Steel blue-gray clouds to the west burned crimson at the fringes against a nearly settled sun. That thoughtful light painted long shadows among the deepening canyons of brownstones and apartment buildings in Chicago’s Rogers Park. A siren’s lamenting wail echoed away, swallowed by the shadows and the night. The moon was silver, climbing above the distant downtown skyscrapers, whose night lights gradually overtook that reflected crimson hue.
Off Lunt Avenue, forty or so Occupiers gathered in the park beside the lake. Waves tumbled off the Lake, a distant but unmissable chorus as they fell against the beach. They were gathered in a wide circle, most seated. There were a hand full of guests from Hamburg Germany. The rest were from the movement, which was now scattered into smaller constituencies across the city. I’d known a number of them since the start of the movement just a year before. It had been a tough year. Some of them looked tired and worn, but the spirit was still there. Now, what had started as a sort of audacious energy had been replaced by a stalwart resolution from a near tireless effort to turn the nation towards something that worked for the underrepresented in this nation.
There were friends from Occupy el barrio, working on the near South side for immigrant rights, others from the Evanstan group who’d won a fight to move the City of Evanston from Bank of America to a local and privately owned bank. There was a group from Englewood on the far south side, and several students from IIT who wanted to understand how social movements spread.
Rumors of Occupy’s demise were surely exaggerated. The media’s attention peaked and fled from Occupy after the NATO debacle, in which the media conspired to eclipse the message and valid issues by the movement with manufactured rumors of widespread violence that all but paralyzed the city. And with the loss of the media’s attention went thousands of would-be peripheral supporters who either couldn’t or wouldn’t invest further energies, and were content to allow the powerful and wealthy to resume their temporarily interrupted pillage of the nation.
And so, it seemed, that Occupy was no more. On the anniversary of the movement, the media’s recollection had this sort of “remember when” tone. But Occupy never went away. It didn’t go underground or into seclusion, still smarting from its NATO pummeling. It went into the community.
But the confusion is understandable. It is easy to see why the perception is that Occupy was a fleeting anomaly to the social and political discourse of the nation and world. The media has never cared about the community, except for content, or to further narratives on race, society and caste in America. but look closely and you will see, work that supports education, the environment, victims of illegal foreclosures, the homeless, immigrants, corruption and poverty. no, Occupy isn’t gone. It is all around you.