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The Occupy Austin Interview 2: Activist Beginnings

Posted in Austin, and Occupy Wall Street

In September, a student we’ll call ‘Lori’ interviewed me about my involvement with Occupy Austin. In part one I talked about getting involved. In this part of the interview, I talk about how I first got involved with activism.

Lori: What attracted you to join?

A cop leads an activist away with a zip tie on his wrists.
One of the Halloween-weekend arrests in 2011. Kit O’Connell joined Occupy Austin during jail support for this incident.

Kit O’Connell: My family has a long history of activism, especially my mother. She was involved in fighting for peace, peace causes, and also anti-death penalty causes in Connecticut where I grew up. And then I was involved in electoral politics for quite a while too, so, I had a background in activism, but hadn’t felt a cause to sort of grab me before. Some of my friends had been down to the first few days of Occupy Austin and it seemed interesting, but what attracted me … there was something that really changed in me when I read about the wave of arrests that weekend.

There were actually three waves of arrests. So what I read and heard was about the first wave of arrests, which was actually over a food table. Occupy had a table set up where people would bring in meals and they would serve it to anybody that was hungry, and the city came in and wanted them to shut down that table. Some people chose not to comply with that. They were willing to get arrested over that, and feeding people is very important to me, I like to cook, and I wanna be nurturing and stuff like that. So, that to me is a really important cause and its something about the city not letting people feed other people. Something changed in me and I knew that I had to get involved.

L: So you say that you come from an activist family, but this was your first attempt at it?

K: Not really my first, but my first as an adult, lets say that. I’ve written about political topics before and certainly kept up, or tried to keep up, with what was going on in the world, but most of my activism had been in my teens or younger with my family. So yeah, it was the first time I felt inspired to personally get involved in something.

L: Because my next question was “were you involved with any activism groups before?”

K: I think back, there was small things that I did before, now and again. It was sometime in the early 2000’s. It was in Kileen, near Fort Hood, the big military base. There was a pagan store, a Wiccan store, which was being shut down. They were basically chased out of town and protesters were saying they should be allowed to stay. And so I remember I joined that, and I actually wrote up a big website covering that at the time, on a religious website. So I’d been involved with things like that, but they were certainly not the continuous involvement that I have now. It would be very sporadic before that.

Photo by Ann Harkness under a Creative Commons NonCommercial Share-Alike license.