By Tyler Crane
Monroe Perez is a loving father of two boys, a full time college student at Penn Valley with a double-major in engineering and alternative energy, as well as being a dedicated Occupier camping five nights a week. Monroe spent many years on the road traveling with a nomadic ministry. They traveled around to cities devastated by natural disasters, and upon arrival would assist in the clean-up and rebuilding of homes. Most notable was his time spent in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. There he helped rebuild homes in the Lower 9th Ward; one of the cities poorest and hardest hit neighborhoods, and one neglected by the Government and FEMA. Witnessing firsthand the carelessness of the government has led to a politically active life and involvement in the Occupy Movement.
Monroe joined the Occupation in Kansas City during the second week and he quickly took on the role of organizing and operating the comfort work group, a task well-suited to Monroe, as he is deeply concerned about the comfort and well-being of others.
The comfort work group is tasked with collecting and organizing donations such as clothing, blankets, and camping gear. Monroe has done amazing work at Occupy KC. He has clothed and sheltered many homeless people in Kansas City, many of whom have since joined the Occupation and have now become active in the Movement. These are the kinds of selfless acts that embody the essence of the Movement because they directly improve the quality of people’s lives, which is something that Monroe does daily.
One of my earliest memories of Monroe is of him walking around the occupation site offering back alignments and shiatsu massages. His intent was to help people relax, promote health, and most importantly to make people feel good. I knew then that he was an excellent addition to the growing Occupy family. For Thanksgiving, he organized the community to come together to provide dinner for all the Occupiers. He stated, “This camp has become people’s home, a place they can feel safe and included. I felt it was important to have a holiday dinner to build on that feeling of inclusiveness and family. I wanted to share that feeling of love.” He organized enough food to feed 40-50 people. The community showed their support by donating food which included three turkeys, a glazed ham, Tofurky for the vegetarians, side dishes, pumpkin pies, and dinner rolls. He organized all this out of the love from his heart and for the love of the people.
From his perspective, the Occupy Movement is a chance for middle America, for the oppressed people to come together to restore their voice in the American political system. It’s a chance to rebuild our communities and give back to the people who for too long have been neglected by a corrupt and greedy government. He envisions Occupy KC as a model for other Occupations to follow, a model of community building and compassion. Monroe stated:
“Without healthy, safe communities we fail. We have been failing, and its because of the systematic destruction of what our communities represent. This is why the Occupy Movement is so important. We are restoring the people’s voice. We are bringing awareness to so many issues and showing people how to get involved.”
I asked Monroe how long he planned on occupying. He replied:
“As long as it takes to create real positive change in our political system and until there is economic justice. It’s not fair for my family and myself to have to pay taxes while companies like GE do not pay anything, even after making billions in profits. It does not make any sense. I will occupy forever if it helps create a better world.”
He went on to say that everyone has something to offer to the movement:
“We all have unique skillsets and talents that often go unused in the current system. At Occupy, your talents as an artist, poet, carpenter, teacher, yoga instructor, preacher, etc…, these talents are not only welcome, but necessary to cultivate and create a better world for all. We need to learn how to work with one another’s skills. To not have one person do all the work, but to spread the load evenly, and the passion evenly so that everyone can be able to actually change something.”
Monroe encourages everyone to get involved and share in the process of creating a new and better way of co-existing. He is an inspiration and a motivator, a civic-minded activist committed to improving the lives of everyone around him.
It is for these reasons that Monroe was selected to be spotlighted. Your hard work and love for the Occupation has been a critical element of the Movement’s success in Kansas City.
Thank you for being a part of the Occupy family.