Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
Looking at the history of activism, this is what we should expect will continue happening related to the Occupy movement: break-away groups, offshoots, and yes, co-opting, or simply using the momentum and attention gained by Occupiers. From Roll Call:
Liberal Groups Take Up Occupy Mantle in D.C.
The rain-soaked protesters who stormed Capitol Hill on Tuesday in an attempt to “Occupy Congress” are not officially part of the Occupy Wall Street movement, but they are an example of how established liberal groups are trying to capitalize on the grass-roots movement and shift it from protests to direct advocacy.
Tuesday’s labor-backed sit-in, which targeted mostly Republican lawmakers, was actually focused on a legislative agenda that predates the Occupy movement. Hundreds of activists lobbied Members of Congress to pass President Barack Obama’s proposed jobs plan and extend unemployment insurance. …
… even as the Capitol Hill protesters shouted that they are the ‘99 percent,’ language introduced by OWS, it was unclear whether the D.C. effort had the backing of the larger grass-roots movement. …
The Capitol Hill action — led by the American Dream Movement, a coalition that includes MoveOn.org, the Service Employees International Union and the local jobs group Our DC — aimed to direct the movement toward legislative advocacy. …
Some Occupy activists joined in, but others disagreed that lobbying Congress is the best way forward.
Disagreements, and just differing perspectives and ideas, are inevitable. If the response is to call anyone holding a perspective differing from our own an idiot … then we’ll all be working with “idiots,” ourselves included, because differences are always going to be a part of the process. It’s entirely possible, and actually quite common, for breakaway groups, or groups with similar or overlapping agendas, to co-exist, even cooperate. The Roll Call piece continues in describing some of what’s happening now.
Jonathan Smucker, a leader of the Occupy Our Homes effort, said he is not interested in appealing to Congress through traditional advocacy routes.
‘I think it’s clear that we can’t compete with the money of Wall Street and the money of the big banks to influence politicians. We don’t want to … . We’re in a process of creating a new revitalized civic in this country.’
Ben Campbell, who is leading an Occupy Wall Street offshoot called Occupy Fundraisers, disagrees and said he would prefer to work within the current political system.
‘There’s a little bit of a divide between the radicals and reformers. Ultimately, we’re all working toward the same goal,’ Campbell said.
On Monday, Campbell protested a fundraiser for GOP presidential candidate and former Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) to draw attention to the role money plays in politics.
University of California (Irvine) sociology professor David Meyer is quoted in the same article:
‘You can expect if the movement takes off that there are going to be a lot of failed campaigns, but some things are going to take off’ … . He added that it is typical for grass-roots movements to splinter into different efforts, and it doesn’t necessarily mean their demise.
‘The fact that people are going to disagree and do different things doesn’t mean it can’t be a movement’ he said.
That’s rather extensive quoting on my part, but the article provides a good way to consider the current moment of Occupation, and beyond. You can read other thoughts and perspectives about the movement in the first edition of Tidal: Occupy Theory, Occupy Strategy.
Another source for Occupy information, among other things, is at Digitafolio.
From a November 29 Wired.com piece, Tracking the U.S. Government’s Response to #Occupy on Twitter:
… the New York Times reported … the #occupywallstreet hashtag was conceived in July, a full two months before the first tent was pitched at Zuccotti Park.
As it grew from a single camp into a movement, Twitter was essential for getting real-time updates out as events unfolded, for both supporters and local government. …
While city officials have actively communicated their positions, the response from the federal government has been muted, at best. … So far, official statements are isolated and infrequent — an early endorsement from the president, a couple of statements from the White House press secretary, and a range of opinions from individual members of Congress. …
Since the Occupy protests started in mid-September, nearly 15,000 messages were posted by the 126 federal Twitter accounts. Of those accounts, only three have mentioned the Occupy protests in any way — Voice of America, the Smithsonian, and the White House.
Here’s another perspective on what’s happening, via Huffington :
The United Nations envoy for freedom of expression is drafting an official communication to the U.S. government demanding to know why federal officials are not protecting the rights of Occupy demonstrators whose protests are being disbanded — sometimes violently – by local authorities.
One official response to Occupy that received a lot of attention was in Oakland, whose mayor caught a lot of flak. Via SF Gate:
A petition to recall Oakland Mayor Jean Quan was certified Wednesday for signature gathering just as a second group of residents submitted their own recall petition against the increasingly embattled mayor.
This is also from late last month, but Roy makes what seems to me to be a fundamental point, and a good way to close. From TruthOut, an interview with Arundhati Roy, who says, “The People Who Created the Crisis Will Not Be the Ones That Come Up With a Solution.”
( Poster via Occupy Posters )