Jason Cherkis' and Sara Kenigsberg's latest entry in the 'Occupy Y'All Street' series that examines some of the lesser-known Occupy encampments is maybe the most important thing they've posted yet. It asks the question of what happens when the initial enthusiasm of the protests starts to wane. It asks, what happens next.
The article focuses on Occupy Charlotte member Vic Suter, a key organizer who has dedicated her life to the issues related to Occupy Wall Street and is going above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to making sure that Charlotte is occupied and that the rallies and marches in the city don't die.
A month earlier, the Occupy activists in Charlotte had drawn more than 500 to their first march uptown, a noisy success that included a stop at Bank of America's North Tryon Street headquarters, where the throngs chanted up its 60 stories. The building -- the tallest in the state and a dominant spear in the city's skyline -- had been a force for civic pride. But since the Great Recession, the bank has become one of the country's great villains. The Wall Street of the South now had its own potent occupation.
The early general assemblies could number in the hundreds. The meeting participants were drawn by growing income disparities, rising college tuition costs, the region's environmental decay. They were among the metro area's double-digit unemployment rate. They realized they were everybody.
Vic had joined on the first night and had been charged with welcoming newcomers and teaching them the movement's hand signals. Soon she began organizing three marches each day to one spot. This was her work week. Charlotte's downtown had grown rich with examples of injustice wrapped in glass and outfitted with bad public art. Vic filled up to-do lists with ideas for future marches.
For years, she had searched for her place. She tattooed "Restless" in black cursive script on her shoulder. But at Occupy, she thought she might have found her calling, and her very own tribe in the buckle of the bible belt. She fell hard. "When you're throwing yourself into something," she explained to us, "you don't have a lunch break. You don't have time off. You don't get a vacation from a long-term protest."