From my comfortable seat on the couch, I’ve been watching Occupy Wall Street and the related solidarity group, Occupy Seattle, for some time now. I’ve felt the urge to travel downtown and support or join the movement. Saturday, they planned a march for noon, so I finally got off the couch to see what was going on.
Occupy Seattle held their first General Assembly on September 30th. However, hints of beginning an occupation began about a week prior on the Occupy Seattle facebook page. Occupy Wall Street had started spreading to other cities after the initial occupation on September 17th via the occupytogether.org website. According to them, the movement has now grown to over 100 cities across the world, with hundreds of others reported to be in the planning stages. Seattle is the largest occupation in Washington, naturally, but Olympia, Tacoma, Bellingham and other Western Washington communities have protests planned or happening as well.
Most people who hear of the movement want to know what the demands of the protesters are. Yet, all the “occupy” groups shy away from posting official lists of demands. This is likely because the demands are varied and every member is passionate about their own personal demands. It’s also because that list is long. There is a lot to be angry about.
Demands and protest signs center around corporate reform, if you are looking for a trend. Protesters call for ending corporate personhood, reforming tax law, ending privatization, and various other economic and social reforms.
However, the movement is about more than demands, which runs counter to expectations of the mass media. This movement is about reforming how Americans participate in politics. For the few hours I could attend on Saturday, I saw people standing in small groups discussing a wide array of topics. Those not involved in discussions were listening to the speakers at the concurrent Indigenous People’s Day rally. The march was postponed until 5 to accommodate the rally.
This movement is about becoming involved in politics. The best way to find out more is to go down to Westlake and talk to anyone milling around. Essentially, Westlake park is Seattle’s mix tape of progressive politics and if you listen, you’ll find something that suits you.
Most importantly, it’s time we all get off our couches and shake off the political apathy that has crippled us and let them try to ruin everything. I don’t care if you want to further deregulate the banking industry or think that the rich should be richer, we should all be having this conversation now. We’ve let representatives “represent” us for too long without our voice being heard. 2011 will hopefully be marked as the year that trend changed and American politics finally began to live up to the ideal of “by the people, for the people.”
For more photos, you can visit my flickr stream. I hope to head down for the student walk out tomorrow and do some interviews for a possible SunBreak piece, but I’m lazy, so it probably won’t happen. I’m just getting back into writing, so this rambling blog post will have to do for now.
I welcome discussion.