MEMPHIS - Twenty-three tents of various sizes and colors fill Civic Center Plaza, directly across from City Hall here. The movement at Occupy Memphis has grown steadily since it began on October 15th.
Unlike the police violence and arrests experienced at other Occupies across the country, including the recent arrests in Nashville, Occupy Memphis has been peaceful and widely supported by the citizens of the Mid-South.
The peace enjoyed by Occupy Memphis has allowed for the group to focus on community building and outreach. While many only see how Occupy Memphis has welcomed the homeless with open arms and shared their food, clothing, and bedding with them, the development of local caucuses is one of the unique community-building features of Occupy Memphis.
James, a homeless man in his mid-forties who has attended both the diversity and homeless caucuses, says the caucuses are, "an opportunity to express your views" and that the safe space of the caucuses "enhances the voices of the participants." James goes on to say that through the caucuses he has learned how Occupy Memphis is "part of a larger movement."
Occupy Memphis features several caucuses which meet once a week. Each caucus is devoted to a specific population and/or point of view represented within the 99 percent. Currently, caucuses devoted to women, diversity, homelessness, LGBT, anti-Capitalism, and Agnosticism/Atheism hold ongoing discussions at Occupy Memphis.
Becky Muehling, a 28 year-old student and member of the Occupy Memphis media team says one of the strengths of the caucuses is that they help "unite people within the occupation." In part, this unity is the product of the "teach-ins" which are organized "to help educate everybody about where we're coming from."
Some groups, like the anti-Capitalist caucus, have even formed working groups to create "myth buster" pamphlets to dispel long-standing misconceptions about the people or the issues the caucus deals with.
Tonight's General Assembly at Occupy Memphis will, for many, be the best treat they could hope for this Halloween as Mid-Southerners unite in their frustration over the tricks the 1 percent have been playing at the expense of the working class for far too long.
Photo: A display of hand made protest signs at Occupy Memphis. James Raines/PW.