Photo: Vivian Giang
Occupy Wall Street is back, and they’re planning on being louder and more eminent than they were before.To understand their “comeback,” we sat down with Phil Arnone — an Occupy founder we interviewed back in the fall — who told us the group has planned for hundreds of arrests to occur during May Day to “directly challenge power and change injustice.”
“Actions that activists take knowing they will be arrested are done because the pressure the action generates breaks the silence around the injustice, and forces the system to respond,” he told us.
Arnone quoted Gandhi saying “the purpose of civil disobedience is to provoke a response and the response of the system will only serve to further highlight the injustice.” He assured us that all arrests will be peaceful and not meant to provoke any violence from the NYPD.
In the march today, Arnone says OWS will be picketing in front of businesses they feel have profited from the “exploitation and criminalization of immigrants.” This includes Chipotle across from Bryant Park to “demand they accede to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers Fair Food Agreement,” Capital Grille at 42nd Street because “the company is resisting workers efforts to exercise their right to organise” and Hot & Crusty, where “workers have endured discrimination, wage theft, and poor working conditions,” he says.
“We hope this tour illustrates how widespread the exploitation of immigrant workers is, how integral immigrants are to America, and how the ultimate responsibility for all of our pain lies at the feet of the one per cent.”
An activist for life
Arnone — a graduate student at New York University — comes from what he calls a privilege family, and became interested in activism at the age of 16 when he read books about overseas intervention in the Cold War.
“My privilege as a heterosexual white male from an affluent family are built upon the denial of those privileges to people who do not share those adjectives, but things don’t have to be this way. Things have been different and will change, and it is up to us to determine the shape and form of those changes.”
While at the University of Mary Washington, Arnone joined a student anarchist group, and hasn’t looked back since.
He plans on being an activist for the rest of his life, because “it’s the right thing to do.”
“I hope I am doing my small and humble part to make the world a fairer and freer place, with real democracy, liberty, and justice,” he told us. “I hope to be contributing in my own way and with my sisters and brothers in creating one world where many worlds fit, where we can all be what we need to be.”