October 2020History

Images from Occupy DC

Below are a series of photos taken between October 2011 and May 2012, during the Occupy Wall Street protests scattered across Washington, DC. These photos were passed along to the Washington Socialist by an old friend of the DC left, who had disappeared into the Bronx some time ago.

These photos hardly reveal a complete history of the Occupy protests in Washington, DC. And while DC never saw the scale of protests that were drawn to New York’s Zuccotti Park, encampments remained in the city until the summer of 2012, concentrated in McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza. In releasing these photos, we hope this can contribute to building a more complete history of the OWS protests as they went down in DC.

The Occupy protests were rejected by many at the time as being unfocused and unsuccessful. But here we are eight years later - socialism, anti-capitalism and mass resistance have never been so widespread and widely accepted. Of course, these topics did not originate from OWS; but the exercise taught many what it means to plot peaceful revolution, practice dissent, rally against the state, and work outside the bounds of the formal political system to challenge entrenched power.

There are many histories of sustained protest – none really complete. I always enjoyed the words of journalist Chris Hedges in Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, where he summarizes the point of sustained movements:

We may feel powerless in the face of the ruthless corporate destruction of our nation, our culture, and our ecosystem. But we are not. We have power, as the Occupy encampments demonstrated, that terrifies the corporate state...Any act of rebellion keeps alive the embers for larger movements that follow us. It passes on another narrative.

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