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Athens for Everyone has its roots in the Occupy movement, a short-lived but powerful expression of discontent in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Occupy Athens pitched their tents at the UGA Arch in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street and the 99% of Americans who did not receive a bailout but who may have lost their jobs and their homes. Many Occupy groups disappeared after their encampments were raided or cold weather forced them to be abandoned in late 2011 or early 2012. Occupy Athens managed to stay together, to grow and change until the election of Donald Trump in 2016 re-energized resistance groups of all kinds throughout the country.
You can read about our early years as an organization below. If you’d prefer, you can also jump to a particular year or initiative by following the links below:
Sunday Bus Service Victory
Living Wages Victory for County Workers
The Fight for a Civil Rights Committee
How Athens Beat Back ICE
Pre-History: Occupy Athens
Occupy Athens formed on October 6, 2011 in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement that began three weeks earlier. They occupied the sidewalk in front of the UGA Arch in downtown Athens, with some staying 24 hours a day and others coming and going with their work and class schedules.
Maintaining a 24-hour presence in public served two purposes. One was symbolic, to show solidarity and unwavering dedication toward real change despite weather, theft and assault. The second was to provide a public forum for discussion about our current social, economic and political climate.
The Athens Occupier, first issue (February 2012)
Some of the founders of A4E met each other during this time, had wide-ranging discussions and became friends. An early focus on organization building and meeting process would prove valuable in coming years.
Occupy Athens Decamps and Enters “Phase 2”
Occupy Athens ended encampment of the UGA Arch on December 10 due to cold weather and vandalization of their tents. In January 2012, “Phase 2” began with a new project: the organization’s own newspaper, The Athens Occupier, which ran for 5 issues. You can read issues of the Athens Occupier here.
Tim Denson’s Mayoral Run
Tim Denson declares his candidacy for mayor of Athens on the steps of City Hall in November of 2013, challenging a conservative incumbent who would have otherwise run unopposed. Tim ran on an ambitious platform including fare-free bus service, guaranteed affordable childcare and cutting the county poverty rate in half by 2025. In the coming months, the Tim for Athens campaign would knock on over 10,000 doors.