Occupation (protest)

Occupation (protest)

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An as an act of protest
A protest is an expression of objection, by words or by actions, to particular events, policies or situations. Protests can take many different forms, from individual statements to mass demonstrations...

, is the entry into and holding of a building, space or symbolic site. As such, occupations often combine some of the following elements: a challenge to ownership of the space involved, an effort to gain public attention, the practical use of the facilities occupied, and a redefinition of the occupied space. Occupations may be conducted with varying degrees of physical force to obtain and defend the place occupied. Occupations may be brief or they may extend for weeks, months or years. In some cases of long-term occupation, the term protest camp may be applied, although occupation often connotes the use of space without permission or in defiance of governmental authority.

Occupation, as a means of achieving change, emerged out of worker struggles that sought everything from higher wages to the abolition of capitalism. Often called a sit-down strike, it is a form of civil disobedience
Civil disobedience
Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power. Civil disobedience is commonly, though not always, defined as being nonviolent resistance. It is one form of civil resistance...

 in which an organized group of workers, usually employed at a factory or other centralized location, take possession of the workplace by "sitting down" at their stations, effectively preventing their employers from replacing them with strikebreakers or, in some cases, moving production to other locations.

The recovered factories in Argentina is an example of workplace occupations moving beyond addressing workplace grievances, to demanding a change in ownership of the means of production.

The Industrial Workers of the World
Industrial Workers of the World
The Industrial Workers of the World is an international union. At its peak in 1923, the organization claimed some 100,000 members in good standing, and could marshal the support of perhaps 300,000 workers. Its membership declined dramatically after a 1924 split brought on by internal conflict...

 were the first American union to use it, while the United Auto Workers staged successful sit-down strikes in the 1930s, most famously in the Flint Sit-Down Strike
Flint Sit-Down Strike
The 1936–1937 Flint Sit-Down Strike changed the United Automobile Workers from a collection of isolated locals on the fringes of the industry into a major labor union and led to the unionization of the domestic United States automobile industry....

 of 1936-1937. Sit-down strikes were declared illegal by the US supreme court, but are still used by unions such as the UMWA in the Pittston strike
Pittston Coal strike
The Pittston Coal strike was a United States labor union action led by the United Mine Workers Union against the Pittston Coal Company, nationally headquartered in Pittston, Pennsylvania. The strike, which lasted from April 5, 1989 to February 20, 1990, resulted from Pittston's termination of...

, and the workers at the Republic Windows and Doors factory in Chicago.

Notable protest occupations

  • The several massive occupations of improductive land in Brazil by the hugest mass movement of the world, the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra, from 1973 up to now http://www.mst.org.br.
  • Occupy Wall Street
    Occupy Wall Street
    Occupy Wall Street is an ongoing series of demonstrations initiated by the Canadian activist group Adbusters which began September 17, 2011 in Zuccotti Park, located in New York City's Wall Street financial district...

     which helped spawn worldwide "Occupy" protests
  • 2011 Spanish protests
    2011 Spanish protests
    The 2011 Spanish protests, also referred to as the 15-M Movement and the Indignants movement, are a series of ongoing demonstrations in Spain whose origin can be traced to social networks and Real Democracy NOW among other civilian digital platforms and 200 other small associations...

  • Tahrir Square during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution
    2011 Egyptian revolution
    The 2011 Egyptian revolution took place following a popular uprising that began on Tuesday, 25 January 2011 and is still continuing as of November 2011. The uprising was mainly a campaign of non-violent civil resistance, which featured a series of demonstrations, marches, acts of civil...

  • The occupation of some university buildings in the UK in November 2010 and early 2011 in response to cuts by the coalition Conservative-Liberal Democrat government including those to public services, welfare handouts and all levels of education (notably the increase of tuition fees in combination to funding cuts).http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-11828882http://www.defendeducation.co.uk/http://anticuts.com/2010/11/24/list-of-occupied-universities/http://freehetherington.wordpress.com/
  • The wave of Student Occupations at universities in the UK in early 2009 http://occupations.org.uk/occupations/ http://www.cpgb-ml.org/index.php?secName=proletarian&subName=display&art=498.
  • The 2009 UC Santa Cruz occupation of Kerr Hall, a notable administration building. http://occupyca.wordpress.com/publications/.
  • The flux of student occupations at universities in New York City over the 2008-9 year, including NYU and the New School.
  • The February 2008 occupation of Symphony Way by the Symphony Way Pavement Dwellers
    Symphony Way Pavement Dwellers
    Symphony Way Informal Settlement is a small community of pavement dwellers that have been living on Symphony Way, a main road in Delft, South Africa, since February 2008...

     after the largest home invasion in South Africa's history. Residents have occupied the main thoroughfare for 1 year and 9 months.
  • Cedar Revolution
    Cedar Revolution
    The Cedar Revolution or Independence Intifada was a chain of demonstrations in Lebanon triggered by the assassination of the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on February 14, 2005.The primary goals of the original activists were the...

  • The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
    Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
    The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, also known as the June Fourth Incident in Chinese , were a series of demonstrations in and near Tiananmen Square in Beijing in the People's Republic of China beginning on 15 April 1989...

  • The Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp
    Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp
    Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp was a peace camp established to protest at nuclear weapons being sited at RAF Greenham Common in Berkshire, England. The camp began in September 1981 after a Welsh group, Women for Life on Earth, arrived at Greenham to protest against the decision of the British...

     in England
    England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

     which began protesting the placement of nuclear-armed
    Nuclear weapon
    A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

     cruise missile
    Cruise missile
    A cruise missile is a guided missile that carries an explosive payload and is propelled, usually by a jet engine, towards a land-based or sea-based target. Cruise missiles are designed to deliver a large warhead over long distances with high accuracy...

    s in 1981.
  • The 1969 occupation of Alcatraz
    Occupation of Alcatraz
    The Occupation of Alcatraz was an occupation of Alcatraz Island by the group Indians of All Tribes . The Alcatraz Occupation lasted for nineteen months, from November 20, 1969, to June 11, 1971, and was forcibly ended by the U.S. government.-Background:...

     by American Indians
    Native Americans in the United States
    Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

  • The 1969 occupation of City College
    City College of New York
    The City College of the City University of New York is a senior college of the City University of New York , in New York City. It is also the oldest of the City University's twenty-three institutions of higher learning...

     by a group consisting largely of Black and Puerto Rican students that demanded and won open admissions
    Open admissions
    Open admissions is a type of unselective and non-competitive college admissions process in the United States in which the only criterion for entrance is a high school diploma or a General Educational Development certificate.This form of "inclusive" admissions is used by many public junior...

     at CUNY.
  • The 1968 Columbia Student Strike
    Columbia University protests of 1968
    The Columbia University protests of 1968 were among the many student demonstrations that occurred around the world in that year. The Columbia protests erupted over the spring of that year after students discovered links between the university and the institutional apparatus supporting the United...

  • The 1936-37 GM Sit-Down Strike
    Flint Sit-Down Strike
    The 1936–1937 Flint Sit-Down Strike changed the United Automobile Workers from a collection of isolated locals on the fringes of the industry into a major labor union and led to the unionization of the domestic United States automobile industry....

    , in Flint
    Flint is a hard, sedimentary cryptocrystalline form of the mineral quartz, categorized as a variety of chert. It occurs chiefly as nodules and masses in sedimentary rocks, such as chalks and limestones. Inside the nodule, flint is usually dark grey, black, green, white, or brown in colour, and...

    , Michigan
    Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....


Major forms of occupation as protest include

  • Sit-in
    A sit-in or sit-down is a form of protest that involves occupying seats or sitting down on the floor of an establishment.-Process:In a sit-in, protesters remain until they are evicted, usually by force, or arrested, or until their requests have been met...

  • Sit-down strikes
  • Peace camp
    Peace camp
    Peace camps are a form of physical protest camp that is focused on anti-war activity. They are set up outside military bases by members of the peace movement who oppose either the existence of the military bases themselves, the armaments held there, or the politics of those who control the bases...

    s conducted on disputed territory, e.g. at Camp Humphreys
    Camp Humphreys
    Camp Humphreys or USAG-H is a medium-sized United States Army garrison located near Anjeong-ri and south of Pyeongtaek metropolitan area in South Korea. Camp Humphreys is located 55 miles south of Seoul and is one of the U.S. Army's fastest growing installations...