I arrived at Occupy Wall Street (OWS) in New York City’s Zuccotti Park on Oct. 23.
I was met with a scurry of activity, a crowd comprised of protestors from all over the world who were engaged in various direct action campaigns.
Many activists were huddled into pockets of working groups. Others were conducting teach-ins, constructing information booths, wrangling tent poles and sifting through piles of books available at OWS’s library.
I wandered past aisles of clothing racks filled with clean clothes and bedding that OWS’s comfort station provides for no fee to its occupiers. I followed a line of people that stretched so long that, for a while, I could not identify its beginning or end.
I discovered the line led to the serving station of OWS’s free kitchen. As I wondered on through Zuccotti Park, I squatted down to eye level with a man sitting cross-legged on the park’s pavement.
I asked him how they were running this movement.
He replied, “You are the movement. You are a member of the 99 percent. So, we will occupy this park indefinitely because it is our moral obligation.”
I decided at that moment that we were indeed all members of this moral movement.
Occupy Wall Street is a leaderless social and economic movement that calls on all supporters to occupy cities all around the world peacefully and non-violently until we achieve a global revolution. Currently, there are more than 1,500 occupied cities standing in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street.
We have outlined our set of grievances in our “A Modest Call to Action” document (also adopted by Occupy Des Moines). This statement addresses the economic injustices and inequalities that 99 percent of the global population suffer from due to the abusive and unregulated powers practiced by the mere 1 percent.
Currently over 46 percent of the world’s wealth lies in the hands of the 1 percent, and we are issuing a call to action on all members of the 99 percent to demand economic freedom and liberty.
I have been engaged in political activism for more than 11 years, but never before on such a large scale. I occupied Wall Street for 6 days in Zuccotti Park in Manhattan’s financial district, where I slept on the park grounds in a sleeping bag.
I began working as a server for OWS’s kitchen, and shortly after my arrival I joined the Visions and Goals working group. This was just one of more than 54 working groups practicing while I was there and now there are more than 82.
We met daily before our general assembly at The Atrium on 60 Wall Street. Because the community was overwhelmingly supportive of our movement, nearly all of the working groups had spaces made available for them to meet every day due to donations from local businesses.
The Visions and Goals working group focused primarily on creating a global conversation among all occupiers everywhere. I absorbed a great deal of knowledge during our meetings and returned to Occupy Des Moines to incorporate this knowledge into our local movement.
I am a member of the Occupy Des Moines Actions and Events Committee. I am also a member of the First in the Nation Caucus Occupation subcommittee, and a point person for our Iowa Outreach and Non-Violent Civil Disobedience working groups.
Most recently, our committee gained approval by our general assembly to pursue our “First in the Nation Caucus Occupation” campaign. This campaign gained national breaking news coverage on CNN.
Occupy Des Moines has extended a global invitation to all available activists to join us in our occupation of the presidential campaign headquarters between Dec. 26 and Jan. 3.
Jessica is a senior history major with a political science minor. She has been active in Public Interest Research Group in both Iowa and New York as an activist for stricter environmental regulations.