I believe that I should start with an introduction of sorts, as I find myself to be one of the countless hundreds of thousands. I am the 99%- a full-time student with 2 jobs. I find every day to be a struggle while I try to get through yet another degree program and hopefully come out without massive student debt. I hope to keep my house in the crisis that has become the banking system, and I hope to keep my friends even if I can not find the time to spend with them. I spend my life doing the juggling act which I hope will one day make my American dream come true, a comfortable life with those I hold dear. Often I feel as if I am on a conveyor belt in reverse, I continue to try to move forward only to see that the distance between me and the light at the end of the tunnel has not changed. In my actions of juggling work, school, friends, and family I find that it is all too often that one of the balls fall to the ground. I am the 99%. I am proud to work for my future and pray that I still have one when the time comes. I am the 99% and I am part of the revolution.
Occupy Allentown began with few members nearly 4 weeks ago. I still remember the first night I came out after work. I raced in the door fed and watered the pets, and raced back out. That night began a new chapter in my life. When I arrived at the corner of 7th and Hamilton streets I found only a few people, I believe 5 total. Just this week in talking to a few of the other original occupiers I overheard them reminisce about telling each other to watch and see, they had thought there would only be 3 of us. What astounds me is the fact that we have grown by leaps and bounds over the last few weeks. I recall a weekday night where I counted over 100 people at one given moment.
The grace of our community has also been somewhat mind-blowing. The first night our occupation went 24 hours we greeted the morning with such vigor, and zest. I recall a nice young woman and her daughter coming to us just a few hours after the sun had come up. They came to bring a case of water, and a package full of chips. They wanted no thank you, nor did they want anything from us, they wanted to tell us that they supported us in our endeavors. Thinking about that moment reminds me why I will spend a night sleeping on the cold hard ground.
Our fledgling movement while growing has not been without it’s growing pains, the weather has been relentless, bringing us miserable days of cold rain and miserable nights of even colder rains. With each passing storm, we learn better and better how to keep our camp safe and dry. We are eager to take on the winter and show everyone that we have the guts to stay with it as long as it takes. We also have learned how to protect ourselves from the wants of the city. Within 3 days of becoming a 24-hour occupation, we were confronted by upper-level police demanding our immediate disbanding. Several calls to the ACLU later, we were told that we may stay. We had previously gotten permission for tents, and in that, they could stay. There were other unrelated signs attached to city fixtures such as lights, so our signs could remain. This was the first of what I am sure will be many battles faced by the occupation. It was in our moment of triumph however that I realize that this was going to be a battle hard fought. One where guns and other munitions would not come into play. it would be a war seen and heard worldwide. We are standing in solidarity and will continue to stand as long as it takes to be heard.
From the news both local and national, I see that our movement has made political waves. On the local level, an article in the Morning Call addressed the outrage found in the lack of communication between the city and the people who reside and work here. The Arena issue, which we chose to tackle as a local project has been brought out to the public specifically the use of eminent domain to obtain the buildings slated for demolition. Our outrage as a group is not specifically with the Arena itself, but the means by which the city has chosen to obtain the properties ousting businesses who have stood for in many cases a decade or longer. The city council has allowed plans to be made to hold public forums where the issue will be discussed but at this time has not released the dates or the times of these meetings. Simply stated we can not allow our government to bypass our concerns. We must stand together as a community. When we see our local government stop to listen to our battle cry, we know that on a national level we will be heard and that there is no stopping the occupation movement.
Nationally I have read information from all sides of the political spectrum. The GOP has introduced their own ideas, the Democrats are pushing their jobs bill, and while these things are still being “tweaked” I for one see them as a step in the right direction. They all have their failings, but we have proven that failings are human.
It becomes the time to start to represent the people instead of the corporations so until that moment I will continue to advocate for the change I see in my own future. I will continue to fight the good fight so that others may live in a world where the lives and welfare of the people inhabiting it will be the most important. It is my humble asking that others join on what will be the revolution of your lifetime. Make your own waves, or help us make waves. We will no longer be silenced against the machine that has become our government and banking systems. We will stand up for the rights that our founding fathers called “unalienable” Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Until the day you stand to fight for me, I will continue to fight for you.