On November 17, 2011, about three weeks after having gotten arrested myself for “loitering” (no joke) at the much smaller Occupy San José, I had a chance to stop by the Occupy San Francisco camp. Things seemed orderly and peaceful, with people making music and art, talking, giving speeches etc. — nice vibe! Someone recorded the speech, which in turn allowed me to transcribe it (with a few minor edits for readability). The speaker gets introduced shortly after 0:14:00 into the video, her speech starts at 0:14:20.
I’m Jane, and I would like to talk about the reason that they want to evict us.
Back when this movement started there were a few tents popped up at 101 Market in front of the Federal Reserve, and they thought that the movement, it would go away. So they ignored us for a while. Then they tried to take it, and we came back stronger. The media ignored it. Then they tried to ridicule it. But what we did, is we struck a chord.
This fight is not about these tents. And by the way, it is not a camp, it is an occupation. We are not campers, we are occupiers. What these tents do is they create a space. They create a space that is around the clock. And if at any time somebody feels like this system that they live in is unjust, unfair, rigged, they can come here and talk to people who also think that.
When they come here they meet people who are organized, educated, well-spoken, get things done, and who know how to assemble, know their rights, and know their power. When they come here, they build a network. We are all building a network. And that is the real reason that they want to take down these tents.
They look for loopholes — health this, curfew that — but really, they are worried! They are worried that what we will do is shake up the status quo.
The power of these tents is that it is a space, it is making a giant spotlight on the precise problems with society today. And they are getting scared cause this spotlight is getting brighter and brighter by the day.
When people come here or to 101 Market, they learn all the ways that the Federal Reserve, the banks, the corporations have screwed us. They learn about these things. Think about the fact that you can talk to anyone in this camp right now and they can tell you about corporate personhood. This was not the case even just two months ago.
Right now people understand the things that are happening with money, taxes, how their taxes go to big banks so that then those big banks can get bailed out and use that bail-out money to make more money to then buy off the politicians, so that then the politicians are going to be serving them, and then the politicians will come and try to shut down these camps.
They try to shut down the occupation precisely because we’re shaking it up. Right now, the way things work is that the financial institutions and large corporations are in power. The politicians no longer serve the needs of the people. They are serving the needs of these corporations to keep raking in more money at the people’s expense. And the more we shine the spotlight on that, the more they’ll get worried. The more they’ll make up trumped-up charges. The more forces they will send down here.
But you know what we can hide behind? You know what we have on our side? We have the Constitution. The Constitution was not made so that people could argue it in court. It was not made so that ACLU can fight for us. It was made because the Founding Fathers realized that there might come a time in our history that we might need as people to be able to go against the government, to speak out against their tyranny. And guess what, that time is now. That time is today!
The government has become so corrupt, it has become so tyrannical, they are sending in forces, giant forces of police, who can’t speak, who are dressed in riot gear. They are sending in a hundred police officers for 50 campers last night at Dallas. They are sending in these giant forces to shut down not camps but ideas.
And I will do what the Founding Fathers intended me to do. And I will stand here and I will occupy and I will use my rights to free speech, to assembly, wether it includes a tent or whether it includes signs, and we will continue to organize. Right now, if they raided this, we have enough organization in place to come right back.
So in conclusion, it’s up to all of us to try to get this to be here as long as possible so that we can organize more and more, and we can take down the system and take it back for us, for the people. Because it’s our system, it is our America, it is our Constitution. It does not belong to the corporations, Goldman Sachs, the politicians. We will take it back. We will occupy for as long as we can.
Whether the Occupy movement (if you want to call it that) was able to make a dent or will find a way to continue to do so is a topic for discussion. What’s clear is that the issues remain. It’s more important than ever to shine a bright spotlight.