The following article was written by Joanna and published on the blog site, The Hart Monitor and in the Hartford News. In our opinion it is an excellent article that should be read by all folks who have occupied anywhere. “The Hart Monitor is a print newsletter and a blog dedicated to addressing racial justice in Hartford and beyond. The Hart Monitor will be helping Hartford residents connect with the people, issues, and events that are relevant to the fight for justice and liberation for all.” For another good reading see Occupy This Bitches, f rom The Hart Monitor site.
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Dear Occupy Hartford
Well, now that your camp at Turning Point Park has been disbanded, what will you do? Will you choose another space within this city to “occupy” or will you take some time to examine exactly what it is you have been doing for the past few months? I have spoken time and time again at various meetings about what I see as flaws in the “Occupy” movement, particularly regarding “Occupy Hartford”. I do not want to have to reiterate my concerns about the racism embedded in the rhetoric used by the “Occupy” protestors. I have been over that all before. People have posted numerous articles on your page, begging you to take their concerns about the movement more seriously. It seems like most of it has fallen on deaf ears. There have been a few of you willing to engage in dialogue, but far too many who have wanted to jump up and attack the messenger.
I am going to ask this though: Why do you feel the need to “occupy” a city? “Occupy Wall Street” was about attacking the institutions and corporations that are preying on people in this country. Wall Street was a physical location associated with these entities. It was not named “Occupy New York City”, it was “Occupy Wall Street”. So, I am having a really hard time understanding why all of these protests that were supposed to show “solidarity” with Occupy Wall Street were about occupying CITIES, instead of institutions. Why occupy Hartford? Has the city of Hartford or the people who live here shown that they are part of the economic elite who are keeping others down and oppressing them?
There are two definitions for the word “occupy” as it relates to a location. The first is simple: “to dwell or reside in”. Well, in that sense, since there are over 100,000 people living in Hartford, I would say that Hartford is ALREADY “occupied”. There are people already living here. Many of you have come from the suburbs to “occupy” Hartford. For what reason? The second definition of “occupy” is “to seize possession of and maintain control over by or as if by conquest.” I believe that the second definition fits best when it comes to “Occupy Wall Street”. The protestors wanted to be able to seize control of Wall Street in order to force the corporate elite to take the concerns of the rest of the people seriously. So, the second definition works in that sense. “Occupy Wall Street” was an act of war… a war on the elites. However, it does not make any sense whatsoever to “occupy” a city… especially not a city like Hartford, where there are so many people who are living under the yoke of oppression due to racism, poverty and ethnocentrism. Besides, many neighborhoods are already “occupied” by an invading army… law enforcement.
“Occupying” a city is NOT what you do if you want to make life for the residents of that city better. “Occupying” a territory is what you do when you want to assert dominion over the people within that territory. It is what you do when you want to usurp control from the residents of that location. Why “occupy” a city? Why not “occupy” the board rooms of the corporations you are attempting to challenge? Why not “occupy” the homes of the elites who are part of the 1%?
You marched down Park Street here in Hartford, chanting “Whose streets? Our streets!” Do you live in Hartford? Do you live on Park Street? Is there someone on Park Street who has attempted to wrench territory which rightfully belongs to you from your possession? Somehow I doubt it. Imagine this for a moment: a group of protestors marching down Park Street, wearing white robes and hoods that cover their faces. Yes, imagine the KKK marching down Park Street. Now, imagine what chants they might use if they are upset about the fact that Hartford is now a majority minority city. “Whose streets? Our streets!” could DEFINITELY be one of their slogans of choice, couldn’t it? So, a bunch of folks marching down Park Street, most of them white, screaming that slogan, should give you pause, shouldn’t it?? If not, you have some serious issues that are beyond my capabilities to address in this post. (more…)