"Huck Farper"

Protesters rally outside Hamilton’s Federal Building for the anniversary of Occupy Wall Street

It’s been one year today since the initial “Occupation” of Zuccotti Park in New York, which kicked-off the now world-famous “Occupy Wall Street”. To celebrate, hundreds of demonstrators have again marched on Wall Street, with at least 180 arrested by an(other) small army of cops. Protests are also taking place in dozens of North American cities, including at least 17 across Canada. In Hamilton, a dozen or so held a vigil outside the Federal Building on Bay St, echoing an anti-Harper sentiment which could be heard all the way to Parliament Hill.

Today’s anniversary is certainly bittersweet, given how the “Occupy Movement” fared over the winter and spring (something most press coverage is taking pains to remind us about…). Facing incredible internal and external pressure, mobilizations crumbled in many cities. There will certainly be attempts to resurrect some, but today was about far more than that. For some it’s an opportunity to see old friends, for others, to again bring attention to pressing social issues. Occupy always meant very different things to different people, and today was no different.

Given all the troubles which eventually befell the young movement, many (myself included) have wondered aloud whether “Occupy” is dead. Even more have argued about what kind of legacy, if any, it had. Judging by history, these debates are far from over. Whatever else it meant, two things are for sure. First, that it was an unprecedented mobilization for this continent, growing at a pace and in ways which we’d never seen. Before last September 17th, most seemed to believe that we’d left such things in our past. Occupy re-ignited the idea of protest and revolution amongst generations who’d, (generally) never witnessed anything of the sort. It should be no surprise that this turned out to be much harder than most thought, but at the very least, there are now tens of thousands more people with first-hand experience. Secondly, the movement turned inequality into one of the biggest issues in the “public consciousness”. All one needs to say is “the 1%” to evoke images of the kind of extreme concentration of wealth and power which rules our society. This topic was virtually taboo until a year ago, almost never acknowledged in public. “Occupy” changed that, and for a time gave a name to the discontentment which had been quietly growing for decades. For all it’s faults, Occupy transformed the way our society talks about wealth and power, and while we still have a long way to go, it’s now clear that there’s no going back.