xiane: ([yarn goddess])

Guest post by Kali Cichon of Occupy Charlottesville.

On October 15th, a group of people met in Lee Park with the intention of occupying a public area in protest of corporate greed and corrupt government. We quickly realized that many who had also been failed by our current social and political systems had beat us there, and it was decided by consensus that as part of the 99%, the homeless should be welcomed in solidarity. A little over a month later the occupation is no longer just strangers and protesters sharing public space, we have become neighbors. I am here today to defend not only my rights to free speech, but also my neighborhood.

Many people have advised me that I should not be so attached to having a physical location for the movement, and warned me that I’m losing sight of the important issues by focusing on the people who now call Lee Park home. Instead they want us to pursue loftier political goals. I would like to know what political issue they think is more important than caring for the people we love and live with. Imagine a world where everyone made choices with the good of their greater community in mind. How many of the harmful political policies that currently threaten an American citizens chances for a better life would exist in the first place? How many criminals, white collar or otherwise, would walk our streets?

It is the sense of belonging, mutual respect, and accountability to a group that has caused many in our camp to find reasons to start regulating their substance abuse, moderate violent or disruptive behavior, or even just consider acting more altruistically and diplomatically than they have in the past. I have been inspired to be a better human and a better citizen just by existing as part of this community, and I know many others who feel they also have grown and learned from their experiences. In addition, many of the people now living in Lee Park have no other place to call home, and the shelters in the area, while offered with kind intentions, are too few and too restrictive for everyone to make use of them. Their inherently temporary and strictly regulated nature also actively discourages any permanent supportive communities from forming. In fact, every social service currently available seems to exist with the goal of re-integrating people into the very system that failed them to begin with or covering up the failure to do so with short term solutions. There must be other options besides conformity or failure. I feel that the open autonomous community that has begun to form in Lee Park may offer hope for finding alternatives to a broken system. Members of City Council, if you want us out of Lee Park I must insist that an alternative safe space be provided both for the purposes of peaceful protest and shelter for those who need it. The humanitarian issues made more visible by this occupation will not disappear if they are ignored. We must either address them now, or admit that we are too cowardly to face the ills our own society has created. I am the 99%, and I stand with my friends and neighbors in Lee Park.

[image from cavalierdaily.com]

Note from Xiane: Lee Park is located in the heart of Downtown Charlottesville, VA. Despite the image that the city has of being well-off and fairly liberal, there has always been a large population of homeless folks, per capita. And the provisions made for those homeless has not been enough despite the efforts of organizations like PACEM. Occupy’s open agenda is the perfect place for these sorts of issues – often ignored or swept under the rug – to be addressed.

Mirrored from xiane dot org.

xiane: ([yarn goddess])

Change comes from within.
Change comes at a price.
Change comes when you least expect it.
You can’t fight change. Change is.

Jealous cowards try to control
Rise above
We’re gonna rise above
They distort what we say
Rise above
We’re gonna rise above
Try and stop what we do
Rise above
When they can’t do it themselves

We are tired of your abuse
Try to stop us it’s no use
– Rise Above, Black Flag

I have some acquaintances who seem hell-bent on discrediting Occupy.
Not always because they disagree with the message, although there are some who feel that way.
But because of how the message is being put forth. They like to poke at the movement by finding every negative bit of press and posting it on Facebook – sometimes even to my own wall. They only ever look at the criticisms and no matter how I try to explore both sides of the discussion – and I *do* post about the good and bad issues of Occupy – they only want to push the agenda that Occupy is Wrong. And even more telling – these are always people who have not gone to visit any Occupy site. It’s all hearsay and what they believe without any personal substantiation.

I welcome discussions of what Occupy is doing, with your opinions attached. But ONLY if you are achieving these opinions via real, concrete observation and interaction. Otherwise, you’re just being an asshole who fears change and should fuck off.

In related news, here’s a great link from someone with experience who suggests how to deal with Assholes within the Occupation – Occupy’s Asshole Problem: Flashbacks From An Old Hippie

And another good link from the same person – What To Do When The Media Says A Protester Attacked A Cop

1) Challenge the assumption that the violent protester(s) are actually Occupy Wall Street protesters.

The media move fast, they don’t believe it is their job to know who started the violence, just that it started. If someone looks like an Occupy Wall Street protester, they are an OWS protester, even if they are an editor from the Right Wing publication American Spectator who is at the protest specifically to discredit the movement.

2) Scour all the footage and photos you can find of the instigators of the violence at the protest.

3) Crowd-source the images and ask for help identifying them.

4) Write a post about it on a blog with info on the person(s) and their background.

5) Contact the media and point out who that protest was started by.

Mirrored from xiane dot org.

xiane: ([yarn goddess])

One of the biggest ways to divide a people is to create opposing sides. These sides are generally arbitrary – we pretend that there is a solid division, but as in most things in life, there is seepage. Solid lines are actually fluid. And ideologies are the poster children of this: how many people are truly seated in one philosophy, forsaking all aspects of all others?

Creating these divisions doesn’t just break us into opposing teams. It also creates the power to insult and deride the neighbors and family and friends who fall on the other side of the arbitrary lines. It is DIVISIVE. It does not create solutions, it only serves to break us apart. And when we are divided, we are weak and easy to control.

It is not about Left and Right.
It is not about Conservative and Liberal.
It is not about Politically Correct and Socially Incorrect.*
It is not about Yes and No or Black and White or even really Rich and Poor, not at the root of it all.

It is about Power and Powerlessness.

The point of calling us the 99% isn’t just about the financial aspects – it happens that the Super-rich are the ones in power BECAUSE they have money, but the money itself isn’t the problem. That’s why when people say that Occupy is Anti-Capitalism, that’s a red herring. It’s how Capitalism has been handled, how the people with the most money have ALSO become the people with the most power. That’s why, no matter if you like the term or not, unless you are seriously independently wealthy, you ARE part of the 99%.

We are too quick to let the divisive terms come between us. We don’t have to agree on all the issues. That’s a battle for later. What’s important NOW is giving the power back to the Community, and taking it away from this small percentage of people who have been allowed to run everything, to their benefit alone.

Change is scary. It’s never easy. But if we allow these WORDS to divide us, we will never improve our state. We cannot allow ourselves to be distracted by partisan terms.

*I disagree the claim that the opposite of “politically correct” is “politically incorrect.” Just think about it. Both terms are used derisively. To convey a true opposite, the opposing term should lack that pejorative edge.

Mirrored from xiane dot org.

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