As the Occupy Wall Street movement fans out across the country, it is changing to adapt to local issues.
Both the media and the public have criticized the Occupy Wall Street movement for having little focus beyond the notion of income disparity. On the other hand, the movement’s fluid goals, combined with the consensus-based general assembly model for making decisions, has allowed local Occupy movements to focus their protest on issues in their communities.
The Occupy protests have moved around the country to encompass cities such as Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Chicago. They often start as simple expressions of solidarity with the Wall St. occupation. Some continue to be groups without an actual occupation, while others, like Occupy Baltimore, have taken over that city’s McKeldin Square, clashing with police in the process.
Meanwhile, back in New York City and just miles from the original protest, Brooklynites are starting their own Occupy movement. Occupy Brooklyn’s general assembly met in Crown Heights for the second time on October 20, attracting a range of local residents who talked about local issues that the Brooklyn movement might address.
Betty Davis, 67, who has lived in the area for about 12 years, said that foreclosures have been a big problem in the neighborhood:
Meanwhile, Rebecca Miller, 26, a student who works in public health, said that gentrification is a big issue in Crown Heights, but from a food affordability perspective:
Finally, a “gentrifier” — Elizabeth Duane — framed the issue of gentrification as an affordable housing problem, saying that individuals are unfairly blamed for the actions of landlords:
Like Zuccotti Park, the general assembly used a “human microphone” — although it wasn’t because police had banned the use of megaphones. The overflow crowd of approximately 100 people exceeded organizers’ expectations and spilled onto the sidewalk.
Occupy Brooklyn’s next general assembly is being held on October 27, at a larger facility: 918 Kent Avenue, between Myrtle and Willoughby.