Revolution #261, February 26, 2012

NYC: Standing with Occupy! February 28, 2012

Posted March 1, 2012

Four hundred people rallied in New York City to say: "We stand with Occupy! Don't Suppress the Occupy Movement." The rally was infused with the spirit of "The Call for Mass Resistance Against the Suppression of the Occupy Movement." An Occupy activist led the crowd in "a mic check" of a portion of the Call, and occupiers perched on ladders in the crowd told their stories of repression.

A significant diversity of prominent speakers took the stage in Union Square with a sense of gravitas, because they felt a real need for a platform to say to the world—and to express to the Occupy movement—how important it was that Occupy cracked open a huge public conversation about inequality and injustice, and that it must not go away and the suppression must be stopped. Actor Susan Sarandon said that Occupy "opened up a very public debate... and it exposed brutal practices of suppression." Noam Chomsky, in a recorded message, told Occupy that "one sign of their success is the suppression," and that suppression must be resisted.

In addition to Sarandon and Chomsky, the rally was kicked off by Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul and Mary, the well-known folk group from the '60s) exuberantly taking the stage and singing, accompanied by his daughter Bethany Yarrow. Other speakers included civil liberties attorney Norm Siegel; NYU professor Andrew Ross; Father Luis Barrios; attorney Margaret Ratner Kunstler; the Rev. Stephen Phelps, Senior Minister at Riverside Church; retired Philadelphia police captain Ray Lewis; spokesperson for Revolution Books, Andy Zee; an OWS activist, Aaron Black; and past president of the NYC chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, Danny Meyers. Three musicians from Occupy the Music performed. And Outernational played a set of their revolution rock, ending the rally with "Fighting Song."

More than half the crowd was from Occupy Wall Street and was joyous to experience once again the broad expression of support. In finally speaking out against the unrelenting wave of suppression, several occupiers spoke of how they felt a weight lifted from a sense of marginalization and demoralization that had set in among many. After the rally, there was a spirited march to Zuccotti Park, where buttons were passed out that read: "Occupy. Return. Stronger."

February 28 was an inspiring first step to mobilize broadly all those who have been inspired by the Occupy movement to say NO! to the attempt to suppress thought and expression, to say no to the systematic and nationally coordinated attacks, to say no to the demonization of Occupy, to say this is intolerable and must not stand. The breadth and diversity of people on the stage and the spirit that ran through the day pointed to the basis to move forward.


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