“So what exactly is Occupy Wall Street?”
I have had countless friends and family members ask me that question recently. Read this and you will see what the movement is and why every single one of you should be a part of this revolution.
Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is a metaphor. The protesters in New York are not occupying Wall Street in a literal sense. They are bringing attention to the social, political, and economic injustices that are wreaking havoc on the people of the United States today.
1% of individuals in the United States control a majority of the population’s wealth. The rest of us, the 99%, are stuck dealing with the repercussions of the outrageous offenses that the 1% has committed against the US populous.
If there is one thing I would like every person reading this to understand it is this:
You are part of the 99%.
Not a single person I know is part of the 1%.
You can hate it. You can hate me for saying it. You can shake your head, roll your eyes, scream, and call me a no-good, anti-American communist hippie traitor, but no matter how much you deny it, you are the 99%.
People from every background are participating in this movement. Black, white, brown, and yellow. Children, teens, adults, the elderly. The sick, the poor, the homeless, and the disenfranchised. Teachers, laborers, lawyers, veterans, nurses, doctors, fast food workers, and the unemployed. Democrats, Republicans, Tea Partiers, Libertarians, Socialists, and Anarchists.
As of today, there are 1,039 occupied cities in 87 countries. That blows my mind. But what I really cannot fathom is how many people do not know what this movement represents, or that it even exists.
I have been an active member of the Occupy San Diego (OSD) movement since the first day of the occupation and I feel I have a good grasp of the general reasons pertaining to why we are occupying.
First, read the grievances that were accepted by the New York City General Assembly in a document called the “Declaration of the Occupation of New York City”:
Declaration of the Occupation of New York City
- They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
- They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
- They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
- They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.
- They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
- They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
- They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
- They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
- They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
- They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
- They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.
- They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
- They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
- They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.
- They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
- They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.
- They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
- They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
- They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
- They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.
- They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
- They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.
*This list is not all-inclusive and is considered a living document.
Recommended: Read the whole document. It is inspiring.
Which of those grievances pertains to you? If you can say that not one single item on that list makes your blood boil, you would be lying. I can count at least a dozen items that affect me directly.
This is why we are mad. This is why you should be mad. We are being lied to by politicians, corporations, the media, and our government.
Multiple times I have personally witnessed how the media controls and manipulates the news.
Last week at the Civic Center there was a ton of great stuff going on during the protest. There were dozens of news-worthy events they could have covered, but instead they chose to air a clip of a homeless man’s dog using the American flag as a chew toy. They used that clip to slander our movement.
What the news did not tell you is that we do not turn anyone away from OSD. We accept everyone, no matter what views they hold, no matter who they are. Every person has a voice. The man that this dog belonged to is homeless and mentally ill. San Diego has a huge population of homeless veterans, more than 9,000. The news also did not tell you that since we do not turn anyone away, we feed more homeless people in one day than St. Vincent’s can feed in a week. That is how the news is manipulated.
Minutes before every raid of OSD, all of the major news outlets leave. Every single time. And when the police raid us, the first people they arrest is the media team so there is less of a chance that the raid will be filmed.
The news portrays us as anti-capitalists. They say we are a bunch of bums who only want hand-outs. I am telling you that is a complete lie.
We do not want hand-outs.
What we want is the opportunity to work and become financially stable.
What we want is a better life.
For you people reading this thinking “Just get a job”, think about this: For every open employment position in the United States, there are four unemployed American citizens. There goes that argument.
I am 29 years old. I have worked hard my whole life, starting my first job peeling onions for a burger stand when I was 10, picking up a second job at 11 at a marina and mini-golf course, and then a third (simultaneous) job at 16 working at a fast food restaurant. I took college IT courses for two years when I was in high school. I joined the United States Navy at 20 and served honorably for four years. I tended bar and flipped burgers for four years. I worked at a hotel for over a year. I have worked in the manufacturing industry. I volunteered as a computer and art teacher for six months for K-8 students. I received my degree in computer network security at 28. I do volunteer work. I have a solid employment history with great references, and I still cannot find a job.
That is why I am occupying. That is why hundreds of thousands of people across the globe are fighting the corrupt powers that have taken control and demolished everything the United States represents.
The media would have you believe our numbers are weak, and that this movement is not going anywhere.
This is the new Civil Rights Movement. We are here to stay, that I can say with certainty.
The media is scared. You have to understand that corporations control the government. They pull the strings. Those same corporations also own the mainstream media. They control what you see. The best source of news comes from Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. To find the most unbiased coverage of US news, read foreign newspapers and websites. That is the honest truth.
The media is covering up police brutality. I myself have witnessed police brutality multiple times at OSD. I have been a victim of aggressive and intimidating tactics by the SDPD. I have watched as the police have stripped us of our constitutional rights to assembly and free speech. I have had friends who were arrested for peacefully protesting, fined thousands and thousands of dollars for laughable offenses, stripped of their dignity, and then beaten while in custody.
One girl was kept in a squad car for more than four hours, begging the officers to let her use the bathroom. They laughed and ignored her, and she had no other option than to let nature take its course in the backseat of the squad car. I watched the police beat an older veteran, drag him into a police van, and then keep him locked in the van for more than six hours until they took him to the station.
After being arrested and brought to the police station, another girl was slammed into the wall by a San Diego County Sheriff who proceeded to choke her. This vicious attack came out of nowhere. She was unable to defend herself because she was already chained. There were at least five other witnesses to this incident, with one of the witnesses being a police officer. She is currently suing the city of San Diego. (As are many others, for multiple reasons.)
Another protester, Ouch the Clown, was handcuffed so tight and for so long that he lost all feeling in all ten of his fingers.
Just the other night we had more than 200 police in riot gear raid OSD. We practice complete nonviolence. We have never responded with any sort of violence against the police, yet they continue to treat us like terrorists. And after that raid, I watched the SDPD start washing the floor of the Civic Center with water. Luckily, a group of protesters surrounded the evidence of police brutality and stood firm against letting the SDPD wash away all the blood from the concrete. SDPD was forced to bring in both internal and external crime scene investigators. I stood for hours watching the CSI team take blood samples from the concrete, holding this sign:
I understand the police have a job to do. They are given orders and they must follow them. But they have to understand there is a line between following orders and committing brutality against the very people they have sworn to protect.
These are only a couple of the incidents of police brutality that have occurred in San Diego. There are many more I have not listed. This is happening all over the United States. Boston. Oakland. Denver. New York. The media frames us as anarchists, hell-bent on violence against the police, but we are committed to nonviolence.
Watch the 2 minute YouTube video below:
Proof that the Oakland police had infiltrated the Occupy Oakland movement and had the officers act as provocateurs. They are attempting to infiltrate every movement like this. The agents will mingle with the crowd and plant seeds in the minds of the people that violence is the way to solve the problem. The police try to get us to actually attack them, so they can denounce the movement as violent and use all means necessary to quell the revolution. We will not fall for that, and every single occupation is committed to 100% nonviolence. But you will not see that on the mainstream news.
In San Diego, the police are doing everything in their power to keep us from growing. They are ticketing us for spitting, smoking, jaywalking, honking our horns. They have confiscated our food and medical supplies. They took books, tents, tables, and electronics. As of yesterday, it is considered illegal to sleep in the Civic Center. And I do not mean sleep like sleeping-in-tents sleep. I literally mean sleep. If we sit down and fall asleep, they will arrest us. If we sit on the ground, we cannot sit on a chair, a blanket, a pillow, or a tarp. We cannot even sit on a piece of cardboard. In fact, if any of our items touch the ground in any way, the items are subject to confiscation and the individual is subject to fines and arrest. You did not see that on the mainstream news, either.
We used to have 3 exits to the Civic Center, and we were told that we were a fire hazard and it was illegal. Today, the police barricaded all 3 exits. We are still allowed in through one exit, but you cannot fit more than one or two people through at once. Now that is a fire hazard. That is strategically done to intimidate us. But we are still there.
The city council refuses to acknowledge any of our proposals. They even closed a free-speech session 45 minutes early so that we could not speak.
I could write for days about the Occupy Movement, but I think what I’ve written is enough to get my point across.
If you have read this far, I would first like to thank you.
If this is the first you are hearing about the Occupy Movement, I hope you realize that we are not only fighting for our rights, but for yours as well.
If anything I have said strikes true, please get involved. Americans have been too quiet for too long.
Instead of sitting at home watching the Jersey Shore or American Idol, open the damned newspaper. Read a book. Get online and look at the news. Stop ignoring current events because you have ‘better’ things to do. There is no greater cause than fighting for your rights. If you have not already been affected in some way by our current state of affairs, consider yourself lucky. But get ready, because it will not be very long before it is your turn.
Wake the hell up because our future truly is in jeopardy.
People have asked how committed I am to this movement.
As in every revolution, death is, unfortunately, inevitable. Just think back to the Civil Rights Movement. The Occupy Movement and the Civil Rights Movement are one and the same, just in a different context.
Though I hope to never experience such a situation, I am willing to give my life for this cause.
I have sworn an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I will hold true to that oath until my death.
That is how important this movement is.
Please get involved.