Wednesday, April 4th, 2012. New York City – From the Civil War until the early part of the 20th century organized labor, the unemployed, hobos, and artisans gathered in Union Square for what they called The Great Meeting. OWS had their Great Meeting today on the Northside of Union Square Park. They said, this is the first of many Great Meetings in Union Square.
They came together to celebrate the history of Union Square and to honor Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. In his memory they asked: What is your dream? What kind of world do you want to live in?
This is the message they posted on the site of Occupy Wall Street: When we Occupy Wall Street, we build new, temporary structures to fulfill our needs. We construct them as needed, and let them whither away as their purposes end. We don’t seek to create new corruptible or abusive institutions that become ritualistic or static, that exist simply for the sake of existing. When there are new needs, there must be new experiments to create space for direct democracy. Where experiments become stale, we prepare to experiment once again. From General Assemblies to Spokes Councils to Open Spaces to Community Meetings to Working Groups to drum circles to, we think, a Great Meeting at Union Square.
In this spirit, a number of longtime occupiers and indignados are coming together to call for a mass assembly to be held this coming Wednesday, April 4th, at Union Square Park at abot 6:30pm. That date has special significance as the anniversary of the assassination of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr., one among millions who fought hard against economic inequality and white racism, and we apologize in advance if this conflicts with the plans of others on this date (New York City is big, there are always conflicts). Union Square Park has long been a base of social upheaval, soapboxing, mass dissent, and public discussion, from the Great Meeting that rallied New Yorkers to the Union cause in April of 1861 at the beginning of the Civil War, to the types of labor rallies that Emma Goldman and others spoke at. We would like our Great Meeting to be on the North end of Union Square, because we have no desire to displace the skaters, breakdancers, trick bikers, punks, and other subcultures that called the south end home for decades. In the past two weeks, we have seen these youth co-mingle and fade into the ranks of more clearly defined occupiers, and we have seen police repress them in an effort to divide the youth who would have been in Union Square any Spring from people coming to be a part of Occupy Wall Street. We have no desire to be party to such a displacement, even as we have every intention of keeping a presence on the south end of the park.
And so, after weeks of arrests and wounds, amazing actions and incredible solidarity, we want to come back together to discuss political questions surrounding anything ranging from economic equality to food and health care justice to upcoming actions to the Spanish general strike, to dream together of the new world that we think is possible enough that we’ve stuck it out for all of these months, and perhaps to discuss practical concerns about our shift toward Union Square as a reclamation of the commons. We are not necessarily coming together to make concrete decisions. We don’t want to rebuild an abusive institution where we bring proprietary proposals or disrupt each others’ processes, or dole out funds based on the most boisterous voice or best white collar hustle. We want to create something healthy, something exciting, something temporary and dynamic and capable of constant adaptation, something for all of our many voices and for all of our many dreams.
We have no intention of creating a permanent structure to be led by a static dogma, nor are we yet suggesting it be scheduled weekly, daily, bi-weekly, or simply as we find the need. We simply want a new experiment which will bring as many occupiers, indignados, citizens, undocumented, youth, breakers, skaters, workers, unemployed, displaced, poor, wealthy, uncomfortable, healthy, disabled, indignant members of the 99% together to allow us all to have voice for our dreams. Give us all space for our old projects to grow and new ones to spring up on nothing more than the fertile ground of your own will and desires.
The day is supposed to be pretty, the date has incredible significance, Union Square is a great venue that has been a space for popular culture and conversation for 150 years, and this simply feels right. We hope to see you there, and hear your voice rise alongside ours in the people’s mic.Gallery is empty!
Martin Luther King. “I been to the mountain top” last speech on April 3rd, 1968. He was murdered the next day, April 4th.
“I Have a Dream Speech”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Address at March on Washington, D.C.
August 28, 1963.