Whose State? O.U.R. STATE! O.ccupy U.pstate R.egional Conference
The Occupy Upstate Conference was hosted on June 16th in aptly named Perseverance Park in Syracuse, located directly in front of a Chase building. Often overshadowed by New York City and Occupy Wall Street, upstate occupations have been active in local fights for social and economic justice. Many of us have met each other in the city or at Albany State action but, aside from email and social media, haven’t had much communication. Thanks to a dedicated group of people from Occupy Buffalo, Occupy Rochester, Occupy Albany, Occupy Syracuse, Occupy Binghamton and a few others I probably forgot The Occupy Regional Conference was a great success.
Numbers in attendance belie the value of face to face interaction of people representing their cities. A Better World Is Possible Moving Forward Together in Activism was an opportunity for occupiers and affinity groups to share there ideas and vision for the future coordination of Upstate action and organizing. From marijuana legalization to occupy’s role in elections, people from cities state-wide discussed issues that where relevant to them and got the feedback of others. A lot of ideas for issues for all upstate occupations to attack where put forth.
Due to the diligence of the organizers, the conference was visited by Captain Ray Lewis who gave an inspirational speech about his experience with the movement and the necessity for local organizing in the face of police repression. The always entertaining future president of the United States of America Vermin Supreme also joined in with his unique economic perspective. As usual ponies and proper dental hygiene were his main talking points although he did unveil his new combined renewable energy zombie preparedness policy killing two stones with one bird. Who knows what else we will hear from him on his road to the White House?
A few people from Buffalo, myself included, joined Occupy the Roads on their way to Syracuse from Buffalo after participating in Buffalo’s Juneteenth Celebration (3rd Largest in The Nation). There were reports on Facebook that cops where getting ready to move in on the park. Upon arrival there were banners for every represented Occupation in front of several tents. The juxtaposition epitomized irony: under the light of a looming Chase Bank Tower, a small tent city.
The second day was much more free-form. The main organizers of the conference discussed state wide issues and targets for the future. The discussion centered around the local 1%ers that leverage our resources against us and how we can best attack these issues to garner statewide attention. Protesting “Too Big Too Fail Banks” and the military industrial complex is great, but to grow the movement local issues that affect and mobilize the community create a climate for activism that will foster national action.
The Occupy Upstate Regional Conference was a perfect segue to The National Gathering and I hope other states are looking to coordinate on statewide issues. Despite what Chris Hedges and other privileged writers and academics may see from their desks, Occupy is alive and well and never went anywhere. The only thing that has died is the mainstream media’s ability to commercialize the attention drawn to Occupy without actually talking about issues. Watch out 1% New York. See you all in Philly.