Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
Yesterday I provided information about the January 16 plans, in DC, to Occupy for Jobs. The next day, January 17, Occupy Congress will take place. To this point, I’ve not seen a connection made by organizers of the two actions, which would seem to make a lot of sense. Of course, just because I haven’t seen it doesn’t mean it isn’t, or won’t, happen.
Occupiers have consistently said, “It’s not a protest, it’s a process,” and we see the process unfolding with Occupy Congress.
From the Facebook page of Occupy Congress:
It’s time for the American People to send a message to Congress. Ordinary citizens are not being represented by their elected leaders. …
Why January 17th you ask? The U.S. House of Representatives convenes for the first time in 2012 on January 17th . We can’t wait until the weather gets nice and everybody has the day off. We need to be there en mass as soon as they begin their legislative session to let them know that they’re not going to waste another year. Not much gets accomplished in an election year, and that is part of the problem. What better way to welcome them back than to have a huge demonstration that will drive the conversation on the ground and in the media. It’s time we start holding their feet to the fire to get something done for the people.
The event is still taking shape, but you are coming as individuals or groups of individuals to exercise your 1st Amendment right to peacefully petition your Government for a redress of grievances. Your grievances are many but the one common theme that runs through these varied grievances is that corporations, special interest and money from the elite produced a Government that is unable to govern. That’s your unified message. This movement will be PURE grassroots. There are no leaders…we are all leaders.
The emphasis is very clear, via Occupy Congress website:
We have no affiliation with any Political Party, Union or Political Organization. We are individuals organizing ourselves to send a strong message to our elected leaders… . ‘We have had it with your inability to govern and we are coming to confront you in person!’ Peacefully.
Occupiers and unions have joined forces on several occasions, including in the “Shut down the ports” actions and in NYC. Working together isn’t the same thing as giving over control, of course, and there are lots of folks making the argument that co-operative efforts, including with unions, will be essential in 2012. But to this point, at least, it’s clear that the leaderless, horizontal organizing remains a fundamental focus for Occupiers in general.
On December 23, Occupy DC issued this statement regarding Occupy Congress:
At last nights General Assembly Occupy D.C. has come to a consensus that Occupy D.C. will fully endorse and provide resources and guidance to the folks … organizing Occupy Congress. …
We urge the D.C. Community to join Occupy Congress on January 17th to fight corruption in American politics and to make sure that congress hears the problems we’re facing in the DC area. Since the creation of our capital Washingtonians have had no voting representation in Congress. …
For a bit of context, a piece by Elizabeth Flock in a December 2 WaPo article:
In the two weeks since the New York Police Department cleared New York’s Zuccotti Park of its camping protesters, the Occupy Wall Street movement has increasingly turned its attention to Washington. Last week, some 50 marchers arrived at McPherson Square from New York and then marched on the Capitol. Yesterday, Occupy DC targeted congressional Democrats at a campaign fundraiser. Now, protesters say they plan to Occupy Congress on Jan. 17 … .
And at Occupy Congress, one response to the question Why Occupy Congress?:
A frequent response I get from Libertarian and Tea Party-inclined folks when I ask them ‘What do you think of the Occupy Movement?’ is ‘They’re directing their anger at the wrong place’. These people view corporations as productive forces in society, and think most of the ills of society are created by government. The truth may lie somewhere in between, but certainly many of our current government programs and institutions are serving only the 1%. If we had a functioning democracy, we could have an honest debate about what’s wrong with our economy and our country and how we can make government and business work for the 99% too. But with Congress bought and paid for by special interests, honest debate is the last thing that occurs in the halls of government.
Take a look at the entire piece if you have the time, but another excerpt:
Abusive corporations make us angry, sure, but, most of the 99% don’t want to abolish capitalism. We recognize the value corporations can bring to our society, but we clearly need some rules. Who is supposed to protect us when corporations get out of control? The government! What we have here is a colossal failure of our government to protect the people it was created to serve. What we have instead is an unholy union of government and private enterprise that serves only itself.
“Why Occupy Congress” includes this question: “What do you think needs to change in Washington to fix our economy and our country?” And this:
Hey, Tea Partiers and Libertarians, now that we’re turning from Wall Street to K Street, are you going to join us? We the people, of all political persuasions, need to unite if we want to fix our government so we can have principled debates on what the best solutions are for our common good.
( Occupy Congress Poster via Occupy DC )