Greta Cobar

Unoccupied – Two Views on the Occupy Movement

By Greta Cobar

Occupy Venice voluntarily de-occupied the Windward Circle while all over the country the police have taken violent, extraordinary measures to do just that. Infiltrators have penetrated occupation movements in an effort to stir disagreements, fights, and ultimately to dissipate the collective solidarity of the 99%. Although the 1300 occupations taking place right now in the US have stayed strong when faced with internal strife and continued to expand in spite of police brutality, quite the opposite took place in Venice.

The Venice occupiers themselves called the police and asked them to remove person(s) from the Circle. One might think that the person(s) had to be removed because they were part of the other 1%, but that was hardly the case. The group that assumed leadership of the Circle announced that the Circle should be occupied strictly by non-homeless individuals. According to them, “this is not a bed. If you are homeless and you are just looking for a place to sleep, don’t come over here.”

But this is Venice, and it has been occupied. We’ve had hundreds of people sleeping outside since the great recession has set in. And then as soon as “Occupy Venice” signs go up people are chased out of their own neighborhood?

Although piggy-backing on the Occupy Wall Street movement, the Venice occupation was different. In Venice individuals did take charge and put themselves in a position of leadership, and adopted the motto “We are the 99% and the 1%. Together we are 100% and we are whole.” It sounds bohemian, but it does not represent Venice, which has historically embraced alternative lifestyles, including non-housed individuals.

The persons in power don’t represent Venice either. Since when do we follow someone who has moved here from Texas seven months ago, had been given a top secret security clearing, and who blatantly stated that in the past the CIA had tried to recruit him?

Perhaps we need to re-occupy the circle with true community involvement. Real Venetians who have been local activists for years or generations were quickly driven away by the individuals who assumed leadership of the circle through arrogance, self-righteousness and ignorance. The whole movement got off to a bad start when Jody Evans, of Code Pink, initiated the occupation on October 9. She was there just long enough for the photo-op, which is not to be found in the definition of occupation.

Housed or not, come out and occupy the Circle and the world!

We will start from scratch Saturday, November 5, from 4 to 6. And don’t forget about the rally to stop the sale of the historic post office that also takes place November 5, from 2 to 4. See you all there!