The 400,000 strong NYC walk yesterday was an historic event. Smaller, but equally as powerful for participants was the 2,000 person FloodWallStreet event today, once again proving its not only quantity, but quality that matters in political/activist strategy.
Imagine if the whole of the People’s Climate Mobilization was actually directed against the real power structures that cause climate change. And those 400,000 protestors committed to turning around this climate/ecological/social crisis by challenging foundational issues through serious analysis (the kind that happened at http://convergeforclimate.org/) and organization building (and arrests if need be).
That is what will be required to turn the world right side up, seriously contend with the forces of destruction, and build the new society prioritizing people and the planet over profits.
The day started with an early morning gathering at Battery Park included speeches by various international activists as well as Naomi Klein, Chris Hedges and British Columbia’s Ta’Kaiya Blaney. Two organizers of the Flood led the crowd of a couple thousand with mic checks, crowd soothing chants and arrest protocols.
Heartbeat: getting in tune with each other, reminding of commonality and connection, creating a memory that feels like solidarity.
Preparing for battle with song. “Can’t keep the people united down!” “The people gotta rise like water. Gotta calm this crisis down. Hear the voice of our great grand daughter, gotta shut down Wall Street now!”.
Swarms of people, chants, cooperative sharing of banners, space, music, everyone pumped up, confident that what they are doing is for the good of eveyone, everything. Why is it important to get out into the streets? That’s the people’s place, that’s where the future is reclaimed, that’s where we see who’s side of the fence various people sit, where it becomes transparent who governments and security forces work for – big corporate interests.
The procession merged into New York’s financial district in a rush of bodies with two prominent “carbon bubbles” suspended in the hands of the crowd. The carbon bubble refers to the false valuation of the largest companies of the world based on fossil fuels they cannot exploit if the worst effects of ecological destruction is to be averted.
“This is what democracy looks like”. Activists, poised to move forward to occupy space in the global economic empire’s epicentre. “Who’s street? Our street! Who’s planet? Our planet!”
“Hey, hey, ho, ho! Fossil fuels have got to go!” For billions of years, the earth itself has sequestered its carbon safely within the earth allowing for a viable above ground ecology for life to flourish. In a few short years, we’ve dug it all up to fuel the capitalist economy – one based on class rule where the 1% determines the direction of the economy and the fate of the planet.
“We are unstoppable, another world is possible!!” “Oh shit, oh shit” a bystander yells as the police forcefully lunge at protesters and push back the press corp. I quietly asked one young policeman if he knew what the protest was about, what climate change was all about. “Haven’t really thought about it,” he said. Others screamed at the police as they “did their job”…”whose interests are you protecting?” Have they thought about that?
After the crowd started to proceed toward Wall Street, the front lunged forward toward a phalanx of police, then at the first intersection took a sharp right turn an tried to push through barricades. The police pushed back with pepper spray.
By the end of the day, more than 100 people were arrested after delivering the clear message: capitalism is the cause of climate change. “This is what democracy looks like” sang the crowd, bringing the point home that when activists fight back in ways that really threaten the system, the system will react.