This Is So Not Over
By Lewis Marshall, published November, 2011
“This is so not over.”
That’s a quote from an Occupy Wall Street sign, two days after their eviction from Liberty Plaza on November 15. I assume that in part, the sign was literal. Occupy Wall Street was back at the park the next day. But the phrase is also a great description of the Occupy movement as a whole.
I went to Occupy Stanford’s rally in support of Occupy Cal before the big game (“Don’t Beat Cal” ). While I was there, I heard Robert Slaughter speak about being arrested at Occupy Cal . As much as I sympathize with the trials and hardship that the NYC Occupy Wall Street protestors have been through, it’s another thing to hear another college student from the Bay Area speak about his personal experience with racial profiling and police brutality. I’m going to remember that for a long time.
I think everyone my age is going to remember Occupy throughout their lives. I believe it will color our politics for a decade. And I hope that this is a radicalizing movement for our generation. Personally, Occupy has made me recognize some hidden facts about our society.
1. No one who seeks justice is alone.
This seems like a simple thing, but it surprised me in a way. Between 2000 and 2008, I assumed that the policies of the Bush administration reflected the will of the American people. I made that assumption because we elected conservative politicians. I assumed that as I was horrified by more and more advantage being taken by the richest in our society, I was in the minority. The rebirth of the global justice movement has made it clear that there are millions of people who want a more equitable economic system.
2. Civil rights atrophy if they aren’t used.
I think the first time I noticed an erosion of our civil liberties was in 2004, during the “debate” over the use of waterboarding to torture US detainees. This is an obvious breach of the spirit (and letter) of the Geneva conventions, as well as the spirit of 8th Amendment that bans the use of cruel and unusual punishment.
Still, I’m surprised at the erosion of the freedoms enumerated in the Bill of Rights that we’ve seen during the Occupy movement. We’ve had violence against peaceful protesters, arrests of journalists, and an effective end to the right to free assembly.
Our Bill of Rights is no longer sacrosanct. And that sucks. But it’s also motivating. I want to see the return to the America promised in the Constitution.
3. They can hurt you, but they can’t make you leave.
It’s empowering to see the impotent flailing of the NYPD as the Bloomberg administration tries to crush the Occupy movement. They tried evicting OWS. They tried taking their tents and sleeping bags. The media has tried to discredit OWS, and it’s still one of the most popular movements in the country. The powerful have done their best to shut down the occupation. But no one can end the Occupy movement but the people.
I feel like I’ve learned a lot about America in the two months since Occupy began. I feel prepared for a tumultuous decade ahead. Get ready, because this is definitely not over.
(The author is affiliated with Occupy Stanford)
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