On Thursday, hundreds converged on Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C. to begin an ongoing nonviolent presence, with the aim of ending corporatism and militarism, among other issues. The organizing group, called October 2011: Stop the Machine, has been organizing the event since February. The start of the event marks the 10 year anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan.
The presence speaks to growing energy and anger at tax cuts for the wealthy and trillions of tax dollars spent on wars as giant cuts are made to education and healthcare and unemployment and poverty rates continue to increase. Similar in spirit to Occupy Wall Street in New York, the October 2011 movement, technically a separate group, stands in solidarity with the occupations in New York and those in other parts of the country.
According to the organizers, the purpose of the presence in Freedom Plaza is to create solidarity among the people and groups who support peace and economic, environmental, and social justice, to demonstrate the power of nonviolence, and to affect change in governmental action.
Committees formed by occupants of Freedom Plaza will begin to form today on topics such as health care, education, elections, and the environment. Skill-sharing sessions and teach-ins are also being held. Food, legal, and medical tents have been established, along with an art space to make signs and a stage with sound equipment from which to hold evening assemblies. Contrary to what some media are calling a movement solely of young, white, middle-class college students, participants are extremely diverse in age, race, gender, and socioeconomic status. The group expects the numbers to grow over the coming days into the thousands.