This morning I came across a really good article about the Occupy movement and what demands to make and if they should be made at all.
“We absolutely need demands,” said Shawn Redden, 35, an earnest history teacher in the group. “Like Frederick Douglass said, ‘Power concedes nothing without a demand.’ ”
The influence and staying power of Occupy Wall Street are undeniable: similar movements have sprouted around the world, as the original group enters its fifth week in the financial district. Yet a frequent criticism of the protesters has been the absence of specific policy demands.
As many of you know, I have been asking this. I'm afraid I am starting to sound like a broken record. It's never been the why
for me. It's been the how -- and to a lesser extent, the what
. In New York it appears there is a forming consensus developing:
In New York, the demands committee held a two-hour open forum last Monday, coming up with two major categories: jobs for all and civil rights. The team will continue to meet twice a week to develop a list of specific proposals, which it will then discuss with protesters and eventually take to the General Assembly, a nightly gathering of the hundreds of protesters in the park.
BobR and I went to the Occupy DC site on Friday night after the days events/marches/assemblies were over. We saw a small team of people in a circle discussing issues and decided to take a listen. They were debating and voting on the issue whether of not to take it up with the General Assembly on a vote about garbage removal. I'm not going to judge Occupy DC site for a few moments we witnessed, but it does seem to be the case here as in NYC that small groups discuss and vote on whether or not to take the issue to the larger General Assemblies where things are either endorsed or rejected.
Perhaps there is a shift in the way things are getting done from the early weeks of this movement. It appears that Wall Street is becoming the center of operations and smaller sites are taking their cues from them. All good moves in my opinion. I still believe that movements of social change need leaders.
That said, it appears that members of the Occupy LA movement have found a way to possibly create wonderful change on a local basis. Rose Gudiel - a homeowner in LA - was on the verge of losing her house after the death of her brothers and salary reduction due to state furloughs. She fought back, and things were looking terribly bleak.
When the five-day notice for eviction notice was posted in September, the family announced they would not leave voluntarily. They rallied loyal neighbors and friends who set up an encampment in her yard. A steady stream of advocates and volunteers brought in supplies and food, and TV crews showed up.
On Oct. 1, just days after the eviction deadline, thousands of protesters started gathering outside Los Angeles City Hall to launch the “Occupy LA” protest — the local version of the “Occupy Wall Street” protest in New York City. Gudiel thought her story would play well with the protesters and made an appeal at one of the gatherings' first daily “general assembly” meetings. A few days after the group took up her cause, she received very good news:Fanny Mae canceled the eviction notice and offered the Gudiels a loan modification that could enable them keep their home.
Why? Fannie Mae and loan servicer OneWest won’t discuss the case. But nonprofit advocates say a series of bold protests — with reinforcements from the “Occupy Wall Street” movement — and a spate of media interest put Rose in the limelight and forced the banks’ to back down.
This is what change can look like. It can happen nationally and globally and - at the same time - locally.
This movement can lend support to local groups that have long been doing work to help those that need help in this nation. I truly would like to see more of this action. It's sad that this is what has to happen for people like Rose to find security in insecure times. It is uplifting to see people reach out to help. Martin Luther King Jr wrote in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail
: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
I am of the belief that each city's Occupy version should develop strategies that will serve the best interests of there location. I hope that they can all come together to come up with a way to present a larger platform, and then implement it. That won't happen until there is an acknowledgment that leadership must happen. It's when there is no strong leadership, things fall apart. I don't want to see that happen.
This is going to take a long time, I acknowledge that. I hope Occupy is ready for it as well. Like the civil rights movement of the 50-and 60's, too many people are depending on things to change. The work was never really finished, it was always meant to continue. I was reminded of this while watching the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial dedication ceremony yesterday. I was reminded by Bernice King, Martin Luther King III, Ralph Abernathy, John Lewis, Reverend Lowery and Jesse Jackson. I was reminded by Reverend Sharpton, Diane Carroll and Cicely Tyson. I was reminded by a young lady named Amandla Stenberg
The girl recalled learning about the civil rights movement in school and named four young girls killed in a 1963 church bombing in Birmingham, Ala.
"As Dr. King said at their funeral, `They didn't live long lives, but they lived meaningful lives,'" Amandla said. "I plan to live a meaningful life, too."
There are reminders everywhere. Learning from history is not enough; using that knowledge to change the future is needed. Progress takes time, patience, and love in the face of obstruction, fear, and hate. ... nearly 50 years after the March on Washington, our work, Dr. King's work, is not yet complete. We gather here at a moment of great challenge and great change. In the first decade of this new century, we have been tested by war and by tragedy; by an economic crisis and its aftermath that has left millions out of work, and poverty on the rise, and millions more just struggling to get by. Indeed, even before this crisis struck, we had endured a decade of rising inequality and stagnant wages. In too many troubled neighborhoods across the country, the conditions of our poorest citizens appear little changed from what existed 50 years ago -- neighborhoods with underfunded schools and broken-down slums, inadequate health care, constant violence, neighborhoods in which too many young people grow up with little hope and few prospects for the future.
Our work is not done. And so on this day, in which we celebrate a man and a movement that did so much for this country, let us draw strength from those earlier struggles. First and foremost, let us remember that change has never been quick. Change has never been simple, or without controversy. Change depends on persistence. Change requires determination. It took a full decade before the moral guidance of Brown v. Board of Education was translated into the enforcement measures of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, but those 10 long years did not lead Dr. King to give up. He kept on pushing, he kept on speaking, he kept on marching until change finally came.
President Barack Obama, October 16 2011, speaking at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial dedication ceremony.
I am going to paraphrase something Dr. King said in that Letter from a Birmingham jail:
Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.
You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's
white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.
Strike thru mine. That letter was written April 16, 1963. The struggle never stopped, it has only been re-ignited.