Spring Has Sprung With #OccupyIndyMall
April 11, 2012
"I ain't afraid of you.
I'm just a victim of your fears.
You cower in your tower praying that I'll disappear,
I got another plan, one that requires me to stand."
– Saul Williams, List Of Demands
On a makeshift information table, in front of the First Amendment stone on the north side of Independence Mall, beneath an overcast and windswept Philadelphia sky in mid-April is a small stack of the Occupied Wall Street Journal. One of the front page articles is by Cornel West, where he describes the Occupy Movement as "a soulful expression of a moral outrage at the ugly corporate greed that pushes our society and the world to the brink of catastrophe". These words were written by West in November 2011, when at its peak, the Movement seemed like a tide only beginning to rise.
Today, 10 people sit huddled around the stone, whose etched words they regard as their "permit" to use the federal land of The Mall for purposes of redressing their grievances through an ongoing protest they claim has never ended. Many people regarded the Occupy Movement as over when police in New York evicted Occupy Wall Street protestors from their encampment in Zucotti Park back in November.
Indeed, clearing the Movement's flagship occupation, as well as almost every other occupation in major cities in the U.S. and around the world has curtailed much of the momentum they seemed to be gaining last Fall. It was a logistical victory for law enforcement, a strategy that many claim was facilitated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to disrupt the flourishing activist communities, pushing them out of the spotlight and into the shadows.
Today's outpost in Philadelphia is in day 6. It's numbers reach only into the single digits most days, a shell of what once was, when nearly 400 tents covered the plaza behind Philadelphia's City Hall. Such is the case almost everywhere else, even in New York where demonstrations that used to number in the tens of thousands may only reach several hundred or so, even during unseasonably warm days this past March. The Spring Offensive, or American Spring, as many are calling it, has yet to catch fire and inspire the anger and frustration of the people that seemed to be building around the world just months ago.
But after spending the winter going to meetings, indoor General Assemblies, seminars, workshops, small direct actions, classes and community events, its safe to say that the Occupy Movement in Philadelphia has emerged from hibernation and has regained its public presence. Occupiers at Independence Mall have been occupying in "shifts", so that over the course of a few days, faces will come and go, suggesting that this encampment's numbers are larger than what is seen on the streets at any given time. The sense of community and cooperation between occupiers that grew out of survival in the makeshift encampments in the Fall is beginning to sprout again.
Hard core occupiers have been sleeping each night outside the Wells Fargo building across the street, a tactic referred to in The Movement as #BankSleep or #SleepfulProtest, as park guidelines prohibit sleeping in Independence Mall. A new, smaller satellite encampment is now in place at a Wells Fargo bank branch about a mile away. After days of roughing it through cold, windy days and nights, warmer, milder weather is on its way, which will bring more occupiers to the park where they will become increasingly visible to tourists and passers by. Most importantly, members of the public, whose primary source of information and entertainment originates in the watered-down Main Stream Media, will once again be exposed to the concepts of corruption and greed that were so eloquently brought to the national discourse by the Occupy Movement.
Those who sought to suppress the Movement never completely closed the door. Occupy Philadelphia has shoved in a foot and has sown the seeds of the American Spring on the mall at the Birthplace of Freedom. This could very well be the spark that re-ignites the inferno.