I got really excited when I saw Occupy protesters marching through Downtown Cincinnati for the first time, but I had my doubts. I wondered what on Earth they hoped to accomplish, so I made several visits to their Piatt Park home. I listened in on a General Assembly and photographed their encampment before they were evicted. Weeks later I watched Jesse Jackson explain what “Occupy is…” and videotaped singer Justin Jeffre’s enthusiastic rant. I talked to a union man and listened to a 16 year old predict a bleak future.
Those occupiers spoke mostly of banks, bailouts and jobs. They mourned the declining economic power of the 99% and the growing wealth of the 1%; and I found out it wasn’t just talk. A recently released Congressional Budget Office study confirmed “..increasing inequality…” from 1979 to 2007. During that period, after-tax income for Middle income earners rose by 40%. The poorest earners gained merely 18%, but incomes for America’s richest 1% increased by 275%.
Given those statistics, the protester’s challenge of the rich and powerful looked a lot like David struggling to take down a modern day Goliath. I couldn’t foresee their efforts bearing fruit. Then I realized, the Occupy Cincinnati movement was built on a foundation of success.
Ohio had a pro 99% movement before Occupy Wall Street came along. It began after our new governor initiated Senate Bill 5. The change would have whittled away public employee’s collective bargaining rights, but Ohio’s police, fire, teacher and other union members banded together to stop it. They protested, marched and rallied. When SB5 passed the legislature, they collected enough signatures to put it on the November ballot and enough votes to repeal it.
The Occupy Cincinnati movement has continued that same in-your-face style confrontation:
In November, OC pushed to defeat “..council members who consistently sided with the 1%.” All four were defeated. On Black Friday, OC promoted a “Buy Nothing Day.” On December 3, they joined forces with Occupy the Hood Cincinnati to clean up neglected bank foreclosed properties. A December 10 Human Rights March will protest injustices around the world and in the USA.
Nationally, Florida Congressman, Ted Deutch, recently introduced House Joint Resolution 90, the Occupied Amendent. It would undo the Supreme Court ruling that granted corporations “person” status.
What has the Occupy movement accomplished? Plenty, and they’re just getting started.