Occupy Baltimore Statement, Nov 20

Occupy Baltimore Statement, Nov 20

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

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*FIRST: In Solidarity with #Occupy, the movement changing the world.*

On October 4, 2011, we began our peaceful occupation of McKeldin Square. Baltimore is one city of thousands to participate in the Occupy movement, a global call to end corporate tyranny.

In the past seven weeks, we have held marches for economic justice, race and gender justice, human rights, workers’ rights, and more. Are marches powerful? Just ask Bank of America – their branch in Fells Point decided to shut down as we protested outside. Members of our group have engaged the Baltimore Development Corporation in a public meeting on November 7, and accused Karl Rove of war crimes during a November 15 speech at Johns Hopkins. Every day, we embark on new initiatives and build solidarity with groups in Baltimore and beyond.

Occupations across the United States have faced eviction and unwarranted police brutality. Zuccotti Park in New York City, aka Occupy Wall Street, was violently cleared out by New York Police, under Mayor Bloomberg's orders, last Monday night, November 14. The call for support was heard loud and clear: on Thursday, November 17, over 35,000 protesters marched in the streets of Manhattan – including members of Occupy Baltimore.

We would like to thank the thousands of supporters from across the city and across all walks of life who have already committed time and effort. We would like to acknowledge support from the AFL-CIO, SEIU, Good Jobs Better Baltimore, United Workers, City Union of Balto, Fire Officers Local 964, Fire Fighters Local 734, Public School Administrators and Supervisors Association Local 25, Balto Building Trades Council, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge, AFSCME 67, AFSCME Local 647-67, AFSCME Local 2202-67, AFSCME Local 558-67, AFT, Baltimore Teachers Local 340, Postal Workers, and thousands of ordinary citizens, many of them city and state employees.

This movement is unstoppable. It is bigger than any city, any person, or any tent. Attempts to quell our protest will be answered with more people, more power, and more purpose. In the event of eviction, we call on the citizens of Baltimore to join us in the streets and fight for our right to fight for justice. You cannot evict an idea whose time has come.

*SECOND: In Defense of Occupy Baltimore, tents and all!*

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake held a press conference on Wednesday, November 16, and stated publically that the city plans to evict Occupy Baltimore “at a time of our choosing.” She has referred to our protest as “camping.”

Camping is a leisure activity. As it typically involves tents, we understand the confusion. Our tents, however, offer us the protection necessary for a prolonged protest. Our physical occupation of McKeldin
Square is an expression that is clearly protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Unlike money, it is free speech.

This is what our occupation says: we have exercised our right to assembly in a time of crisis. It says: we are here because this is a place of gross material excess, of corporate greed and human rights violations. It says: we are here as a symbol of the injustices that the members of 99% endure – 24 hours a day. It says: you cannot ignore us.

It says: through trial and error, we are creating a new system. In our community, everyone gets a hot meal, healthcare, and a voice in direct democracy. It says: there is another way, and we are building it. There are social ills that run deep in the veins of the city. Drug abuse, violence, and theft are symptoms of systemic poverty, not of Occupy Baltimore. Our encampment highlights their existence in an area of the city that usually has the privilege of ignoring them. This ignorance has been facilitated by the City, which typically treats symptoms of poverty rather than their cause. Instead of attacking the messenger, we call for the Baltimore City to enact real and sustainable policies that will address these problems and treat victims with humanity and respect. We call for the city, our country, and our global community to recognize and end their own complicit behavior in real crimes, the enabling of corporate tyranny and an unjust distribution of wealth.

Any attempt by the city to shut down Occupy Baltimore will be taken as an implicit endorsement of the systemic injustices in our city. One day, our occupation of the Harbor will end. But as we are free citizens, as we are human beings with rights that supersede the mandates of the government – it will end on our terms.

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For more information on Occupy Baltimore, visit McKeldin Square at Pratt & Light Streets, or visit our website http://www.occupybmore.org . E-mail our media team at occupybaltimoremedia@gmail.com