What explains the failure of Occupy Spring? Why don't we seem to hear about the Occupy movement anymore?
Occupy is a bit like a useful weed growing in a garden. Some gardeners (read: politicians, police, those in power) do not know how useful this weed can be and they try to cut it down, dig it up and get rid of it. This indigenous plant has been around in different forms forever, in the same way that the heart of Occupy has always been around, in everything from campaigns for voting rights to legal rights, and immigrant rights. Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Sometimes you have to look harder, or you might only see new seedlings sprouting in different locations.
Here are three reasons why the Occupy movement won't disappear so quickly:
Occupy Has Archived Itself
With 40 mintute documentaries screened and available online such as #whilewewatch, which is described as “a portrait of the Occupy Wall Street media revolution,” and “the first definitive film to emerge from Zuccotti Park – with full access and cooperation from masterminds who made #OccupyWallStreet a reality.”
The film describes how the OWS created its own media, “Fueled with little money, they rely on the power of Twitter, texting, Wi-Fi, posters, Tumblr, live streams, YouTube, Facebook, dramatic marches, drumbeats and chants. As the film unfolds, we witness a new dawn with the power of social media.”
My only gripe with the film, and after film discussion was the lack of women in it as well as people of color. One man on the panel remarked that, “It takes balls to hope,” I hope that’s not the only thing it takes.
Lack of Agreement Means More Movements
In a Huffington Post article, “Occupy Spring: Who’s Still Fighting The Power?” the author says MoveOn.org, recently trained 100,000 activists nationwide in Occupy-style “direct action” tactics and also mentions the various disagreements about how to proceed. While some may not join any bandwagon, it seems as though there are already groups of offshoots to tackle local problems and various groups that have emerged to Occupy everything from parks and playgrounds to Valentine’s Day.
One example closer to my own location in California is the Albany Occupy movement over the Gill Tract land. As Doug Oakley reported for the Oakland Tribune, “Occupy the Farm supporters packed an Alameda County courtroom Thursday for arguments in a University of California lawsuit seeking to ban them from the Gill Tract in Albany, where they camped and farmed for three weeks this spring before being removed by police.”
The occupation is now being decided by the court system. As Dan Siegel said, representing the occupiers, “The question is, have the regents demonstrated that there is irreparable harm, not just the threat of harm from malicious mulching, felonious farming and willful watering.”
Occupation Spring Gives Way to Occupation Summer
Just as trees shed their leaves in the fall and become green again in the Spring, Occupy Wall Street is not stopping with the Spring Awakening, and is already planning a national gathering in Philadelphia (June 30 - July 4).
As Allison Kilkenny quotes Scott (an OWS protester) in her article in The Nation, “Occupy is more confrontational than ever … Zuccotti was great, but it was a little bit off the beaten path. Being on Nassau Street all day, what happens there is Occupiers talking to bankers and tourists witnessing those conversations, and that’s what needs to happen.”
Occupy’s Spring Awakening was used as a space to allow protesters to plan for the future and to “come together to unite organizations, activists, and others to create a transformative, citywide, mass movement,” according to the event pamphlet.
Though we may think the Occupy movement is gone, like that patch of weeds we just cut, As Carol Harvey said in The Bay Citizen, “Like any truly revolutionary group, they lurk in the deeply evolving shadows.”