The article below was written to announce the Occupation of Washington, DC. It was published in April of 2011 six months before the occupy encampments began. Along with this article we published a video urging people to join us in Washington, DC and stay until we deemed it was time to leave. We were inspired by occupations of public space in the Middle East, Europe and the rebellion in Madison, Wisconsin.
At the time we made the annoucnement, and then worked full time for months with scores of people to plan the occupation of Freedom Plaza, we had no idea that the Occupy Movement, kicked off by Occupy Wall Street on September 17th would occur (the idea of OWS was announced in July 2011) and that by the time our occupation began there would be hundreds of occupy encampments all over the country. Indeed, we had coordinators in 35 states and as Occupy exploded many decided to create encampments in their own communities.
The photo above is of the first day of Occupy Washington, DC at Freedom Plaza, October 6, 2011 — the anniversary of the war in Afghanistan and the beginning of a new austerity-based federal budget. In the end, the occupation of public space was an awakening for people: now they realized they were not alone in the anger at corrupt and non-responsive government, as well as at the unfair economy with its vast inequality and lack of ability to meet the necessities of the people and planet.
Now is the time to join together and unite our struggles in sustained acts of nonviolent resistance
By Kevin Zeese, Margaret Flowers, Tarak Kauff, and Elaine Brower
There comes a time when efforts to avoid the truth begin to fail, when one can no longer go about daily life and pretend that all is okay. If you are like most of us, you are experiencing this.
There comes a time when one can no longer shut out the atrocities of U.S. foreign and military policy: trade agreements that destroy farming; mass unemployment; especially among communities of color; illegal detention and torture; increasing drone attacks resulting in mass civilian deaths; and once again a President who lies the United States into another war for oil and bankers.
A time comes when one can no longer close one’s eyes to the atrocities of a U.S. domestic policy that steals from the people to add to the already hideously bursting pockets of the wealthy, that kicks people out of their homes, denies needed medical treatment and drives families into bankruptcy so that CEOs can dine on gold-lined plates in their personal jets as they travel from gated mansions to leather seats in penthouse offices.
A time comes when one cannot help but realize that the path is unsustainable and one must make a choice. History is knocking, and each of us must choose how we will answer. What do you want to say you did when history was at your door?
History is not a fairy tale you read to your children at night. It is not something someone else did in another place. History is right here and right now, in front of you. It happens before you realize what is going on. There are events that give hints, but nobody knows when the dam will burst and the flood that gushes forth will wipe clean what has gone before and create a new reality.
When the tipping point is reached, it seems at once both unexpected and completely obvious. We are nearing that tipping point in the United States. We have witnessed the Arab Spring and the blossoming of the European Summer. We ask ourselves if now we will experience the American Autumn.
People in America see that corporate power controls the political process and the media. The Forces of Greed steal our treasure and squander it on militarism and needless wars for empire. Forces of Greed render our White House, Congress and Supreme Court dysfunctional so that the denizens of these bodies regurgitate what their corporate paymasters feed them.
Our country faces crises on every front: the economy, education, jobs, the environment, health care, housing, the wealth divide, an empire stretched too thin and ready to shred. None of these crises has to exist. Just and sustainable solutions are available and known. What stands in the way of all these solutions is concentrated corporate power.
Corporatism is behind the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Pakistan in which thousands, including our own soldiers, but mostly innocent civilians—men, women and children—are maimed and killed.
Corporatism ignores majority support for improved Medicare for all and instead hands billions to the medical-industrial complex while tens of thousands suffer and die from preventable causes each year.
Corporatism prevents effective regulation of the finance industry, stands in the way of a more sustainable energy economy, resists real job creation and is at the root of the foreclosure crisis, while more families find themselves on the street with nothing.
Corporatism blocks effective action to decrease the known causes of climate chaos while the Arctic Cap melts and tornadoes rampage; some face record droughts while others face high-level flooding.
Corporatism exploits human beings and the planet for profit.
Somehow we need to realize that the situation has gone beyond critical and there is no alternative but to act and resist with resolve. Every day the runaway corporate machine moves closer to the precipice; every day, thousands more children needlessly starve or die from wars or disease. Every day, the earth itself is being raped, and all this death and destruction, for what? Bloody offerings at the altar of the god of profit! It has to stop and people of conscience and courage are the ones with the collective power to stop it.
None of us can do this alone. Even the organizations that advocate just and sustainable solutions cannot do it alone. Corporate power is tremendous. It misinforms, frightens and divides us. Our strength is in unity, in the connection that we share: our desire for a world in which humans can trust each other, can work together to create real solutions instead of hating and killing each other.
We are seeing the beauty of this unity in other parts of the world and at home. Across the country there is evidence of citizen revolt. Most only see the big demonstrations—Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, the immigrant marches—but in fact, people in America are consistently in protest against austerity budgets, big business tax avoidance, rising tuition, cuts to education, foreclosures, insurance-based health care and the ongoing wars. On issue after issue there is evidence of people in revolt.
Now is the time to join together and unite our struggles in sustained acts of nonviolent resistance. Democracy literally means people power. Concentrated corporate capital and influence has changed the United States into a faux democracy where Americans only get to choose from two corporate-approved candidates, funded by millions in corporate donations.
The normal tools of democracy no longer work.
October 6 is the 10th anniversary of the Afghanistan invasion, and the beginning of the new federal budget year—an austerity budget for everything except for war and the corporate security state. On this day, we are calling for sustained and nonviolent mass resistance in Washington, D.C. The action, Stop the Machine! Create a New World!, portends an American Tahrir Square at Freedom Plaza between the White House and Congress, a block away from the National Press Club and a few blocks from the Chamber of Commerce and K Street, the stomping ground of corporate lobbyists.
An impressive array of people have already signed on. Among them: Ann Wright, Baldemar Velasquez, Ben Manski, Brian Becker, Bhikkhu Bodhi, Chris Hedges, Cornel West, David Swanson, Debra Sweet, Diane Wilson, Glen Ford, Jane Hamsher, Jodie Evans, Leah Bolger, Medea Benjamin, Mike Ferner, Larry Pinkney, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Rosa Clemente, Steffie Woolhandler, Ted Rall, The YES Men.
We know however, that it is not leaders who make change, but people united who insist on change that will succeed!
We are at a turning point. History is knocking. It is time for each of us to decide whether we can remain silent and thus allow the destruction of our planet or join in solidarity to create the future we envision of peace, justice and equality.
Here are three steps you can take right now to create the momentum that leads to a historical breakthrough:
1. Sign the pledge at www.October2011.org and say why you’re coming.
2. Spread the word by forwarding this newsletter to everyone you know, posting www.October2011.org on your Facebook page and sending it out on Twitter.
3. Reach out to organizations that should be involved and tell them to join the campaign.
It is time to turn the Arab Spring into the American Autumn and begin a movement to remove corporate power and militarism from control of our government.
Ending corporatism and militarism is the transformative issue of our era.
You can be part of a great moment in history—don’t miss the opportunity, answer the call.