Occupy Dallas branches out

February 14, 2012

I THINK it's safe to say that when someone thinks about left-wing politics and activism, Dallas, Texas, is the farthest thing from their mind. It's incredibly exciting to think that this may no longer be the case.

Occupy Dallas kicked off in early October of last year. The local movement initially refused to take up any issues that it regarded as "divisive." Most of the demonstrations and actions were narrow in their focus, and many occupiers refused to even entertain the thought that the LGBT struggle was in any way connected to the struggle of the 99 percent. Those days are gone now.

Two weeks ago, the Occupy Dallas General Assembly voted to promote and attend a Palestinian protest honoring the dead who were murdered by the Israeli Defense Forces during Operation Cast Lead three years ago. The idea that the movement's strength, diversity and integrity can only grow through supporting other struggles and taking up the causes of the oppressed is setting in.

On February 4, the day started off with a march to a branch of Bank of America. The theme of the demonstration was the death of the "American dream." Nearly 100 activists were forced onto the narrow sidewalk around the building as the police and security guards kept watch, itching to catch someone setting foot on the property.

Dozens of signs condemned the banksters and their political stooges. Many others pointed out what is rapidly becoming the new common sense: the "American dream" is dead, if it ever existed for us at all. Nearly100 motorists honked in support for the 45 minutes of protesting.

If you've been an activist in Dallas before the beginning of the Occupy movement, you'd notice the dramatic shift in consciousness. A year ago, you'd have plenty of people honking at street-corner demonstrations, but only to get your attention as they flip you off.

After the march, protesters converged at a small park on the corner of a busy intersection. The purpose was to participate in an antiwar demonstration. Occupy Dallas had voted to endorse and organize a protest against American and Israeli military intervention in Iran with the Dallas Peace Center, Code Pink and Iraq Veterans Against the War. The numbers swelled to nearly 200 at the height of the protest; shouts of "no war with Iran" radiated from the four occupied corners of the intersection.

The rally wound down as speakers from the International Socialist Organization, Iraq Veterans Against the War and Code Pink spoke to the crowd about why they should oppose any military intervention or sanctions against Iran. The connections between Occupy and the antiwar movement were being made in conversations throughout the event. Many antiwar activists stayed after the rally ended to attend the Occupy Dallas General Assembly.

What is happening in Dallas is very exciting. Not only can one now expect multiple demonstrations on the same day in the city that George W. Bush calls home, but the degree of cooperation and solidarity being exhibited between the different movements can only serve to strengthen them all.

The strategy of linking up with other movements is now being employed by Occupy Dallas. Acknowledging that the antiwar movement, LGBT liberation and anti-racist struggles are movements of the 99 percent is an enormous step forward. Occupy Dallas has already taken the initiative to organize a demonstration in Dallas against the Susan G. Komen Foundation over their announcement to withdraw funding to Planned Parenthood. This protest would not have happened under the banner of Occupy Dallas two months ago.

Our local movement is maturing politically. It will also certainly play an enormous role in changing what folks think about Dallas.
Charles Grand, Dallas

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