It is important to note here that I am not blaming the camps for the collapse of Occupy or the drop of momentum. So many commentators seem eager, on this year anniversary, to blame Occupy’s collapse on a particular political failing on the part of occupiers, but,
Conspicuously absent from these discussions have been the simple facts, available to anyone with a memory, that Occupy encampments throughout the country were raided in the middle of the night and forcibly evacuated by militarized police forces; that this wave of evacuations was the result of a coordinated effort by municipal governments around the country, facilitated by federal authorities, to end Occupy once and for all; that activists were often subject to beatings, harassment, surveillance, and false arrests, sometimes in their own homes; that journalists who attempted to cover protests were regularly arrested; and that since the end of the encampments, the authorities have done their very best to actively suppress any form of vigorous political expression before it even starts. –If You Can Read This You’re LyingThe police have been trying desperately to kill Occupy (with a big assist from that smiling mouth that dissembles the long arm’s blows: the media), and, in a real way, they have not succeeded. Failed or not, they’ll never stop gunning for protesters: they are a force that we need to overcome. That overcoming, however, is not merely a question of fighting, of negationary struggle: we don’t want to live in a world just without police, but one without policing, without the racism, misogyny, homophobia and classism that divides us from one another, without the fear that makes us kowtow to authorities and anxiously trace out our slow deaths of boredom. To achieve that means building unbreakable bonds with each other, making ourselves bold, strong and free. At their best, the wild, chaotic, decentralized actions in the street build a city of such freedom: one of chance encounters, outbursts of public creativity and joy, with friends around every corner, each block bubbling with life.
S17 wasn’t that, of course—there was plenty of silly, boring, and repetitive action, lots of angry loitering and aimless wandering around. But it prefigured that city of possibilities: and as a result came into repeated, direct contact with the police, who not only enforce unjust laws and reproduce racial and gendered violence, but also dull and stultify everyday life. They quash anything out of the ordinary, anything loud, or unruly, anything which holds up traffic, or even just makes people stop and stare, any activity that even slightly impedes the deadly routines of capital’s circulation. Cops are black holes of banality, turning disruptive acts of art into crime, moments of solidarity and joy into violent confrontation, parties into tickets, spontaneous public expression into jail time.