By Nicolas Mendoza, The American Independent
In response to concerns over the term “Occupy Albuquerque”, the protest movement has renamed itself “(Un)occupy Albuquerque.” The decision was made in a general assembly meeting of protesters at the University of New Mexico campus.
As the New Mexico Independent reported last week, some of the ’99 percenters’ objected to the association of the word ‘Occupy’ with what one Daily Kos contributor called “…five-hundred years of forced occupation of [Native American] lands, resources, cultures, power, and voices by the imperial powers of both Spain and the United States. A big chunk of the 99 percent has been served pretty well by that arrangement. A smaller chunk hasn’t.”
The 99 percent movement that’s swept the country has reached Albuquerque, New Mexico. But organizers there have decided to alter the “Occupy” name out of respect for area’s indigenous communities, which have been forcibly occupied by the United States for centuries. Instead, organizers are calling their protests “(Un)occupy Albuquerque” to connect corporate greed with the ongoing fight for indigenous land rights.
A sit-in participant in Albuquerque calling himself evergreen2 wrote a story on the DailyKos.com explaining how the term “Occupy” is problematic terminology for indigenous communities.
“For many indigenous people, the term ‘Occupy’ is deeply problematic. For New Mexico’s indigenous people, ‘Occupy’ means five-hundred years of forced occupation of their lands, resources, cultures, power, and voices by the imperial powers of both Spain and the United States. A big chunk of the 99 percent has been served pretty well by that arrangement. A smaller chunk hasn’t.”
On the DailyKos.com, evergreen2 writes about how they came to the decision:
Sunday afternoon, OccupyBurque spent a long, long time debating whether or not to change its name. Interestingly enough, the issue was not introduced by an indigenous New Mexican. Rather it was introduced by an international person, who said that the term “Occupy” was problematic for indigenous people of other countries who had also been “Occupied” by imperial powers.
Then a number of indigenous people of New Mexico spoke. They spoke with passion of how stung and hurt they were every time they hear the word “Occupy.” They spoke of how other indigenous people around the country also object to this term. They said over and over and over again that they want the term changed to “Decolonize.” New Mexico’s indigenous people want New Mexico and Albuquerque to be “Decolonized” and not “Occupied.” For them, their lands and people have already been Occupied, and thus what they want is for it all to be Decolonized.
As the American Independent notes:
According to the U.S. Census, 4.8 percent of Bernalillo County and 9.4 percent of New Mexicans identify as American Indian. Most likely that underestimates the proportion of New Mexicans with some connection to the Native American community: 3.7 percent of New Mexicans are of more than one race, and 47.9 percent of the state’s population is Hispanic, and both of those categories are likely to contain many people who are of at least some Native American descent.
A statement was posted by DeColonize LA yesterday on the UnpermittedLA blog questioning through their shared experiences the ‘leaderless’ claims of Occupy LA and how it has actually functioned to marginalize the more disenfranchised sectors of the 99%. The breaking point came when a flier with names and photos of activists was circulated accusing them of seeking to ‘hijack’ the movement and provoke police. At this juncture, DeColonize LA is shifting focus to form popular assemblies throughout the city instead.
We made several attempts to present proposals, workshops, and discussions at the General Assembly, in small groups, and in one-on-one conversations. Although the overall Occupation movement nationally aspires to use participatory democracy and the consensus process to be inclusive of the people, the efforts by the leadership to maintain informal control have prevented discussion or recognition of patriarchy, white supremacy, classism, heteronormativity, and other layers of oppression that exist in the broader society, which continue to be perpetuated within this “occupation.” Women of color in particular have been silenced. Many of us are tired of futilely trying to explain to middle class white activists that they really aren’t experiencing the same levels of oppression as people of color or the working class or underclass. The constant rhetoric of the “99%” and calls for blind “unity” have the effect of hiding inequalities and very real systems of oppression that exist beyond the “1%-99%” dichotomy and rendering invisible the struggles of a majority of the people in this city.
From Censored News:
In solidarity with Occupy Wall Street actions worldwide
– Near métro Square Victoria
– This is a family-friendly contingent.
We stand in solidarity with demonstrators in New York, Boston, and countless other American cities, in rejection of this capitalist system and the misery it brings. We also recognize that those cities, like Montreal, are already occupied territory. We stand against colonialism and in support of Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island struggling for land, autonomy, and dignity. We stand against patriarchy and racism, and for the self-determination of all peoples. We are also inspired by uprisings for justice and dignity around the world, from Egypt to Chile, from Greece to South Korea.
We fundamentally reject the notion that the police are “potential allies” of our movements, and call attention to the bloody and ongoing history of police impunity and killings in Montreal. We support a respect for a diversity of tactics and a culture of solidarity and mutual aid, not division, within our struggles.