OWS Plans Vigil for Martin Luther King Jr., Zuccotti is Going Global, Organizers Say


You know how the cold has kind of made things difficult for Occupy Wall Street to keep things going here in New York City? That and all the evictions and stuff. Well, some of the organizers (generally, they don’t like that word, but they are organizing this event!), are hoping to reinvigorate the local action tomorrow in an effort that is happening across the globe.

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday tomorrow, OWS will hold a candlelight vigil at Riverside Church in Morningside Heights. And they’ve got some star power behind the event, including a planned performance by Patti Smith and possible appearances of Russell Simmons and Yoko Ono (who, in absentia, launched a Zuccotti-specific art project today).

The vigils will apparently take place all over the world (Check out this nifty map of where the events are being held — and add your location if it’s not on there!).

In New York, folks will meet at St. John the Divine cathedral at 7 p.m. and begin a candlelight march to Riverside Church nearby. (Vigils across the world will take place at 7 p.m. in each time zone, as OWS notes with beautiful alliteration: from Cairo to California, New Orleans to Nova Scotia).

Members of OWS hope events like this can keep the movement alive both locally and globally, as OWS finds itself at a bit of a crossroads without a central physical space and facing the obstacles of the season (It’s just so damn cold).

“This is about Dr. King’s vision for peace, nonviolence, economic and racial equality,” OWS member Aaron Black said earlier this week. “This is really Occupy’s first real global action. We’ve always kind of been local here to Zuccotti Park. So this is a mass outreach project. This is about connecting with everybody and what better day than Dr. King’s birthday.” (He said it’s the first time OWS locally has planned something on this kind of global scale).

It can be a challenge to keep Occupy going strong, Black told Runnin’ Scared, but said that the movement is still powerful and alive, even if it’s more scattered. “We’re like a hornets’ nest — they whacked us all over the place…Having something like this is important. It keeps us going through the winter…Talking isn’t enough. We need mass actions.”

The event is at least riding on the momentum of the recent removal of the barricades at Zuccotti Park, OWS members said.

“It’s very timely that we have these barricades down in the park and we are able to truly exercise our constitutional right to freely assemble and have our free speech,” said OWS member Sumumba Sobukwe.

Two City Councilmen promoted the event earlier this week when they came to Zuccotti to celebrate its liberation from the barricades.

“This action on Sunday is going to be so important. We will have thousands of people,” said Ydanis Rodriguez, the councilman who was arrested last year at OWS. Rodriguez, who stood beside Councilman Jumaane Williams, said he plans to meet thousands at 2 p.m. at the park and then march all the way up to Morningside Heights (Dress warm, folks!). The event will, he said, “Let Martin Luther King know, wherever he is, that there is a new generation of people that is building the most important peaceful movement than we have ever seen since the anti-war movement of the 1960s.”

And, Rodriguez added, he’s ready to get more people back in the park, too.