Washington Protest Stays Put

Across the United States, the 99 Percent Movement is occupying more and more parks to protest America’s growing economic inequality. In Washington DC, activist Kevin Zeese reports on the protest at Freedom Plaza near the Treasury building.

By Kevin Zeese

On Sunday night, our permit officially ran out in Freedom Plaza. Early in the evening the police reminded us our permit ended at 10 p.m. and they “had to do their job.”

We held an emergency meeting of many of the organizers and decided to stay. We took it to the General Assembly (see 1:49:22 of video) which agreed.

We were in solidarity – Freedom Park was paid for by our tax dollars; the Constitution says “Congress shall make no law abridging” our right to freedom of speech and right to assemble to redress grievances against the government. We had grievances, so we were staying.

We decided to dance until the police came for us. We dancedand our unity grew stronger.  Margaret Flowers and I went up on the stage and danced before a massive replica of the Constitution, “We the People in order to form a more perfect union.”

"We the People" begins the U.S. Constitution

We went to the stage so we could watch for police action.  As the permit holders we felt a responsibility to everyone there.  We wanted to warn them if we saw the police coming.

The rhythm of the drummers combined with electric music to create a pulsating beat that mixed in with our chants:

We are the 99 Percent
We are the 99 Percent
The People United Will Never Be Defeated
The People United Will Never Be Defeated
Doesn’t Congress Know: We Are the 99 Percent
Doesn’t Obama Know: We Are the 99 Percent
The 1% Should Know: We Are the 99 Percent

We danced, danced, people held hands in lines TOGETHER, circling the front of the Freedom Plaza encampment.  On the stage ten or so of us danced in unison, TOGETHER, clapping, moving, back and forth, back and forth.

Unity grew in the threat of police action and with our solidarity in not fearing it – in knowing that if the police destroyed our encampment and arrested us, our movement would grow.  We would be replaced.  We would return.  Repression would lead to a bigger occupation, not a smaller one.

Margaret and I were told that three police had just walked alongside the Pennsylvania Avenue side of Freedom Plaza seemingly counting how many of us there were. We decided to go meet with them.  We approached the officers behind the stage. They were friendly and so were we.

We too were united in the reality of the economic insecurity of the 99 percent. We shared concerns about today’s youth, leaving school with more debt than any generation before – and the worst job market for youth that any of could remember.

We talked about the unfair foreclosures created by a banker-created housing bubble that inflated prices beyond affordability; about the death of Americans because they can’t get health care. We talked about the wealth disparity seen in the annual IRS report of the wealthiest 400 Americans400 people with the wealth of 154 million, paying taxes at a rate of half of middle-class Americans.

We all agreed they did not acquire that wealth because they were smarter and worked harder. We know some of the hardest-working Americans are paid the least. We all knew of the deep corruption that led to economic disparity. We knew the unfairness.

We all see President Obama charging $38,500 to attend his fundraisers – more than the individual median income of Americans; and wonder what promises he is making for those bribe-donations? How will the economic unfairness be made worse by his billion-dollar campaign?

One officer told us he had a four-year-old daughter.  I told him about my two sons who are in their 20s, Margaret about her children in their teens.  We were united. The 99 percent wants a more perfect union.

The police told us there would be no arrests that night.  In fact, we had been out of compliance with the permit from the first day and we could have been arrested days ago.

The law does not allow sleeping in the park, the first night we developed a euphemism that the police joined in – we were not sleeping, we were “deeply resting.”  That night we agreed to wake people before the media arrived from their “rest.”

As the occupation grew, the violations of the rules grew.  People put up tents – the courts have always upheld the “no camping” rule in federal parks, but people knew their civil resistance history. Sometimes the simplest things led to the most dramatic changes.

Americans have been inspired by sitting on a bus too close to the front, sitting at a lunch counter where they were not allowed, sleeping in a ditch outside President George W. Bush’s ranch – so people camped in a federal park – doing a common human experience, sleeping.

Why are we doing this? Why are hundreds of occupations developing across the United States?

Because the people need to take power from the political and economic elites who have destroyed the economy and have us trapped in war quagmires around the world; because we need to END CORPORATE RULE that favors gluttonous profits for the wealthiest while the basic necessities of tens of millions are not met; because we need to immediately end wars of the American empire that have literally killed and displaced millions of innocent people.

We occupy to create a more perfect union where participatory democracy replaces the rule of concentrated wealth.

Now the police are telling the media that our permit ends on Monday at 2 p.m. – the time the permit allowed for clean up. But, today at noon the Constitution will still say: “Congress shall make no law abridging” . . . and the occupation will continue.

Kevin Zeese is an organizer for the Occupation of Washington, DC, in Freedom Plaza and co-director of Its Our Economy and co-chair of Come Home America.

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4 comments on “Washington Protest Stays Put

  1. Annette on said:

    Obama knows and understands! The Republicans have blocked everything he has tried to do for the 99%. The Republicans have been totally bought out by the 1%.

  2. @Annette: You are a complete fool if you think Obama isn’t part of the problem. BOTH SIDES ARE THE PROBLEM! Remember Obama’s bank bailout? Who did that benefit?

  3. So is this it> Is the movement over? what can i do in the future?

  4. whats next?