Time for Occupy to evolve
“Apathy isn’t it. … We can do something. OK, so flower power didn’t work. So what? We start again.”
For the past three months, a moderate assortment of tents and signs painted with slogans such as “This is what solidarity looks like” stood steadfastly at Moana Pool in the makeshift Occupy Reno campsite.
Last week, protesters dismantled the site and cleaned up garbage as the occupation came to an end. On Jan. 25 at 4 p.m., the special events permit given to the demonstration by the city of Reno reached its expiration.
After a tumultuous start on the streets of New York and a riveting climax as dozens of other cities joined in, the Occupy movement, which began in September with citizens protesting the economic injustice in the United States, has reached its dénouement in Reno—for the moment.
It was an exciting political movement while it lasted. Watching the initial Occupy Wall Street protest cause uproar in New York City that would inspire a remarkably large wave of similar demonstrations across the United States was thrilling. And, for months, hearing about the adversity many protesters faced including police brutality and arrest was inspiring.
But now the movement has fizzled out, as the desertion of the Reno campsite suggests, and the timing for this seems about right. We can’t continue to hope that “occupying” anything will still earn a reaction from people, as it did when the idea was fresh and more based in rebellion. But, at the same time, we can’t allow the end of this particular movement to make us forget the reason it was started.
Though the campsite has disbanded, the activists behind Occupy Reno are still at work tackling important issues. Last week, some demonstrators presented the Reno City Council with more than 1,000 signatures in support of a resolution that would place restrictions on the way corporate money is allowed to finance politics. The resolution was one of many that have popped up across the United States, which, inspired by the increase of political action committees, would have ended the protection of corporations’ rights to spend money in order to influence the electoral process. This concept has become known as “corporate personhood,” which implies that companies are being granted the same rights as individual citizens.
Councilman Dave Aiazzi supported the resolution and brought it to the City Council, which voted 6-1 to deny it for various reasons.
Still, the fact that those associated with Occupy Reno are continuing to work on projects such as this one to extend the influence of the movement is exactly the right move at this junction in time.
It is not a bad thing to let go of the Occupy movement. The time to let go has come. It is, however, always a bad idea to let go of our passion and desire to influence change. There is still work to be done. It is simply time for a new tactic.
I want to believe that the movement was more than just a fad, and I want to believe that it will have lasting effects on the United States besides contributing the phrase “We are the 99 percent” to our vernacular.
The outpouring of support for the movement has proven that many U.S. citizens are displeased with the country’s current economic structure and require something to change. If all of us remain focused on this fact in the coming months despite the dwindling of actual campouts, rallies or protests associated with Occupy Wall Street, we will be much more likely to maintain the community that has formed around the so-called 99 percent and use this unity to continue working toward a common goal of economic reform.
So when you pass the now-vacant lot at the Moana Pool, I hope you won’t feel discouraged that Occupy Reno is no longer there. I hope, instead, that it inspires you to help come up with the next big movement that will bring about much-needed change in our lives.