The inside story of Occupy

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The life changing experience of being in an exciting new movement is something that all those who are part of it will want to share.

But of course, doing so isn’t easy. Everyone will have their own best and worst moments, their own perceptions of its strengths and weaknesses, their own ideas about what it was for and where it should go.

The working group collective that tried to condense #OccupyWallStreet into a blow-by-blow account of the movement that would suit almost everyone’s tastes certainly had their work cut out.

But the authors of Occupying Wall Street have done a pretty good job. The ‘writers for the 99%’, were part of the movement since its inception and follow its development from a small group of activists launching a stunt to a global movement that saw hundreds of thousands take to the streets against injustice the world over.

Contained within the pages are inspiring accounts of defiance as hundreds of protesters risked police brutality and mass arrests to march over Brooklyn Bridge and defend their camp from the almost daily risk of invasion. It charts the fascinating stories of individual characters within the #Occupy story: those who used their skills and dedication to supply occupiers with food, healthcare and education.

A particular gem is the chapter dedicated to the ‘People of Colour’ group that worked to give black and minority ethnic groups a powerful collective voice within the movement, conscious that affirmative action needed to be taken against the marginalisation of these groups within the decision making process, political campaigning and day to day life in Zuccotti Park.

And – skipping past some somewhat duller text on the workings of the general assemblies – it is these stories about the social dynamics of #Occupy that really give the book life and begin to explore some of the political tensions within the movement.

The authors are willing to go some way to critically analyse aspects of camp life – from the clear divisions of social class and increasing poverty in residents that could be seen from walking from the West to the East end of the park.

Authors note the difficulty in finding places to shower and bathe for the less affluent residents of Zuccotti compared to some of the more well-off students who tended to go home or to city centre-dwelling relatives to fulfil basic daily needs. They begin to explore some of the political differences between the ends of the camp and the difference in social class and political viewpoints of those speaking in the general assemblies and those who did not attend.

Occupying Wall Street gives a fascinating insight that allows us to explore the movement as it really was – and what lay behind the mass demonstrations and creative stunts seen in the mass media and on social media sites, and for this alone it is worth a read.

Occupying Wall Street: the Inside Story of an Action that Changed America

Writers for the 99%

www.orbooks.com (RRP £10)

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One Comment

  1. May 18, 2012 at 9:12 pm · Reply

    Unfortunately the socialist left played no role in the encampment aspect of OWS, although an anarcho-Marxist group called “Class War Camp” did set up shop: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_kocV86LkQ

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