Phase II Occupy Washington, DC Two Houses & Freedom Plaza, Occupy the Economy, NOW DC and More
Occupy Washington, DC Expands Its Efforts
When we called for the occupation of Freedom Plaza in early June, we said this occupation would be “the beginning.” We saw the occupation of Freedom Plaza as a tactic, much like a lunch counter sit-in or Freedom Ride during the civil rights movement. The Occupation was designed to educate and mobilize people for a much bigger and longer effort to end a government dominated by money and militarism and shift power to the American people. A few weeks before we began to occupy Freedom Plaza, Occupy Wall Street erupted, and other occupations soon followed. Occupation of public space was an idea whose historical time had come.
More than 1,200 Occupy camps sprang up quickly across the nation and the world. The first months of this new movement profoundly shook the foundation of the 1% – almost instantly creating a new form of political power. This TIME “Person of the Year” protest movement, truly grown from the grass roots, handed the 99% some REAL political capital for the first time in decades and installed the Occupy Movement as a force to be reckoned with.
Shifting power to the American people requires much more than an occupation. The Occupy Movement needs to build on four strong components – (1) non-violent protest and civil resistance, (2) non-participation in the existing corporate finance-dominated economy, (3) the development of concrete plans and policies to transform the corporate economy into a people's economy and (4) ending government dominated by money by shifting political power to the American people. Occupy Washington, DC says: no oligarchy, no plutocracy we want participatory democracy. As we transitioned to winter we had many discussions on Freedom Plaza and among the web-community of Occupy Washington, DC. We surveyed everyone on the Plaza to understand what their interests were. These ideas and insights determined our next steps, described here:
1. Continue to hold Freedom Plaza. We have achieved a great deal through the occupation of Freedom Plaza. We’ve shown how persons from different backgrounds, economic circumstances, races and political interests can live and work together; and form a community. The encampment on Pennsylvania Ave. between the Congress and the Treasury/White House allowed us to reach thousands of people. Our signs, newspaper – the Occupied Washington Post – and conversations with many Americans have spread the Occupy message. We’ve carried out multiple protest actions in Congress, as well as at banks, the Chamber of Commerce and other locations. We’ve held our own occupied super committee hearing and published a report to fix the economy, the “99%'s Deficit Proposal.” This winter the number of people at the encampment will shrink but it will be available to expand as needed for actions like Witness Against Torture from January 11 to 20, the Occupy The Dream’s plans for the Federal Reserve on January 16, MLK Day, Occupy Congress scheduled for January 17 and Occupy the Courts protest against the Citizen’s United decision on January 20. Freedom Plaza will continue to be a flagship for the American people to see that the occupy movement continues.
2. The Peace House and Organizing National Resistance. Approximately a dozen occupiers will move into the Peace House to work on organizing NOW DC (the National Occupation of Washington, DC) that begins on March 30. They will organize to bring occupiers from throughout the country to the nation’s capitol to show the breadth and depth of the Occupy Movement. Peace House occupiers will work with occupations and others from across the country to build NOW DC. The creators of the Peace House, William Thomas and his wife Ellen Thomas, maintained and supported a 24 hour a day, 365 days a year 30 year protest of nuclear war on the north side of the White House. The disarmament vigil, founded on June 3, 1981, is courageously maintained by Concepcion Picciotto who joined Thomas a month after it began. Picciotto will continue to use the Peace House when she takes breaks with Freedom Plaza occupiers filling in to continue the vigil. Volunteers at the Peace House will also work on local outreach and education in the greater DC community.
3. Mt. Rainer House and Organizing Occupy the Economy and Occupy Media. Another dozen occupiers will move into the Mt. Rainer House. This house will focus on building democratic economic structures as alternatives to the corporate-economy. This year is the United Nation’s International Year of Co-operatives and we will focus on creating worker-owned co-operatives that grow a co-operative sub-economy. Business plans will be developed, start-up capital sought and initial projects will be run out of the Mt. Rainer House. We will open the development of democratized economic structures to our web community as well. Already being examined are a political messaging business involving bumper stickers, signs, buttons and tee shirts, a food service providing occu-pie food and a housing redevelopment business. These co-operatives will provide funding to the occupiers working on them and revenues for the Occupy Movement. In addition, the Mt. Rainer House will be developing an Occupy Television Show and other media projects for public access, cable and web-outlets.
Both houses will be run as collectives that we intend to develop into useful models for other Occupies around the country to emulate. Occupy Washington, DC will be building on years of experience with collectives, co-operatives and intentional communities to create Occupy Homes like these that are productive and build the movement.
The fourth leg of our Occupy Washington, DC community is our web-based community. Some web-occupiers have joined the encampment at Freedom Plaza, others have supported it financially, others have organized to bring people to Washington, DC and still others have provided ideas for how we should shape our future. We appreciate everything that each of you do.
With all of these new activities we are not leaving the old behind. The non-violent civil resistance actions we have done against the 1% political and economic elites will continue and escalate. We will also continue to provide educational forums on a range of issues, invite noted speakers to Occupy Washington, DC, organize protest actions in Congress and to expose the monied interests that dominate the government. We are working on curricula for outreach to youth from elementary school through college so they can practice the principles of participatory democracy and learn the General Assembly process.
The occupations are building a foundation for the long-term independent movement needed to transform a greed-based government dominated by concentrated wealth into a participatory democracy – a government of, by, and for the American people – one that puts human necessities before the profits of financial power brokers. This enormous transformation will be achieved if we continue to stand in solidarity with persistence and uncompromising confidence that the people can, and will, rule free themselves from the mis-rule of the corporatists.
Occupy Washington, DC
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