The Occupy Austin Interview 3: Still Occupying

We the People Banner on an Occupy Austin march down Cesar Chavez

Occupy Austin marches down Cesar Chavez to City Hall, July 4 2012.

In September, a student named ‘Lori’ interviewed me about my involvement with Occupy Austin. In the first part I talked about how I got involved with Occupy. In part 2, I discussed how I became an activist.

This is part 3 of that interview.

Lori: So what compelled you to stay involved after so many people stopped attending meetings and participating in OA events?

Kit O’Connell: Some of it was the involvement; I put a lot of time into it. Even through the rough patches it felt worth it to stick with it to see what would happen next. I think I do have an awareness of how social justice movements work, or activists movements work, in that there is often this initial excitement. Its new, its novel whatever’s happening.

But if you study that or revolutions in other countries you’ll see that a lot of times, in the peaceful ones, there were times when there was just a very small group of people that were sort of keeping this vigil going, or this activism going. I really strongly feel there’s a lot of things happening in the world that we either have to stop, or we’re gonna lose our chance to act. We’re gonna lose our free speech rights. We’re gonna lose our right to do the things we’re doing now to try to stop all these forces like the 1%, the big banks, and the corporate influence on politics – all the things that Occupy’s about. I feel like its just getting worse, and if we don’t do something its not gonna get better. So even if there’s hardly anybody out there at a given moment, I still feel like somebody still has to be doing the work.

And I think eventually more people are gonna come back and join in again, just like the history of the public square movements in Spain; that dwindled. We had some visitor from there a couple of months ago. At the time he visited, it was very small. It was like Occupy Austin size. If you look now in the news, of course, there’s hundreds of thousands of people. I don’t know if that’s gonna happen with us, but it definitely is in keeping with the history of movements. Sometimes its just a core group of people waiting for whatever that key moment is that makes the public wanna join something.

L: Yeah, like experiencing fluctuations …

K: Absolutely, and the nature of it changes too. Obviously we’re not maintaining a 24/7 camp so what we do is different. It used to be that you could go down there at any time you want. You could say, “Lets go march” and you’d get dozens or even hundreds of people who would wanna join on a march. We have to plan; we have to do things a little differently now. So, I’ve also stayed involved because I’m able to recognize that the nature can change, but our purpose can stay the same.