By Jason Flores
Occupy Merced, which began on Oct. 15, continues to maintain its presence at Courthouse Park in Merced. With a few staying over on most nights, Occupy Merced has brought out citizens from the community of all ages. Teachers, physicians, students and war veterans, as well as the underemployed, unemployed and employed—all of whom have been underrepresented in the community—have joined the struggle at Courthouse Park. The few who have stayed overnight have been supported with food, water and other needs.
There is a strong sense of community within the Occupy Merced effort, which continues to become more organized and strategic. General Assembly meetings have produced committees, actions and a structure to this movement. When driving by on nearby M Street, signs display the many familiar messages and slogans that have come out of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
To reflect for a moment on how the Occupy movement is relevant to Merced, let’s look at some data. Merced suffers from many social and political issues that make Occupy Merced relevant to the injustices of the community. With an unemployment rate that hovers around 20%, nearly 60% of crimes occurring in theft and larceny and nearly a quarter in burglary, citizens are living a community that is impoverished. That is not to imply that more police are needed on the streets, but that this community needs a long-term plan to target the root causes of these issues.
With the midyear budget cuts that the Merced Union High School District are confronted with, we see the impact that this has on a community where nearly a quarter of the population above the age of 25 has not completed high school and where the quality of education is diminishing as resources are being slashed.
On Nov. 5, Occupy Merced took to the streets, paying visits to some of the “too big to fail” corporate banks, such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citibank, as part of the National Bank Transfer Day. Chants of “the banks got bailed out, the people got sold out” and “pay your taxes” could be heard, as occupiers marched down the street and visited the front steps of these banks.
It is important for this movement to address and express the concerns of the community to elected officials. Our elected officials are to serve the people, and we need to hold them accountable for the policies they do and do not support, that are in the name of social justice.
Jason Flores is secretary of the California Central Valley Journey for Justice and a lifelong resident of Merced. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, December 10 • 5:30 p.m.‒8 p.m.
California Central Valley Journey for Justice presents “A Right to Housing” at Wesley Hall, United Methodist Church, 899 Yosemite Parkway, Merced. Commemorating the 63rd Anniversary of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, highlighting Article 25: A Right to Housing. Activities include the following:
- Spoken word poetry
- Toy and can food drive
- Refreshments and DJ music
Foreclosures and homelessness are on the rise. Do you have a safe place to live? For more info, contact 209-631-9696, 209-230-0060 or email@example.com or visit www.journeyforjustice.net. Donations accepted and appreciated. No one will be denied for lack of funds. Special request: Toy drive and nonperishable foods would be appreciated to assist families in need.