Thursday, October 20, 2011

Overnight Activist

My name is Wyl Villacres, as you should be able to tell by the banner above. On Sunday morning, I woke up to see that 175 protesters were arrested from the Occupy Chicago movement from Grant Park where they had tried to stay the night. To me, this represented a breaking down of First Amendment rights that were due to the protesters. Constitutional Rights shouldn't end at 11pm.

I am not affiliated with Occupy Chicago, or any organization or political party. I do associate with the 99% of Americans that the movement represents. For me, the petition was not about a movement or a cause, but was about American principles and values. This movement forces us to have a conversation on a vast amount of issues, and for that, I thank them.

I do not agree with everything that Occupy Chicago, Occupy Wall Street, or other organizations say or do. But that doesn't mean they don't have the right to say it by peaceful means that they see fit. At the same time, the Occupy movement needs to set a platform (in my eyes) but they need a place to stay in order to do that.

I spoke with a woman who worked for what she called the "Nitty-Gritty Committee" where she does "the work that no one else wants to do." She works to ensure their Jackson and Lasalle HQ stays clean, and moves the semi-permanent structures every morning as per the CPD's request. She spends her nights in the golden glow of the financial district, keeping the movement alive 24/7 because she believes in the movement's potential and sense of community. Her biggest concerns were keeping the camp dry, and figuring out some place for them to keep their belongings and food storage, as well as figuring out a way to start preparing hot meals, especially with winter coming up. She is the backbone of this movement, and one of my biggest inspirations, not just with activism, but with life.

I am not an activist. I am a full time student of writing, a part time employee, and a concerned citizen who saw injustice and wanted to call them to the attention of other people. I started a petition on Sunday, and by the time of this post, there are over 9,400 signatures and growing. I had no idea what I was doing would grow so large so quickly. A woman named Nancy Wade emailed me when the petition was hovering around 4,000, and gave me pointers and helped me organize so that I could deliver the petition. She is affiliated with activist groups, but that did not in any way effect this petition or me.

I am happy to be able to assist the people who work hard to get everyone's voices heard, and proud to live in a country where that can happen.

I have just one request from whoever reads this; Listen to one another. We need unification, not division.

Thank you,

Wyl Villacres

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