Fables of the Occupation

One year later, the movement continues
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  September 13, 2012


It's been one year since thousands of outraged protesters swarmed Zuccotti Park to demand vast socio-economic changes, but the movement's aftertremors continue to be felt. This past summer, a group of Occupiers helped expose the Boston police union for its savagely bigoted newsletter and subsequently fostered an overdue public dialogue about diversity in city leadership. The movement's New York base has been especially active, providing organizational support and people-power for efforts including, but hardly limited to, the uphill battle to end "stop-and-frisk" policies. The Midwest and West Coast also rage on, with ongoing arrests in Minneapolis and Los Angeles, while crusaders in towns and cities nationwide do the tedious work of pooling resources to fight foreclosures.

Elsewhere, from Bozeman to Baltimore, Occupiers have pushed local officials to divest municipal funds from predatory banks. Meanwhile, the robust Alternative Banking Group of OWS, comprised largely of financial industry ex-pats, is strategizing ways to build lending institutions that are beholden to clients and not shareholders. At the same time, swarms of Occupiers remain on the front lines, protesting Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan's trip to the Venetian Las Vegas Casino and disrupting the elephant- and donkey-shows in Tampa and Charlotte.

Finally, there's the international front, which is symbiotically inspired by stateside activity. Occupy Hong Kong made worldwide headlines in August after pitching tents in the city's financial district. Like their American counterparts, Chinese activists are primarily concerned with fast-increasing wealth disparity. A continent away, London Occupiers are fielding candidates in local elections. And perhaps most noticeably, young people are rising up in massive numbers from Canada, where several hundred thousand college students are still protesting high tuition fees, to Chile, where high schoolers have been brutalized for standing up to a corrupt and ineffective privatized school system.

For this Occupy anniversary issue, Phoenix reporter Liz Pelly profiles a new uprising of college activism in Boston, inspired by international movements. As someone who's been documenting Occupy since the beginning, writer and photographer Ariel Shearer checked in with some familiar characters from the Dewey Square camp. And I examined the upcoming trials of more than 30 Boston Occupiers who were arrested last year; I also interviewed iconic counter-culture journalist Todd Gitlin, whose new book, Occupy Nation, provides a deeply comprehensive account of how the movement hatched and persevered.

The movement's encampments are gone, and the media has largely moved on to focus on the presidential rat race. Yet the spirit of Occupy lives in every person who, energized by what they saw in Zuccotti and Dewey, was empowered to teach, volunteer, or leave a soul-crushing career to pay it forward.

Related: Occupiers then and now, Obama responds to the 99 percent, In a Newport defeat, lessons for the 99%, More more >
  Topics: News Features , activism, #OccupyBoston, Occupy,  More more >
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