On Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m., Occupy Miami — the local offshoot of Occupy Wall Street, a New York-based mass protest against the corruption of the U.S. political system by corporations — will convene downtown for the third time in as many weeks to demonstrate and talk strategy.
With Miami on the verge — some would say of revolution, others upheaval, others mere tantrum — I figured it was a good time to try to find out more about Occupy Miami, whose first gathering, at Bayfront Park on Oct. 1, left me equal parts skeptical and hopeful. Toward that end, I recently talked to Muhammed Malik, one of OM’s unofficial organizers (unofficial because the Occupy participants generally spurn centralized leadership).
A seasoned anti-war activist who spent time in the ACLU’s civil rights division, Malik, 29, is quick to point out that he is not running the show. Still he is certainly one of Occupy Miami’s main hustlers, helping in various ways to coordinate its imminent occupation. As such, he’s as much an authority as anyone to answer the questions many bystanders, antagonists, and even sympathizers have about Occupy Miami, starting with
What is Occupy Miami?
MM: Occupy Miami is a social, political, and economic movement of Miami residents that are fed up with corporate-dominated agendas, both in political parties and by other factions in our society. It’s a space for people to rise up and achieve justice together.
The Occupy movement writ large has been characterized as lacking leadership and focus. How do you respond?
MM: We’re used to on a daily basis having clearly defined goals. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, and I think that when people walk into Occupy Miami with those expectations they’re naturally going to be confused. But if you put this into the context of the historical moment, and you understand how spontaneous this is, you begin to realize that there’s a reason why everyone is coming out and it’s all tied to corporations and the fact that there’s economic, political, and social inequality. So the leadership is informal but also organically forming. Sure, we’re making missteps, but along the way we’re voicing solidarity with each other and supporting each other as we move forward.