The duration is a crucial component. The press and the attention of the whole world have come because of the relentless sleeping and living in Zuccatti Park. The protest isn’t over when the rally is over. It isn’t over when the IMF or the WTO meeting is over. In that way it is more like a sit-in or a strike—all historically very powerful tactics. Occupying means refusing to go away. The longer people stay, the more impressive the statement becomes. It is ongoing, and it collects power as it continues. Our economic injustices are chronic, and so then must be the protest.
To occupy also means to engage someone’s attention. Occupy Wall Street means making Wall Street and the corporate power elite understand that the people affected by the binge of unregulated greed are not going away, and they are not going to give up. Occupation also means employment. The Occupy protests give the unemployed something to do. They are occupied with protest, political engagement, and justice. One of my favorite signs from Zuccatti Park reads “Lost my job, found an occupation.”
Everything we need to know is right there in the name. I don’t care that the movement doesn’t have specific demands. And I don’t care if I disagree with some of the protesters on some of the issues (hey, you with the Ron Paul sign, don’t stand so close to me). As long as the protest remains nonviolent, I am happy that it is diverse and inclusive and wide-reaching. Wall Street is occupied, and so are all of us.
Dana Spiotta is the author of, "Lightning Field", "Eat the Document" and her latest work, "Stone Arabia." She is writing this post as part of the group, Occupy Writers, an eclectic assembly of more than 1300 writers including Jennifer Egan, Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Lethem, Francine Prose, Salman Rushdie, Lemony Snicket, Alice Walker, and others, who have come together to salute the imagination and creative element of Occupy Wall Street and the global Occupy Movement. Utilizing their web site Occupy Writersintends to publish narratives of those writers who have visited Occupy sites throughout the globe. By gathering stories and personal accounts, Occupy Writers aims to harness the power of literary America to create a counter media where people can find documentation about the movement.