Thursday, May 17, 2012

Interview with an Occupier - Part 2

This is Part 2 of my interview with micah philbrook, my friend and protestor involved with the Occupy movement.  Click here for Part 1. 

JF: Do you think the popularity of Occupy would be as great without social media sites like Twitter?
micah: I do not think the global spread of this movement would have been as fast, maybe not even possible, with out the social media outlets available today. 

Our fearless protestor.
JF: Do you think the movement in it's current incarnation of occupying public spaces is sustainable?
micah: I think it could be sustainable, but faces a lot of hardships in the form of police and state repression. But, if left alone, i think it would be completely sustainable. 

JF: Are there other methods of protest being developed?
micah: There are many methods already being employed. Occupying a public space to create a community is one of many. More standard varieties like marches and sit-ins, street theater and boycotts have been used by many occupations. Teach-ins have been held on many a subject and cause, since education is often one of the best ways to protest the current system. 

JF: The popular chant of the Occupy Movement is "We are the 99%." Many of the 99% have jobs, families and other responsibilities that keep them from being able to camp out in one place for an extended period.  How would you suggest those people get involved?  Is there any discussion about recruiting these people for use in other ways to aid the movement?
micah: Those that feel they cannot sacrifice time to be at the actual site of their local occupy, can support in many ways. The first and easiest way is simply talking about it with friends and family. Research it and find out what the movement is about, and discuss it. Getting the discussion started is an important part of any revolution. Other ways to support can be found on the website of the Occupy. Many need supplies donated and often have ways to accept monetary donations. Most Occupies have an extensive network of support online as well. OC has many committees that work online and in meetings, creating proposals and organizing the operations of our movement. 

JF: Has there been any talk or action about registering Occupy members to vote?
micah: Some have suggested OC register people to vote, but many feel that the current political structure doesn't work and that voting for a Democrat or Republican won't do anything to actually effect change.

JF: Has there been any talk or action around rallying Occupy members to vote (especially in primaries)?
micah: Not really, for the above reason. I imagine there will be more as they approach. There is a group looking to "occupy the caucuses", though i believe it's to spread the message to the people, not the politicians. 

JF: What do you see as the future of the Occupy movement?
micah: I honestly don't know. I’d love to see it cause real change in the area of campaign finance and corporate person-hood. But even more, I think it has the possibility of showing people that a different world is possible. That a community of sharing enlightened individuals is not just an idealistic utopia, but an attainable goal to which we should strive. 
Either way, i am down for the ride. and i think we are winning the fight. :)

JF: You said that many feel that the current political system doesn't work.  Are you implying that there are many who want to see the current political system overthrown?  Or just changed?
micah: Many within Occupy Chicago do want to see the current political system drastically changed, many even would say overthrown. I know plenty also contend that the current political system should just be reformed or restructured.

JF: How do you expect change in the political system to happen if you refuse to participate?
micah: I personally think the change will come from the people. Your question implies that the only way to change the political system is to participate in it, through the narrow channels available to us. I refuse that sort of dictated minor input into my "democratic" government. I feel that the people will together decide how they want to structure a government that actually works for them. And I don't think that will happen from casting votes and calling representatives begging them to represent us. That has been what has been the answer, and the political change that I feel is needed has not happened yet. All major social movements that led to policy changes reached that goal from the people rising up and forcing change. It wasn't through voting and playing with in the prescribed system.

JF: Many would argue that the Tea Party achieved some success and influence because of their willingness to engage the political system, find candidates and vote for their candidates in the primaries and general elections so that they would have a representative voice in government.  Is Occupy rejecting this idea completely?  If so, why?
micah: Occupy Chicago recently released as a statement that I feel answers this better than I could. It is entitled "Who We Are" and can be found here:

JF: Many of the Occupy protests have turned violent.  What is the Occupy Movement's philosophy on peaceful vs. violent protest?
micah: Occupy Chicago, like all Occupys I know of, is a non violent peaceful protest movement. We have rejected the notion that the only way to make change is through violence. Most examples of violence at the various occupations and marches around the country were instigated by the police, through the use of fear tactics, rubber bullets, tear gas, and in some cases sound canons. The use of military grade weapons as crowd dispersal methods on peaceful protesters is a deplorable tactic and has lead to many injuries. At no point has (and I feel they won't ever) Occupy Chicago or any other Occupy called for violence at any of it's actions or rallies.

JF: The Tea Party protests did not turn violent even though many protestors openly carried guns.  Yet, the peaceful Occupy protestors have repeatedly been physically assaulted by police.  What do you attribute this to?  Is it simply that the Tea Party was more mobile and local governments have less tolerance for extended protest?
micah: I think the answer is that the Tea Party protests did not challenge the ruling class retaining their control over the population. Not in any real or lasting way. The Tea Party blamed the poor and less fortunate more often for the ills they perceived, and not the people in power, whom Occupy sees (correctly I feel) as the real culprit.

JF: What online resources should people visit to learn more about the Occupy movement?
micah: Each Occupy has it's on website and most have a Facebook page. Here are some of the occupations and informational resources that I found helpful.

other news sources:

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