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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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“The message is one that’s reverberating across many families. People are tired, you know? People have been struggling. The one-percenters are getting away with everything.”

No stranger to protest herself, Graciela Sánchez, director of the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center (“We’ve been out there since Reagan, and we’ve never stopped”), is happy to see the Occupy movement getting national media attention, but is also hoping for a shift in the conversation. Politicians are actively “demonizing the people who have the least: right now it’s immigrants, it’s queer people, it’s dark people. And if Occupy Wall Street, Occupy San Antonio don’t take all those things into consideration then we’re just really shortsighted. There has to be a lot more work about those issues and what they mean in this very local economy.”

Forward

San Antonio Police credit the Occupy members for their cooperation and say there have been only very minor incidents to date. On Monday, the group moved camp from a shady back corner of HemisFair Park for a spot closer to the front gate to make way for park guests who made a reservation for their spot behind the playground. Yet one woman appearing on the scene for the first time questioned the continued low-conflict philosophy here — something its core members are proud of. She suggested the economic Wall Street of San Antonio is the River Walk itself and that the group should be occupying something more central to the city. “I mean, I don’t recall us asking Saddam’s permission to occupy his country, and what we’re doing here is a hell of a lot more legal.”

But one thing all those interviewed camped out seemed to agree with is that the movement is just getting started. Despite criticism that has come from left and right, Occupy San Antonio members have done the hard work of setting up, developing a working community based on group consensus, and organizing the taxing day-to-day business of feeding and sheltering fellow protestors under difficult circumstances. Members are assigned roles such as “peacekeepers,” for instance, and public restrooms are being cleaned at least three times per day. In short, the group is organized for the long haul.

“I think a lot of people are seeing that we’re not going to see these reforms in this election,” Fahrenthold said. “If they’re not heard a year from now, if they’re still being laughed at a year from now...” he pauses already considering the possibility of that frustration. “There has to be some kind of change. I see that being the outcome.”

Gonzales sees something bigger than politics playing out. “My brothers say if I feel right doing it, go for the gusto,” he said. “Like we used to when we were kids: wild and crazy, but we got our way. And we are going to do it. We are going to fight this and we are going to win. It’s not going to be quick. In my heart, it’s going to take some years. But it’s going to get done.”

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