Suggestions for Local “Occupy” Groups

I’ve been doing a little bit of work with the Occupy Tallahassee group and have been covering Occupy Wall Street for Crooks and Liars and I thought I’d share a few suggestions based on what I’ve observed. These protests present an historic moment for people who think the system is broken and who want to really make a change. The protests have brought in thousands of new people across the country who don’t like the way things are going and want to do something about it. But the other side has more money and more power and has faced opposition before. In order to avoid losing to them once again, there are some things that local groups need to pay attention to…

1. It’s all about attracting more and more people. The way we make change is by gathering together so many people that they can’t ignore us.

2. Get information about everyone who shows up. We have to be able to contact people for future events and actions.

3. Give people something to do. Protests and rallies are nice. They get people fired up and they can get some media attention. But they aren’t enough. We have to take those people who show up to the rallies and give them something concrete to do that will make a difference.

4. We all, every one of us, have to know what we’re talking about. The number one way to lose momentum is for us to allow the media to marginalize us as kooks or crazies. If we are all educated and we only give the media educated, thoughtful responses, then we take away the opposition’s major weapon.

5. We have to have a coherent message. The media and the opposition are already trying to paint us as having no real point. If they succeed in convincing the public that is true, the movement will die off. People will go home and nothing will change.

6. We have to walk a thin line when it comes to the law. Civil disobedience is a valid tool and it changes the world. But not if it is violent or disrespectful of the very people the 1% are already screwing over. We have to be better than the other side, not fall into their tactics or fall for the traps they are setting for us. And keep in mind that law enforcement and other people who may appear to be our opposition at times are getting screwed over by the 1%, too. We should be recruiting them, not antagonizing them.

7. At the end of the day, when the protest is over, we have to realize that just showing up and protesting and occupying isn’t enough. It is an amazing start, but protests are never successful if they aren’t coupled with actions that can change the world. Lawsuits and elections are the key tools in American history (and beyond) that have changed the way the system worked and created progress. We have to use the mass mobilizations as a way to get politicians elected that will fight the 1% (like Alan Grayson and Bernie Sanders, for instance) and we have to fund lawsuits that will enforce laws that already exist that protect our rights. Without these tools we can’t win.

8. We have to win the media battle. This isn’t going to be easy, because the 1% owns the media. But they don’t own the Internet. Well they do, but they can’t stop us from using it. And we have to use it well enough to force the rest of the media to pay attention and do the right thing. When a reporter lies about how many people were at an event, we need to use the web to tell the truth. When a reporter tries to spin a story to undercut what we’re doing, we need to use the web to tell the truth. They won’t do it unless we force them to.

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4 thoughts on “Suggestions for Local “Occupy” Groups

  1. Not sure what you are trying to get at, but clearly many in the occupy groups are new to PR and to movement-building. I’m not.

  2. One of the positions that should be brought up by we the 99 percent is not just income inequality but how corporations are implementing practices against workers.

    I understand if a company is trying to save jobs and in order to cut costs has to cut workers pay, anyone would rather have a job with a decrease rather than no job. The problem is when a company is profitable but to be more profitable cuts workers salaries then enriches the people at the top. This should be against the law, or at the very least a law should be passed “if you’re going to cut the bottom the top must be cut first” that would stem the tide of this practice.

    My coworkers and I just were told we’d be getting pay cut this week (for next year) not because numbers were down but to be more profitable, I wonder who’ll be getting a raise or bonus for this.

    Another practice that should be a crime is the elimination of a job giving it a different name (same job) making the worker reapply for that job and oh because it’s not the “same” job (maybe 5% different or not even) this job pays less. This was a practice that Coca-Cola tried in California, a lawsuit was brought due to the strong labor laws there Coca-Cola lost. Being a smart company they brought the practice to a right to work state (Florida) where that practice goes on today. I know this because I used to work for them and saw it first hand. They used to have a convoluted formula for overtime too we used to call it Chinese overtime because it was so confusing it looked like Chinese. The long and the short of it was the more you worked the less you made–the new American nightmare