Occupy Philadelphia on eviction night. Photo by Dustin Slaughter
“No government can exist for a single moment without the cooperation of the people, willing or forced, and if people withdraw their cooperation in every detail, the government will come to a standstill.” –Gandhi
The Occupy movement is now a genie that cannot be put back in its bottle.
While it has certainly gone through growing pains, and will continue to do so, the adversity faced has only forced the movement to adapt and re-focus.
After their first eviction, Occupy San Francisco decided to occupy sidewalks around the downtown financial district (the original strategy for Occupy Wall Street before the 17th, I should add.) Can’t have an encampment? Adapt and take public sidewalks. There is now a nationwide movement to also throw the gauntlet at major banks like Bank of America, and re-occupy foreclosed homes for families thrown out by the financial criminal class. The move has even prompted BofA to fire off an email to its employees. And yes, the email’s existence has indeed been confirmed by a Bank of America representative.
The financial elite are not the only ones concerned about this nonviolent peoples’ movement, of course. The Department of Homeland Security has had its feathers ruffled too. As Mayor Jean Quan mystifyingly stated during a BBC interview, DHS and other federal agencies are now coordinating raids on Occupy through the use of Orwellian “fusion centers” which collect intelligence on encampments and then share that information with local law enforcement, who are often heavily militarized and disproportionate in their response to peaceful protesters.
The contempt and cruelty often displayed by police towards this movement is shocking. Here’s what Patrick Meghan, a writer for the sitcom “Family Guy,” experienced at the hands of the LAPD:
It gets worse.
The police state will continue to use terror to coerce this movement into backing down. It will not work, however. Myself and over 50 others were arrested the night of Occupy Philadelphia’s eviction.
My resolve, as well as those who were arrested or were outraged at the way the police handled the eviction, has only strengthened. And this movement must use love and persistence to fight back. There is no other way. The state knows only violence and fear, and this can only continue for so long in the face of what the Occupy movement offers as an alternative. This movement must continue to struggle for what dissident playwright and later president of the Czech Republic Vaclav Havel calls “defending the everyday aims of life.”
As Mark Kurlansky writes of Havel in Nonviolence: The History of a Dangerous Idea:
Kurlansky goes on to write of Havel’s strategy:
The Occupy movement has for months now been engaged in creating the very same “counter-society” Havel and the Solidarity movement used to eventually bring the Soviet empire to its knees. Occupations across the country have been stepping up to offer free food, shelter and healthcare because the state has failed to do so. There are plans underway to offer free college education in Philadelphia, as I’m sure there are similar initiatives to do so in other parts of the country.
And the movement is now standing–physically–with American families trampled on by banks who knowingly committed fraud and tossed people out of their homes.
Welcome to Occupy 2.0. What are YOU going to do now?
Dustin Slaughter is the creator of The David and Goliath Project, a website celebrating and commenting on protest culture. He is a photojournalist and activist residing in Philadelphia, PA. If you would like to contribute to The Project for future research trips as the #Occupy movement continues, please consider a small donation here. Read his “What I Learned from the Occupation: Lose the Fear” here.