Press Release from OP Women’s Caucus–Occupy Movement: Not a Utopia, but We’re Working on AlternativesFrom: occupyphillymedia.org
This document is a product of the Occupy Philly Women’s Caucus meeting held on Sunday, November 13. During this meeting, women and their male allies discussed the parallels between sexism and harassment in the Occupy Movement, Philadelphia, and society at large.
We are concerned with the contradictory statements that the police and the mayor have made to the media about their support for the occupy movement, while simultaneously withholding support for situations of physical and sexual violence. In this next press conference we would like Mayor Nutter to address our attempts for our support in evicting sexual predators on camp that were met with statements from the police such as follows; “that’s not our job. Get your men to handle it.” These statements speak to the victim blaming and minimizing environment that survivors face when interacting with the police force. We as a movement feel it is a top priority that in these sort of assault situations it is imperative to put the survivors desires and needs at the center of response.
The recent demonizing and vilifying of the Occupy movement in the media is a scape-goating of the problems and violence that plague our communities and cities daily. Rape happens every day, murder happens every day and Suicide happens every day. These tragedies are not symptoms or creations of the Occupy Movement, nor are they exclusive to the Occupy Movement; they are realities of our society and of our everyday lives. It is now more than ever that support is needed for the occupy movement, and the alternative responses to behavior fueled by systemic oppression. Some of these alternative responses include, increased medic trainings in Oakland, the construction of a Womens’ safe space in New York, networking with other occupy encampments and using the collective skill sets available within occupy Philadelphia. Each of these actions are working toward creating access via this movement to resources that many individuals would otherwise not have access to in the greater society as a whole. The demonizing of the movement is an attempt to block and weaken our bonds of fighting for a better world, not controlled by greed, power and violence. We stand in solidarity with the rest of the occupy movement and we acknowledge that systemic community and interpersonal violence are interconnected. We call on the media, the city of Philadelphia and we call on society at large to educate themselves on the signs and causes of suicide and confront stigmatizing mental health need, we challenge them to discuss the dynamics that allow community violence to flourish and we encourage them to increase survivor support and confront jargon that perpetuates victim blaming. We also call on survivors and allies of this violence to continue supporting each other and to enter this dialogue on how to better respond to violence and how to challenge and change the behaviors and ideas that perpetuate violence in our society. We are very pleased that Mayor Nutter has had a sudden interest in addressing and confronting sexual assault in our community, and we would like to be made aware of when the next press conference addressing the daily assault that women and oppressed people endure every day occurs.