The national dialogue started by Occupy Wall Street will continue, but the last of the encampments that have sprung up in big and small cities across America will be cleared out tonight.
Last Friday, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Police Chief Charlie Beck held a press conference announcing the city of Los Angeles was issuing an eviction order for the lawn of City Hall where hundreds of protesters associated with Occupy Los Angeles have been camped since October. On Monday at midnight police began enforcing that eviction order, arresting dozens of protesters in a largely peaceful manner. This is in stark contrast to other cities and university campuses where police have used unnecessary and outrageous force to evict protesters from public spaces.
This signals the end of the first stage of this movement, to occupy these spaces in order to draw the nation’s attention to its unchecked economic and political corruption. Although media commentators, some members of the general public, and FOX News have nurtured doubts about the “focus” or the “message” of this movement, there can be no doubt that this Occupy Movement has restored the problem of economic inequality in the conscience of the nation.
The question now is what the second stage of this movement will look like. As protesters and sympathizers search for the means to continue raising consciousness about the problem of inequality, efforts must be made to create a national organization with state and local outreach. This should be done to counter the perception that the Occupy Movement is merely a bunch of malcontents, anarchists, and homeless persons without a message.
In reality, it is a movement made up of diverse Americans all of whom have been adversely impacted by an economic and political system that no longer serves the interests of the supermajority of its stakeholders. These Americans include young and old alike, whether they are homeless, poor, unemployed, or employed is irrelevant. The Occupy Movement represents the most authentic cross-section of America to date, and therefore speaks honestly to the very real problems that plague our friends, families, and fellow citizens.
We live in the wealthiest country in the world. Roughly speaking, that wealth is controlled by 1 percent of its citizens. Meanwhile, the lives and prospects of the remaining 99 percent continue to suffer and diminish in the face of permanent unemployment, massive credit card and student loan debt, and a democracy that has been hijacked by money and special interests. Despite attempts by corporate hacks and establishment apologists to discredit the Occupy Movement for lack of “focus” or “message” because it lacks “sexy” marketing, the nation owes these brave souls who have suffered derision, endured bad weather and faced the batons and pepper spray of police officers, for bringing the real problems of this country to the table.