Green Left Weekly’s Chris Peterson spoke to Melanie Sluyter, an environmental activist from the United States who took part in Occupy Wall Street and is visiting Melbourne. * * * How did you get involved in the Occupy movement?
Occupy Sydney held a protest in Pitt St Mall on January 14 to call for the repeal of the US National Defense Authorisation Act. Recently signed into law, the act gives the US government the legal power to detain its citizens indefinitely without trial. The protesters also called for the closure of the US prison in Guantanamo Bay and the release of alleged WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning.
Police violence has been increasing against the Occupy Melbourne camp, now located at Flagstaff Gardens. There have been a number of extremely questionable police actions in recent days against Occupy Melbourne. These include: the establishment of a 24/7 police presence and operations van next at Flagstaff Gardens; the arrest of a man for swearing; and -- worse of all -- the forced removal of Occupier’s clothing when wearing tent costumes.
What's striking about the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) Movement and its popular slogan “We are the 99%” is how much the central demand of the movement resonates with the Black community. African Americans, with few exceptions, are in the bottom 20% of income and wealth. Double digit unemployment is the norm in “good” economic times. Yet the social composition of most OWS occupations (some 10,000 including college campuses) has had few Black faces including in urban areas with large Black populations.
A group of 14 Occupy Sydney activists faced charges at Downing St District Court in Sydney on December 5. The charges arose out of the police eviction of Occupy Sydney's camp in Martin Place on October 23. The cases were "stood over", allowing human rights lawyer Stuart Littlemore to take some of these cases to the High Court in the new year. Occupy activist Tim Davis-Frank quipped "It looks like we'll be occupying the court system for a while!" A solidarity demonstration outside the court involved a few rogue Occupy tents on legs, who were refused admission into court.
The Occupy protests are part of a global movement that is questioning the basic structures of the political and economic system to an extent not seen since 1968. Whether it will succeed in changing these structures is unclear. But, Roger Burbach says, it has already created something far more powerful: a global shift in consciousness. * * * “Shut It Down”, “No More Shipping for the 1%” and “Death to Capitalism” proclaimed some of the banners near me as I joined thousands of demonstrators who converged on the Port of Oakland on a sunny afternoon in November.
The article below is reprinted from a December 1 post at OccupyOakland.org. For more information on the December 12 shutdown, visit www.westcoastportshutdown.org. * * * As of November 27, the Occupy movement in every major West Coast port city: Occupy Los Angeles, Occupy San Diego, Occupy Portland, Occupy Tacoma, Occupy Seattle have joined Occupy Oakland in calling for and organising a coordinated West Coast Port Blockade and Shutdown on December 12.
The Occupy movement in the United States continues to gain strength, despite wide-scale repression. The article below is abridged from a US Socialist Worker editorial. * * * The raids, arrests and police violence against the Occupy movement that has been occurring across the United States are about trying to silence a movement giving voice to the accumulated discontent of the working-class majority. They're also about showing who's the boss ― the political and business establishment.
The phrase “organise, don’t agonise” has become a bumper sticker, a popular slogan in the feminist movement, the title of many speeches, conferences and newsletters. African-American civil rights activist Florence Rae Kennedy coined the term. Gloria Steinem quoted her in Ms magazine in 1973. Since then, this powerful slogan has circumnavigated the world many times — used by many activists and movements. It has lasted because the slogan reasonates strongly with the condition of the oppressed, exploited and persecuted.