Re-Occupy Your Public Space On Martin Luther King Junior Holiday

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Editor's Note

Text shown below is a mirror of the contents of an email sent to Food Not Bombs subscribers on Sunday December 4, 2011.

from via
date Sun, Dec 4, 2011 at 5:51 PM
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A Proposal for a coordinated RE-OCCUPATION OF PUBLIC SPACE in honor of the goals of Martin Luther King Jr. January 13-16, 2012


"Occupy Wall Street, on the other hand, has chosen a fixed target. And you have put no end date on your presence here. This is wise. Only when you stay put can you grow roots. This is crucial. It is a fact of the information age that too many movements spring up like beautiful flowers but quickly die off. It’s because they don’t have roots. And they don’t have long term plans for how they are going to sustain themselves. So when storms come, they get washed away."

Occupy Wall Street: The Most Important Thing in the World Now by Naomi Klein - October 7, 2011

The occupation movement is the most important movement of our lives. I get calls everyday from average middle American asking how they can help, calling to say they are so proud of everyone, some even coming to tears expressing that we just had to succeed.

The corporate media is seeking to claim that the police have successfully swept away or movement but as you know this is just the beginning. Reporters claiming that we have "moved" to walking from town to town or other valid actions that should be supported but the occupations are the action that is applying pressure and providing a space for innovation and community.

We have the corporations and their governments really freighted. They have a coordinated media and police campaign to shut us down but their logic while effective in the short run won't work for long if we continue to reclaim public space. Even if this means we must survive a wave of evictions at some point there will be another critical event, news of a national default or major bank failure, U.S. government failing to continue unemployment payments or government shut down. News that points to the fact that we are sliding into a great depression and harsh austerity policies are necessary to transfer more of our resources to the one percent. Our continued presence will provide a visible place for those not yet living at the occupations to join us as their personal situation changes or revulsion at the bold disregard shown by the corporate state is so strong they feel they must take action.

As has been the case in past years the media will start to announce that holiday sales just weren't as good as first predicted in mid January. The re-writing of Martin Luther King Jr's legacy will be in full swing as usual, this year with special effort to ignore the fact that he would have been one of the first to sleep at Occupy Wall Street.

If there is a link it will be an attempt by the Democratic Party to strengthen the connection between King and Obama with their special effort to ignore the impact of Wall Street on the policies adopted or not adopted by the president over the past four years. It is time to dust off our copies of King's last book "Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?" and remind America that King would most likely be attending our General Assemblies and encouraging us to Re- Occupy Public Space after each eviction.

What would be a more fitting way to celebrate the legacy of one of America's most dedicated nonviolent advocates for the 99% then to Re-Occupy Public Space during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday?

The hundreds of Occupations that have not been evicted or have returned can remind our communities that news of our demise was premature. For the other occupations that have been driven from public space we could return with large card board paintings of our tents and spend the holiday demonstrating the absurdity of clearing public space of our message at a time when half our people are struggling to survive according to the U.S. Census. America is not alone as we can see. The Euro zone is collapsing as resistance to bank bailouts continues. The Chinese and Indian economies are teetering and resistance is growing there as well. People all over the world are resisting the austerity measures proposed by the One Percent. Economic leaders announce daily that the global economy is on the brink of disaster. If we don't shop our way out of this crisis 2012 will be the big end we have been promised. Or more likely the new beginning we know is necessary. What is more important? Clean sidewalks and undisturbed lawns or the future of our country and the world?

Our work is not finished. We have made it clear that we must take money out of politics and replace it with democracy. We are the lobby of the 99% seeking a new economic and political system even as the current crisis continues to force our friends and family into poverty.

January's economic news and reality will dramatize the continued need for our occupations. Lets continue to talk and introduce some of these ideas at the next General Assembly.

A. Organize a campaign of Re-Occupation during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday arriving first with paintings and other "images" of tents to challenge the logic of restrictions against tents in addition to all other types of culture jamming actions.

B. Continue the global dialog seeking a transition from the current failed political and economic system to a post capitalist "real" democratic future.

C. Strengthen inter occupation communication of ideas, solutions and calls for global days of action.

D. Consider adopting some simple guidelines such as a dedication to nonviolence, that the food is free for everyone without restriction, that decisions will be make by consensus at the General Assembly and that drugs and alcohol are not to be consumed at the occupation.

E. Encourage local officials to end their efforts to drive the occupations and tents off of public space with petitions, meetings, participation in public hearings and all other nonviolent actions. Remind city officials that the UN and other international organizations support our right to continue these very important occupations.

It is time for Obama Administration and city officials to stop their efforts to evict our occupations. Clean pavement and healthy lawns are not even close in importance as seeking solutions to the global crisis and as we can see our presence occupying public space has been the catalyst for this discussion. We know this from first hand experience. Decades of marches, rallies, phone calls, letters, law suits and public comment at hearings just didn't push the debate into public conscience. The occupations did and will if we don't let ourselves be pushed out of sight and out of mind. And I am sure your local Food Not Bombs group will be happy to do what they can to support the kitchens so don't worry about needing to eat. We aren't going any where.

Thanks for your consideration.
Keith McHenry

A modest proposal from Food Not Bombs co-founder Keith McHenry after speaking with other activists about our transition and the corporate media's attempt to clam our movement is history. Not an official idea from a GA but hopefully one that will be discussed at your GA. I have been a participant in GA's, kitchens and resident of at least 15 occupations so far with more to come.


Why Tents (Still) Matter for the Occupy Movement by Jen Schradie

Occupy Wall Street: The Most Important Thing in the World Now by Naomi Klien

Top GOP Strategist Admits He’s ‘Scared’ Of Occupy Wall Street Because It’s ‘Having An Impact’ by Zaid Jilani

U.N. Envoy: U.S. Isn't Protecting Occupy Protesters' Rights