest for justice.   Those who seek to undermine the Occupy Movement, or any activist movement, invariably point to acts of violence.

King taught that while legislative changes were important, such as desegregation (a focal point for the movement at that time),  unless we also change our hearts and minds, we would end up with,  “a society where men are physically desegregated and spiritually segregated, where elbows are together and hearts apart. It gives us social togetherness and spiritual apartness. It leaves us with a stagnant equality of sameness rather than a constructive equality of oneness.”    He beautifully said that, “we are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.”

Dr. King’s greatest vision was that the world would come together in a “Beloved Community.”  The civil rights movement represented an attempt to created that Beloved Community in microcosm. Today, within the Occupy Movement, we can also create this kind of community, founded on compassion, non-violence and mutuality.  This is turn can help lead to the tipping point, towards that day when we are able to live in a world that works for everyone.  King’s profound dream was to enlarge “the concept of brotherhood to a vision of total interrelatedness.”

 If he were alive today, I believe Dr. King would have recognized the incredible potential of this remarkable time in history.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

By remaining firmly grounded in love, we are practicing “prefigurative politics.”  Instead of waiting for some far off dream of a peaceful, loving world, we are living it, right now, in real time.  The principles of participatory democracy, central to the Occupy Movement, allow us to practice a world where everyone is important.  Having a leaderless movement is also a radical step – we all are leaders today.

Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh has said that in this era, “the Buddha is the Sangha.”  This means, the community is the new Buddha.  It’s time for us all to wake up, and tap into our collective wisdom.  We are moving beyond the top down hierarchal structures that have dominated all areas of life in the past – from politics to spirituality, from culture to economics. It’s time for a new era, an era of shared power, of horizontality. This is the way ecosystems work – complex webs of systems within systems, supporting, nurturing each other in webs of checks and balances.  It’s time that we integrate fully into the planetary body, recognize our profound inter-connection, striving always towards mutually enhancing relationships.

The field of possibility expands exponentially each time any one of us truly steps up to the plate, and opens our hearts. How joyous, to live the realization that the greater the  brilliance of any one of us, the greater is the radiance of the whole.  We can go beyond that outdated dog eat dog eat dog isolating, disconnecting model of the corporatocracy, into a new world, where we care for each other in networks of compassion. Let us truly, deeply, authentically occupy the dream, the dream of a world that works for all life, where each and everyone of us is a shining star in a constellation of love.

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.

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MLK Occupy Events

OCCUPY THE DREAM TELECOUNCIL WITH VELCROW RIPPER

This is an exciting time in history! Let’s make the most of it. Please join me on Martin Luther King Day, January 16 2o12 at 4 pm PST for a a special tele council in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Occupy Movement. I’ll be discussing King’s legacy of the “Beloved Community” emerging all over the world today, sharing my journey from Occupy Wall St, to Occupy Oakland, Occupy London, the M15 movement of Spain, the revolution in Tahrir Square, the meaning of “Occupy Love” and more. Learn more and sign up here – it’s free! 

WORLD WIDE CANDLELIGHT VIGIL FOR UNITY

This January 15th all over the world, Occupy is holding a  #J15 Worldwide Candlelight Vigil For Unity on the  birthday, and in the spirit of Dr. King’s vision for racial and economic equality, peace, and non-violence.  Candlelight vigils will take place at 7pm in each time zone to unite our world in a global movement for systemic change.

Wherever you are, let’s join together and light our flames for  this beautiful vision.  Be creative – you can create your own vigil if you can’t find one near you.   Learn more at http://www.j15global.com/

 

OCCUPY THE DREAM

National Day of Action on January 16.
16+ Cities. Occupy the Federal Reserve!

When: January 16, 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM (unless otherwise noted)
Where: The Federal Reserve Bank closest to you

Washington, D.C. • Atlanta • Boston • Chicago • Cleveland • Dallas • Kansas City •Los Angeles • Minneapolis • New York • New Orleans • Philadelphia • Richmond •San Francisco • St. Louis • Wilmington, DE

Members of the African-American faith community have joined forces with Occupy Wall Street to launch a new campaign for economic justice inspired by the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Faithful to its philosophical origin, the “Occupy the Dream” coalition has called for a National Day of Action on Martin Luther King Day – Monday, January 16, 2012 – to focus attention on the gross injustice visited upon the 99% by the financial elite.  More info at : www.occupythedream.org

STUDIO OCCUPY

Studio Occupy has a wonderful project related to this: “To honor Rev. Martin Luther King’s birthday, Occupy Wall Street is privileged to welcome African-American clergy as they join the movement to address economic inequality and social injustice. Dr. King’s dream made history. Now OWS needs yours! What’s your dream for your community? For the future? Grab your phone or webcam, make a video of your dream, and upload it by January 16th – Dr. King’s birthday. We can create history together. Let’s Occupy the Dream!”  Learn more at:  Studio Occupy

REBUILD THE DREAM

Van Jones, one of my all time visionary activist heroes, who is featured in Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action  , has launched an initiative called “Rebuild the Dream.”  This weekend, for MLK day, they are calling for meet-ups acrsos the country to celebrate Dr. King and link the Civil Rights Movement with today’s struggle for an economy that works for all. Neighbors and friends will gather to watch the great video they have created, plus engage in a special discussion about how we strengthen our movements in 2012. Find an MLK Meet-up near you, or host one of your own.

 

PS. We need your love! Please give to the Occupy Love crowd funding campaign so we can complete Occupy Love, our feature doc that captures the global (r)evolution of compassion inaction.  Sharing the link and telling your friends helps a lot too. We believe this movie is going to be of tremendous service to the planet. In Theatres 2012 – with your help!