Occupy Baltimore Not Quite a Year Later

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On Monday the natonwide Occupy movement celebrated its first anniversary, counting from day one of the original protest on Wall Street. And though Baltimore’s own satellite protest in McKeldin square didn’t kick off until October 4, local activists honored the milestone as well. The Occupy-related group Greenpants projected “99%” on the side of Baltimore’s World Trade Center and planned art installations (which have been postponed until next week due to inclement weather).

As much as an anti-climactically evicted popular movement indulging in nostalgia so early in its existence can feel strangely off-point, it’s important that they generate news again lest they become appropriated by the powers that be for whatever convenient political purpose.

The movement has had an obvious effect on mainstream political discourse. Income inequality has been an issue Democrats and Republicans have had to address (or at least awkwardly evade) this campaign. The movement’s “99%” meme has been so oft-repeated and parodied it’s like the political equivalent Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.” But without the movement speaking for itself, it risks being absorbed into the current system — Anyone else see those mystifying “Occupy the Vote / Re-elect Barack Obama” signs around the city? — which of course it must transcend to effectively critique.

Occupy Baltimore activists spoke with the Sun about the work they’ve been doing since their eviction from McKeldin Square last December. Once a week, they still meet at the Square to share information about events. They’ve tended to focus on local issues, like protesting the proposed youth jail, and organizing to agitate for greater transparency from the Baltimore Development Corp.

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