Seasoned activists know that when it comes to creating change, most factors are out of one’s control. The Occupy Wall Street protest was regarded with skepticism by many when it began—skepticism that seemed vindicated when 20,000 people failed to materialize in the first days like the organizers had hoped.
However, as some of the protest signs in New York have stated, “No one can predict the moment of revolution.” In hindsight, the reasons always seem obvious: gross inequality, a young and frustrated populace with a lack of opportunity, a system that lacks transparency and accountability. The organizers of Occupy Wall Street recognized that these factors played a role in the Arab Spring, and they tried to tap into that same energy here in the States. The result was not merely 20,000 people in New York; instead, there are many more, in over 200 actions across the country.
The wide breadth of messages coming out of the occupied spaces popping up everywhere are a direct response to the media’s often derisive question, “What do they want?” The selection of Wall Street, financial districts and bank offices around the country as the focus of discontent is not arbitrary; ultimately, it is the disproportionate amount of wealth being amassed by the top 1 percent of the country that is causing the problems for the rest. The recent $5-a-month debit-card fee Bank of America has imposed on its customers is another example that there is something inherently rotten with the machinations of government and finance.
The process of decision-making that has taken root in encampments across the country is long and complicated, but out of it is the amplified voice of peoples’ frustrations and ideas on how to solve them. The spirit of the occupation is spreading to anywhere that the excesses of our top-heavy financial system has destroyed lives—which is to say, everywhere. On Oct. 15 at 2pm, it will come to the plaza in front of city hall in Santa Rosa. We hope people will come out to participate in what is quickly becoming the defining struggle of our time.
Francisco Diaz is a student at the SRJC and one of the organizers of Occupy Santa Rosa. He lives in Marin County.