From the Albuquerque Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
Adopted January 6th, 2013:
Since November of 2011, we, the Albuquerque Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), have been engaged in a process of listening, learning, and dialogue with participants in the (un)Occupy Albuquerque movement. This engagement has awakened us to the implications of the use of the word “Occupy” and the ways in which the language of ‘occupation’ is a source of pain for many indigenous people and people of color. As Friends, we now regret the movement’s recourse to the language of war—to occupy is not to set free. In light of the history of colonization and the resulting effects on the land, environment, and indigenous peoples, our aspiration is more nearly expressed as “Unoccupy”. This word recognizes occupation as yet another effort to dominate and colonize both people and the earth and as a root cause of economic inequality. To end economic inequality, we must, among other things, change behaviors, ideologies, institutions, policies, economies, and even language that exploit people, land, and resources, particularly those people who have already suffered oppression.
We are hopeful that the Occupy and (un)Occupy movements globally will continue to be a force for positive change; we affirm the right of demonstrators to free speech and peaceable assembly; and we oppose endeavors to silence those who are exercising these rights through non-violent demonstration and protest. We are also hopeful that through a continued relationship with (un)Occupy Albuquerque, as well as through self-education about dynamics of privilege, oppression, racism, and colonization, we will continue questioning and speaking truth to ourselves, each other, and our communities (both Quaker and non-Quaker) about these issues, moving past actions that merely substitute one system of domination and oppression for another. In our witness, we must not become occupiers ourselves, simply striving to shift power our way rather than shine the light of truth on systems of race, class, power, and privilege, and the need for restorative economic and social justice.
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In November, 2011, Albuquerque Monthly Meeting approved a minute (included at the end of this document) in support of the Occupy Movement. At that time, we were unaware of the conversation unfolding in the movement locally regarding the use of the word Occupy. By mid-November, 2011, through a consensus process over the course of many General Assembly meetings, the name of the movement in Albuquerque was changed to ‘(un)Occupy Albuquerque.’ Following the approval of our November minute, Albuquerque Monthly Meeting began a process of education and relationship-building with participants in (un)Occupy Albuquerque about the reason for the name change and the issues brought by (un)Occupy to the Occupy movement and to the wider community and world. As part of this learning, we engaged in the following actions:
- Two months of listening to both the Occupy Albuquerque and (un)Occupy Albuquerque movements
- A presentation by participants in (un)Occupy about the name change and other core issues in the movement
- Partial financial support for two participants in (un)Occupy to attend the National Gathering of the Occupy movement in July 2012 in Philadelphia
- A follow-up session with participants in (un)Occupy wherein we received a report about the National Gathering and how the message of (un)Occupy was received in that context
The above Minute proceeds from the following Minute adopted in November 2011 by ABQ Monthly Meeting in response to the Occupy Movement.
Minute from November 2011:
We, the Albuquerque Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), embrace the spirit of the Occupy Movement now engaging in peaceful protest against the social and financial systems that drive political and economic processes here in this country and around the world.
Because as Quakers we affirm that of God in every person, we are committed to the faithful expression of equality for all. There are political, social, and economic structures operating in our society that favor the excesses of the few over the needs of the many, with inequities manifested disproportionately among poor, working class, and minority populations in our country. The Occupy movement can become a powerful force for redressing these wrongs; we affirm the right of demonstrators to free speech and peaceable assembly; and we oppose endeavors to silence those who are exercising these rights by occupying public space in order to draw attention to such inequities. The demonstrators express both their faith in the worth of all people and their trust in our nation’s willingness to listen and respond with courage to injustice. As Friends, we add our voices, affirming that speaking truth and striving for equity are consistent with our long-standing Quaker testimonies.