Thursday morning, thousands of people moved into Freedom Plaza, Washington, D.C., site of the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign’s Resurrection city.
Can a movement of the 99% of us who are living off the plutocrats’ crumbs pick up the cause of social justice?
Day 1 was largely speeches and music, but energized by the sense that something new is building. We went over to the Chamber of Commerce and shut that criminal operation down for a while, and as we marched through the streets, including K Street, cars honked not in complaint at the traffic jam but in support of what we were doing.
Everyone I talk to supports what we are doing. Everyone wants our corrupt government to represent people. Everyone wants the rich taxed, the wars ended, and the money moved from militarism to human needs.
And a few more people are beginning to realize that we’re all having the same problems, and that we are much more numerous than those who are profiting from our impoverishment. The Romans didn’t want slaves marked as slaves, because then they might recognize their numbers. This is that kind of moment.
But we’re not here just to give speeches, sing songs, or carry posters through the streets. We’re here to nonviolently shut down the operation of a government that will literally ruin the world if we don’t stage an intervention.
We’re also here to establish a presence, a nonviolent occupation of public space. That’s why some of us are planning to stay in Freedom Plaza night and day and, if possible, get some sleep too. There are debates over whether to push that issue yet against police resistance. Our democratic assemblies have not yet hit their stride. But as this occupation grows and comes into its own, many of us will be trying to live in Freedom Plaza and nowhere else.
This is not a part-time operation. Its success depends on the participation of people who cannot afford Washington, D.C., hotel rooms. We needs to build a people’s city within this city, itself occupied and disenfranchised by our antidemocratic federal government.
If you are with us on taxing the rich, if you are with us on ending the wars, if you are with us on moving the money from the war machine to jobs, green energy, and education, then be with us in Freedom Plaza and bring your sleeping bag.
“Cast your whole vote,” said Henry David Thoreau, “not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence.” Thoreau was protesting President Polk’s fraudulent imperialist war on Mexico. And now whom to we remember and learn from, President Polk or Thoreau? Let’s learn from him, then.
Don’t drive by and honk. Don’t email me to say you’re here in spirit. Be here in flesh and bone. Be part of the resurrection of popular pressure on a government that has lost all connection with morality or even its own preservation.
Be part of a movement that answers President Obama’s Thursday press conference like this: We are not upset, Mr. President, about a system that gives you tens of millions of dollars and which you repay a thousand fold but which you are somehow helpless to control. We are outraged by you, your Wall Street cabinet, your Wall Street advisors, your corporate trade agreements, your bankster bailouts, your immunity for financial fraudsters, your assassination programs, and your overfunded war machine. We will resist the Congress, the Pentagon, the lobbyists, and the funders, and we will resist you with every last drop of our influence.