All occupiers are equal, but some occupiers are more equal than others

Critical reflections on #OccupyCapeTown
Jared Sacks

2011-11-03, Pambazuka, Issue 556

Approximately 200 Cape Town residents participated in the call for a World Revolution Day on 15 October, inspired by the growing worldwide Occupy Movement. We arrived at Company Gardens next to parliament in typical Capetonian fashion: mostly late, disjointed, and with a huge array of goals and personal agendas to complete on the first day.

In fact, the majority of ‘occupiers’ arrived so late for the revolution that the clean-shaven undercover security operative (sporting an earpiece and touristy camera) had already deemed the protest to be non-threatening and was long gone. The police barely noticed the relaxed picnic atmosphere that was apparent once the crowd grew to more than 70.

Yet despite the beginnings of #OccupyCapeTown, the day did have #OccupyWallSt potential. Cape Town being one of the most unequal, segregated, and racist cities in the world has hundreds of thousands of angry (though demoralised) youth waiting for real change. The townships are a ticking time bomb anticipating the intersection between screams of Sekwanele! and sparks of hope that a mass-based social movement can provide. Would the 99 per cent actually show up? In the end, those that arrived, with the exception of an entourage from Communities for Social Change, were predominantly in the top 19 percentile of the 99. And yet, there was still potential in this space of mostly white privileged activists. Some were acutely aware how their privilege posed problems for the bottom 80 per cent. Seeking to engage directly with issues of white supremacy, class and patriarchy within the 99 per cent, they tried to create a space of solidarity with poor communities without speaking for them or co-opting their struggles. To these few activists, Occupy Cape Town was an exciting experiment in building radical equality that is actively asserted, not merely assumed.

As the day progressed however, many of us were disheartened by the most vocal of the 19 per cent. Continue reading

Protests for inmate Troy Davis staged worldwide

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Wednesday’s scheduled execution of Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis has sparked protests worldwide from Savannah, where Davis was convicted of killing an off-duty police officer 20 years ago, to one planned in Paris.

After four years of legal battles, Wednesday appeared to be the last chance for his supporters and anti-death penalty advocates to rally in an effort to spare his life.

“We’re trying everything we can do, everything under the law,” said Chester Dunham, a Savannah civil rights activist and talk show host.

Davis, 42, was to die by lethal injection for the 1989 slaying of Mark MacPhail, a Savannah officer killed while working off-duty as a security guard. MacPhail was rushing to help a homeless man being attacked when he was shot twice.

Davis has insisted he’s innocent and his pending execution has been stopped three times since 2007. In the process, he’s gained thousands of supporters worldwide.

In Savannah, Dunham was among 16 Davis supporters who gathered outside the Chatham County courthouse Wednesday morning to press District Attorney Larry Chisolm to stop the execution. They delivered three boxes of petitions to the prosecutor’s office, saying they had 240,000 signatures supporting clemency for Davis.

Chisolm has said he’s powerless to override an execution order for Davis signed by a state Superior Court judge. But activists are still pressuring him, insisting he has enough influence to sway Georgia officials to back down from executing Davis.

In Jackson, home to the prison housing Georgia’s death row, the Rev. Al Sharpton planned to lead a prayer rally Wednesday afternoon.

After that, prison officials planned to allow a small group of demonstrators to gather inside the prison’s perimeter fence, just outside the walls, before the scheduled execution at 7 p.m. Eastern. A large crowd was expected to also gather outside.

In Europe, where plans to execute Davis have drawn widespread criticism, lawmakers and activists were making a last-minute appeal to Georgia officials to spare the inmate. Amnesty International and other groups planned a protest outside the U.S. Embassy in Paris later Wednesday.

Renate Wohlwend of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly noted doubts raised about Davis’ conviction. She said that “to carry out this irrevocable act now would be a terrible mistake which could lead to a tragic injustice.”