Tag Archives: Occupy Gainesville

Workers’ Memorial Day and May Day 2012


The Federation of Organized Trade and Labour Unions in 1884 proclaimed that “eight hours shall constitute a legal day’s labor from and after May 1, 1886.” On May 1, 1886, in the U.S., 300,000 workers walked off their jobs from 13,000 businesses to demand the 8-hour workday. Most of the world’s workers celebrate May 1 as May Day or International Workers Day in remembrance of this. However, the U.S. government chose an arbitrary date in September to celebrate Labor Day in order to distance workers from the holiday’s significance.

The Gainesville Area General Membership Branch of Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) is working with many other local labor, progressive and radical groups to bring Gainesville a fantastic May Day Celebration. So far that list of groups includes the North Central Florida AFL-CIO, Gainesville International Socialist Organization, Gainesville Food Not Bombs, Alachua County Labor Party and Occupy Gainesville. As of the time of this article, we are still in the process of reaching out to many other local groups and hopefully your group has been contacted by now. If not, you can contact the the Gainesville May Day Planning Committee at gville.mayday.2012@gmail.com or stop by our weekly planning meetings, every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in the Sun Center behind Maudes. For more information, please go to gainesvillemayday.tumblr.com .

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Voices from Occupy: Less “Me,” More “We”


What won me to Occupy from day one in Gainesville was the testimony of one young woman, Sarah Imler, who spontaneously got up on the stage of the Bo Diddley Plaza early on the morning of Oct. 12, the first day of Occupy Gainesville, and started to speak. At the time, there were about 70 people, signs propped up at the front of the stage, pockets of conversation, some media roaming around. There was no sound system, no real plan of action, no real focus. Nobody really knew where this day was going.  But Sarah got up, and speaking from her heart, started telling why she was there.

She spoke about the negative effects of U.S. policies and practices on her home, the island territory of Guam. She spoke of enduring hard times with regard to lack of employment, environmental destruction from the impending military expansion, and the local government relying heavily on federal aid. She spoke about her brother, who made the tough decision to join the Air Force for lack of economic opportunity, and her worries that he would be deployed to Afghanistan. She talked about her family there, who are stretched thin by the rising cost of living. She talked about two other relatives who had been in the Middle East as private contractors and an uncle in the Army Reserves who did a tour in Afghanistan. Every day she would think about the dangers they faced and if they would come back alive. She talked about herself and how she could not afford to go to school without accruing massive debt, a precarious situation for a young person already financially strained and facing an uncertain economic future.

This was not a speech; this was not prepared; this was someone who knew why there needs to be an awakening of responsibility of citizens on a mass scale to feel each other’s pain, share our doubts and concerns about the future, understand how this country got into this situation, and begin to hear one another, work together, and see that another way is possible if that awakening could occur. I can’t forget it, and that is why I am writing it now.

It’s been five months since Oct. 12, and her words still resonate in my mind. One person, one of millions of stories that, if we listened and felt, could change how we see our world. We might do something differently as we live our day to day life. Around the world, we see it. Part of it is the technological revolution; the Internet builds solidarity of struggle which had Egyptians ordering pizzas for occupying protestors in Madison, WI. We can see the faces of those resisting corrupt governments and harsh austerity measures. But the non-technical side has the real power, the actual solidarity that comes from joining with others and believing in something larger, becoming more than a “Me,” but a “We.”

Why Occupy? An anarchist’s experience in an evolving, consensus-based movement


Like many anarchists, when the Occupy Movement first appeared last fall, I was skeptical. What can it really mean for our future that some white people have taken over a square in lower Manhattan? Of course, I had been inspired by the Arab Spring and was certainly curious about this spontaneous global appearance of outrage and activism. Then I read some of the things coming from OWS; what I read didn’t inspire confidence. There seemed to be very little analysis of imperialism, of colonialism, of male supremacy, and so on. And the rhetoric about “reclaiming our country” doesn’t do much for me.

So when I went to the first local assembly here in Gainesville, I was prepared for it not to lead very far. I signed up for a couple working groups, but the chaotic nature of the whole thing had me thinking, “Oh well, that’s that.” I went to a couple general assemblies after that and made some tentative suggestions about the consensus process they seemed to be trying.

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Veterans for Peace Connects with Occupy Gainesville

By Mary Bahr, Gainesville Veterans for Peace member

Occupy Gainesville protests outside of Wells Fargo in Downtown Gainesville. Photo by Mary Bahr.

Dennis Lane, executive director of National Veterans for Peace, said the cost of war can be seen today “in family and community violence, in the human and environmental impact of depleted uranium and a wide variety of chemical exposures, and in a weakened domestic economy and de-funded health, education and other social programs.”

You may have seen the Gainesville Vets for Peace Cost of War program. It gives the cost of war to our local community and to the state of Florida, as well as the national costs in blood and taxes.

The data is derived from the National Priorities Project Cost of War project at www.costofwar.com. These pages will give you the cost in tax dollars on counters that change every second and will also offer tradeoffs (what those dollars could have bought in our domestic economy had we not spent them on war).

Even with troops withdrawing from Iraq, many troops and support personnel will be left behind. We still have to pay the costs of equipment replacement and health care, which are projected to total a trillion dollars each. And then there’s still Afghanistan.

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Occupy the Courts! Dr. Cornel West Speaks in Gainesville on Jan. 20

by Nancy Jones and Tommy Baker of Move to Amend gainesville

Grassroots movements across the country are gaining momentum at a rate unprecedented in modern times, due largely to Occupy Wall Street.

Ending “Corporate Personhood” with a Constitutional amendment is one such national movement that has taken root in Gainesville, where we’ve recently started a new local chapter of the national Move to Amend organization.

On Jan. 21, 2010, the U. S. Supreme Court took an extreme step to further remove American citizens from the election process by allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns. The Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (FEC) court ruling was the culmination of efforts by the wealthiest individuals to hijack the people’s government and increase their power and wealth.

The 2012 presidential election is expected to have the most extravagant spending of any election in history. Kantar Media, a company that tracks advertising, reported $5.8 million spent on TV ads in the Iowa Republican primaries prior to Dec. 30, most of those being negative attack ads.

The ruling not only equates money to speech but also makes it federal law under the U.S. Constitution that corporations have the same 1st Amendment rights intended for people (“Corporate Personhood”). Corporations are amassing more wealth than ever before in history, and it is time to push back. Efforts being taken locally include a protest, “Occupy the Courts”, at the Bo Diddley Plaza in downtown Gainesville on Friday, Jan. 20 at 1 p.m., the day before the second anniversary of the court ruling. This event is particularly exciting because Dr. Cornel West, a long-time civil rights activist and national best-selling author, will be speaking.

To find out more or to be a part of the local chapter of Move to Amend, attend the rally, visit Facebook’s MovetoAmend Gainesville page, or send an email to MoveToAmend@gmail.com. Help end corporate personhood and bring democracy to “We the People.”