Occupy Wall Street is a budding movement that can be the tipping point for what we at UFE have been working toward. For a decade and a half, we have fought to push inequality to the center of the tax and economic policy debates in order to build an economy that works for all people.
In recent years, even as our analysis gained traction, policy makers at all levels of government have chosen to ignore the facts, ignore the people and govern chiefly on behalf of the already wealthy and corporate interests. Public awareness of the devastating inequality in our economy has grown but policy is still geared toward entrenching the rules that lead to growing economic inequity throughout the country.
The political climate has shifted in the weeks following September 17, day one of the occupation on lower Manhattan. With occupations and meet-ups taking place in over 600 cities, "Occupy Wall Street" has given rise to "Occupy Together." And, rather than wait for the polls to open next November, the U.S. occupations are engaging in direct action now and for as long as it takes to purge our political system of corporate dominance, restore democracy and give struggling people an actual opportunity for a better life.
It started in New York with Occupy Wall Street and in a matter of weeks has spread to hundreds of cities across the country. With the message of devastating inequality at their core, the occupations can be the movement for greater equality that this country needs. Please get involved. Here are some ways that you can take part:
- Find an occupation near you at OccupyTogether.org. If there is an occupation near you, go there. Ask them how you can help at your nearest occupation. Even if you are unable to join as a round-the-clock occupier, there are many ways you can support and strengthen the movement.
- Donate. Make financial and/or supply donations to Occupy Wall Street and your local occupations (find yours through Occupy Together). Different occupations are beginning to publish 'needs' lists that you can look to for ideas. Typical high-priority items include non-perishable food items, socks, blankets, warm clothing, tarps, camping gear, etc.
- Follow. Subscribe to your occupation's email list. Follow your occupation on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up-to-speed with developments and announcements about ways to help.
- Publicize. Share Facebook and Twitter updates from your occupation. Blog about and share your own links to information about your occupation. Write op-eds, letters to the editor, and demand that your local media (newspaper, TV, radio) cover your occupation. Engage in dialogue with your local media on Twitter about whether they're satisfactorily covering your local occupation.
- Attend and participate in your occupation's General Assemblies, where big picture goals and strategies are being decided through consensus-based decision-making. Some occupations hold workshops throughout the day on anything from facilitation skills to non-violence to political economics and even occupation safety and emergency care.
- Volunteer. Join an occupation working group. Committees are being formed to handle outreach, media, food, logistics, tactics, education, arts and culture, and much more. It's easy to just show up and lend a hand. And, if you have skills or expertise that could be helpful, organize a workshop.
Each of us—rich, poor or in-between—has a huge stake in the Occupy movement. Our futures and the futures of millions' of young people and millions more to come could very well depend on this movement. We hope you can help to raise its visibility, strength and endurance.
Some helpful readings:
- We Are the 99 Percent is a remarkable user-generated website that answers the questions about what this movement stands for. Read stories from ordinary people and add your own.
- Glenn Greenwald addresses some of the scornful reactions to Occupy Wall Street — even from progressives.
- Matt Stoller explains the anti-politics of Occupy Wall Street.
- David Weidner explains the irony of Occupy Wall Street.
- Ezra Klein shares what convinced him that Occupy Wall Street was worth covering seriously.
Update (10/14/11, 2:45 p.m.): At the suggestion of Occupy Together, we have created a page to help you find your local occupation. Find yours now.