Occupy Hamilton Marches on the Banks
Occupy Hamilton Marches on the Banks 12/11/11
For a clip of this action check out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yFlipMnyJY
The local Occupy movement in Hamilton began to bear some teeth this past Saturday with a loud and energetic street protest billed as “March on the Banks”. This was the first departure from the weekly rallies that have been gathering in Gore Park every Saturday, in lieu of an ongoing encampment in the city. The Occupy Hamilton group has thus far served as the organizing body for these rallies, but also an organic movement building process that shares aspirations with the global “Occupy” movement.
Around 80 people gathered at City Hall responding to the call for the demonstration ratified by the Occupy Hamilton General Assembly just less than two weeks earlier. After some brief discussion between participants the group took to the street forming an indignant but festive march through downtown snaring traffic and causing a commotion as the cops struggled to keep pace. The march ended with the group descending upon the entrance of Jackson Square Mall at the centre of the area closest resembling a “financial district” in the core of Steel City. Amanda S, an organizer with Occupy Hamilton gave a speech denouncing the role major banks have in exploiting our economy and perpetuating what she calls “kleptonomics” which has lead to historic gaps in wealth between the rich and everyone else. With numbers swelled to include curious and sympathetic onlookers, the decision was made by the majority of the group to enter the building and attempt to temporarily occupy the TD Canada Trust branch.
Lead by drummers and noise makers, Occupy Hamilton supporters filed into the Jackson Square lobby and towards TD. Once inside they were met with overzealous security guards who assaulted several peaceful protestors while attempting unsuccessfully to eject them from the building - the bank manager even briefly decided to join the guards in the fray, shoving and grabbing people. With the entire lobby being swarmed with Occupiers the lot of them thought better of it and allowed the action to continue, and instead locked the entrances while convening with the police inside.
While not managing to make it into the TD branch itself, protestors secured the front lobby of the mall disrupting “business as usual” for the mall and the bank. Another local organizer further highlighted the need for a movement to confront the rich, redistribute their wealth and power, and organize a society based on democracy and equality - “We have to understand that the financial system is the central nervous system of Capitalism. It is the way they do economic planning in our system. The financial system manages our wealth, wealth that we created in thousands of workplaces. It’s the wages of millions of individuals that they have pooled together to make available to corporations and firms. In that process decisions are made without our input, they are made by an exclusive club – the banks and major investors. We the “mere mortals” are not invited to the table.”
“Occupy” continues to gain ground throughout North America and internationally, and the March on Banks has shown the potential for the movement to spread and grow locally through creative and dynamic methods. This of course cannot happen on its own - we need to continue challenging ourselves to build the democratic, inclusive and egalitarian movement that will be a genuine threat to “the 1%” and their appalling system.