Occupy: The Movement We’ve Been Waiting For

Written by FCJ Editor. Posted in Opinion, Politics

Published on November 22, 2011 with 4 Comments

File photo by Luke Thomas.

By Anthony Ginez

November 22, 2011

Revolution is in the air. And while the media and established elite, ready and eager to criticize, pry into the exact and tangible demands of the movement, the people have united together across this country – and around the world – in support of a movement that has hastily been labeled fruitless and unfocused.

This movement is larger than a single voice, a single message – or even a single person. It is larger than you or me. The mantra, “We are the 99 percent,” attempts to speak for (almost) everyone. The movement’s largest criticism is that it cannot provide a clear, focused demand. What began as a movement about economic injustice has evolved into a movement of all sorts including police brutality, the right to peaceful assembly, opposition to budget cuts and tuition hikes, labor rights, homelessness, unemployment and even Utopian ideals for a better world.

San Francisco is a city with a strong identity to the rest of the world. We are identified to be a city of tolerance, a city of great beauty and appreciation.

For a city that appreciates its identity in the world, as a collective, we have consistently struggled with our internal identity during the duration of our city’s fruition. The question and the idea of “What kind of city should this be?” appears in many writings about our beloved city. With every land use battle, every election, and every decision we make – we attempt to change or perpetuate the trajectory of our city seemingly always in transition.

For over a century and a half, San Francisco still questions what kind of city we should be.

The Occupy movement is only two-months old, and criticism that the movement has not focused its message or produced a clear demand is a criticism that is premature and impatient. A city like San Francisco seems like a natural home for this movement, yet local media outlets have been quick to criticize and local politicians and police have been everything but warm to the “occupation.” Yet the movement has succeeded in changing an increasingly one-sided, top-down national and local discourse.

The night of a “rumored” police raid on the San Francisco encampment, I came to the encampment by myself after a long day of work and classes at SF State, to take part in a historic movement. What I saw was not a dirty, homeless, tent-city, but a ground zero of community activism, youth involvement and citizen engagement. Not expecting to see any of my apathetic friends, I ran into friends of mine who I would never have expected to see at any political event. I saw coworkers and classmates. This movement was something with which we could identify. Something we could actually believe in.

David Harvey, in The Right to the City, writes that our right to the city is larger than our right to exist in the city, but it is also our right to take part in urban social change. This is what our society is about. This is what our city is about. A constant longing for something better. A persistent effort towards perfection. While the Occupy movement encompasses these things, it has been criticized for it. Harvey writes, “We cannot do without utopian plans and ideas of justice. They are indispensable for motivation and for action.”

San Francisco’s own struggles with social equity and identity are very similar to those of the Occupy movement. A city challenged with its identity should willingly open its doors to a movement challenged to create one. Together, we can think of a better world and ideas. Together, we can create tangible goals and directives to get there.

Anthony Ginez is a fourth-year student at San Francisco State University majoring in urban planning and political science.


Comments for Occupy: The Movement We’ve Been Waiting For are now closed.

  1. Love that last paragraph, Ann..something to think about for Act II. It also reminds me of what MLK plotted for the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which was, after all, to protest the discrimination of african-americans having to sit in the back of the bus…so they hit em where it counts, in the pocketbook, and boycotted the busses. it was doable…they taxied/carpooled when they could, and walked the rest of the time…
    I’m telling you, I keep thinking that maybe OccupySF should go to City Hall Plaza…then, if the homeless come to join, perhaps they could be enticed to sleep inside City Hall…where, let’s face it, it’s nice and warm.

  2. Anthony Ginez… The new generation of activists that we have been waiting for. Right on man!

  3. you mentioned apathy in your piece and I wanted to share this 7 minute video about apathy in politics http://sociopoliticonurd.blogspot.com/2011/11/7-ways-to-overcome-political-apathy.html

  4. It’s a little hard to know what to make of Occupy SF, right after an election that took such a sharp turn towards the 1%. Ed Lee became Mayor, with the blessing of the City’s fabulously wealthy political royals, Senator Dianne Feinstein and Rep. and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

    Nancy Pelosi, even as she endorsed Ed Lee, the candidate of the 1%, endorsed OWS and tried to direct its energies toward 2012 Democratic Congressional races.

    Now Ed Lee is preparing to name a replacement for Ross Mirkarimi, the new Sheriff, which will be the end of any semblance of a progressive majority on the Board, quite possibly for the next nine years, if the Ed Lee incumbent appointee is allowed to serve out Ross Mirkarimi’s term and then run for two more.

    Meanwhile Rose Pak is threatening to run for the District #3 seat held by David Chiu, whom she’s labeled an ingrate.

    I know that Occupy is not all about electoral politics, but what’s Occupy SF to make of this election? Ed Lee was the only candidate who had not gone on record in support of public power and a municipal bank.

    Ayanda Kota of Occupy South Africa and the Grahamstown Unemployed People’s Movement told me that “elections are for those who have money to put up the placards and buy the broadcast time, etcetera,” but that they have other methods. During Occupy South Africa’s first action, shackdwellers’ dumped the buckets distributed by the government in lieu of proper toilets and plumbing in a Grahamstown Municipal Bldg.
    Proper toilets and plumbing were the demand.