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3 Reasons Burners Should Join Occupy Wall Street

Posted in Austin, Burning Man, Life, and Occupy Wall Street

In the early hours of this morning, the New York Police Department attacked the peaceful occupation at Zucotti Park known as Occupy Wall Street. In addition to beating and tear-gassing protesters, they grounded news helicopters, beat and arrested a city council member. Police cut down trees and destroyed 5000 books and thousands of dollars in property all because people dare to stand up and speak their mind. And yet protesters remain unbowed. They are marching through the streets of New York, and planning for a massive day of action on November 17.

Although our constitution guarantees our right to assemble and seek redress of grievances,  police have shut down city parks and declared them crime scenes, charging people with crimes for assembling there. In Austin, the city banned 38 political prisoners from our own city hall.

I’m tired of seeing the Burners, the kinksters, rennies, Rainbow Gathering fans, and the freaks of every stripe — my family and tribe in essence — be silent about this. Some of you have gotten involved already, and to you I am intensely grateful. But now is the time for all of us to get involved. I firmly believe this is a crucial moment in the history not just of the United States but also, now that the movement is global, for the world and for counterculture itself.

In the hopes that you’ll join me, here are 3 reasons Burners (and freaks of all kinds) should join Occupy Wall Street:

  1. We depend on the right to assemble. Though there are many concrete issues occupiers are passionate about, at its heart is our right to assemble. The core of Burning Man is a massive gathering in a publicly owned space. Rainbow Gathering does so without permits. Without our right to assemble peacefully — for both political and pleasurable reasons — in large groups — we are sunk.
  2. OWS is building a new way of living, just like we are. Occupy Wall Street is a do-ocracy. Already this movement is trying to build temporary communities built around decommodification and radical self-expression. They feed people — dozens or sometimes hundreds a day — and in some cases offer free medical care, veterinary care, Internet access and educational classes. Though efforts to improve are underway, one area that is lacking is in the amount of waste the occupations leave behind. Which brings me to my third reason…
  3. Occupy Wall Street needs our skills. Burners have more experience than almost anyone at building new forms of community. We build quick, portable, inexpensive structures. We know electronics, computers, social media, carpentry, and engineering. We know how to throw a party, get attention, raise money when we need it, and then clean up when we’re through. Our Earth Guardians can teach Leave No Trace and our Rangers mediate disputes among heated activists and tired occupiers. Every single one of us has something to give from our deep wells of creativity.
Without our right to assemble, what remains of Burning Man? Black Rock City, 2010. Photo by Trey Ratcliff.


This is class warfare. Not in an abstract sense debated in classrooms, but in the very real sense that all of us are under attack by the corporate powers. We won’t have room to survive, thrive, and play if we do not act now. You don’t need to sleep at an occupation to help — you can visit for a few hours, join a GA, give money, time, or supplies to many projects, march, write, create art, tell your friends. There are many ways to occupy.

Join us. Burners, Occupy Everywhere. )'(!

I’m very open to respectful debate and discussion about this topic. I am not open to trolls or outright flames. Please jump into the comments with your thoughts.

Update 11/15 4:46pm: Conflicting reports on Twitter suggest that the People’s Library may have been confiscated rather than destroyed.

Update 11/18: I am considering launching a network to organize globally for Burners to support the Occupation. Please contact me if interested.

Update 11/18: Up all night, so I made something new. Follow @OccupyBurners on Twitter!

Update 11/21: Welcome to

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3 Reasons Burners Should Join Occupy Wall Street by Kit O’Connell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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