The Occupy Wall Street movement is loosely modeled after the "Arab Spring" wave of demonstrations that swept through the Arab world. Immediately based upon civil resistance, civil disobedience and the overall right to general assembly, these protests have been sweeping the nation and the world. Protests are cropping up all over the city, with demonstrators by the thousands proclaiming they are the 99 percent.
Here in Denver, protestors faced off with riot police and the city government over whether or not the demonstrators would be able to "occupy" Lincoln Memorial Park, in front of the capital. The movement has endured arrests and the dismantling of the "tent cities" that physically hold the movement together. On the front lines are artists, writers, musicians and other facilitators of the revolution. In an attempt to get inside the soul of Occupy Denver, we caught up with MC Sole, who's fully immersed in the movement, to get some insight on exactly what's going on.
The Occupy Denver movement in action
It seems like the most pressing question from folks who are not "occupying" is, what is the movement's platform?
Right now, the platform of Occupy Denver is mainly standing in solidarity with occupations happening worldwide. We do not have demands, but it's essentially a critique of modern life. It is looking at vast inequities in our society and trying to organize those ideas under a wide umbrella of other ideas. Trying to find what these people who are the 99 percent have in common and establishing a platform from those things. It's about creating awareness, and what it's succeeding in doing is creating a class consciousness that has been absent and has not been articulated, and the 99 percent are able to bridge that gap.
Last week, the city government said the Occupy Denver protesters were unable to maintain the tent city in Lincoln Park. What has happened with the committed occupiers in the meantime?
The movement is still going strong, just like before. I mean, look, there was an occupation in Denver before there was even organized movement happening. Occupy Wall Street has had general assemblies before they started occupying anything at all. As soon as we started occupying and giving free food out and bringing more people around who are of the homeless population, it has been a problem with the authorities. We've just been in triage mode. Now it's kind of like getting back to basics and reorganizing, and we are redeveloping stronger strategies to move forward, because we have the people behind us now and really powerful ideas.
Supporters gather for an Occupy Denver demonstration at Civic Center Park.
I'm speaking with you about this, but really, there are no ringleaders to the movement, right? And this is on purpose?
Right. It's a leaderless, non-hierarchical movement. Anything goes, also. There's no telling what's going to be happening next week. I'm not speaking on behalf of the entire movement. I'm speaking on behalf of myself as person in the 99 percent.
What is the synergy like amongst so many different people who are coming together to forge solidarity?
I think it's incredible. I'm sitting here with fifty and sixty-year-old folk, who work at Walmart, who are standing next to anarchists, who are getting their arms broken by the same riot cops. I'll walk into a general assembly with an idea, and somebody will make it better and add to it, and by the end of this hour long conversation, it's this incredibly solid, powerful idea.
Every time I see something positive happen in the general assembly, I'm always so moved by how you really need to trust the people around you and let go of your own personal preconceptions and let things out in the open to allowing anything to happen. That's what's amazing about this movement is that it's structured in the way for provocateurs to mix things up, but it's also structured for anyone to have a voice and make things better. When you have a platform and organization where people can have a voice, anything can happen.
Where are the police in all of this? The night of the eviction from Lincoln Park, and for days after, there were tons of police in the park and surrounding areas.
There are no cops. They have gone back.
So what's with all of the naysayers who believe without a solid platform, there is nothing the "occupy" movement can accomplish?
I would say a couple of things: Read the McKenzie article called "How to Occupy an Abstraction." In it, he states that Wall Street doesn't actually exist, but Wall Street is itself a distraction. What happens in Wall Street, it effects the whole world. The only way to do this is to articulate it and re-appropriate the word "occupation." I view the occupation as an end of itself in this point, because, through social networking and through cliques, it just naturally alienates people from each other, and people have been successfully alienated from each other. What the movement does is it's going to put tents up, and if you wanna come and talk about equality and globalism and global warming, and next thing you know, it's become a form of organizing in itself, and just that is creating such awareness.
But what about the demands? Are you supposed to want something everyone can understand?
When people say we don't have any demands, that's ridiculous. We know what we want; you just don't want to hear it. This is just phase one. This is bringing people together and creating a critical mass. That's the first step. The night of the occupation, there were thousands of people out there participating in civil disobedience, and the cops couldn't do anything about it. They're gonna have to bring the troops home just to control it.
What are people listening to out there, Sole?
That's interesting. We don't even talk about music out there. People like Lupe -- I don't know if it's because he dropped off tents, or what. There's always some dude posted up with a guitar and people playing. Those kinds of facets that exist in music that divide people -- you know, like the hip-hop kids don't wanna talk to the punk kids, or whatever else -- that all takes a back seat to the occupation.
How long with the occupation go on?
Forever. When the world is fair these people will go home.
This Saturday, there will be a show at Civic Center Park featuring BLK HRTS, Jonny5 of the Flobots, people will be able to sign a petition about the repressions of protesters and demonstrations.
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