The Other Way to Occupy Denver
The Other Way to “Occupy Denver” As weather gets colder, DPD pushes homeless and occupiers further into a corner. Hancock plans to make sleeping on the sidewalk a crime and talks about ejecting the homeless from the 16th street mall. Meanwhile, as Occupy Denver concedes more and more ground to the authorities every day there are many that are beginning to doubt its effectiveness. The point of Occupy Anywhere should have never been to make a symbolic plea to our leaders to do the right thing, moving them with our dedication and now, as the winter begins and those sleeping outside have no other coverings allowed but tarps, moving them with our suffering.Martin Luther King and the christian pacifist early civil rights movement may have used the same tactic (for example putting kids in a situation where they'd be attacked by dogs, to make good press for the North) but at least the majority of the actions at that time were focused on direct defiance of the jim crow system. No luck in Denver, or most occupations. Such a movement can only succeed when directly challenging and uprooting the things that it protests, through action. Occupy Denver is doomed to failure if its content to be nothing more than a symbolic statement, along the lines of a “die in”, but with the real possibility of someone actually dying to make that point. An encampment is possible, and worth pursuing and attempting, but it will have to deal with two obstacles, a city government and police force bent on crushing any action taken to make houselessness survivable, and people in the occupation itself that actively sabotage the same attempts (it’s no coincidence that most of the second group has a place to go home to at the end of the GA).
Occupy Denver's 24/7 team, a name they have bestowed upon themselves, are those who are most vulnerable within this movement. Most of them are homeless or street youth. Yet the movement prefers to use them as publicity when convenient and then turn their backs on them when they choose to truly make the park their home. Last night a houseless veteran, Reno, was arrested after laying claim to Civic Center Park as his home and pitching his tent on the snow covered grass. He chose to defend his home and was arrested for it. But, where were the many other Occupiers when the police came for both Reno and his home? A small group shouted “shame” and other admonishments at DPD for their despicable actions, but no one sat down in the face of those officers to help this man defend his home and right to warmth.
The truth is that the city, state, and their army (DPD) will continue their assault on those who are most vulnerable and do not see tents at the park as a symbolic action, but rather see it as a necessity to ensure their survival during the winter months. How long will Occupy Denver sit idly by with their hands nervously wringing in their laps as they ponder whether this hurts the movement or furthers it? When will those within Occupy Denver who have a warm, safer place to call home at night stand in true solidarity with those who do not?
Seeing as Wall Street and "the banks" are the biggest targets of the occupy movement and a huge number of the people who've slept at, worked for, defended and gone to jail for the occupation have been houseless, squatting of foreclosed homes seems like one of the best responses. Squatting is direct disobedience of the target, that happens to leave the rebel drier, warmer and safer than those that stick around for the symbolism. Vacant, bank owned houses are abundant everywhere. Below are a few sites that track houses that could provide shelter to those without it. The first one tracks all vacant properties held by the FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. There are many more owned by other banks, absentee landlords and so on but this is the biggest accurate resource. The second is based on the post office, which addresses haven't received mail in the last six months, which is less reliable but yields more results. There are enough roofs in the Metro area to house everyone through the winter, and any action taken to prevent that housing from happening amounts to nothing less than murder.
(Directions… set up an account by clicking signup. Put in a name (any name) an email (doesn’t have to be real) and a password, create it, sign yourself in. Zoom in to the general area you want to check out, then when you’re close enough, check the box to the left hand side of the page saying “view properties”. They should show up.)