Part-Time Occupations?

In the media recently, there has been a lot of talk about the Occupy Movement being a “part-time” movement, a sunny weather affair with occupiers going home for the night and not taking it seriously. I’d like to explain, in a few short words, why this is not true.

The occupation of our towns and cities is a Movement, not just a protest, and as such, there are discussions, activities, working groups that come out of it.  Whilst not attending the occupations, many “99%ers” go back to their computers at home and share what they’ve discussed during the day.  Whilst the number of occupiers may be much lower than the initial protest on the 15th, the number of people tweeting and sharing their concerns over the internet has steadily risen. Even when they are not on the streets, they are still actively involved in the movement.  The function the occupation serves (that is, the campsites in the cities) is as a base of operations.  A place where those active in the movement can get together, discuss issues and consider action.

In my opinion, an open space for political discussion and rallying should be provided as standard by any democratic institution (as Romans had in the public space of the forum), but without an indoor public space for such activity, we have been using the only public realm we have – the streets.

I only speak for myself here, and I’m sure many of the movement would disagree, but I don’t see how a tent or other object left on the streets during an occupation is any different from at any time.  If there is someone there to defend their right to keep the object there, then it should be left.  If it has literally been dumped, then the police should have the power to remove it. In my opinion, any occupiers should be cooperative with the police in identifying materials left in our public realm that are in use (i.e. occupied tents, banners that are in the care of members of the occupy movement) and those which are not (i.e. unoccupied tents, banners that have been dumped by someone who can’t be bothered to take a bulky object like that home with them).  Such cooperation will give the occupation the credibility to last longer, and further strengthen its aims.