No Turning Back: Ten Years After Occupy is organized around the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City—drafted by the Call to Action Working Group and ratified by the New York City General Assembly (NYCGA) on September 29, 2011. While the media attempted to define the movement as one “without a message,” Occupy activists were clear about what they wanted to communicate to the world. Though some accounts of the Declaration portray its writing as one of harmonious co-authorship, original drafts of the document adopted racially colorblind logics and were pivotally blocked at the NYCGA by activists of color. The Declaration was ultimately meant to be a living text; however, after its initial adoption by the NYCGA, the document was seemingly unchanged. Reading the document ten years after its authorship, there are points that resonate and many apparent gaps both of which underscore the document’s encapsulation of 2010s activism and its insufficiency in the context of 2021.
In spite of its flaws, the Declaration, along with the Principles of Solidarity, were defining texts of the movement. Taking Occupy’s pronouncement “speak with us, not for us” seriously, we have allowed the Declaration to guide this exhibit; the exhibit is illustrative of the Declaration’s points. Below this introduction, you will find the full text of the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City. For statements made within the Declaration where we have surfaced related archival materials, we have provided links to those documents. At this iteration of the digital exhibit, documents are not associated with every statement in the Declaration. Some archival documents may also relate to more than one statement. In addition to the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City, exhibit visitors can also navigate according to a set of thirteen themes which are representative of some of Occupy’s core issues.
As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.
As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.
To the people of the world,
We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.
Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.
To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.
Join us and make your voices heard!
*These grievances are not all-inclusive.