Friday, 24 October 2014

Repost of a beautiful message from two members of the Occupy London movement: Kai Wargalla and Joshua Veeraswamy


Three years ago today we started Occupy London. Three years ago today I took the bus, one of those red double deckers, down to St. Paul's cathedral and I stayed there for days, which became weeks, which became months - through Christmas and the entire winter, I spent almost a year in a tent and an occupied bank building. And of the countless unforgettable experiences during that time, I will forever hold dear this very first day.
I remember that day still. I remember how I walked out of my place in the morning, which I still had back then before I gave it up shortly after, and how I purposefully walked to the bus station around the corner. I was late, of course. I remember how I got on the bus, how I sat upstairs in the front row, it was quiet and empty, with the sun shining though the large window, blinding my eyes, warming my face. I saw the glowing but dreary streets before me and the sharp horizon bordering the clear blue sky. And I remember how I, sitting there smiling, posted a Facebook status update from my smartphone, that a kind soul donated to me a few weeks earlier for doing this whole Occupy thing.
I remember how I got to my destination still early - the Paternoster Square, a large concrete space between the London Stock Exchange and St. Paul's Cathedral. What a freakin' symbolic place. I remember how I and a handful of people who have been organizing this for weeks, were hiding in cafes all around this officially announced meeting point; how we talked via prepaid phones and walkie-talkies, always cautious that the undercover police wasn't listening in on us too much. I remember that it was about 11:45am when I sat in a small cafe overlooking the cathedral, and still no-one showed up. We were nervous, yet hopeful, and every inch of my body was in breathless anticipation of what to come on this beautiful sunny autumn Sunday. 15 minutes to go.
And then I remember how the clock struck 12 and within what seemed like the blink of an eye thousands of people flooded St. Paul's. I remember how from the chaos of this huge crowd of diverse people coming together all at once, our very first General Assembly was formed at the steps of the Cathedral. I remember how for weeks before this day we've been organizing for this to happen, and when it finally was midday of the 15th October 2011 it was entirely out of our hands and in the hands of the people - exactly as it should be.
Someone had brought a microphone, another one actually brought a portable PA. I remember Julian Assange being there amongst us occupiers and that we put him in his place to wait for his turn to speak - no special treatment for anyone. It was our time. I remember the feelings of overboarding joy about the first tents popping up. I remember some people started building a working kitchen on that very first day. I remember how the police tried to shut us down from the very beginning, the first turmoils and arrests, and how we managed to trick the cops into kettling us into the exact spot we wanted to set up the camp anyway - in yo face, police! I remember that when the sun finally set, we had built a small but resilient town, a community, an actual alternative model of society, in the middle of the evil financial heart of London. It was done. We did it. Hundreds of people actually came here to stay here. To live here. To be a living and breathing antidote to the selfish and cruel, unjust and corrupt capitalist system that harms us, the people, and the entire planet. Another world is possible. We built it on that day, and we lived it for months.
The people I've met for the first time in my life on this day have stayed in my life ever since. Some are still very close to me, some are more distant friends, some I've lost touch with - but each and every one of them, of you, that I've crossed paths with on that first day, will forever be in my heart, will forever be engraved into my memory of that first day of Occupy London. What a beautiful day. What a fuckin' perfect day to start a revolution.
The mentioned Facebook update from that day, you say? Well, it reads as follows: "The sun is shining...clear blue sky...smells like...revolution ". And it really was. And it still is - even though the tents are gone; even though many doubt that Occupy has actually achieved anything; even though many think that Occupy is dead. It isn't. This is only the beginning.
Occupy isn't a place - it's a point in time when you refuse to keep obliging, when you refuse to accept the corrupt and unjust structures as given, when you refuse to live (un-)comfortably with authority dictates.
We are the 99%.