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by Eric Ginsburg

Ten best things about Occupy Wall Street… so far

It’s about time

Author Naomi Klein said, “You watch US media and the question is, ‘Why are they protesting?’ where, everywhere else in the world, the question is, ‘What took them so long?’” Millions of people have been negatively affected by our economic system since 2008, but many more have always been marginalized by the nation’s staggering inequalities.

Union support

Undoubtedly one of the strengths of Occupy Wall Street is the participation of large unions in New York City, including pilots, transit workers and others. As some sought to malign the demonstrators as inarticulate or troublemaking youth, union support added numbers and legitimacy to their effort. Some union support has already been expressed in Greensboro, too.

Grassroots democratic nature

The occupations are organized with general assemblies, where decisions are made with direct participation from everyone and an egalitarian leadership that is designed to be inclusive and non-hierarchical. Just as important, it’s being built from the ground up by local people iand not a national steering committee or other organizational model.

No list of demands

Mistakenly identified as a weakness, the lack of specific demands is an immeasurable strength. Widespread movements are more easily co-opted or ignored when specific demands can be met or leaders removed, and a more far-reaching list of demands would be difficult to reach widespread agreement on, thus shrinking the movement’s appeal.

It’s constantly evolving

Since it was started, a major critique leveled at the effort was the use of the word “occupation” and the lack of acknowledgement that the entire United States is already occupied, indigenous land. People have also pointed out the need for a greater movement analysis of interlocking oppressions, specifically the connections between race and class. Now there is a people of color working group in New York and other attempts to improve upon the original model.

MSNBC calling out the police

Lawrence O’Donnell railed against police attacks on protesters on his show “The Last Word.” As he says, police mistreat people all the time, and know that their chiefs and politicians will make sure they get away with it. O’Donnell is one of the few pundits to side with the movement and should be commended for his articulation of the problem with policing in this country.

The Occu-Pie

Supporters around the world can call into local pizza places and order food for people at the encampment. One pizza place even created a pizza called the “Occu-Pie” in honor of the movement. Rumor has it that a number of orders have been coming in from Egypt.

It’s intergenerational and widespread

Occupations are happening fast, including an action Oct. 5 at UNC-Chapel Hill and planned actions throughout the state. The participants don’t represent a single demographic either — the struggle is intergenerational and crosses many other lines that often divide us. Tens of thousands of students, union members and other supporters marched together in Manhattan on Oct. 5.

The Occupied Wall Street Journal

Demonstrators are not about to let the mainstream media control their message. That’s why they created the Occupied Wall Street Journal, a print edition paper to spread their message. After setting an initial goal of $12,000 on their Kickstarter account for the first print run, they raised over $75,000. Twitter, tumblr and a live video stream also amplify their own media, live from Zuccotti Park.

It’s coming to Greensboro

At the fourth Occupy Greensboro meeting, more than 150 people gathered at Glenwood Coffee and Books Oct. 6 and decided to launch a local occupation on Oct. 15 — the day for nationwide occupations and actions — beginning with a march at 3 p.m. It’s impossible to say how large it will become, but if it is any indication, over 1,000 new people joined Occupy Greensboro’s Facebook group in one day before the meeting.

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