In case you haven't heard, AdBusters, the magazine that first called for "Occupy Wall Street" movement in 2011, has called for the world to join in Chicago on May 1 in their latest "tactical briefing". In an hour #OccupyChicago began trending on Twitter in seven cities including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle and Washington DC. Most cities expressed excitement but many at "Occupy Chicago," including myself, expressed reservations.
This does not mean nothing will be happening on May 1. "Occupy Chicago" will rise to the occasion. "Occupy" is not owned by anyone. My problem is that a strong organization known as "Occupy Chicago" already exists. It has a functioning General Assembly (GA), planned actions, and allies all over Chicago. By AdBusters failing to contact us, it was a lack of respect for the months of work we as Americans had put into this movement. And by failing to contact us, it shows they have little to no understanding of the Chicago Police Department (CPD).
"Occupy Chicago" has been known to be very bureaucratic. We have procedural rules that guarantee the ability to all who wish to be heard, and express their opinions about proposals and actions. AdBusters may have initially called for #OccupyWallSt, but they didn't build it.
They didn't have to stand up to police brutality, endure torrential rain/blizzards, or have their civil liberties stripped from under their feet. I'm not saying they have no say; we all stand together regardless of borders. But to create an action you need the GA's (the ultimate decision making body) approval. AdBusters wants to speak for the 99 percent: be one of us, don't call orders at us from above.
The reason I am explaining this, is we already had events planned. "Occupy Chicago" had passed a proposal that called for perpetual events and actions in Chicago starting April 7, 2011 known as "Chicago Spring". There was an event on May 1 and AdBuster's call had serious shortfalls in understanding the culture of Chicago. May Day (May 1) is historically a day about immigrant rights. Sure, it's had a worker's rights flavor splashed in, but not sufficient enough to justify coopting their day. "Occupy Chicago" does not want to silence our brothers and sisters we share a struggle with by attempting to overpower their voice. (May Day in Chicago yielded almost 500,000 people).
In 1968 Chicago witnessed Democratic National Convention police riots. You may as well be asking upfront for it. AdBusters must know that Chicago has had almost 300 arrests related to attempts at encampment. That must be why they called for "peaceful barricades". If you want to pick a fight with CPD, you should consult those whose name you are using.
Occupy Police had this to say: "while global solidarity is important, it's better to let a community deal with community issues, especially when it comes to things like police/community relations which... are not good."
The part that annoys me the most: the #OccupyChicago is too long of a word. Twitter has been using #OChi for about a month to address that issue. This may not seem too bad to many, but for those of us on Twitter, it sucks.
This is our home
So if you are going to make a decision like that, talk to us first. Talk to the "Committee against NATO and G8 War
& Poverty Agenda" (CANG8), a group not part of "Occupy Chicago," but has been working hard on planning actions. "Occupy Rogers Park" in the Northside of Chicago has been actively working and influencing the decisions of local politicians in City Hall. 'Occupy the Barrio' in the Pilsen neighborhood has been surged in popularity in Chicago's Southside through community outreach and direct actions. "Occupy the Dream," a coalition of several activist groups in the Southside of Chicago including Trinity Church Community Center, SOUL Chicago, Occupy Chicago, IIRON, Liberate the Southside, Occupy our Homes, Northside P.O.W.E.R., and the Northwest Indiana Federation have worked tirelessly to host major actions across the city.
There are even more: "Occupy Logan Square," "Occupy the South Side," "Occupy the Hood." All of us were working together to make Chicago Spring a coordinated effort. Work with us . . . Not against us. We know Chicago, far better than you. Work with us so you can learn from our experiences of being activists in the Windy City. And remember, you are talking about our home; treat it with respect in all your decisions.