In the fall of 2011, Occupy Wall Street mobilized citizens to stand up for the 99 percent against the richest one percent. Sparked by a call to action from Vancouver's own Adbusters, the movement against economic inequality and corruption spread from New York City to countries around the world.
Vancouver got in on the action too. Occupy Vancouver grabbed headlines with its controversial tent city at the Vancouver Art Gallery. The local movement drew attention to many issues, particularly homelessness and gentrification. It also took centre stage in that year's civic election.
Fast-forward to today (April 4), and the global Occupy movement is being resurrected with a Wave of Action lasting until July 4. The Wave of Action website states: "During this three-month cycle, people throughout the world will be protesting corruption, rallying around solutions and taking part in alternative systems." According to the site, protests are planned for Toronto, New York, London, Amsterdam, Sydney, and other cities. But there's nothing listed for Vancouver.
Why not? It's not as if Vancouver is about to end homelessness or Canada's wealth gap is getting any smaller. Many of the issues promoted by Occupy Vancouver have not been resolved.
Stephen Elliott-Buckley, a blogger at Politics, Re-Spun, is calling for Occupy Vancouver to awake from its slumber and hold a general assembly. (Remember those strange meetings involving hand signals and call and response?) Today, Elliott-Buckley posted:
So we need to meet for a General Assembly. And we need to plan. And we need to decide if we need to actually occupy some space permanently or temporarily.
And we need to decide if we need a tent city. And we need to decide a few more things:
- Should we meet at the Teamsters 213 picket line at the Richmond IKEA because they’ve been locked out for almost a year as IKEA tries to break their union? Should this be a permanent solidarity occupation? And then when we help the Teamsters make IKEA blink do we help them unionize all the other IKEAs in Canada?
- Should we meet/plan/sleep at the Vancouver Art Gallery?
- Should we fill up bank lobbies, encouraging people to fire their banks and switch their financial existence to credit unions because Bank Transfer Day can be every/any day?
- Should we do a better job this time of developing real alliances with other progressive groups or just tolerate letterhead coalitions of support that has no boots on the ground?
- Should we do a better job with our messaging? Occupy is about equality and justice: economic, political, social, environmental. And how that manifests can be wildly different in different communities, cities, states, provinces, regions, countries and the whole world. And that’s OK.
- And should we just, you know, meet up soon for a General Assembly?
Will you answer the call? And, if Occupy Vancouver comes back with a tent city, will you be there?
As sleepy commuters headed to work this morning, no Occupy activists were seen on the art gallery grounds. But perhaps Vancouver is just, as Elliott-Buckley puts it, "fashionably late".