Unless you’ve been literally hiding out under a rock with no outside social contact for the last month, you’re sure to by now have heard at least something about the #OccupyWallStreet protest and the subsequent #Occupy gatherings that have been cropping up in cities around the nation and world. So now that the media and political elites have shown they are finally ready to acknowledge the protests, we get to hear everyone’s new opinions on “What these protests mean for [fill in anything here].” The unique thing about these protests as opposed to some other recent grassroots political movements is that they have such a wide potential and an extremely diverse base. Where the media were able to immediately paint a picture of the Tea Party as a bunch of wacko white right-wing Christian racists who couldn’t spell and didn’t understand simple political terms like ‘socialism,’ ‘communism’ or ‘Czar,’ the #Occupy protesters seem to be made up of people from all over the racial, religious and even political spectrums, and even mainstream media outlets like the New York Times are having a tough time putting the movement in a box.
This to me seems to be the strongest and most vital aspect of the #Occupy movement. Because all of our societal structures are in immediate need of broad, sweeping reform, We the People simply do not have enough time left to focus on just two or three hot-button issues. We want change, REAL change, in broad and sweeping ways, and we want it YESTERDAY. We want an end to the War on Drugs. We want an end to burning fossil fuels that are destroying our environment, destroying our economies, and allowing our resources to be hoarded by a greedy few. We want an end to a Federal Banking racket that gambles away OUR money to make themselves richer. We want an end to this system that encourages people to ascend to richness and wealth while relying on keeping the poor in an endless cycle of imprisonment and debt. We want these things and a long laundry list of more, and most of it boils down to trimming the government back to what we started from in the first place: our constitution.
So back to my original question: what does this mean for us, the drug reform community? It means we have a huge, active base that is paying attention. We have a group of people who are willing to wear many hats, carry batons for many causes, and change the world for good for the sake of our very futures. There are people all over the country who are finally not only paying attention, but they’re volunteering. They’re protesting. They’re reading a lot. They’re tweeting, taking pictures and videos of police encounters and sharing articles with their friends, family and loved ones. They’re voting; they’re getting their peers registered to vote. They’re writing letters to the editor and making signs and voting in polls and making damn sure that their voice rings out loud and clear at all of the precious few opportunities they get to air it.
What does the #Occupy movement mean? It means, my friends, that we are no longer alone, and we would do well to find the others.