Occupy Sydney: A Global Movement

 

By: Ebony Joseph

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Whether you’re part of the 99% or 1%, many Americans can recall the Occupy Wall street protests that took place in 2011 in Zuccotti Park, near New York City’s Wall street Financial District. Though some have forgotten the protesters’ cries for social and economic equality. One thing clear, Occupy is not over, and it is not confined to the United States. While walking through the financial district of Sydney, Australia I caught a glimpse of this undying global movement.

A small shack shielded by hand painted posters decorated social justice driven quotes stood peacefully in the center of Martin’s Place, the Financial District of Sydney Australia. Surrounded by towering construction of corporate offices and banks (literally and metaphorically), one could easily miss this inconspicuous group.

Outside of the shack, sat a bearded protester named Lance. Wearing a shirt that read “Stand Up for the Burrup,” he quietly observed the district.

Stand up for the Burrup Cause: http://www.standupfortheburrup.com/

Starting as a social media revolution, Occupy Sydney was fueled by Twitter.

Unhappy with the current distribution of wealth in Sydney, one of the world’s wealthiest and most expensive cities, as well as issues of homelessness, environmental degradation and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Aussies Occupiers bonded over their shared political and economic opinions.

“Australians have been told we must be anti-monopoly but that’s exactly what we’re facing. Nationalization without compensation. The government breaks election promises and isn’t held accountable…it’s a mockery of Jefferson’s philosophy. We’re living in a paradigm…of western philosophy…dictated by the economy, when we need to be dictated by society.” Lance Priestley, Occupy Sydney Protestor.

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Interview Clip with Lance Priestley:   https://vimeo.com/65759630

On October 15th 2011, about 4,000 Aussie’s who agreed with the Global Occupy message met for the first time on Martin’s Place. Within in the first week, riots and the police department shut the initial protest down.

“There were no founders or pre-strategy meetings. October 15th was meant to be the first day we all met up to discuss the cause. In the middle of the night riots scared people and cop raids arrested our protesters. We were outnumbered 4-1. Everyone was terrified.” Priestley

Though the numbers have since dwindled following the raids, the 24 hour protest still sees an average turn out ranging from 30- 100 people on any given day.

After facing charges of infringement in 2011, the Occupiers won in lower courts on the basis that infringement was not a legal cause for arrest. On April 24th2013, an appeal on the win was dismissed by the Supreme Court (DPP v Lance Priestley) leaving Priestly victorious and motivating the Occupiers to continue their cause.

‘This is only the beginning. Malaysia…Hong Kong…Frankfurt…This is a global movement. We’ve got a 15 year plan and we will keep pressing.  The inequality is like an ice wall that’s 20 feet thick. Occupiers are coming together and scratching away at the wall each day. We don’t know when the wall will break, or who’s icepick will do it, but one day we will get through” Priestley.

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