Occupy Denton mourns the loss of a fellow occupier, a kind and idealistic young man and a friend. Darwin Cox passed away. He was found in a tent on the Occupy Denton camp where he had been given shelter after a fellow occupier saw him suffering from a fever. Darwin’s lifelong struggle with drug addiction is suspected to have played a role in this tragedy. While drug use or possession is strictly against Occupy Denton’s policy, it was the Occupy Denton camp where he found friendship, respect, and compassion for his warm, caring, and generous character. Occupy Denton will dearly miss him, and forever appreciate the fortune of having shared a space and time with our friend, Darwin Cox. We give our deepest condolences to his family.
One of Occupy Denton’s core issues is the struggle against homelessness. Specifically, the lack of a safety net and inclusive shelters for the homeless left Darwin with nowhere else to go. Tragedies like this happen every day and fail to make the nightly news or the newspapers. Our current social structure criminalizes the homeless as well as those suffering from addiction. This is one of the reasons why Occupy Denton emerged, why Darwin joined, and why Occupy Denton will continue the struggle for the marginalized and oppressed.
Occupy Denton will observe a vigil on Monday, December 5th at 7 P.M. on the lawn between the Physics and Art buildings at the UNT campus. The vigil will mourn his loss and commemorate his life. A deep sense of connection and family has emerged among the occupiers. Darwin’s loss has deeply shaken us. Our love and resolve will continue with Darwin in our hearts.
Occupy Denton has been growing strong for a month now, and those of us who have made this community happen have a lot to be thankful for. We are thankful for all of our friends and neighbors who have donated food, blankets, tents and their praise. We are thankful for the professors who have taken the time to educate us and organize workshops at the camp. We are especially thankful that UNT has respected our right to assemble, but most of all we are thankful to be a part of history. Thank you to the millions of people all across the globe that made the Occupy Together movement the biggest popular resistance to injustice and inequality that we’ve seen in generations.
I flew to Washington DC with friends and we occupied Liberty Square with thousands of others. I am thankful for having the privilege and the opportunity to be there. When I returned home and heard about Occupy Denton I made new friends who have shared their experiences from Occupy Wall Street, Portland, Chicago, Austin, Dallas, and Fort Worth. I am personally astounded at how much positive feedback we’ve received from the community. The kindness and generosity we’ve received has restored much of my faith in humanity. Our bonds of friendship and solidarity are what fuel this movement.
In the first month of Occupy Denton, we’ve organized several actions aimed at defending Denton’s public health from the poisonous effects of natural gas drilling in our community. We have also organized a town hall meeting on December 1st with the Denton City Council to directly address issues such as fracking which is a particularly destructive from of gas drilling, getting the City of Denton off of fossil fuels, helping the homeless, and promoting more bike lanes and public transportation. We’ve also hosted numerous workshops, public speakers, street theater, community art, a public library, free meals, and even bicycle repair. We’ve also begun organizing resistance to home foreclosure in Denton. We’ve done a lot in just one month, and this is only the beginning.
However, the weather is getting colder, and many people are traveling to be with their families for thanksgiving. Some have criticized the location of Occupy Denton, and we have considered their points carefully. Others are concerned that the cold will prevent people from being able to participate at the general assemblies, which are sometimes too late in the day for working people to attend. All of these criticisms are welcomed, because that is how we solve problems and improve our movement.
Our community is now undergoing a transition from the campus of UNT to a location more accessible to the Denton community at large. It was always our intention to move the camp. UNT has incubated our movement well. Occupy Denton will continue to host general assemblies in a more hospitable location to organize future actions and build a better camp.
New General Assembly Time and Place
We will resume General Assemblies on Monday November 28 since many people are enjoying Thanksgiving with their families. The Occupy Denton encampment at UNT is being transitioned, but we are still having regular General Assemblies to organize actions and plan the future camp. We have changed the time and location of our meetings to better accommodate people’s needs so everyone can participate.
Until further notice General Assemblies will be held at 7:00 pm inside the General Academic Building at the University of North Texas. (Link to map of location) On the ground floor of the General Academic Building is an open lounge with lots of seating. This location was chosen because it is immediately available, open to the public and close to our original camp. Having our meetings inside and out of the cold will encourage more people to participate. The new meeting time was requested by those with jobs that prevent them from being available at our usual meeting time.
We are currently speaking to a number of public locations about meeting there. We feel that we need a location off-campus so that more people in the community feel welcome to participate. Having everything on campus creates the perception that this is just for students, which it is not. This movement is for everyone, so we need to make accommodations that work for as many people as possible. As soon as one of these new locations is secured we will announce it here and move our General Assemblies there.
These decisions were made by democratic consensus in order to make our movement open and available to those who wish to participate. Anyone with a concern about the time or location should express those concerns at the next General Assembly.
Often, while I’m out at the Occupy camp, people come up to me and ask some variation on the question, “What is Occupy?”
The answer came to me in two parts.
I thought about it for a long time. I watched, listened, and jumped into discussions. I attended rallies and even took part in the People’s Mic.
And the first part came to me:
Occupy begins with a shared recognition that something is deeply wrong with the world.
We all have our specific examples, but ultimately it comes down to this: there is something wrong, and the people we trusted with the power to fix it are just making it worse.
So we’re taking the power back, not with violence but with the dignity and joy of people who have woken up to find that we’ve had the change we were looking for inside ourselves the whole time.
Once I understood this, the next part flowed naturally from it. People like to ask, “OK, but what is Occupy doing? What are their goals? What are their demands?”
The questions, while well intentioned, come from a fundamental misunderstanding of what they’re dealing with. Like a person is not their job, Occupy is not an ideology, full of political stances that can be spun in the enervating centrifuge of cable TV until all the meaning is pulled out of it.
Occupy is evolution in action. When the marketplace of ideas crashed and died, something new was born out of the ashes: The Ecosystem of Ideas.
Occupy is the system that allows ideas to come together, and instead of having a bloody competition against each other, with the best idea being the last one standing, ideas come together and trade bits and pieces of each other; combining in new ways, shedding old traits and gaining new ones in a massive spawning pool of memes.
Occupy is where solutions to the Great Wrongness come to meet, mingle, mate, and often to die. But their children live on, and as the evolution progresses every day we get closer to the big answer: What do we do?
Lots of action has come out of Occupy camps. A lot of amazing, beautiful things have happened because Occupy exists, but Occupy is not those things. Occupy is the planet which birthed them.
Occupy is the Free Love Movement of the mind.
So the next time someone asks me what Occupy is, I know the answer:
Occupy is us. All of us. Together.
Denton isn’t the biggest, most important city in the world. It hosts very little corporate power, so why Occupy Denton? Sorry yall, but I’m about to get really personal.
I am not here for myself.
I am here for my parents who lost everything over 10 years ago, who work hard every day of their lives just to get by. My parents got divorced when I was 11 years old. One is transgendered and works for the AIDS Resource Center Food Pantry in Dallas, helping people who have even more difficult lives and who suffer in ways that are hard to imagine. The other is a hairdresser, struggling with diabetes and depression, working endless hours a week to make ends meet.Though they are not able to help pay for my education or support me monetarily, they give me everything they can, and they support my decision to take part in this protest. They know why I am here.
I am here for my brothers. My little brother’s school, a performing arts magnet school in Dallas, is suffering tremendously from budget cuts. When things seemed their darkest, he was accepted into their music program, and because of this school I have seen him turn from a tortured, shy kid to a confident young man, full of ever-growing wonder and potential. I can’t explain to you how much it breaks my heart to know that this school, which has given opportunities to so many talented students, regardless of socioeconomic status, may not exist in the future for kids like my little brother. The arts not only enrich lives, but they hold the potential to save them.
My twin brother, also a talented musician and student at community college, depends on Social Security and state funded services to live. My family cannot afford to support him and cannot meet all the needs for his well being, and we would be utterly lost without government help. I want you to understand the importance of this help, because without it, there is a great potential that someone that I love with my entire being, someone whom I occupied a womb with, will have to suffer tremendously. My brothers, they know why I am here.
I am here for all my friends in high school and in college that never made it to graduation, but I am here even more so for those who did graduate and realized all too harshly that the promises of higher education were myths, or worse yet, blatant lies. For all those imprisoned by debt, seemingly for nothing, you know why I am here.
I am here because I believe in freedom, real freedom, where every person is treated with respect, with the utmost empathy, and every voice has the opportunity not only to be heard but actually listened to. I believe in the grace of our common needs and desires. I will testify to human compassion as a greater force in the world than malice and greed, and I am fed up with cynics and misanthropes that see such a limited perspective of humanity. If you don’t understand, listen. Voices are crying out everywhere for change. They believe too that a different world is possible. They know why I am here.
I am here for every person that has had their ability to sustain their lifeforce reduced or outright destroyed, for every marginalized way of being, for every single one of us that has felt fear, guilt, and shame for most of our lives because the system we live in perpetuates the most thorough violence. I am here for every disempowered worker, for every parent who collapses in tears because they just cannot provide, and for every body that has been poisoned by industry’s pollutants, including that most deadly poison of indifference.
I am not here for myself. I am here for you, and everyone you love, and people that you don’t even know exist, because I know that their existence is valid and meaningful. I don’t know what will come out of this movement, but I will not stand aside or silent while I recognize injustice. You may call me naive, a stupid liberal, a dirty hippie, and I do not resent your pessimism or lack of insight. You may say that my beliefs are idealistic, unrealistic, but believing that there are not, have never been, and will never be societies where domination is vitually absent—that is unrealistic. If you understand human potential, if you have any real grasp of our history as a species, you know the possibilities, and you know why I am here.
I’m at Occupy Denton because I am doing what I can in my community. We may seem like an insignificant group here, but we are part of something much larger. I can’t speak for everyone, and I don’t want to, but this is something I really care about. If yall know me at all you know I am always the pickiest and most critical when it comes to participating in protest movements.That should say something. Real change comes slow and steady, and I am in this for the long haul.
See yall out there,
Occupy Denton Statement
In solidarity with the Occupy Wall St. movement, we continue to occupy our public space in Denton, Texas. We have come together in order to give voice to the needs and concerns of the community we occupy both locally and globally.
We are a manifestation of our nation’s deep frustrations with the gross imbalances of power and the irresponsibility of corporations and governments. We demand a true democracy, one in which the well-being of the many is not trampled by the interests of the few and powerful.
The hardships brought about by the profit-driven alliance between corporations and governments are many and affect everyone. Thus, our constituency and proposed solutions are diverse and pluralistic.
Our occupation is an organic democratic organism, not a one time demonstration. We are part of a grassroots movement, and our methods have been proven to create profound and lasting social change.
Occupy Denton gives voice to the 99%, the people whose future has been compromised by governments that cater to the desires of transnational corporations, the military industrial complex, and destructive energy oligopolies while ignoring the educational, environmental, health, and security needs of the people they pretend to represent.
We are the 99% and we occupy together.
A better world is possible and we pledge to make it real
Why are we here. Why are we here?! It’s a testament to just how effective the dystopian media-propaganda machine is at manufacturing consent that that is even a real question. When something like this huge, international democratic movement for change comes about there really should be no thinking twice about jumping in and joining it. The problems we face in this world are epically huge and many. They go long back into history and deep into our psyches. I’m out here because everything around me is a thin facade covering profound injustice and oppression.
We are here in Denton Texas, which we are told is irrelevant for this movement because it is small and doesn’t have a big institution like a federal reserve bank or a White house. But let’s take a minute to think about where we are standing. We are standing on stolen land. Hundreds of years of colonialism are still with us, and continuing. John B. Denton, our city’s namesake, is known for murdering American Indians, and we still have nostalgia for him.
Colonialism’s twin—white-supremacy—is very much here and with us in Denton. We have a monument to a confederate soldier with two separate drinking fountains for whites and blacks. We have white folks dressing up as the people we colonize and commit genocide against for halloween. We have a highly segregated city. Our state politicians build walls on our borders, cemented with racism.
I’m here because most of the women I have know in my life have been raped. All of them have been cat-called, or have been otherwise street harassed, which carries with it the ever-present threat of rape. We have a rape culture. There is so much uproar when a window gets broken in a demonstration. People admonish the rightfully angry protester for being violent. What kind of a society do we live in where the destruction of property is considered “violent” but the fact that up to 71% of women around the world will experience violence from a male intimate partner is the norm, and a “private matter?” I’m out here because women do 2/3rds of the world’s work and own 1% of the world’s property.
I’m out here because the banks own the world. In the year 2008, a year when we produced more wheat than ever before in the history of the world we had a food crisis. Goldman Sachs and the rest of the huge oligopolist banks speculated on wheat, thus making billions of dollars of profit. In doing so, however they drove the price of wheat through the roof, and they pushed the number of starving people in the world to over a billion, the highest it’s ever been in the history of the world. So it’s not only the fact that the banks don’t produce any real product that can benefit society (and they don’t), but it’s that they really do real harm to millions and millions of people, every day.
I am also out here because the banks and all of the other megacorporations have wormed their way into every aspect of society and every ecosystem on earth. This system we call capitalism is killing the entire fucking planet that we live on. Hundreds of species go extinct everyday. Global warming, just one issue of many many environmental catastrophes that are going on, could cause 1/2 of the species on this planet to go extinct. It will also kill and displace billions of people. In fact, it’s already too late. We are on course for this to happen. It has already begun. The question really is how much can we ease the pain.
So i’m out here because we need a god damn revolution. And I don’t use the word revolution the way that they do in corporate advertising. “pancake revolution” at IHOP. I mean we need to radically change society in basically every respect. Radical means getting to the root. I want an end to capitalism, patriarchy, white supremacy, heterosexism, authoritarianism, all forms of oppression.
I want a world without prisons, without rape, without property, without poverty, without advertisements, without gender police, without class, without banks, without burning fossils, without corporations, without colonialism, without lawns, without bombs, without war, without oppression.
I want a world with forests, with living oceans, with community, with love, with cooperation and mutual aid, with self-management, with real democracy and real freedom, a world with a diversity of family structures, with free education for life, with diversity, with equality, with not just sustainability but harmony with our ecosystems. I want a world that’s livable.
So why are we here? We’re here because we will no longer take it. We’re here to imagine and build a beautiful new world. How do we do that, especially as residents of little ol’ Denton? Build community, practice real democratic decision-making, address local issues. But not only that.
Revolution is not an instant thing.
Over time we will be connected to the rest of the Occupy Together movement. We will go to national conventions and be delegates. We will talk with each other, no longer be so alienated, and we will teach each other and discuss alternatives. We will put the ones we like into practice here. We will be a part of what will be remembered as the movement that saved the world.
Come out to the square on November 5th (this Saturday)
Just had our first run-in with the police. Three officers came to our camp and scavenged information from two occupiers for playing drums during campus hours. The three officers left the camp but are now watching us from afar. Come occupy with us. Our power is in our numbers.
Rachel Ayers in solidarity with Scott Olsen from Occupy Oakland