At the end of September, I sat down with a sociology student who is studying Occupy Austin for a class paper. Since she wants to be anonymous, I’ll call her ‘Lori.’ She granted permission for me to post the interview here, which covers how I got involved with Occupy Austin, my background as an activist and my thoughts on the movement as a whole.
This is Part 1 of the interview.
Lori: Okay, today I am interviewing Kit from Occupy Austin. It is 8 pm, Sunday, September 30, 2012. We are at Bennu Coffee on 2001 East MLK in Austin, Texas. So when did you start participating in Occupy Austin?
Kit O’Connell: I wanna say November 1st or October 31st of 2011.
L: So after the eviction?
K: No. That has been referred to as the eviction recently in the news, but that’s kind of a confused timeline so I’m just gonna lay that out real quickly. October 6th was the actual establishment of Occupy Austin. There were meetings planned before that but that was when they first encamped. On October 30th there was a conflict between the city and the Occupiers over certain things and there were 34 arrests that night. I joined the next day. It was late October 30th into October 31st and I joined the next day at the jailhouse. As far as the actual encampment, that stayed until February 3rd, I believe, so we actually were there for about five months, but there was this wave of arrests, which sometimes has been erroneously called the eviction. It did have a really profound effect on the movement, both good and bad, but we still had a camp for several months after that.
L: Yeah, I was at the spokes council meeting and, they were talking about the silent march that occurred the next day and how that was a really powerful symbol of the nonviolent character of Occupy Austin and all of APD surrounding… (interruption)
K: Swarmed … yeah. They did swarm us. So February 3rd was the eviction, February 4th was the silent march and the Austin Police Department surrounded us. We basically marched from City Hall where they were waiting for us to see if we were gonna try to hold City Hall. And instead, we left on our planned march and we got to the ARCH which is the homeless center that’s on 7th. It’s right near the downtown strip. We got there and were starting speeches and stuff and then we saw 13 cop cars and 4 of their transport wagons, the paddy wagons, come up. At that point, we left because we didn’t want to subject the random homeless people to the harassment. We marched down to Sixth Street and they were surrounding us and getting ready to grab us up, and instead we went into a pizza place that said, “You can come in if you order pizza,” and we said, “Yes, we want to order pizza.” So yeah, it was really powerful because it both showed the police repression, what they’ll do, and the power of our non-violence and that we stick to it even after this traumatic thing happened to us.
K: Yeah, so I started participating, to get back to your question, either October 31st or November 31st during jail support.
NOTE: On TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 27 AT 11AM PST I’ll be hosting a Firedoglake book salon with AMY GOODMAN of Democracy Now! to discuss her book The Silenced Majority.