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Spring Awakening 

Why We (Still) Occupy

The tents are gone from city hall, the din of drum circles has faded and the stand-offs between police and protesters seem to be a thing of the past. Indeed, in most peoples' minds the Occupy movement seems to have left the scene. But this is far from true. While the symbols that best personified this dynamic movement have vanished, the injustices which led to its popularity persist.

By the end of 2011, the majority of Occupy encampments were dismantled, often violently. Along with the evictions came an interesting paradox: while many of its critics urged the movement to stick to its message and not the idea of the tent city, as soon as the tents were gone the media could care less about what the movement was up to.

Imagine our surprise when, despite spending the last several months building our organization, developing campaigns, building alliances, and organizing well-attended demonstrations with students, teachers, immigrant workers and homeowners facing foreclosure, we continue to hear, "Occupy? That's still going on?" We have adjusted to every criticism that was flung upon us in those first few months: we have remained nonviolent, we have removed the tents, and we have focused on the inequality between the 99% and the 1%. Yet we continue to hear that the "Occupy movement is dead." Nothing could be further from the truth.

We have built coalitions seeking to end budget cuts; we have launched campaigns against "Corporate Personhood"; we have spearheaded an effort to divest individual and public monies from Wall Street and establish a publicly owned bank in Sonoma County; and we have been active with Occupy Petaluma in its struggle to establish a moratorium on home foreclosures.

As long as working people are forced to suffer and struggle just to survive; as long as there is a single soul who must die because of a lack of health insurance; as long as our students are made to be indentured servants to Wall Street because of loan debt; as long as those who create the wealth of this country continue to be robbed of the benefits of this wealth, the Occupy movement will not go away.

Carl Patrick is a farm-worker and organizer with Occupy Santa Rosa. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write openmic@bohemian.com.

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