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David Swanson

David Swanson is a longtime peace and justice activist and author of 'War Is a Lie'

June 6th, 2011 6:52 AM

Our Tahrir Square: DC's Freedom Plaza on October 6th

When other nations' governments go off track, their people do something about it. In Tunisia and Egypt people have nonviolently claimed power in a way that has inspired Americans in Wisconsin and other states, as well as the people of Spain and the rest of the world.

Washington, D.C., is the weakest point in our democracy, without which state-level reform cannot succeed. Most Americans want our wars ended, our corporations and billionaires taxed, and our rights expanded rather than curtailed. We want our money invested in jobs and green energy, not a global military that can't stop itself. Our government in Washington goes in the opposite direction, opposing popular will on these major issues, regardless of personality or party.

On October 6th, a Thursday, the Afghanistan War will complete its first decade as the United States goes into its 2012 austerity budget. Tahrir Square in Cairo Egypt translates as Liberation Square. We have in Washington, D.C., a square with the similar name: Freedom Plaza. This square is located between the Capitol and the White House along Pennsylvania Avenue, and built into its surface is a map of downtown Washington on which nonviolent resistance actions can be conveniently planned.

Today a coalition of organizations and prominent individuals is announcing at http://october2011.org a plan to begin a people's occupation of Washington, D.C., on October 6th, to build it into something larger on the 7th, 8th, and 9th, and to not leave until we are satisfied. There is absolutely no reason that our government must be permitted to continue functioning on behalf of Wall Street and a war machine. In Afghanistan, the people protest our bombing of their homes. We sit inside our own homes complaining about our economy, our banks, our schools. Instead, we now have a chance to have a say, in solidarity with others around the world, with success just as likely -- if just as shocking to those in power -- as with past U.S. people's movements and the recent advances in Tunisia and Egypt.

This will not be another rally and march on a Saturday, make home movies, pat ourselves on the back, and go home. We are coming to Washington to stay. Today's announcement is an open invitation for all kinds of organizations, national and local, to join in the early planning stages of this campaign. We need not agree on political ideology or party or much else. We need only agree that nonviolent resistance to a government that routinely ignores the will of its people is appropriate in our nation as well -- even above all, given our nation's impact on the environment, global finances, and wars.

Over this past weekend Wikileaks revealed that the U.S. government had been quite upset with Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown for pulling troops out of Iraq, and had accused him of something even worse: of having pulled the troops out in order to please the British public and win an election. What, we might ask, would be wrong with the U.S. government occasionally doing what the U.S. public demands? When I'm in London later this week I will be pleased to let them know we're alive over here with exciting plans for October, and in fact to ask them to join in on October 6th -- they have plenty of good squares over there too.

On the new website http://october2011.org , which lists an impressive number of groups and individuals already committed, you can sign a pledge to be there on October 6th and to stay. But how can you be sure you want to make that commitment? How can you agree to travel great distances and make great sacrifices? Sure, to be part of history, to be able to tell your grandchildren you were there for the most famous event of the new century, you could do it. But how can you be sure that's what this will be? Well, nothing is strictly guaranteed, but you can sign up right here http://october2011.org/besure committing to be there and to do this only if at least 50,000 other people do the same. With that number of dedicated people, we will be able to kick start a process of nonviolent change the likes of which we haven't seen in this country in many years. Sign up there and we'll let you know how many others are with you.

Individuals can sign up and spread the word. You can also post on the website your reasons for being there. So can organizations. By doing so, you join a coalition and will be able to participate in the planning. This is a coalition that is just beginning to be formed. It is not a new organization. Existing organizations that promote the coalition website are in turn promoted by the coalition. Get in touch to learn more: http://october2011.org/contact

Media outlets can also sign on as intending to cover the campaign. Many already have. I'll be discussing this on Lila Garrett's "Connect the Dots" on KPFK today, on the Nicole Sandler Show, on GW on the Hill, and on Scott Harris's "Between the Lines." Others are on lots of other shows. Already independent video producers are devoting themselves to the cause. Check out these videos by Dennis Trainor below. Get inspired. Make your own. Tell your friends. Groups on the West Coast like the Backbone Campaign are already planning training events and travel arrangements. If you need or can offer help getting to D.C. let us know at http://october2011.org/travel In the meantime, take the pledge to be there. That act alone will put a little bit of concern into the minds of those ruining our country, and that will be something new: http://october2011.org

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