Several hundred protesters gathered at the Old Capitol building in downtown Tallahassee Saturday for what had been established as an international day of solidarity with the burgeoning Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City.
Following little more than a week of organizing and two meetings of the Occupy Tallahassee General Assembly, a horizontally structured decision-making body open to anyone who shows up, citizens of all walks of life gathered at the state capitol to air grievances on a range of issues from war spending to education cuts to money in politics, while emphasizing a clear focus on the core concerns of the larger movement based around corporate accountability and big banks run amok.
After Occupy Tallahassee held its third General Assembly at noon Saturday in front of the Old Capitol, protesters marched around the complex shouting chants now familiar to the movement, such as “We are the 99 percent” and “This is what democracy looks like.” The crowds represented a diverse group of individuals from all walks of life, with school teachers standing alongside Vietnam war veterans and undergraduate students from Tallahassee’s various universities waving signs at the heavy midday traffic and garnering almost constant support in the form of blaring horns and shouts of solidarity.
“Ultimately, what’s happening here is the self-organized emergence of a collective consciousness,” said Ralph Wilson, the volunteer “point person” for tactical, one of Occupy Tallahassee’s various working groups. “We are just coming into organizing ourselves as a whole, and trying to understand what we are as a collective organism.”
“The struggle we’re going through internally is to understand how can we reconcile all the variety of perspectives that we share among us,” he said. “How we come together in such a way that we pull together a coherent voice and a coherent directive. Right now what the world is seeing is a massive decentralized collective organism that has just awakened into consciousness and is trying to shake off the sleep of the ages and understand how it’s going to change the world and continue surviving.”
Occupy Tallahassee’s ratified Declaration of Occupation:
We are the workers, students, workless and retired. We are the men, women, children and LGBT. We are the general assembly of Occupy Tallahassee. We are the 99%!
We have found ourselves in a world rife with hardship, exploitation, inequality and struggle.
Political corruption has left us disenfranchised and unrepresented.
Our voices, muted by the few, the 1%. The 1% who, little by little, have taken the rights that our predecessors fought so hard for.
Corporate greed has struck deeply into our lives, ravaging our land, air and water, while destroying vital local and global economies. So we are for people over profit, for democracy over plutocracy, for the bright future over the dark past and for every other great feeling of justice. With compassion in our hearts, we gather here today.
We gather in liberated social space and in solidarity with the movements across the nation and around the world to declare the occupation of the city of Tallahassee.