On Saturday, October 22, 2011, I helped to start an occupation of Flagler Park located in downtown West Palm Beach, FL, after several weeks of General Assemblies. Together, along with 6 other occupiers, and with the support of hundreds more who were in attendance earlier that day, I slept on the grass underneath the Autumn sky, in a park directly across from a harbor of million dollar docked yachts, multi-million dollar mansions, and flanked on one side by the Trump Plaza and on the other side by Bank of America, all in the shadows of the Merrill Lynch Building. The Police advised us that anyone in the park after 11:00 pm would be arrested, but after further review of the city ordinance, and thanks to the many dedicated members of Occupy Palm Beach who stayed up late and made phone calls to the Mayor of West Palm Beach, it was decided that there were no legal grounds to remove us from the public park. We stood our ground and remained in the park all night.
We, community members made up of students, graduates, retirees, parents of children concerned about their futures, unemployed, underemployed (part-time and full-time), poor, middle class, upper class, Democrats, Republicans, non-party members, Liberals, Conservatives, environmentalists, activists, professionals, from all walks of life and ethnic backgrounds have assembled to occupy and volunteer our time, money and efforts for many reasons. I, like many others, joined the Occupy movement because I am 34 years old, have foreclosed on a home, surrendered a vehicle due to not being able to keep up with the payments, am drowning in student loan debt and taxes, experienced multiple periods of unemployment due to either refusing to comply with unethical business practices (including those harmful to the environment) or experiencing various forms of disparity with respect to the corporate hiring process, have family members who are incarcerated by a prison system with disproportionate sentencing for the African-American, Latino and immigrant populations, am unable to afford health care and am left with no retirement plan. We have assembled and occupied in order to seek solutions to these problems and more. We are thankful for all of the food, supplies, legal aid and support we have received from those generous members of our community who stand with us in solidarity. We are the 99%, using our right to peacefully assemble, in search of a more inclusive system of democracy and socially responsible economics, which will unite us with the 1%, in order to “form a more perfect union…”