Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Oct 15, 2011. The day started with the heartening news from Japan that Tokyo had just joined the “global day of mobilization,” adding its strength and uniqueness to over 1000 cities in 85 countries, working to mediate a fundamental change in the world economic and democratic systems. Around 4 PM, we walked toward Puerta del Sol with a group of friends, to participate in a Radio show on the “Indignados movement M15”. Coming from New York, I was invited to be part of the International Commission, to comment on the day.
The interview covered the Occupy Wall Street at Zuccotti Plaza, the camp, the police, the mobilization, the media and the spread to 100s of cities around the US and of course, the common points between the 15M and the #OccupyWallStreet. Some common features that were immediately obvious included the horizontal organizational structure through assemblies, the goal of changing a system rather than making specific demands, and the use of nonviolence and participatory attitude as a fundamental base of action. Finishing at the radio, we ran to join a team of World Without Wars activists standing in front of the “Cuartel General del Ejercito,” or the Spanish Air Force Headquarters, with signs demanding the removal of troops from the occupied territories. Then, we caught up with the main march, walking with thousands of others in the direction of the Puerta del Sol – the focal point of Madrid’s rally.
Our function at the plaza was to collect as much information as possible on what has been happening in the different places around the world. The job was made practically impossible, as the sea of people crowded the square, and the 3G-network was saturated, limiting us to sporadic information from twitter and other online chat groups. We heard about the 6,000 people in Brussels, who threw shoes at the Brussels Stock Exchange. And, of course, we heard with horror about the violence in Rome, where vandals tried to break up the 300,000-strong rally in front of the Coliseum. During the speeches and testimonies, a list of 30 cities in Spain who had mobilized for this cause was read with a high emotion. And when Barcelona was mentioned to have had 100,000 protesters and Madrid over 300,000, the cheering level reached a new crescendo. Much later in the evening, some images from Time Square’s rally were streamed live. At this point, the assembly transformed itself into an open-mic, planning right there on the street, the next steps as well as the longer-term future of the movement.
How do we capture all these experiences and stories? How do we show all these images? How do we translate all these aspirations? October 15, 2011, was the opening day of the Sun Gate – a day with the passing of which, nothing will be like before – the day when a global movement was able to give a new direction against an old nihilist system that had become corrupt and manipulative. Years from now, this day will be remembered as one when a new generation had finally found its voice, and had come together with their qualities, values, experiences, social network, and communication tools, and above all, a very clear recognition of the conditions under which they want to live. On October 15, 2011, we passed form the “end of history” to the beginning of a new Global Human World. October 15, 2011, was not business as usual.
By David Andersson, Director of NYC Chapter of the Humanist Party and the coordinator of the New York Coalition to Expand Voting Rights (Ivote NYC)