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#NatGat VIDEO: How #Occupy Can Overcome Raids & Evictions

This month’s Occupy National Gathering in Philadelphia was the latest effort to recapture the national spotlight for Occupy after a winter plagued by raids, evictions and inclement weather.

May Day, NATO, and now NatGat paint a picture of a movement now coming together from disparate parts of the country to prove they are still going strong and ready to tackle issues on the national stage. These efforts also show how Occupiers are actively searching for a path forward to overcome the myriad challenges their unique protest has faced so far.

Over the course of the past 10 months, Firedoglake’s Occupy Supply Fund has worked closely with dozens of Occupy groups. After hearing of the challenges facing Occupy from our local member-liaisons stationed across the country, we were able to see the Big Picture obstacles facing this movement: fear of raids and eviction, fear of arrests and police violence from raids and eviction, destroyed personal property, rattled nerves and the need to start all over, from scratch, which was likely disheartening for many and inevitably led to the demise of many encampments.

At the time, FDL was helping by posting livestreams of raids for all to see, flooding city government switchboards with phone calls in opposition to police actions. We tried to provide whatever material support these brave protesters needed, but oftentimes the chaos was so great that there was not all that much we could do. It became clear that Occupy needed to pre-empt this tactic and develop ways to neutralize its effect on their ability to protest.

To us, that meant equipping Occupiers with the skills and supplies they need to be more mobile at a moments notice, and encourage each and every protester to be more self-reliant and not depend as much on the camp for their basic needs.

In the end, while I believe encampments are an important symbolic and organizing space for the movement, I think it’s time to re-assess their role. To be clear, I don’t think the movement should no longer encamp — I actually believe Occupations give this movement a leg-up on other past (failed) movements. But encampments need to be more flexible, without the requirement of endless defense and protection. If Occupiers are more mobile and rely less on the camp itself for their needs, protesters can expend less energy on defending their belongings at camp and dealing with the police and city officials and more on direct action, spreading their message and growing their base of support.

I was honored to speak on this topic at #NatGat, and I sincerely hope, whether Occupy embraces our suggestions or not, that the movement begins to consider a positive evolution that preserves their values, beliefs and ability to exercise basic rights without presenting such an obvious Achilles’s Heel for opponents.

Check out the video of my talk and consider chipping in $10 to help Occupy Supply continue to support the movement with quality supplies and innovative ideas.

Transcript:

CommunityMy FDL

#NatGat VIDEO: How #Occupy Can Overcome Raids & Evictions

This month’s Occupy National Gathering in Philadelphia was the latest effort to recapture the national spotlight for Occupy after a winter plagued by raids, evictions and inclement weather.

May Day, NATO, and now NatGat paint a picture of a movement now coming together from disparate parts of the country to prove they are still going strong and ready to tackle issues on the national stage. These efforts also show how Occupiers are actively searching for a path forward to overcome the myriad challenges their unique protest has faced so far.

Over the course of the past 10 months, Firedoglake’s Occupy Supply Fund has worked closely with dozens of Occupy groups. After hearing of the challenges facing Occupy from our local member-liaisons stationed across the country, we were able to see the Big Picture obstacles facing this movement: fear of raids and eviction, fear of arrests and police violence from raids and eviction, destroyed personal property, rattled nerves and the need to start all over, from scratch, which was likely disheartening for many and inevitably led to the demise of many encampments.

At the time, FDL was helping by posting livestreams of raids for all to see, flooding city government switchboards with phone calls in opposition to police actions. We tried to provide whatever material support these brave protesters needed, but oftentimes the chaos was so great that there was not all that much we could do. It became clear that Occupy needed to pre-empt this tactic and develop ways to neutralize its effect on their ability to protest.

To us, that meant equipping Occupiers with the skills and supplies they need to be more mobile at a moments notice, and encourage each and every protester to be more self-reliant and not depend as much on the camp for their basic needs.

In the end, while I believe encampments are an important symbolic and organizing space for the movement, I think it’s time to re-assess their role. To be clear, I don’t think the movement should no longer encamp — I actually believe Occupations give this movement a leg-up on other past (failed) movements. But encampments need to be more flexible, without the requirement of endless defense and protection. If Occupiers are more mobile and rely less on the camp itself for their needs, protesters can expend less energy on defending their belongings at camp and dealing with the police and city officials and more on direct action, spreading their message and growing their base of support.

I was honored to speak on this topic at #NatGat, and I sincerely hope, whether Occupy embraces our suggestions or not, that the movement begins to consider a positive evolution that preserves their values, beliefs and ability to exercise basic rights without presenting such an obvious Achilles’s Heel for opponents.

Check out the video of my talk and consider chipping in $10 to help Occupy Supply continue to support the movement with quality supplies and innovative ideas.

Transcript

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Brian Sonenstein

Brian Sonenstein

Publishing Editor at Shadowproof and columnist at Prison Protest.