There are many ways that you can support the growing Occupy Wall Street movement:
JOIN IT. Visit an occupation site near you. There are currently more than 200 in the United States alone. In Boston come down to Dewey Square, outside of South Station in front of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Talk to the people who are there. Stay for a General Assembly. Make a sign and carry it. Participate in a protest march (these are frequently announced on the Web site beforehand; check back often). Bring a tent and stay awhile.
START AN OCCUPATION. Figure out what resources you need, learning from what other Occupy groups have done. Gather together friends, family, co-workers, and members of your faith community, labor union or school. Reach out to existing anti-poverty and economic justice groups active in your area. Choose a space. Bring a sleeping bag and/or tent. Call the press. Create a Web site.
Instead of occupying a public square, how about organizing a picket line (outside a Bank of America location, say, or a federal building). How about a rally? How about a vigil? What could your theme be, and could there be costumes, theatre and music?
PROVIDE MATERIAL, MORAL & SPIRITUAL SUPPORT. Many of the Occupy groups have Web sites. Check them out for what they need in terms of supplies. Some of these sites also make it possible to send financial contributions either on line or to a mailbox. Be generous. Check with the group what they need vis-à-vis food. Many Occupy groups have set up kitchen tents, so check in there. Visit and stay awhile, encouraging the protesters who are sleeping there with your positivity. Remind them of the support they have among many ordinary people in the US and around the world. Pray for the protesters, and if possible include them in the “prayers of the people” in your faith community. Hold them in the Light.
TAKE ACTION ON THE ISSUES. Marching, protesting, and camping out in public squares are not for everybody, and that’s okay. Even if it is okay, here are some other things you can do to support this broad-based social change movement:
- MOVE YOUR MONEY. Withdraw your support of Citi, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. You can close all of your accounts with these banks and transfer your money to a local bank or credit union. The too-big-to-fail banks are more interested in continuing the risky (and still unregulated) practices (using your money!) that led to the economic crash. Local banks and credit unions do disproportionately more lending to local small businesses, did not engage in these risky practices, do not give their CEOs millions in bonuses, and have fewer fees. Divest from Wall Street and invest in Main Street!
- CALL YOUR STATE’S ATTORNEY GENERAL. There is mounting proof that the big banks falsified documents, encouraged bad loans, and lied to investors–illegal actions that led to the housing collapse, costing the world economy $7.7 trillion and causing the Great Recession. Now five of these banks—JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and Ally Bank—want immunity from prosecution in return for a settlement of just $20 billion. President Obama will give this to his Wall Street cronies, a slap on the wrist and nothing more. This amount is a fraction of what the banks cost American investors and homeowners. But this deal relies on the agreement of state attorneys general. The New York, Minnesota and Nevada attorneys general, are not going along and are conducting their own investigations. Encourage your state’s attorney general not to accept this deal and to investigate and prosecute wrongdoing. Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley can be reached at (617) 727-2200.
- BRING THE PUSH TO AMEND THE CONSTITUTION TO YOUR COMMUNITY. Help reverse the Citizens United decision of the US Supreme Court, which enshrined the “personhood” of corporations and granted them First Amendment rights of free speech. This has sealed excessive corporate influence over our democracy, allowing corporations and unions to flood political candidates with unseen and unlimited financial contributions.
- CALL AND WRITE YOUR LEGISLATORS. QUESTION POLITICAL CANDIDATES. Who is paying for their election campaign? What are their budget priorities—endless war or Medicare? Will they reinstate Glass-Steagall? Will they give the Securities Exchange Commission more regulatory powers? Do they support the overturn of Citizens United? Will they pass the Fair Elections Now Act? Will they protect social programs from budget cuts? What do they think of Occupy Wall Street?
- SCREEN THE ACADEMY-AWARD™ WINNING DOCUMENTARY “INSIDE JOB” IN YOUR HOME AND COMMUNITY AND DISCUSS IT. Most public libraries have the DVD. What will your audience do about what you have seen, heard and learned? What actions will you take together?
HELP THIS MOVEMENT EVOLVE. The Occupy Wall Street movement is weeks old. Yet in weeks, it has galvanized older social change campaigns and altered the political discourse nationally. What matters most to you about this changing climate? What do you hope for? Be sure to articulate this, and your own reasons for joining or sympathizing with the movement. Talk, write, blog, preach, teach and/or sing about what is important to you. In so doing, you are helping shape the discourse about both the Occupy Wall Street movement and the issues.
SHARE YOUR STORY. Are you struggling to make ends meet? Are you on an ever-running treadmill of overwork just to keep your head above water financially? Do you have a family member in the armed forces deployed overseas? Are you a returning veteran? Are you being foreclosed on? Have you lost your retirement savings? Do you have thousands of dollars in student or other debt? Will you go bankrupt paying or trying to pay medical bills? The Occupy Wall Street and We Are The 99% movement has broken the silence for many people—sharing their stories publicly for the first time. What is happening to you is not a sign of your failure; the whole system is failing. By telling your story, speaking frankly and openly about your situation, you are giving permission to others to do likewise.
And in so doing, helping the 99% find itself and its voice.
I am finding that–at least for the occupies I have “liked”–Facebook is the most efficient way to get updates around events. The web page seems to take a bit longer for them to get updated…
Nice Blog Peter!
Nice entry, Peter. I really like your directing attention to options besides camping out. For one thing, a lot of us have to go to work (lucky to have those jobs), take care of children and parents, etc., and simply can’t spend more than an hour here and there on the streets. More importantly, this movement isn’t about sit-ins–that’s just the form the first protests have taken. If that’s all we did we’d have decreasing impact as the press and politicians realized that they could ignore us and keep on doing the same thing.
Anyone can get an appointment with their congressperson–you don’t have to go to Washington. Gather a group of concerned friends, call your rep or senator’s local office, tell the staff you have a group that wants to meet with them about the policy issues Peter’s raised, and have a concise statement to give. Then ask the staffer your question (“Will the Senator vote to give the SEC more regulatory powers?”) and listen. Promise to follow up. Follow up. Keep up the pressure.