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Open Letter from Occupy Christchurch to Community and Mayor

21/12/2011

An Open Letter from Occupy Ōtautahi Christchurch to our Community and our Mayor,

We would like to publicly respond to the threat of force issued last week by our Mayor, Bob Parker, demanding that we cease our political protest currently occupying a small corner of South Hagley Park. We are disappointed that he feels it necessary to indirectly issue such threats to a group of citizens who are brave enough to stand up and exercise our democratic right to protest injustices harming our society. Bob Parker has neither responded to our correspondence (An Open Letter from Occupy Ōtautahi Christchurch to our Mayor, our Police District Commander, and our Prime Minister, 28th October 2011), nor directly approached us with a formal request that we relocate, but has instead resorted to indirectly threatening us through the media. This is not the time for our community leaders to ignore, marginalize, and prosecute citizens who are actively working to begin a public discourse confronting the issues facing our society. We need leaders who are willing to actively join our community and engage with us in a democratic spirit and empower all of us to make our beautiful city a better place for everyone and all future generations.

As members of the Christchurch community we have endured many hardships in recent times, but together with our communities we have overcome challenges that most of us never dreamt of having to face. We are proud to be part of the greater Christchurch community, and it is this sentiment that motivates us to stand up and confront the injustices and inequality that we are becoming increasingly aware are threatening our way of life. Many of us are tired and would rather spend time with our families or pursuing our personal careers, but this is not a luxury we can all enjoy if we have much hope as a community.

We know the challenges that face us today are hard to fully comprehend and that it is even harder to begin formulating adequate solutions to resolve them. However, we believe that our best chance of doing so requires the active participation of our whole community in an open and critical discussion based on rationality and compassion. Now is not the time to bury our heads in the silt; doing so will have negative consequences not only for our own generation but even more so for our future generations.

We believe it is vital at this point in history to ensure our community has a space to come together and engage in this hard but necessary discussion. What is public land for, if not for the public to use? The media’s focus on the legitimacy of the Occupy movement, instead of on the issues that Occupy are trying to draw public attention towards, merely serves to highlight the dire need for a public space capable of fostering an open forum for everyone to engage in the challenging, complex, and admittedly at times disheartening, discussion required of us today.

Now is the time to reclaim our democracy and begin a public discourse examining where our society is going and how we can ensure it continues to be a community of which we can all be proud to be a part. The Occupy banner is just that, a banner, and the time will no doubt come when we no longer need to stand under it; but not until every injustice and every inequality that harms our society has been resolved will it be time for us to stop coming together and discussing how we can make our world a better place. We invite every member of our community, including our Mayor, to come down to the occupation and join us in contributing to this discussion.

Respectfully,
Occupy Ōtautahi Christchurch

ENDS

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