A man distributes flyers on Wall Street, adjacent to the New York Stock Exchange, for a future Occupy Wall Street event, Thursday, April 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Occupy Wall Street has emerged from a winter hibernation filled with direct democracy study, scattered protest and general regrouping with a focused resolve and strategies aimed at empowering the 99 percent to take on the 1 percent. Though actions throughout the world have continued under the Occupy Banner, May Day (May 1, 2012) marks the official beginning of Occupy Spring. This time around, the focus is not just on occupying. Occupation as a strategy has been effective in gathering the movers and shakers—still active in the movement—into one place and creating a symbol of youth activism for the twenty-first century. But for this movement maturing means more and varied direct action protests, a clear articulation of goals and the creation of new alternative political structures that can replace the status quo. Here are “Ten Things” you can do to support the movement on May Day and beyond.
1. A Day Without the 99 percent. OWS has called for a Day Without the 99 percent, and are encouraging people not to go to work, school, shop or bank. Find out about and participate in May Day actions in your city and state. Go to May Day NYC for actions in and around NYC.
2. Mutual Aid. The May Day Mutual Aid cluster believes in a society that operates on the exchange of skills and resources rather than participating in a purely for-profit structure—cooperation, rather than competition. On May Day, they’ll demonstrate this by providing food, clothing, legal services and street medical services to boycotters. Support Mutual Aid by donating food and clothes. Go to OWS Food Drive to find out how to donate food. Go to May Day NYC—Mutual Aid for times and sites for May Day in NYC.
3. Art and Entertainment. Check out the free public display of art and performances. Go to Call2Create for a list of events and artists participating in their May Day Gallery and ideas on creating your own events. Das Racist, Immortal Technique and Tom Morello from the Rage Against the Machine are slated to perform. Occupy Comix is also looking for submissions.
4. Immigrant Action. Stand up for immigrant rights. Read the list of demands of the May 1st Coalition for Worker & Immigrant Rights. Learn more about SB 1070 (Arizona’s “Show Your Papers” law) and similar legislation that’s been proposed in other states. If you are undocumented or just nervous about taking the day off from work, read OWS’s guide on “Why and how to strike” and contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. Education. If you are going to miss class, take one outdoors with CUNY teachers. Browse the OWS People’s Library. Attend a teach-in on Mutual Aid if you’re in NYC. Also if you need a reason to “play hookie” from work or school, use a suggestion from this article.
6. Occupy Everyday. If you can’t make it to May Day actions, use May Day principles in your life. Find creative ways to exchange goods and services. Host free events in your home, in your backyard or your place of worship. Start a petition on Change.org for a cause you believe in. Read beloved activist Grace Lee Bogg’s advice to young activists. Stay engaged with the movement. Go to Occupy.com for articles, events and videos.
7. Occupy Local Media. A reader suggested that we use a medium that’s ever present, but mostly overlooked in our lives: local media. General elections are going to bring about a barrage of political attack ads into our living rooms. Write to your local media if you want them to reduce the amount of ads. Go to Mondotimes to find local media by state and major city. Go to Congress.org to find media by zip code. Go to the Occupy Your Local Media website to learn how to write a Letter to the Editor and more.
8. Foreclosures. Stephen Lerner wrote for The Nation that OWS should focus on three major campaigns: foreclosures, student loans and the devaluing of work. Foreclosures are still taking place, and Occupy Our Homes is adding energy and numbers to stopping foreclosures by fighting with those who choose to take on bank and financial institutions. Read their stories and share your own. Browse the resources. Sign the pledge and attend an event in your neighborhood.
9. Student Loans. The campaign to forgive student loans has been gaining traction, and now HR 4170, the Student Loan Forgiveness Act, has been introduced in Congress. Learn more about the trillion dollar student loan debt on the Forgive Student Loan Debt website. Sign the petition to get it passed and follow the campaingn on Occupy Student Debt.
10. Bank of America. BofA has long been a symbol of the worst of the too-big-to-fail bank bailouts, as the government continues to keep the institution from drowning in its own induced bankruptcy. Go to Fthebanks.org to take action and go to Move Your Money to learn how to close your Big-Bank account. Read this article to learn more.
Additional Reading about Mutual Aid
Curl, John. For All the People: Uncovering the Hidden History of Cooperation, Cooperative Movements, and Communalism in America. Oakland, CA: PM, 2009.
Gelderloos, Peter. Anarchy Works. San Francisco, CA: Ardent, 2010.
Ilel, Neille. “A Healthy Dose of Anarchy.” Reason, Dec. 11, 2006.
Kropotkin, Peter. Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution. London, UK: Freedom, 1
Conceived by Walter Mosley and co-edited by Rae Gomes.