“We’ve had rallies and protests, closed down banks and the Chamber of Commerce, protested in the House, Senate and at the White House.”
It has been a whirlwind of activity since October 6 when the occupation of Freedom Plaza began. We’ve had rallies and protests, closed down banks and the Chamber of Commerce, protested in the House, Senate and at the White House. We’ve had a series of fantastic speakers from around the United States and the world, including the Egyptian Revolutionaries. The support from the DC community has been incredible – restaurants, churches, unions and individuals have brought us food and warm clothing. The Occupy Movement has struck a chord with Americans fed up with the unfairness of the economy and endless wars.
We began our first day with a rally that featured Cheri Honkala, the founder of the Kensington Welfare Rights League, Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report and Ashley Sanders of the climate change group Peaceful Uprising. Our first evening event featured Chris Hedges, the award winning war correspondent and author as well as political commentator and cartoonist, Ted Rall and Afghan youth. It was a powerful first day.
Protesting Drones and War
On the first day of the 11th year of the Afghanistan War, we began the day with a rally and protest at General Atomics, the maker of drones. That was followed by an anti-war march and rally to the new memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr. The march was filled with big displays of anti-war, economic justice and environmental protection messages.
Occupy Washington, DC has focused a lot of our attention on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber is the corporate bully of Washington, DC and since our long-term goal is to end corporate rule, we need to take on the lead bully. From our first day we took on the Chamber of Commerce and shut them down. Occupy Freedom Plaza brought our Message to the Chamber of Commerce again 18 days later when we shut them down over the issue of foreclosures. Unbelievably, the Chamber of Commerce urges more foreclosures and does not want the government to do anything to prevent foreclosures. We plan to consistently focus on the Chamber and each time we will focus on one of our 15 core issues, on each the Chamber is on the wrong side protecting the 1%.
While the National Park Service has given us a four month permit, this permit does not allow us to “occupy” Freedom Plaza. We are not allowed to camp or sleep on Freedom Plaza nor are we allowed to cook or received food prepared off the Plaza. The Park Police have warned us that we could be removed for occupying Freedom Plaza. They warn us they are getting pressure from “the administration” to enforce the rules against camping. We are preparing for them to remove us in the next week or two.
The last time our permit ran out the General Assembly voted in solidarity to stay on Freedom Plaza. Indeed, we had a dance party when the permit ran out. We do not fear the police coming in fact we danced waiting for the police who never came. When Occupy Wall Street was under threat we put out an urgent action alert calling for solidarity with occupy Wall Street as did many others. Some of our participants went to Wall Street to stand with them. The occupation of Freedom Plaza is receiving great community support and we hope the community will come to the Plaza if we are threatened. But, we will not leave, the work we are doing is too vital to the direction of the nation.