Revolution #262, March 11, 2012
REPORTS FROM F28: "Don’t Suppress the Occupy Movement!"
Revolution received the following reports about Defend Occupy demonstrations on February 28 (see "NYC: Standing with Occupy!" for coverage of F28 in New York City):
A February 28 protest was held in Chicago answering the call for mass action against the suppression of the Occupy movement. People gathered at the site of the original Chicago occupation where the Board of Trade, Federal Reserve and Bank of America meet. The protest included Occupy activists, students, a crew of dedicated occupiers who have kept a presence at this site for five months, environmental and anti-war activists, military veterans and others. Some who joined the protest had not been active since the fall. Some came in from hours away.
There was a lot of joy at coming together to Occupy Chicago’s birthplace and protesting again, anger at the repression on Occupy, and defiance as over 100 people took to the streets marching. Chants rang out loudly as the march crisscrossed the Loop. "Occupy is under attack, What do we do? Stand Up, Fight Back!" "We are unstoppable, another world is possible." Two giant, highly visible banners said: "We Will Not Be Silenced" and "The 1% Are Killing Us."
Speakers at the rally included: A National Lawyers Guild representative who spoke about the new "sit down and shut up" City ordinances; people arrested trying to set up an Occupy encampment in the fall; reps from Vets for Peace, Rising Tide environmentalists, and Revolution Books; organizers with Occupy 4 Prisoners, Occupy El Barrio and Occupy the Southside; and a young man who brought greetings from Eastern Europe. One college student who had organized for F28 in her school wrote the following to challenge other students: "The youth of this nation are the trustees of posterity... To the lost, confused and the pensive: I challenge you to discover your courage—to fight for truth and nothing short of it.... To these forces that be [dictating to the world], I tell you, I am a serious student. Please do not spindle, fold or staple me."
Many rush hour passersby smiled or honked horns. Others made it clear they did not enjoy the sight of Occupy protesters returning. A high point in the march was when a group of Black youth cheered wildly from across the street, and two came across the street through the police to join the march.
The F28 march went from the Federal Reserve to Grant Park, where 300 people had been arrested in October and also where protests are being planned for the upcoming G8 and NATO summits. From there people marched to the courthouse where Occupy arrestees are challenging their legal charges.
Many demonstrators spoke about the importance of mobilizing resistance at the upcoming G8 and NATO summits, and how this highlights the importance of opposing the repressive clampdown on Occupy.
A dedicated group of Occupy Houston and others came together on F28 to reaffirm their commitment to the Occupy Movement and answer the Call for Mass Action Against the Suppression of the Occupy Movement. The Call was very much at the center of the action. Several people participated in mass readings of the Call on street corners, and in front of City Hall.
During a speakout, people spoke to why they became part of Occupy.
One of the organizers said that before this, she was looking around at all the atrocities in society, but she was just tired of it all. When she saw 700 people corralled on the Brooklyn Bridge during an Occupy Wall Street protest, she woke up and said, "I can't be tired anymore," and joined in. She lives in a suburb and, despite the distance, drives in to participate on an almost daily basis.
One immigrant organizer of Occupy said, "I occupy because politicians don't care what we say," and recounted the City Council meeting earlier in the day, where ordinary people came to air their grievances, and "every individual was completely ignored." He went on to say that the cops have told them that capitalism has never failed, "and I have to agree. Capitalism has not failed, it is doing what it's supposed to do, because it is designed to keep the rich rich, and the poor poor."
Another occupier spoke to how Occupy has built a real community of people, and said "Thanks to all these people here," speaking to all the ways people have helped each other out.
One person said, "I occupy because of the greed, and destruction of freedom... I love the sharing of ideas, working together, the horizontal structure, and making friends...I see the occupation sustaining itself through protests like this one... and GAs [General Assemblies] visiting other occupations, expressing solidarity." This reality was brought to life by the presence of some Occupy people from other parts of the country present at the protest.
One good example of the kinds of wrangling over ideas that characterizes the Occupy movement was some friendly debate over the role of the police. People, even while aware of the role of the police against Occupy, tend to insist that they are part of the 99%. A Revolution distributor got a very good response, including from those expressing this view, when he read BAsics 1:24 which begins: "The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people..."
People were very interested in issue #260 of Revolution, which features an excerpt from an interview with Bob Avakian on the Cultural Revolution in China, with many not only getting the issue but interested in getting together to discuss it.
The rally ended with people marching back into Tranquility Park, in a symbolic re-taking of the park from which they had been evicted by the authorities a few weeks earlier. Discussion in the park centered on how to continue the movement, and the need to reach out and make it broader.
50 people came out in downtown to stand with the Occupy Movement to Stop the Suppression of the Occupy Movement. The crowd included a lot of Black people, young and older, as well as high school students, teachers, social activists and many occupiers. The rally began with a Black woman playing the jimbe and singing about the people rising up, another sang about the Occupy movement, and Al Porter from Black on Black (a Black community organization) rapped out his own "The Revolution Will Not Be Webcast!" Then the MC started the rally with, "Within the Occupy camps all across the nation, communities were formed, people from all walks of life came together with hopes creating change and envisioned a new and better world. They spoke out against tyranny, and were met with an iron fist. Peaceful crowds of men, women, children, elderly… tear gassed, beaten, tazed, shot with rubber bullets.... Entire camps torn apart...The more you oppress us, the stronger we will grow. The more injustices you commit, the more people will wake up and see through your lies. We are the 99%, we will NOT be silenced!" A young Black occupier spoke about how he came from an extremely hard situation and sees the Occupy movement as a place for change. He said, "As an African-American man, I have seen how many schools are closed and how the Black community is devastated. I want change in my community and in the world. The 1% say Occupy is preposterous, I say they [the 1%] are preposterous." A Revolution distributor read from an account in Revolution newspaper, based on the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA statement "On the Strategy for Revolution," which points to the importance of stopping the suppression of Occupy from the standpoint of making revolution and continuing to communism. Don Bryant, from Cleveland Immigrant Support Network, spoke about the injustices throughout the world and how the Occupy movement is an important vehicle to stop the injustices, especially against immigrants here and injustices in places like Palestine.
As people took off in the street, a drum banging the beat, they went through red lights, interrupting the flow of traffic through major intersections behind the banner, "Don’t Suppress the Occupy Movement." Chants rang out, like "Hey Hey Ho Ho, This Suppression of Occupy has Got to Go!" and, as people went against traffic into an intersection with police watching, they yelled, "No Justice No Peace! Fuck the Police." The march ended at City Hall where people protested the constant harassment by police at the permitted tent at Public Square. People sat on the steps and then talked about staging an Occupation there the next day. For the occupiers and others who came out, the day marked a new beginning of Occupy Cleveland in which new and diverse people are more determined to stop the suppression of Occupy and to build this movement which occupies public space, that raises big questions about the inequalities of all kinds in this country, the destruction of the environment by the 1% and what to do about it. There was a spirit throughout the day that we will fight to stop the suppression and that "we will not be silenced!!"
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