Occupy (Enter City Name Here)

December 13, 2011

Political Theory

Zucotti Park, New York, New York
McPherson Square, Washington, DC
Legislative Plaza, Nashville, Tennessee
Seattle Central Community College, Seattle, Washington

By now you can probably guess what all four of this places have in common. No, they are not great places to have a picnic. They are just four of the now seemingly endless amounts of occupy protests.

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It all began on September 17th, 2011 when occupy Wall Street took hold as thousands took over Zucotti Park in the financial district of Manhattan to protest  (among many different things) the increasing wealth gap between the 99% and the top 1% of earners in America. In just under three months, this movement has grown all over the world with protests springing up Santiago, Chile, Tel Aviv, Rome, Madrid, and Melbourne.  While the focus of these marches has grown more diverse, the idea of civil disobedience is at the root of every march, sit-in, and protest throughout the world.
As we have learned in the past few lectures, Martin Luther King Jr. and Socrates both seem to accept punishment for breaking the law, however Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) goes further when he argues that it is suitable, and sometimes even obligatory to purposely break unfair laws.

Washington D.C. Occupiers Clash with Police

It is no secret that these demonstrations have not been without a bump in the road. Recently in Washington, D.C. “occupiers” resisted orders to disburse from a two-storied wooden structure that they had erected. In the end, a fire-truck had to be called to the scene so the cherry picker could remove the last demonstrator from the top of the structure.  People have been arrested in Boston, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington (just to name a few notables). Surely the demonstrators are resisting authorities in order to further their economic and social objectives but at what point does the occupy madness end? Will cities all over the world endure situations like the one that happened at Occupy Cal-Berkeley, where multiple unarmed students were pepper-sprayed?

Here is my question for you. Would you say this is a situation where it is our obligation as citizens to purposely break laws and seemingly engage authorities in stand-offs and continually refuse to comply with orders to evacuate demonstration sites?




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3 Comments on “Occupy (Enter City Name Here)”

  1. verlong Says:

    I definitely think that civil disobedience is needed in this situation to call attention to the inequalities that exist. Without demonstrations, it would just seem like there was a “loud minority”/”silent majority situation.” With demonstrations, it is easy to see that there are more than just a couple people who are upset and want a change in the world. Even if it means disagreeing with the authority, this cause is worthwhile, and the people involved are prepared to take the risks. They believe that there is not a lot to lose, but a lot to gain by protesting. I agree with them. If the laws continue to be followed, there is not a large chance of change. It is hard to ignore all that is going on now, and that is the point of the protests. As long as they are not hurting others (but they are unfortunately hurting themselves), I do not really have a problem. Inconveniencing someone for a travel route is a small price to pay for the radical change that they want (and I think should happen).

  2. Obada Ghabra Says:

    I think that depends on the way you view the movements. Some people consider the laws that prevent people from “occupying” an area to be legitimate. If this is the case they wouldn’t feel the need to break this law. Many, however, feel that people should have the freedom to occupy these public areas for long periods of time as a form of free speech. If this is the case, it would certainly seem that it would be a good idea to oppose this “unjust” law by not abiding it. However, if you are going to draw an analogy between the occupy movements and Dr. King’s methods for resistance, the occupy movements must also be willing to face the consequences of their actions. That is they must be willing to be arrested for breaking the unjust laws.

  3. Michael Zanger Says:

    “Surely the demonstrators are resisting authorities in order to further their economic and social objectives but at what point does the occupy madness end?”

    Occupy Madness? It’s a global protest against the 1%. The people who are currently paying virtually nothing relative to the rest of the world so those who live in the real world, paying real taxes, running the countries, get to make up for it.

    We are obligated to speak up for anything that denies our civil rights and liberties. To tell a protestor he or she has to leave is a direct violation of the 1st Amendment. It’s clear that these protests need to continue until the government begins taxing the incomes of the rich relative to that of what the middle and lower-income classes are paying.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJvdE6ZLE74 – Realistic rich people do exist.

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