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Celebrate the Culture of Resistance

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In Colombia after 21 days of a nationwide strike by thousands of farmers, blocking more than 40 roads nationwide, protesting farmers forced the Colombian government to negotiate the rejection of a farm bill and the release of detained protesters.

This week we reflect on the second anniversary of Occupy Wall Street and the fifth anniversary of the financial collapse.

There are reasons to celebrate despite continued economic stagnation and growing debt: the culture of resistance in the US is here and it's having an effect. There are cracks in the pillars of power, and it's up to us to pry them open and shine light on the lies and corruption that have been used to steal our future. We see a movement that is building momentum.

We look back over the events of the past two years and feel cautiously optimistic. As we met to organize the occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC, there was a strong sense of suspense. Some said that Americans weren't feeling enough pain, that we hadn't reached the tipping point. Similarly, the organizers of Occupy Wall Street acted out of anticipation. They staked out a place in the heart of the monster and held it. At first there were only a few hundred, but by holding that space courageously, more people were inspired to join them. Excitement and wonder were in the air. Could the people really take on Wall Street?

Obviously Wall Street thought so because they ordered excessive and constant police protection. They must have seen something brewing because Wall Street firms donated an unprecedented millions to the NYPD over the previous year.  It was police aggression towards peaceful protesters that grabbed public attention and sympathy. A few weeks after the start of Occupy Wall Street, an amazing 43 percent of Americans supported Occupy.

Two years later, the physical encampments are gone, but the Occupy Movement remains. Occupying public space was a tactic, not an end in itself. It was a way to make the issues visible, a place for people to gather, a model for a new way of doing things based on respect, mutual aid and democracy and a metaphor for claiming what has been taken. The 'public' is disappearing, not just public space but also public services, research and resources have been privatized, expropriated for the profits of a few.


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