Category Archives: Occupy Movement

Occupy Wall Street was born out of little-guy frustration | Cincinnati.com | cincinnati.com

When I first watched the Occupy Wall Street rallies in New York and around the country, I wondered if folks carrying signs, camping out, holding up traffic and boycotting financial institutions could really make a difference.

The jaded part of me didn’t think the protesters could accomplish much other than some media coverage. There wasn’t a clear leader for the movement. Their demands weren’t specific enough.

Yet the Occupy Wall Street campaign isn’t abating, and for good reason.

“The protests represent people’s frustration in dealing with big government, politics and big corporations that aren’t providing jobs, aren’t listening to us and who are nickel-and-diming us,” said Ed Mierzwinski, the consumer program director for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

Even Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has expressed sympathy with those on the streets.

“They blame, with some justification, the problems in the financial sector for getting us into this mess, and they’re dissatisfied with the policy response here in Washington – and at some level I can’t blame them,” Bernanke told Congress’ Joint Economic Committee last week when he was asked what he thought of the movement.

President Barack Obama also weighed in on the protests during his news conference Thursday.

There’s been “huge collateral damage all throughout the country, all across Main Street,” he said.

Although some have criticized the movement for its lack of leadership and clear agenda, the protests do have a purpose, says Kalle Lasn, editor-and-chief of Adbusters magazine.

It was the Vancouver-based anti-consumerist magazine that spurred the Occupy Wall Street campaign. It urged people to show up on Wall Street starting Sept. 17 and set up tents, kitchens and peaceful barricades and stay for a few months.

“This movement at the moment is all about being angry and having rage,” Lasn said in an interview.

“But in the next few weeks, as it grows, it will become clear it’s a positive program about political and social change.”

Lasn said he hopes the next big protest will happen on Oct. 29. The magazine is encouraging people to stage protests in state capitals in the U.S. and abroad the weekend before the next G-20 summit. The summit, a gathering of finance ministers and central bank governors from the 20 largest economies, is meeting in France Nov. 3-4. Lasn said that one demand protesters can unite behind is a global financial transaction levy dubbed the Robin Hood tax, which is intended to make the financial sector contribute to fixing the economic crisis it helped create.

“We want to get millions marching on Oct. 29,” Lasn said. “This could be the beginning of a whole new global future where we the people call the shots. I just hope it doesn’t align itself with the Democratic Party. I hope it stays aloof from the U.S. two-party system. It should become a real people’s movement.”

Throughout history, great change has evolved from small civil protests.

It took a Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man, to inspire the Montgomery bus boycott that eventually resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that segregation was unconstitutional.

Go even further back to the origins of the word boycott and you’ll find the story of Irish tenant farmers who got tired of being taken advantage of by rich landowners. Charles C. Boycott, an English estate manager in Ireland, found himself in the middle of a game-changing protest.

Despite a poor harvest, Boycott had refused to lower rents for the farmers. So local laborers in turn refused to work the land that Boycott was managing. Leading that protest was Charles Parnell, an Irish politician, who fought for the rights of the tenant farmers. Parnell advocated peaceful protest, one in which workers ostracized the people behind unfair business practices.

Jean Ann Fox, director of financial services for the Consumer Federation of America, says, “Policymakers are at risk of underestimating how fed up and angry consumers are with practices they think are unfair.”

Are you fed up? If so, you can find local Occupy Wall Street events at http://www.occupytogether.org, which says it’s the unofficial hub for those who want to take action against corporate greed.

Even if the protests wane, it’s still the beginning of something great, Lasn said.

I’m no longer jaded.

I’m excited that those most hurt by the dismal economy – the young, old, employed and unemployed – are marching, picketing and raising ruckus against the financial sector that has morphed into too-big-to-fail institutions that gave little thought to how their actions could wreak havoc in people’s lives.

via Occupy Wall Street was born out of little-guy frustration | Cincinnati.com | cincinnati.com.

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Boston Police Release Statement on Occupy Boston – Charlestown, MA Patch

Editor’s note: Following the arrest of 141 protesters on the Rose Kennedy Greenway just after midnight on Tuesday, the Boston Police released the following statement.

Since October 1, 2011 the Boston Police Department has been working closely with the leadership of Occupy Boston to accommodate their request for peaceful demonstration. The City of Boston, at the request of the organizers, designated the area of Dewey Square on the Greenway where protestors have been provided the opportunity to create an encampment and protest peacefully.

On October 10, 2011, protestors expanded the camp site to a second location that had not been previously approved. Several reasons required police to request that protestors return to the original agreed upon site.

Occupying a second area of the Greenway near Pearl Street created an increased public safety concern.

The site of the 2nd encampment on the Greenway (near Pearl Street) had recently undergone a costly renovation by the Greenway Conservancy to improve the green space. The protestors’ presence on that space created a concern for potential property damage.

The attempt of the protestors to occupy the Washington Street Bridge was executed without discussion and prior agreement with police. That action and breakdown of communication created a scenario which became a serious public safety hazard and compromised the BPD’s ability to ensure public order and a safe environment.

Boston Police communicated to protestors the request to vacate the second encampment and return to the original site numerous times throughout the evening via Twitter, flyers and in person. The required police action resulted in the arrest of 141 individuals who were charged with Unlawful Assembly or Trespassing. Some time after 1:00am on 10/11/11, Boston Police declared ‘Unlawful Assembly’ in the area of the second site.

As a result of an existing city ordinance that forbids sleeping in a city park between 11:00pm and 7:00am, officers had the authority to arrest for Trespassing and Unlawful Assembly.

Although our officers faced active resistance from protestors including being spit on, our officers maintained a respectful, professional and proportional posture. If any individual experienced a concern about their interaction with an officer that individual is encourage to come forward and report that information to the department. At this time, we have not received any such complaints.

The Boston Police Department is committed to protecting one’s right of peaceful protest. The Boston Police Department is also committed to ensure everyone’s safety. We continue to encourage the leadership of Occupy Boston to maintain an open dialogue with authorities in the spirit of coordination and cooperation.

via Boston Police Release Statement on Occupy Boston – Charlestown, MA Patch.

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City Grants Occupy Dallas a Special Permit

​We began the day by discussing Occupy Dallas’s missive to the mayor concerning their encampment at Pioneer Plaza, between Dallas City Hall and the Dallas Convention Center. We end it — not counting our Rangers liveblog, which is now into extra innings — with this: Following a sitdown with the group, the city has OK’d a special permit for the group through October 14. The permit, which was just dispatched, follows, but first this from Frank Librio, City Hall spokesman:

The Occupy Dallas group has obtained a special permit for the Pioneer Plaza area near the Convention Center. The City is balancing this group’s first amendment rights with a focus on protecting the protestors and the public — like many other cities across the country experiencing similar protests.

The Dallas Police Department has only utilized on-duty resources to address the Occupy Dallas demonstrators. This is consistent with other demonstrations that have occurred in the city in the past and a function of the police department that is part of the current operating budget. The Police Department has provided a uniformed presence during the demonstrator’s marches to ensure there is minimal disruption in traffic flow, no disturbances or violation of law and that counter protests do not develop that could lead to disorder.

via City Grants Occupy Dallas a Special Permit – Dallas News – Unfair Park.

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Vets try protecting OWS Boston from police beatings

Update: Approximately 2:00 a.m.

The police Commissioner was heard saying there were 100 arrests at the Boston North Encampment for �unlawful assembly and criminal trespassing.

The camp appears to be gone.

One of the remaining protesters was heard saying, “They can destroy the camp but they cannot destroy the movement.”

The remaining small number of protesters have been chanting something new, “March to jail.”

via Breaking News: Vets try protecting OWS Boston from police beatings (video) – National Human Rights | Examiner.com.

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Occupy Wall Street: Anonymous Release Images Showing Police Violence Against Boston Protesters

Following the arrest of as many as 50 participants in the Occupy Boston movement, hacker collective Anonymous has released images showing police violently apprehending protesters.

Following the arrest of as many 50 participants in the Boston wing of the ongoing Occupy series of protests, hacker collective Anonymous has released images showing police violently apprehending protesters.

Reports emerged early Tuesday alleging that police had arrested more than 50 participants in the Occupy Boston movement for trespassing. The arrests reportedly began at around 1:30 a.m ET after protesters ignored warnings by the police to return to their official campsite.

The tensions began when participants in the Occupy Boston protest moved from their official Dewey Square campsite to the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Police had reportedly previously sent leaflets to the protesters confirming they couldn’t use the Greenway.

Since news of the arrests broke, the Anonymous collective released a series of photos showing the arrests, alongside a statement criticising the police treatment of the protesters.

“This morning the biggest mass arrest in Massachusetts since a huge 1968 Vietnam protest,” read the Anonymous statement.

“The protesters had moved from Dewey Square to a second site across the street. A local conservancy group recently planted $150,000 worth of shrubs along the greenway and officials said they were concerned about possible damage. MORE IMPORTANT SHRUBS THAN PEOPLE.”

The arrests all occurred during an offshoot protest stemming from the original Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City. Since news of the arrests broke, the hacker collective has issued a statement promising to enact a revenge attack on the New York Stock Exchange. But the exchange said its site wasn’t compromised.

via Occupy Wall Street: Anonymous Release Images Showing Police Violence Against Boston Protesters – International Business Times.

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Is politics from below ‘class warfare’?

The exciting presence and perseverance of protestors on Wall Street (and the spread of the #OccupyWallStreet protests to cities throughout America) is a welcome respite from years of passivity, and not only in relation to the scandalous legal and illegal abuses of comprador capitalists.

In addition, it is a reaction to the prolongations of predatory wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to a rising anti-democratic Islamophobic tide, to a shameless reliance on incarceration for harmless activities, to a presidency that seems less willing to confront hedge fund managers than jobless masses, and to a Congress that incredibly represents billionaires while scorning the people that put them in office.

But will this exhilarating presence be sustained in a manner that brings credible hope of restored and renewed democracy that is dedicated to social well-being at home and responsible law-oriented leadership abroad that is no longer drone-driven?

“Obama’s electoral victory in 2008 was the last hope of the young in America.”

There is little doubt that this move to the streets of America expresses a deep disillusionment with ordinary politics based on elections and governing institutions. Obama’s electoral victory in 2008 was the last hope of the young in America who poured unprecedented enthusiasm into his campaign that promised so much and delivered so little. Perhaps worse than Obama’s failure to deliver, was his refusal to fight for what he claimed to believe, or even to bring into his entourage of advisors a few voices of empathy and mildly progressive outlook.

From his initial appointment of Rahm Emmanuel onwards, it should have been clear that the Obama presidency was intent on playing the same old Washington games waged by special interests. More recently, these interests were further deformed by a Republican Party lurching to the right, by a surging Tea Party intent on pushing the government policy and role to the outer extremes of cruel and irresponsible public policy, by a pathetic Democratic Party that is trying to survive mainly by mimicking Republicans, and by a domineering media that has become largely captive to corporate America.

If such a portrayal of ordinary politics is more or less correct it is a wonder that a more radical sense from the left of America’s future took so long to materialise, if indeed it has. At least #OccupyWall Street is displaying the distress of young urban Americans and sending some warning signals to the bastions of the established power that acute displeasure is rising, and may become threatening to what is, as well as engaging with what might be.

Far right radicals

Of course, radicalism is not absent from the American political scene. Ever since the end of the Cold War, the forces of the right have been riding higher in the United States.

Such an impression is strengthened by the loss of composure by the Democratic party that struggles to show that it is almost as capitalist, pro-military, anti-tax, anti-immigrant, and patriotic as its reactionary critics. Its traditional principles of a compassionate state serving the interests of the citizenry have been put in cold storage. Democrats are scared to seem weak, and even more scared to seem to be socialists.

“One serious cost of the collapse of the Soviet Union was to discredit efforts by government to care for the health, education and wellbeing of less advantaged people in the country.”

One serious cost of the collapse of the Soviet Union was to discredit efforts by the government to care for the health, education, and well-being of less advantaged people in the country. Thus the Wall Street protests, if indeed they do have a radical agenda, which is not yet clear, will be to fill this vacuum on the left that has been so disabling during the last twenty years when capitalism had no ideological rival.
One amusing legacy of Cold War anti-Marxism is for the reactionary legions in the country to complain that the protesters are intent on launching ‘class warfare.’ It is one of those post-liberal epithets that gets promiscuously tossed around by ascendant right wing ideologues so as to demonise even those who are reckless enough to propose a modest tax increase on the super-rich in America.

Even Barack Obama who has done his best to please Wall Street 99 per cent of the time, is being charged with waging ‘class warfare’. Liberals are so timid ever since the Berlin Wall fell, and with it fell the possibility of compassionate society, whether capitalist or socialist, the label intimidates. Since then every effort has been made to protect the interests of the exploiting social forces that exult and prosper while marginalised minorities weep and bleed.

As has been pointed out by trenchant critics of what is going on, yes, there is class warfare being practiced, not by its victims, but by the very folks that decry class warfare.

The rich have been extraordinarily successful during the last decade or so in redistributing income upward, from the poor to the rich and ultra rich, including from the increasingly worried middle classes to those plump elites sitting comfortably on top of the economic pyramid.

Combined with pro-corporate and pro-bank deregulation, tax holidays, labour-busting tactics, anti-immigrant-fervor, this assault on the citizenry of the country is an inversion of class warfare as delimited in the Marxist tradition.

The ‘new’ class warfare

The new class warfare is waged on behalf of those with great wealth who have solidified their control over the reins of government with the purpose of disenfranchising the citizenry, breaking the social contract of the New Deal, and relying on law enforcement to keep those who object under suspicion. This is a task facilitated by the repressive legislation made plausible by the 9/11 attacks and the curtailment of individual freedoms associated with the rigours of ‘homeland security’.

“The new class warfare is waged on behalf of those with great wealth who have solidified their control over the reins of government.”

Disavowing American party and institutional politics and situating hope with the arousal of progressive forces in civil society is different from concluding that the Wall Street protests are more than a tantalising flash in the pan at this stage.

Even with this cautionary commentary, it is obvious that these events own a large acknowledged debt to Tahrir Square (as well as to a surprising initial push from the Canadian anti-consumerist magazine, Adbusters) – especially the ethos of a nonviolent leaderless, programme-less spontaneous rising that learns day-by-day what it is about, who it is, and what is possible.

Of course, the immediate stakes for the protesters seem much lower than in Egypt or elsewhere in the Arab world, as there is little present risk of death or physical injury at the hands of the police on American streets. Additionally, however disappointing and abusive the political and economic realities have become, they are not cruelly and corruptly autocratic.

For this reason, the ghouls of Wall Street do not provide quite as potent a unifying target as was the grim personage of Hosni Mubarak, a cruel autocrat in power for more than three decades, and so it may be harder to transform these protests into a sustainable movement.

But in other ways the stakes and risks on Wall Street are higher than they might seem. As long as America is beholden to militarists and right-wing billionaires its shadow negatively affects many ongoing struggles throughout the world.

This America turns away from the needed global cooperation to address climate change, world poverty, severe human rights abuses, nuclear disarmament, and such concrete issues as self-determination for the Palestinian people and peace for Afghanistan, Iraq, and many other outposts of misery.

This America opposes carbon taxes, and refuses to support the establishment of a Global Peoples Parliament or a UN Emergency Peace Force that might encourage global democracy and make the protection of vulnerable people a task for the United Nations rather than a geopolitical maneuver.

The world needs an America that rediscovers its own dream of liberty and justice, and awakens from a long and debilitating nightmare that has silenced its ‘better angels’.

In the end, we all must hope and engage. The beginnings of hope are rooted in the correctness of analysis, and so we can be thankful that this initiative places its focus on the shortcomings of a merely procedural democracy, the deforming impact of financial and corporate practices, and does not look to the reform or even the control of the state as the cure for what ails.

The implicit not so subtle point is that the centre of power over the destinies of the American people has shifted its locus from Washington to New York, and beyond! Underneath the rhetoric is the search for substantive democracy that upholds rights, demands justice and freedom, and allows people to participate in the control of their destinies

via Is politics from below ‘class warfare’? – Opinion – Al Jazeera English.

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Cops Beat Veterans in Boston and City Hall Blackmails OccupyDallas

Occupy Wall Street first struck me as a joke. Here were all these twenty somethings in their Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters complaining about corporate greed in the middle of the work week while taking photos with their $1000 cameras and their $300 iPhones.Their gatherings pulled cops away from other areas and terrible things happened like a series of random attacks on women in the subway. It’s so very easy to admonish these people as privileged hipster kids and dislike them for how they inconvenience the cities they protest in.

But then the cops in New York started macing people. And as much as we might WANT to mace a hipster it’s still assault and unwarranted and not cool.

Since that assault via spicy face spray the movement has sort of exploded. Mainstream media is covering it (though it’s with a sense of bewilderment) and new Occupy protests have sprouted up all over the country.

Part of the movement is occupying public parks long-term. In some locations there are no rules governing the occupation of a public space. In other places permits are required to occupy these parks.

via Cops Beat Veterans in Boston and City Hall Blackmails OccupyDallas.

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