Occupied: Toronto, on Saturday

** A lot has happened within the Occupy Wall St. movement since I was down at Occupy Toronto this past Saturday (Nov. 12th), & this message may seem obsolete. But I want to record these thoughts anyway. The post here explains my waking thoughts that morning (occupied & preoccupied, I was), & the one here has some interesting commentary & links.

Beautiful day, glad I went! I guess there’s been a march every Saturday – this was just my 2nd (wrote about my first here). Big crowd – the march was in solidarity with indigenous issues (good link about that here).

I guess you could say the reason I was there in the first place is, I’m basically addicted to activism. I’d had that thought on the GO train platform, & started thinking about creating a sort of alphabet of phrases to describe activism & what we need to do, in 26 or so short phrases (I often come up with crazy alphabet schemes – some get written, some don’t!). Didn’t get very far with this one, but these ones came up:

  • Addicted to activism
  • Boycott badness
  • Control is an illusion
  • De-colonize your mind
  • Down with corporate rule!
  • Educate yourself!
  • Fun; have some! (“protesting” is fun!!  )
  • Then I migrated all the way along to “S”
  • Show up! &
  • Solidarity ends separation/alienation

& then I got on the train & my thoughts went galloping off elsewhere.

When I arrived at St. James Park, I took a meander around – saw some familiar faces, more tents than there were on my previous visit, & a crowd gathering in readiness for the upcoming march.

I stood & looked at a collection of placards & saw a # of neat ones. I wound up picking up the one that said, “Only environmental disasters trickle down to the 99%,” since that really resonated for me, & carried it during the march.

Other neat stuff I saw included a stanza from the poem “September 1, 1939” by W.H. Auden:

“All I have is a voice

To undo the folded lie,

The romantic lie in the brain

Of the sensual man-in-the-street

And the lie of Authority

Whose buildings grope the sky:

There is no such thing as the State

And no one exists alone;

Hunger allows no choice

To the citizen or the police;

We must love one another or die.” <W.H. Auden>

[I just found the rest here & given how entirely powerful & awesome a poem it is, please-please-please check it out!!]

Ran into Christine, whom I’d met 3 weeks ago at Occupy Toronto. Always nice to see familiar faces! Christine had been to a lie-in the day before (i.e., November 11th, Remembrance Day). What struck me was her saying that the lie-down (to commemorate all the innocent women/children/civilians killed in wars) paradoxically made her feel better than she’d been feeling for a while. I’m a broken record on this: protests are really celebrations! Celebrations of solidarity. Showing your solidarity with other human beings ends that feeling of separateness/separation/alienation we all tend to feel all too often. Solidarity is a wonderful thing! (It was the desire/impulse to show solidarity with some friends several years ago that ultimately led me to anti-nuclear work. Solidarity is very powerful, & one is never quite certain where it may lead. Very likely to adventure of one sort or another!!)

Cool sayings I saw on placards:

  • All the arms we need (picture of 2 stick people w. arms outstretched)
  • Bail out students, not corporations
  • Café Occupy: serving up change 24 hours
  • End Usury
  • Environmental disaster is the only thing that trickles down to the 99%
  • How much is enough?
  • Look out! The meek are about to inherit the Earth!
  • People free to choose will always choose peace
  • Power lies in unity, hope & defiance
  • The beginning is near!
  • The revolution is NOW. Power to the peaceful
  • The best thing about life is it’s never too late to do the right thing
  • We do not own Earth, we only occupy Her

& many, many more…..

There was a good & rousing speech by a woman whose name I unfortunately didn’t catch, who emphasized the need for a diversity of tactics in world-changing (& a diversity of human beings!) & then we were off, marching. I enjoyed the march & the usual chanting, & the drumming, & the running into & chatting with folks I know & others I don’t. The thought that always comes to me, as we chant “THIS is what democracy looks like!” is that democracy is messy & loud & unpredictable & contentious & …… kind of the way any “average” dysfunctional family is. There’s the whole gamut of human emotion & neurosis & pettiness & gossip & brilliance & … you name it! For sure, it isn’t neat, & you can’t predict it, & you can’t wrap it all up like a Christmas package with a nice neat bow.

Okay, okay, enough for now…

Big changes since Saturday. The City of Toronto is apparently determined to end the camp, while the occupiers seem equally determined to stay. A stand-off, for the moment at least. I’ll be watching & listening for developments, for sure!


p.s. Also saw a big placard with the Occupy Wall Street Manifesto – this one I’m pasting in here is from here. Can’t say for 100% sure this is exactly what I saw at St. James Park on Saturday. (I don’t own a camera, or would have taken a photo.) I include it for the benefit of a # of friends who have recently said to me, what is it these people are on about?

Declaration of the Occupation of New York City

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.

They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.

They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.

They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.

They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices.

They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.

They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.

They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.

They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.

They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.

They have sold our privacy as a commodity.

They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.

They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.

They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.

They have donated large sums of money to politicians supposed to be regulating them.

They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.

They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantive profit.

They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.

They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.

They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.

They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.

They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.

They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.*

To the people of the world,

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!

*These grievances are not all-inclusive.