The occupy movement, 2 things

Posted on October 11, 2011

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first I think it’s important to highlight what’s going on to our brothers and sisters in boston: Boston Police Brutally Assault Occupy Boston | Occupy Boston:

Following the raid, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis made no mention of veterans, organized labor, students, or families, nor did he issue an apology for his department’s aggressive tactics. Since the beginning of its occupation, Occupy Boston has worked tirelessly and successfully to maintain a positive working relationship with city officials. Today’s reprehensible attack by the Boston Police Department against a movement that enjoys the broad support of the American people represents a sad and disturbing shift away from dialogue and towards violent repression.

Despite the city’s attempt to silence us, Occupy Boston remains, and bears no ill-will towards the men and women of the Boston Police Department who were simply following orders. We hope that someday the peaceful pursuit of economic justice will not provoke the beating of elderly veterans and the arrest of medics and legal observers. We encourage everyone who continues to feel as strongly as we do about limiting the influence of Wall Street on our democracy to join us tomorrow, and in the future, down in Dewey Square.

I appreciate Boston’s Response.  Honolulu’s General Assembly has discussed police relations a few times.  There’s a line that needs to be walked between understanding cops as part of the 99% while simultaneously understanding a Cop in uniform is serving a very specific function and during times of social unrest are there to protect the status quo.  I’ve read accounts of police having tears streaming down their faces as they arrest Occupiers, and of course we’re hearing of accounts similar to the one described above.  Police, like the rest of us, fall in various places along a spectrum of critical consciousness and oppressive behaviors.  It’s important not to purposefully agitate or be disrespectful to them, while understanding when push comes to shove they are not on our side while in uniform.

The second thing I need to get off my chest is about Occupy Honolulu specifically around the issue of the name.  (Also, Fuck you KHON.  Did you write such a negatively slanted story because you’re incapable of understanding complex issues or because we asked you to stop filming the general assembly meeting and sticking your microphones in our faces while we’re trying to discuss with each other?  Probably because it’s the media’s job to make sure the status quo isn’t disrupted.  honestly, i’d be surprised if they got it right) I wrote this really great summation of how i perceived things to be going and it got deleted! So frustrating.  So i’m going to do this quickly, probably somewhat jumbled, while I hope it still captures the sentiment i’m attempting to convey.  Right now all of the focus (in the media and on our fb page) is on the name issue.  Yes, the General Assembly has spent a significant amount of time discussing the issue.  Yes, some members of the group were frustrated, not everyone thought the issue needed so much time and attention, people got pissed, but nobody stopped the process from happening.  I believe if we had stopped the process from happening, not only would we be operating outside of consensus (which means our values of collaboration and mutual respect and a disbelief in “she who yells loudest wins” would be down the tube) and some of our brothers and sisters would be marginalized and feel silenced.  I believe a big part of this Occupation phenomenon is the process.  We don’t know what it’s like to engage with each other like this.  Last night people learned from one another, gave each other space to be heard, and ultimately the issue was worked through.  The fact that today everyone is still talking about the name issue being an issue feels counterproductive, since it was worked out last night.  However, I don’t think working through it was counterproductive, while I understand others do.  Not everyone knows what it feels like to be silenced and marginalized and many people don’t know what it’s like to have to listen to the perspectives of those we normally dont take seriously, and I’m glad that Occupy Honolulu (yeah that’s still the name, with a resolution of solidarity with indigenous peoples to come) isn’t just about going out into the streets and yelling and making noise.  The united states history is chalk full of examples wherein the concerns of a perceived minority are ignored in order to push through the “real issue”.. and where has that gotten us?

***UPDATE*** I’d like to include a comment that was left on the KHON story:

I was at the Occupy Honolulu GA meeting last night, and I must say that I am extremely disappointed in the poor quality of this news coverage. It is not “divisiveness” to fully discuss a concept as serious as the word “occupy”, in a land that IS illegally occupied. As a longtime Kanaka Maoli activist, I applaud the courageous young people who stuck out a long meeting to be sure that what they were doing was done in a pono manner, with full respect to the native people of this land and all others under occupation by forces of violence and corporate greed. Imua!!!

To all the nay-sayers, haters, people saying we will implode because “we cant choose a name” are.. well, wrong.  Again, this issue is being resolved. Stop thinking of things so black and white! Discussing things and coming to consensus is different than being fractured.  If anything we will move forward stronger than ever because these issues were heard and people feel respected and more unified.  When you are truly working in a leaderless fashion things take time.  If people are antsy (people who don’t participate in the GA) because we don’t have a unified message or are taking too long with this or that aspect, oh fucking well. People who have been at the GA meetings and were incredibly frustrated did a big thing by swallowing their frustrations, removing blocks to proposals/stepping outside of consensus, many of them removing themselves from the discussion entirely or going home early, but not stopping the process from happening, deserve some love as well.

This Occupy movement is revolutionary in the approach it takes to organizing, the way people relate to one another, not just it’s message.  The journey is the destination.  If we are about standing up against the 1% then we should understand how that 1% was created through systemic oppression of a number of peoples and how marginalized groups are still being silenced, even in social justice movements; to think the issues are separate shows a lack of understanding of systemic oppression but also the history of protests/movements.  Colonization,the ridiculous corruption of our government, financial industries worldwide and our current state of militarization are all interlocked.  If you cannot see that then i’m sorry to say i feel you are incredibly short sighted.  People say we need to be “educated” about the issues we’re standing up for (as if specific issues and demands have been issued…), and I think that is what we have been doing.

Saturday is a Global Day of Action.  If we are truly for long-term justice, for the 99%, we MUST keep this in mind:

also, action is planned for this Saturday October 15.  Meet at Magic Island at 11am.