The camp was the most beautiful experience of my life. Then they tore it down. We responded by bringing tens of thousands to march on the Port of Oakland, declaring a General Strike in the city of Oakland. The night of the General Strike, everyone came back to the plaza and the police shut down the buses so I couldn’t go home. Someone let me use their tent and I didn’t mind staying out all night. It was my first time ever encountering police in riot gear, but the way that my comrades hurled things at them and chanted “fuck the police” gave me a whole new sense of empowerment.
I love Occupy Oakland because it has given me a new voice and a new strength that I never knew I had. It also gave me confidence and the knowledge that I can fight back; I do have a voice and a choice in this world. I can push change forward. I love being in such a diverse movement: Being surrounded by different races, different sexes, different cultures, different thoughts and opinions and different, creative ways we all come up with to communicate with one another makes me feel wiser, helps me think more creatively and inspires me to act more responsibly. Every time I go to a general assembly or a committee meeting I work with other people that feel the same way and that really is a beautiful experience. I’ve always helped people, always wanted to affect people’s lives positively, and Occupy has given me another way to do that.
I’m getting my SSI check cut every three months while my food stamps dwindle away. Housing isn’t easy either. I’m on Section 8 and they want you to bend over backwards to stay in your home. Then I got with occupy and I realized that everyone’s dealing with some bullshit. I’ve been homeless before, for four years in a row, and I don’t ever want to be homeless again. That’s why I fight to help homeless occupiers get what they need to stay on their feet.
The fight for prisoners and their families is my fight too: my husband’s locked up right now on some bullshit charges. Issac ran out of his medication and got into an argument with a corner store owner over religion. The response of the state to a poor man of color in our neighborhood acting out was to taser him and lock him up instead of getting him the care that he needs to stay healthy. This is just one example from my life where I’ve learned about the way mass incarceration affects families: Issac was a huge help around the house, going grocery shopping, watching the baby, helping me take care of my mother, helping financially when he could. Now I’m taking care of three children, including my three year old, on my own, who ask for him daily.
I’m in this mostly for my kids because I’m worried about their education. I have a three year old son whom I’m afraid might not have an elementary school to go to the way schools are closing at an alarming rate, especially in minority communities. I know why; because the threat of our children being educated scares the shit out of them. If our children knew what the rich and powerful know, our kids would take the power of the elite away from them, and they definitely can’t have that. My children march with me, protest with me and shut the banks down with me. I’m showing my children bravery, consistency and courage, admitting that there are wrongs in this society that my kids should be aware of while they’re growing up. The reason why I have them in marches and protests is so they can see how powerful it is when masses of people come together. They should always know they have the freedom to speak up about issues that affect them personally and the struggles that are going on all over the world. I know we might not see the effects immediately, but there are gonna be changes.
The only way to fight this selfish, greedy capitalistic society is to come together against the police, the mayor and the district attorneys. We need to fight back and occupy has given me a ground to fight back on. We need to occupy the courts, the schools, the university campuses, the ports, the banks, the Capitol, the White House, every capitalist institution that doesn’t give people a fair chance at life. I think whoever came up with the port shutdown and the general strike were geniuses. What a way to say fuck capitalism. What a way to say fuck you greedy bastards.
I wish more people would come out to see how beautiful this movement is. Occupy doesn’t just care about what’s going on in Oakland, we care about changing the whole world. Nothing in the world could stop me from being a part of this. No police, no baby daddys, no one can stop me from being a part of this. I want to be in Occupy Oakland ’til I die.
Originally published at http://www.oscargrantplazagazette.com