A libertarian’s speech at Occupy Coachella Valley in support of Occupy Wall Street (Oct. 4, 2011)
Thank all of you, every single one of you for joining us here today. My name is Jayel Aheram with Come Home America Coachella Valley.
I would like to begin by quoting Frederick Douglass. He said that “those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without plowing the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both … but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
This is why we are here: to demand.
We are gathered here today in solidarity of our brave brothers and sisters in occupied New York City and in every occupied city in the United States and the world.
This is our first general assembly and I am sure many of you are still wondering what this movement is about.
The Occupy Wall Street movement began in New York City three weeks ago on September 17. It was a demonstration against corporate greed, against rampant cronyism that afflicts our political establishment and corporatism’s undue influence in our electoral process. They were protesting the fat cats, the bailouts, the banksters, the Federal Reserve, and the millionaire executives who benefited from taxpayer money even as they layoff thousands of thousands of our people.
Most people expected that this movement to die out after a single day. But something happened then. These protesters stayed. Not content with just words, not content with merely calling themselves “Occupy Wall Street,” they dug in and they occupied, they occupied Zuccotti Park in New York City. It is now the third week, and our brothers and sisters in New York City are continuing the occupation.
And even amidst the corporate media blackout, the malicious corporate media blackout, they persisted. And their numbers grew and their voices grew louder. Just like the Arab Spring that swept through the Middle East, the revolution will not be televised. Powered by the decentralized web, news of the occupation blazed through the Internet. And they persisted.
Mahatma Gandhi once said that before you win, they will ignore you, then they will laugh at you, then they will fight you. And so it was with Occupy Wall Street.
"First they ignore you." It took seven days for the paper of record, the New York Times, to mention anywhere that there is something happening at Zucotti Park. CNN and every single one of the corporate media did not report the events occurring until at least a week in.
"Then they laugh at you." When the corporate media did report on Occupy Wall Street, it was dismissive, it was snarky, it was insulting. Dick Meyer, executive editor for news at NPR (who, by the way, you would think would be more supportive this movement), said, and I quote “The recent protests on Wall Street did not involve large numbers of people, prominent people, a great disruption or an especially clear objective.”
Apparently, 2,000 thousand people showing up for a protest is not large enough for NPR. Apparently, unless you are Michael Jackson or Snooki, and you are just some American discontent with the current political climate, you are not important enough to pay attention to.
How about NPR’s accusation that this movement does not have an especially clear objective? Occupy Wall Street put out a set of demands and you know what the corporate media said? That this movement is incoherent. I will offer a little history lesson to Dick Meyer. Back in 1776, a pissed off group of people wrote a long “incoherent” list of grievances for what they saw as unjust. It was called the Declaration of Independence.
"They they fight you." Our brothers and sisters in the occupied territory of New York City is besieged by the New York Police Department. Thus far, they suffered injuries, pepper sprays, and multiple arrests as thousands of our brothers and sisters are arrested for exercising their inalienable right to assemble and free speech. Everyday they are subjected to an oppressive atmosphere of police intimidation and police brutality. Instead of protecting and serving the citizens of New York, the NYPD are acting like the private security guards of Wall Street and the Federal Reserve. But they persisted and they continued the occupation! They continued the occupation despite the media blackout. They continued the occupation despite the ridicule from these same gatekeepers. They continued the occupation despite police violence and intimidation.
They remained strong and they remained true. In one clear voice, the protesters of occupied New York City declared “WE ARE THE 99 PERCENT.”
We heard them, not through the corporate media, but through Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr. In Los Angeles, in Seattle, in Boston, and everywhere the 99 percent live, we heard them. In more than 70 cities all across America, we heard them.
Now, it is true that there is not a single demand from this movement. In the declaration released by Occupy Wall Street, there were multiple.
I cannot speak for everyone in this group and I do not dare to. But I will offer my demands. Before I do, I will first explain who are the 1 percent.
It is the 1 percent, the top 1 percent, of this country that have the money to buy elections. It is the 1 percent of this country who are elected to government using the money they get from others in the 1 percent to win elections, and once elected do everything that they can to not represent us in the 99 percent.
Make no mistake: your representatives in the House of Representatives, your senators in the Senate, your president in the White House, are all part of that top 1 percent.
It is the 1 percent of this country that gave the bailouts to banksters and the corporate fat cat using the money they stole from us in the 99 percent. This is not capitalism, this is corporatism.
It is the 1 percent of this country that gave us the Patriot Act which protected no one and only served to destroy what little civil liberties we the people in the 99 percent have.
It is the 1 percent of this country that gave us the TSA, which everyday subjects us in the 99 percent with daily violations of our personal dignity.
It is the 1 percent of this country that lied and got us into these endless wars.
Since 2001, 5,000 young men and women, our fellow brothers and sisters in the 99 percent have been sacrificed so that the executives of Halliburton, Blackwater, and KBR and every single one of the corporatists can continue their war profiteering in Iraq and Afghanistan and beyond. It is the 1 percent of this country, those aforementioned executives including our own Senator Diane Feinstein and her husband Richard Blum, who profit from these wars, while we the people in the 99 percent must bear the ever-escalating costs, both in money and in lives.
We the people in the 99 percent are sent by the 1 percent to kill the 99 percent of other countries. They do not hate us because of our lifestyles or freedoms or the American way of life. They hate us because year after year, we allow the 1 percent of this country to bomb the 99 percent of their country. They hate us because year after year, we the people in the 99 percent consent to the daily death and ruin they must suffer under. It is the 1 percent who send the Predator drones, it is the 1 percent who impose crippling sanctions, it is the 1 percent who authorizes the illegal assassinations.
It is not the 1 percent that must carry the weight of a rifle, it is not the 1 percent whose minds must be scarred by the horror of battle, it is not the 1 percent that must assure his family that he is going to be okay, it is not the 1 percent that must walk out that wire and accept that he might die that day, it is not the 1 percent that must live his life knowing he participated in the greatest of injustice.
It is not the 1 percent whose blood must be spilled.
It is we the people in the 99 percent, that incur these costs. It is we the people in the 99 percent who die in these wars, it is we the people in the 99 percent who pay for these wars, it is we the people in the 99 percent who bail out the banks, it is we the people in the 99 percent that suffer every infringement of our civil liberties.
The corporate media asked the Occupy Wall Street what their demands were.
Here are mine: end the corporatism, end the wars, and END THE FED.
Change, real change, is going to be difficult, but it is not impossible. Your voice and your actions after today can and will make a difference.
John Locke said that a government rules by the consent of the governed. We the people in the 99 percent must withdraw that consent. No longer should we consent to corporatism. No longer should we consent to cronyism. No longer should we consent to the bank bailouts. No longer should we consent to the banksters of the Federal Reserve. No longer should we consent to the endless wars and the daily death and ruin perpetuated in our name.
WE THE PEOPLE IN THE 99 PERCENT SAY TO THE TOP ONE PERCENT: WE DISSENT.
Today is the beginning of occupied territories of Coachella Valley and I urge you every one of you to spread this spirit of dissent to other cities in this valley.
Dahlia Wasfi once said, that “every one of us, every one of us must keep demanding, keep fighting, keep thundering, keep plowing, keep speaking, keep struggling until justice is served.”
We must occupy every street, every city, every school! We must occupy every mind, every heart, every spirit. Occupy all and occupy together.
And until justice is served, we must dissent!
My name is Jayel Aheram and I am the 99%.