Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Occupy Chicago Still Going Strong, Prepping for NATO

Kaitlyn Mattson
WCB Politics Writer
Occupy Chicago is still raising its voice. This time, with other organizations Occupy is fighting against the NATO summit.

In May the NATO summit will take place in Chicago. Occupy along with other organizations are focusing on Chicago Spring which kicks off on April 7, said Bunny Lee, a member of the safer space committee for Occupy, via email.

“Chicago Spring is about the awakening and education of the masses to the ills that are being perpetuated in the United States and in the world by the state,” Lee said. “It’s time people rose up and realized that they have the voice and the ability to change their world.”

Chicago Spring was conceptualized and will be led by Occupy Chicago.

Occupy is still going strong. And the planned Chicago Spring is not the only thing the organization is doing as of late. Sugar Russell, an activist with Occupy Chicago, said, “We are constantly working on local issue. We have had amazing opportunities to lend support in the city.”

However, a lot of focus for Occupy lately has been on Chicago Spring. Big rallies and marches are being planned. Information about the event can be found at chicagospring.org.

“[The rally April 7 to kick off Chicago Spring] is to remind the 1 percent that we are still here and they are still our target,” Russell said. “As of May 1 we will be doing a rally that focuses on what the world would look like without the 99 percent.”

May 12 and 13 will have 2 two-day events—an Occupy festival that will focus on music, art and provide information for the general public about Occupy. The other event will be a people’s summit, which will have speakers and events to go along with it. These events will take place at Liberty Park in Orland Park, Illinois.

The weekend after that “is going to be NATO weekend although we will be also focusing on the issues of G8—just because they have left does not mean they will not hear our voices all the way out to Camp David,” Russell said.

“The point of protests are to be able to bring awareness of issues to the public. And also work on applying public pressure to our elective officials.” Russell said. “I think it is going to be highly effect in making our voices heard.”

 “The unfortunate thing about both G8 and NATO groups [is] that they are secret groups. They are not designed to be public; they are not democratic. But regardless of that, we are going to make sure they know exactly what we think about how they operate,” Russell said.

Joe Iosbaker, an activist with the coalition against NATO/G8 war and poverty agenda or CANG8, said the organization is planning a permitted family-friendly rally for opening day of the summit.

A press conference is planned for Thursday when the official date of the CANG8 planned rally will be announced.

“Occupy has endorsed this protest,” said Iosbaker. CANG8 and Occupy have been working together since October in an effort to defend the right to protest.

Occupy has changed since September 2011.

 “We’ve become more organized, more cohesive and have gathered more momentum that has allowed us to help other organizations and occupations,” said Lee.

CANG8 and Occupy have had two big victories since they have been working together.

As for the G8 moving to Camp David, the change of location is looked at as a victory. Lee said, “The government was obviously intimidated by the power and voice of the people.”

There is no way to estimate the number of people who will be Chicago during Chicago Spring. Russell said, no matter the actual number, “it’s going to be huge. It’s going to be one of the largest things this city has ever seen.”

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