The Occupy Movement Grew Out of People’s Frustrations

Written on:February 7, 2012
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The following article was written by Robert Palmer who is a free spirit peace activist father seeking to revive his social life, explore, have fun, and inspire for positive social and personal growth. Robert was a counter culture peace activist in the sixties, then from 1969-2008 an airline employee working as printer, ramp agent, and then in an accounting capacity. During this time Robert also worked for divorce reform with R-Kids in Minnesota and more recently he has reprised his role as a social justice and peace activist.  Robert supports Code Pink, Amnesty International, American Cvil Liberties Union, Greenpeace, Rainforest Action, Woman Against Military Madness, Veterans for Peace, Twin Cities Peace Bannerers, Anti Propaganda Carolers, and Occupy.

The Occupy Movement grew out of people’s frustrations of seeing the government time and again respond to the interests of the corporations, and the military industrial complex rather than the needs of the people.  While corporations get tax breaks for sending jobs overseas more and more Americans face unemployment. With no new job to be found they cannot pay their bills or mortgage and they lose their home and the equity in it and go bankrupt.  Also without jobs people have no medical insurance, and when a medical catastrophe comes they are often stranded without adequate or timely care.  While big banks were bailed out the banks have accelerated foreclosures putting more people out of their homes. At the same time they have given excessive bonuses to their executives.  Adjustable mortgages could have all been changed to 6% 30 year standard mortgages and this alone would have helped many people.  Many students have accumulated thousands of dollars in student loans and some have as much as one hundred and fifty thousand owed and yet when they seek employment they cannot find a job. The laws now exclude student loans from bankruptcy forgivance so these students are in a bind.  Many have joined the Occupy Movement to help create a healthier model for society.  It is fair to say most would be pleased to see the government be more responsive to their needs. They decided to protest against Wall Street and the large banks as Occupiers and they hit a nerve capturing the American imagination. The politicians first thought the cold winter would kill the movement and when the Occupiers proved they could withstand the mild global warming winter the politicians attempted to use police repression with tear gas, batons, pepper spray, evictions, destruction of Occupiers property, and arrests with unusually high bail requirements; all in an effort to kill the movement. In New York thousands of library books were thrown in a garbage truck for “transport” and while some books were recovered many were too damaged to save.

While the mainstream media often ignores the Occupy Movement citizen journalists using new electronic media have been able to show the American people the unjustified aggressive repression coming from the police and those like the mayors and the federal executive branches.  A national police association coordinated a conference call consultation with a group of mayors.  Homeland Security and fusion centers may have been used also as they are an integral part of having a police state.

Many people who have been social activists for a long time working for peace, social justice, minority rights, animal rights, and the environment have joined the Occupy Movement and seek to advance their views within it.  Not everyone sees everything the same, however in a Democratic society humans are expected to have differences and to discuss them and find common aspects of their worldview and find agreement on future actions.

The consensus process used by Quakers and anarchists is used extensively in Occupy General Assemblies or GA’s.  If there is a disagreement then discussion continues or is tabled to find revisions to a proposal to gain consensus.  This is a much slower process than having an up or down vote however in the end there is more unity to the final result.  The human microphone, wherein those hearing a group of words followed by a pause, then repeat them loudly for more distant participants to hear them, is used as are hand signals such as the twinkle fingers in the up position to visually show support and twinkle fingers in the down position to show disapproval.  Many other hand signals are used.  I am still learning them.   I should mention the block showing ones arms crossed that signifies extreme disagreement and the threat to leave if the proposal under consideration is approved.

Occupiers want to see a more caring society that is responsive to individual needs and concerns.  Most want the wars and empires ended and want to see ecological sustainability given priority over environmentally harmful ways.  We want to see native rights honored and concern for nature and Mother Earth given priority.  We are against the Keystone XL Pipeline as is Greenpeace and 350.org.  On October 8th, 2011 I participated in a protest against this proposed expansion of tar sands extraction in Canada.

We want suppression of peace activists ended.  Last year several of my Minnesota peace activist friends had their homes invaded and their computers seized by the FBI and they have been called to testify in a Grand Jury.  All have refused to testify so far and the case is in limbo.   We want to see whistle blowers protected and not prosecuted.  We support Bradley Manning who is accused of leaking government secrets.  If he is indeed the person who released “Collateral Murder” that shows United States military in a helicopter killing innocent civilians on an Iraqi street then he was exposing a crime and his actions were honorable.

Just as Daniel Ellsberg helped stop the Vietnam War with his release of the Pentagon papers Bradley Manning has helped slow or stop the aggressive and thus illegal war on Iraq. To uncover and reveal crimes is not a crime.  Similarly most Occupy people support WikiLeaks and Julian Assange as he also is acting to uncover wrongdoing and make the government more transparent.  Julian is really a media person who accepts government secrets of wrong doing anonymously to provide a pathway for whistle blowers to release information. He should be afforded the protections of any other media such as the New York Times.

The American people have to be well informed if they are to make intelligent decisions and even Obama spoke in favor of transparency in his campaign, however while he has been in office his Justice Department has prosecuted more whistle blowers than all other administrations combined.   We  along with the ACLU are against the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which in this year’s version includes an expansion of the War on Terror from the Middle East area to include the whole planet, including the internal territory of the United States.  It overturns the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act that has been understood to limit use of United States military within the borders of the country.  Effective March 3, 2012 the military will be authorized to arrest and hold any American for life without recourse to the Courts on suspicion of material aid to any State Department designated “terrorist organization” or associated group.   When this law is combined with the recent Supreme Court case Holder vs Humanitarian Law Project,  any American who even provides non violent conflict resolution information to a State Department designated terrorist organization can be prosecuted as a terrorist.  This law violates the constitutionally guaranteed right of due process and the right of freedom of speech and it denies a person habeas corpus. Habeas corpus is a foundation element of our legal system and is writ of ancient law and provides a right to demand that the government produce the living body in Court and argue why it is reasonable to imprison the person.  “It is a writ of ancient origin, and is now regarded as the greatest and most important remedy known to the law.”

While I was at Freedom Plaza Michael Moore came through and I got to chat with him and listen as he answered questions of some videographers. He said a survey shows seventy per cent of the American people now support Occupy and this is only after a period of months. He pointed out that other social movements have taken years to gain this level of support. He said we have won it is just a matter of how it unfolds now.

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