When Occupy Wall Street has its anniversary on September 17, activists and demonstrators will have long been cleared from Zuccotti Park. But the spirit of the movement survives in local communities, as these four Brooklyn-based Occupy chapters demonstrate.
Dabblers in a variety of causes, Occupy Bushwick members support Healthcare for the 99% and Food Not Bombs, a global program that serves free vegan meals in protest against war and poverty.
How you can get involved: Members meet every Thursday at Maria Hernandez Park from 7 to 10 p.m. If weather doesn’t permit, they hold the meeting at The Loom (1087 Flushing Avenue). Follow them on Twitter @OccupyBushwick or on Facebook.
This group was founded in May by Eleanor Rodgers as a response to minimum wage violations at Golden Farm, a local grocer. “It’s a working class neighborhood and hadn’t recently had any radical groups. Suddenly this all came together,” she told us. “It turned out there’d been a bunch of people in our neighborhood who were going out to Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park.”
The group joined forces with the Golden Farm activists who were already working to get the grocery store’s employees their unpaid wages. They’re still fighting with boycotts. And now, as part of the “Green Beans Not Walgreens” campaign, they’re planning to protest for access to food in front of the new Walgreens pharmacy in neighboring Windsor Terrace, which replaced a supermarket.
“The point of the local Occupies is to be more grounded. They’re based very heavily on people who have been activists from five to 20 years and are open and pleased to continue working,” Rodgers said. “There’s a hunger here among the community activists. That’s something that was unleashed by Zuccotti Park.”
How you can get involved: Sign up for the Google group at firstname.lastname@example.org, contact Eleanor Rodgers at email@example.com, or follow the group on Facebook.
Organizer Corbin Laedlein sent us this email: “Occupy Red Hook was started in November 2011, following discussions between neighborhood organizers and folks from Red Hook who were involved in OWS about bringing the energy from OWS to Red Hook and getting folks from Red Hook more connected to what was going on at Liberty Square at the time. The first meeting was a discussion in which community members talked about what resonated with them about OWS, and after that some of those folks began meeting weekly to build community; practice horizontal, consensus-based organizing; and plug into OWS events that had been happening. The group had both old and new residents as well as folks from the Red Hook Houses and folks from ‘the back’ [not the housing projects] and really was a multiracial and multi-generational group of folks.
“We’ve discussed and done work on a number of issues, such as food access and food quality, transportation, and local economic development. But most of our work up until the summer has been on Stop & Frisk and police misconduct/violence. We maintained a steady presence at the precinct’s community meetings, engaged in education campaigns about our rights when interacting with police, and plugged into citywide efforts to fight Stop & Frisk. Additionally, we mobilized folks from Red Hook to come out and participate in the May Day march and rally, and headed over with our neighbors at Occupy Sunset Park. May Day was an opportunity for many of us in Red Hook to reflect upon our neighborhood’s history of radical labor organizing that took place on the docks in the early 20th century and on how we can continue that legacy in our neighborhood today.
“This summer, things have slowed down a bit, and we’re currently taking the time to get the group’s vision, structure, and community agreements on point so that we can continue to do organizing work here in Red Hook in a way that reflects the type of world we are trying to build.”
How you can get involved: Join the Google group by emailing occupy-red-hook @googlegroups.com or visit occupyredhook.org
About a month after Occupy Wall Street protesters took over Zuccotti, Sunset Parkers created their own Occupy group to serve the needs of their community—and integrate the neighborhood’s primarily Chinese- and Spanish-speaking members into the movement. These Occupiers focus on education and began organizing a Head Start program for children and parents. Because of the large minority community, members also concentrate on immigrants’ rights, neighborhood violence, and gentrification. They’ve also supported the rent strike by residents of three contiguous buildings on 46th Street who’re protesting hazardous and unsanitary living conditions.
How you can get involved: Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow them on Twitter @OccupySunsetPk or on Facebook. The group has meetings at La Casita (411 45th Street) every Saturday at 10 a.m.