Oct. 8, 2014 (San Diego) Three years ago many people descended on Civic Center Plaza and set up camp. They were there in support of Occupy Wall Street. It was San Diego’s experiment in occupation of public spaces.
Like all other occupations the police met it with force, and raids. Like all other occupations, there were mass arrests. Like all other occupations, a media meme quickly formed that the only people who were occupying were malcontents and social misfits.
While there was some of that, as a witness I can say that for sure. Most of the people who were and are still, Occupiers have jobs, and have lives outside of the movement. They are not social misfits, or malcontents. They just want a better future for their children. They see an economy that works for a few, and not the many. They see ecology at risk due to human action. While all members do not agree on the solutions, the problems they do.
Much has happened since, and while the camps are gone, the ideas are not. Many people who think the movement is dead speak of things like income inequality these days, and the concept of the 99 percent is firmly in the minds of the political class.
While the number of attendees was low, especially when compared to the high numbers of the early days of the movement, these people came to speak of ideas. All day they spoke, sung songs and went to City Council to speak of one issue (It was in the agenda by the way), that is close and dear to many of the members of Occupy San Diego: Homelessness.
Melissa Bailin is a member of Occupy Los Angeles (OLA), which celebrates it’s third year anniversary this Saturday. We talked about Occupy and ideas. She told Reporting San Diego, “you can never arrest an idea.”
She also said that OLA “has never been the same since they arrest 292 of us, including myself on Nov. 30th 2011.” Occupy movements, are very much alive today. There are different groups that have emerged from the core. While the days of the General Assemblies, at times very raucous events, are gone. The ideas are still here.
She asked, “what has changed and what we have left to change?” Many people have asked her, what exactly has Occupy accomplished. In her mind this us vs them is part of the problem. Change has to come from all of us, not just a few. Bailin asked very pointedly, “what are we all doing to change the world?”
Reporting San Diego asked about income inequality, which is now part of the political discourse. Her answer is that due to the ecological degradation, we do not have time for the world to heal itself, as the tipping point comes. But in her mind, while the changes necessary are revolutionary, the revolution has to be peaceful.
In her mind, this is possible and violent revolutions have not succeeded. What is thought to be impossible is possible and we must strive for it.
This year we chose to speak with somebody that was new to San Diego. This does not mean that she speaks for all Occupiers everywhere, One thing that I understood early on, covering the movement, is that it is a leaderless movement, and none speaks for Occupy. That has not changed, even three years on.
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