On Saturday, October 15th, over a thousand cities around the world, including Montreal, will fuel the “Occupy Movement” by hosting, or intensifying, their very own “Occupy (insert city here.)” The occupation of these various cities will go on for as long as it takes for our governments to acknowledge that there is a problem with our economic systems.

If your reading this, you’ve heard about Occupy Wall Street

Maybe you’re even super gung-ho about it and embrace the movement with every inch of your being? Maybe you have been watching the live streams coming out of the various occupied cities, maybe you have joined the Facebook groups and have read all the latest related articles and blog posts. Maybe, just maaaaaybe you’ve even bought a t-shirt. If that’s the case, great! Stop reading – go dust off your sleeping bag and make a sign for Saturday.

But maybe you’ve heard of it and don’t entirely get it, and aren’t really sure if you support it. That’s okay too but if you’d just give me a couple minutes of your time, I’d really like to use this platform to explain why your participation in this movement will make your life and the lives of the vast majority better.

In order to understand the ‘Occupy Movement,’ we need not focus as much at its specific so-called origin vis-à-vis Adbusters, however interesting, but rather we must examine the origin of it’s underlying motive.

The motive for the Occupy Movement is inequality. Point final.

The occupiers are those who feel abused by the systematic inequality and injustice that is perpetuated by the current economic system. A system that lends to the growing disparity between the super rich and the super poor and between the super rich and the middle class, who are on their way to becoming the super poor. A system that places the interest of corporations over those of the people they are sworn to protect. The occupy movement is made up of people who feel disenfranchised and ignored.

This inequality is fuelled by an insultingly minute level of corporate financial regulation and growing corporate welfare, regressive tax policies that target the middle class instead of the rich, loose monetary policies, anti-trust laws, manipulation of the financial system and government corruption by entrenched corporate influence. The skeptic need look no further than the 2008 financial crisis for evidence of this lack of regulation. And then again at the ensuing exploitation of the un-responsible middle class for an example of corporate influence over the government.

When we look at the Occupy Movement, we must not forget the damage the American financial system has thrust upon the global economy in the past years. We must also not forget, as Canadians, our dependence on and role in, the American economy.  But the Occupy Movement isn’t just about opposition to the ripple effect of unfettered American capitalism. What about Canada, why occupy here?

Most of us don’t have a clue that income inequality is actually growing at a faster rate in Canada than it is in the US. Most of us don’t realize that Canada has had one of the fastest growing rates of income inequality since the 1990s. Canadian household debt has reached a record high (1.5 trillion) and the poverty rate in our rich country is hovering at around 10%. That ol’ gap between the rich and poor just keeps on growin’ and is showing no sign of stopping.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives reported that, in the land of bacon, maple syrup and beer commercials, “the…richest 1% took almost a third (32%) of all growth in incomes between 1997 and 2007.” In the 50s and 60s, they only took 8% of income growth. Since the 1970s, the richest 0.01% has almost quadrupled its income. The CCPA also found, that our “generation of rich Canadians is staking claim to a larger share of economic growth than any generation that has preceded it in recorded history. An examination of income trends over the past 90 years reveals that incomes are as concentrated in the hands of the richest 1% today as they were in the Roaring Twenties.”

In one day, the top CEOs in Canada make more money than the average worker does in one year. Between 1995 and 2007, the average salaries of CEOs went up 444%, while our salaries  haven’t  budged in the last quarter century. They aren’t working any harder, they are just getting paid more, much more.

“Canada’s elite has managed to convince decision-makers that if they kept more of their income, they could create more wealth for everyone. After thirty years, the evidence shows that trickle-down economics was a hollow promise and a costly social experiment,” writes Armine Yalnizya.   Yes, the Canadian economy is growing. But at what cost?   To learn more about economic injustice and income inequality in Canada check out the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report.

This inequality is in large part the result of the absence of a sense of government accountability to the people who they are supposed to serve. Democracy has been perverted and ultimately overridden to serve the interests and agendas of the richest 1%. The Occupy Movement is about re-democratizing democracy, about putting power back in the hands of the  99%. It is about forcing the 1% to stop handing us crumbs and finally take the needs of the rest of us seriously.

According to Maxwell Ramstead, of Occupy Montreal, “The problem is that there’s no way to vote against the banking system and the dominance of the financial sector.  That’s what [the Occupy Movement] is about. This is about opening a public space where we can voice our opinion and discuss issues that have not been accessible through traditional avenues.  People say the movement has no specific demands, that’s missing the point.  The point is to allow critical discourse to happen, to compare demands and solutions with other citizens, and to voice our opinions in a non-violent manner.”

Things have been crappy for a very long time, so why now? Maybe we just needed the time to grow the balls? Maybe we were inspired by the Arab Spring? Whatever the reason, we have reached our breaking point.

If you come out to Occupy Montreal, that means there will be one more person. Instead of adopting the apathetic, “Oh, there will be tons of people there already, they don’t need me,” attitude, think of yourself instead, as that one more person that makes all the difference. A movement is made up of thousands of those, ‘one more people.’ There is no such thing as too many.

This is the beginning of something big, a revolution hopefully. A revolution takes a lot of people, with lots of drive and lots of time to achieve. So many people have sacrificed so much to put this together, they have given up time and money, and some have quit their jobs. All you have to do is show up!

If you are still not 100% convinced, that’s cool, come out on Saturday or any day after that and check it out for yourself. Talk to people, ask questions, have a discussion. Make up your own mind, not from the sidelines but come and see what it’s really all about.

Occupy Montreal needs you! The world needs you. We will only be as strong as our numbers. On saturday bring warm cloths, food, generators, audio-video equipment, walkie-talkies, tents, tarps, blankets, batteries, solar chargers, first aid kits, maintenance equipment. Bring everything you can and everyone you know.

The people united, will never be defeated!

Occupy Montreal happens in Square Victoria starting tomorrow, Saturday, October 15th starting at 9:30am. More info can be found on the Facebook event page

The Occupy Wall Street protests are now entering their fourth week. The movement which began in New York City on September 17th has garnered the support of most of the big unions, numerous celebrities, intellectuals, the hactivist group Anonymous, and even some key politicians.

Occupy Wall Street has been growing rapidly and picking up steam as protests pop-up in more and more cities across North America and even Europe (the Occupy Montreal protest begins on Sat Oct 15th). Major media outlets have even started covering this movement seriously (except for Fox News obviously) but this wasn’t the case when it first started.

There are a variety of issues that people are protesting but primarily they are calling for an end to crippling corporate greed and for the government to sever ties between itself and the US banking sector. Since the financial collapse in 2008 many Americans have lost their homes, lost their jobs and the country as a whole has been struggling through a recession.

The banks and corporations (some deemed “Too Big to Fail”) successfully secured bailouts and loans to ensure that they would remain profitable. The weakened economy was felt most by ordinary citizens who, many already struggling with crippling debt, were trying to feed their families, keep a roof over their heads, get access to health care and/or seek an education.

Many people have to make difficult choices as the aforementioned liberties are no longer guaranteed pillars of the American way of life and some people even have to make choices between basic necessities. From this has also sprung the call to arms “We are the 99 Percent“!

Here are some images and videos from the movement so far:

This is a message from Anonymous which details part of the problem and the issues people are facing.

BREAKING NEWS: New York City is under occupation and has been for a few days.

You’d think that would be breaking news, wouldn’t you? Even if it’s not the whole city, just the financial quarter. And even if it’s not an invading army, but people upset with the way their own country is running things (in this case, the economy). After all, domestic upheaval in Egypt and people occupying a public square in Bahrain was headline news all around the world just a few months ago, wasn’t it?

Come to think of it, the lack of media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street protest is just like the Arab Spring. State controlled media completely blocked the protesters’ side of the story in the Middle East and Africa just as corporate (pretty much the state in the West) controlled media is shutting up about what’s currently unfolding in Lower Manhattan.

In both cases, social media took the lead in getting the news out. In the case of the NYC action, it started on Twitter, or rather was started on Twitter by Adbusters Magazine. Now, before you say manufactured protest, I think Adbusters starting this one has a lot more credibility than, say, Fox News starting the Tea Party.

For #OccupyWallStreet, there is even a live video stream that’s been running since the beginning of the occupation. It was re-running footage when I checked it out last night, footage of a general meeting where a group of people called the People’s Microphone used their voices to amplify what speakers were saying.

It also re-ran footage of the NYPD arresting people seemingly at random, and on the flimsiest of grounds. They even cited an anti-mask law from the 1800s and arrested people for chalking on the street. While this is a peaceful protest and even speaker Roseanne Barr called for the crowd not to fight the cops and try to bring them onside, it looks like the cops have other plans, roughing up protesters to chants of “shame” and “the whole world is watching.”

And the whole world is watching, just not through American (or Canadian, for that matter) mainstream media. While things have started to change in the last couple of days with Keith Olberman and even Stephen Colbert making mention of the protest, the majority of the new found coverage has focused on downplaying the numbers and the significance of this event.

In Egypt, the government shut down the internet to stifle the usefulness of Twitter and Facebook to the protesters. While that hasn’t happened here, there were unconfirmed reports of posts mentioning Occupy Wall Street simply not showing up in people’s Facebook feeds as they should.

Whether or not the powers behind Wall Street who own our media, including social media, decide to exercise their authority and censor the web has yet to be seen. Whether or not this protest continues to grow has also yet to be seen.

Right now, it looks like it very well might. There are solidarity actions springing up around the world, including one in Montreal tomorrow (Friday) afternoon in front of the World Trade Centre (yes, we have one of those). Meanwhile, people from other American states and other countries (and continents) are headed to Manhattan to keep this action going.

It has almost all the elements that made up the Arab Spring: a tyrannical authority (the economic tyranny of Wall Street in this case), mainstream media censorship and people who have no plan on leaving getting their message out and communicating via social media, in a grassroots person-to-person fashion and any way they can. Whether or not those elements will lead to the sort of upheaval that is needed is yet to be seen.

For now, all I can say is that New York City is under occupation. Let’s hope it lasts. Viva la occupation!

Watch the live video stream: http://www.livestream.com/globalrevolution

Info on the Montreal sattelite protest is available on Facebook

Photos: adbusters.org, blogs.flickr.net