PO Box 1162 Willits CA 95490
YouthSpeaksOut! was be hosted by students from Willits High School. They discussed the Occupy movement and how it appears to them.
Today our topic is "Occupy!" The year 2011 has seen citizen uprisings around the world. In December 2010 a Tunisian man set himself on fire in protest of police corruption and ill treatment. This led to huge street protests and a revolution that ousted the president. This inspired the wave of insurrections that became known as the "Arab Spring."
In Egypt the people occupied Tahrir Square as the whole world watched, with most Western nations cheering the overthrow of President Mubarak. Algeria, Jordan, Yemen and many other North African and middle eastern nations quickly joined in with attempts to overthrow their governments. The most widely publicized was the regime change in Libya, which involved massive foreign military intervention. Unlike the earlier uprisings which were accomplished primarily by citizens, the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi included nearly 10,000 bombing raids by NATO forces and the United States. Protests are continuing in Yemen, Syria, Bahrain and several other countries.
Huge student protests against austerity measures began in London in November of 2010, and in May of this year nationwide protests took off in Spain. In Wisconsin, demonstrations against government cutbacks began in February this year and continue. On September 17th, the first gathering of Occupy Wall Street was attended by several thousand citizens. Two weeks later a declaration of the occupation of New York City was published. It called for a peaceful assembly with three main goals- opposition to system-wide corruption, the end of corporate profit over the interest of the people, and a restoration of a democracy not determined by economic power.
Occupy Wall Street is a movement without leaders. It was brought about by the taxpayers bail-out of the banking industry, which had created an economic collapse through corruption and personal greed. Fraudulent banking practices led to massive foreclosures of homes being bought by American citizens, and the loss of jobs and government funded programs. Other reasons for the movement include the huge cost to receive a college education, corporate outsourcing of labor, and king-size bonuses to corporate executives.
In the 7 weeks since Occupy Wall Street began, the grassroots Occupy movement has spread to hundreds of cities in the United States, and several thousand cities worldwide. The Occupy Oakland actions have seen huge crowds peacefully demand that the culture move away from allowing banks and corporations to rule the nation. At the same time, there has been a small number of people destroying property, and police using violence to stop the protests. When Americans watched this happen in Egypt they cheered on the protestors. When this occurs in our country, many people are cynical or outraged that the protestors do not disperse when told to and complain when they are attacked by police.
In Mendocino County demonstrations have been taking place in Ukiah and Fort Bragg, though so far there are no encampments involved. Some groups from here have been attending Bay Area events and taking supplies for demonstrators. Information about the Ukiah group can be found at their website occupyukiah.org.
What we want to do on today's show is to present what we have learned about the Occupy movement, give our perspectives on what is occurring, and then discuss with you why people are demonstrating. Aaron and I attended the October 15th rally in San Francisco and we will describe that. A former YouthSpeaksOut host, Jenny Pierson, will give us a call from UC Berkeley and describe the Oakland protest from last Wednesday. Then we will open the phone lines for your insights and questions. We hope that you will want to be a part of this exploration.
Aaron, let's begin by describing our expectations on the way to San Francisco for the October 15th rally.
We're going to open the phone lines now. The phone number is 456-9991. Everyone is welcome to call, and we'd especially like to encourage the youth in the listening audience. Please call in if you have questions or insights about the Occupy movement.
Have you been involved in any actions, protests, or support for what is being currently called the 99% movement? If you attended any events, do you think that the media described it honestly?
Do you agree that this is the time for citizens to demonstrate about corporate control and the power of the banks? What do you think about students incurring significant debts to attend college? Have you or any friends lost a home to foreclosure? Do you know anyone who has lost a job or taken a wage cut because of the economic recession?
Can demonstrations change the direction of this country? Is violent repression an inevitable reaction to a civilian uprising? Do these demonstrations make you optimistic or fearful? Do you think that young people will take the lead in restructuring our democracy?