Jesse Jackson Energizes Occupy Phoenix
Local Movement Revels In Presence Of Legendary Civil Rights, Political Leader When He Visits For A Day
The Rev. Jesse Jackson at Cesar Chavez plaza in Phoenix, Ariz.
By John Guzzon
Modern Times Magazine
Dec. 2, 2011 — Occupy Phoenix got a much needed shot in the arm Thursday as the Rev. Jesse Jackson joined them in a march through downtown Phoenix that included about 200 people.
Jackson “just showed up,” Wednesday night Cesar Chavez plaza, and he agreed to join the Thursday afternoon march, according to one member of Occupy Phoenix. Joining him Thursday were local and national black leaders, as well as several union members. Mainstream media organizations, such as local television and newspapers were also present.
The march began at Cesar Chavez plaza, where Occupy Phoenix has been operating since Oct. 15. The route took them to several downtown Phoenix corporate buildings, including Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Chase, and The Arizona Republic and channel 12 KPNX. Occupy Phoenix had announced the march would target Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold and the company was well prepared for the marchers. More than 40 Phoenix police officers defended the building and the entrance was barricaded.
Having began his activism under the tutelage of Martin Luther King, Jr., Jackson took his opportunity in front of Freeport McMoRan to stress nonviolent protest as well as highlighting some of the biggest issues to Occupy movements across the nation, including healthcare, benefits for veterans, the housing crisis and taxes on the wealthy.
“Forgive student loan debt. Now. Put Americans back in their houses. Now. Jobs. Now. Peace. Now. Love. Now,” Jackson said. “Remain nonviolent. Don’t jeer the police. They are part of the 99. We are also marching for them.”
After arriving back at Cesar Chavez plaza, Jackson explained what he sees as the answer to the common refrain, “What is Occupy?”
“What is Occupy? Occupy is a spirit. A spirit of patriotism and democracy. Occupy is a spirit that cannot be jailed. Occupy is a spirit that cannot be pepper sprayed. It is a spirit that defines that there is a gap in equality,” Jackson said.
The event was emotional for many and provided Occupy Phoenix with energy that has been sporadic since the occupation began Oct. 15. Jackson ended his time at Occupy Phoenix with a rendition of We Shall Overcome, one of the key anthems of the civil-rights movement.
Friday, Occupy Phoenix is planning a protest at the American Legislative Exchange Council beginning at 10 a.m., including a one-hour silent protest at noon. At 6:30 p.m. the group will host a “rowdy dance march” at First Friday in downtown Phoenix. A general assembly will also be held at Cesar Chavez plaza at 7:30 p.m.
For more information, visit the group's webpage at http://occupyphoenix.net/, the #OccupyPhoenix Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/#!/occupyphoenix, the group’s Twitter page at http://twitter.com/#!/occupyphoenix or catch the livestream at http://www.livestream.com/occupyphoenix.
John Guzzon is editor of Modern Times Magazine.