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A month into the HemisFair encampment, OccupySA prepares for the long haul

Photo: Greg Harman, License: N/A

Greg Harman

Occupy SA marchers at HemisFair Park in solidarity with an international call for a Robin Hood tax on bank transactions.

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Sharon Young came searching for Occupy SA on her own. When she found them the conversations inspired her, and she brought the group food the next day. “I just started identifying with different people, and different things, things we hand in common, things we were fed up with, but also sharing different philosophies of life and how we have common ground,” she said.

She was inspired on Saturday’s march to “shower praise” on a couple of uniformed military men on the River Walk. (“We believe in our country. Government may not agree with us, but we would like them to get on board with us eventually.”) And talk with others gathered in the park about President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s hoped-for “second” bill of rights to include such things as the right to medical care and “decent” homes for every American inspired her enough to stick around. “That’s what I was looking for. We all need a living wage, we’re all in this together.”

Eric Fahrenthold had grown increasingly frustrated trying to ferret out the real news behind the Jasmine Revolution sweeping the Middle East by the time Occupy Wall Street hit. He was so enthralled that he thought about quitting his sales job in town and heading for Manhattan, but when he saw that even usually liberal commentators were deriding the movement he knew it was here to stay for awhile. “I knew that was feeding the fire,” he said over the weekend. “Slowly I realized how long this was going to take and how beautiful of a thing it was.” He hit formative gatherings in Austin before discovering a local movement building here at home, where he has since been investing his energy. “I would like to hope this absolutely blows up, in a peaceful way,” he said.

The conversations ahead

It’s been a slow, and sometimes ugly, birthing process for the core Occupy SA contingent. Just a scan of the group’s Facebook page will reveal a number of people who have experienced disappointment when attempting to raise issues of gender and race into the group conversation. It’s an oversight starting to be addressed in other camps, such as New York and California.

Although the leadership of 23-year-old social-justice organization Southwest Workers Union on East Commerce Street provided office space for one of the formative Occupy organizing meetings, the group has not joined the movement. SWU Director Genardo Rendon said an organizer from SWU spoke at a recent Occupy gathering about gender and race equality to a lukewarm reception. “Our organization has worked around racial justice, equity for low-income people of color, and those race, class, gender talking points here in San Antonio [aren’t happening with Occupy],” he said. That said, there is room for growth and increased awareness. “We have to work and educate people. Even though we’re not at the center of the process here in San Antonio we support people coming out into the street and asking for accountability. That’s what our organization is about.

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