99% vs. 1% -- The Latest on Occupy Wall St. Movement: 853 Cities Across the World Shoring Up for the Long Haul
It's Day 21 of Occupy Wall St. (#OWS), a movement that has inspired Americans all over the country to fight Wall St.'s assault on their political and economic rights. Wednesday, in the biggest action yet, over 20,000 people marched in Lower Manhattan. Occupations have sprung in hundreds of cities all over the country. Occupy Wall Street is only getting bigger.
AlterNet has the latest updates -- check back for continuing coverage.
- Saturday, October 8
-7:30 PM, New York CityAfter what must have been thousands marched from a general assembly in Washington Square Park to Liberty Plaza, a huge mass of people are congregating in the park and gearing up for the general assembly about to begin here. Today, local New Yorkers and visitors alike have decided not just to support the movement, but to participate in general assemblies and the group's decision making as well.
Families (and their children) have been showing their support in steadily increasing numbers. The park, once quiet at night, has become a mass congregation, drum group, dance party, and safe space for direct democracy. Navigating through the packed square is difficult. There is music, media, and, as usual, the NYPD put on quite the production, escorting the marchers with motorcycles, dozens of officers in single file lines, helicopters, and vans a plenty.
Adding irony to this march was the route. As protestors waltzed through Soho, shoppers and tourists chanted "We are the 99%" and "Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!" Hundreds of observers caught the action on their camera phones. Residents peered out their windows, filming or watching in awe.
-4:30 PM, New York City The "special session" general assembly in Washington Square Park convened after a quick set by the punk band Anti-Flag and as NYPD helicopters hovered above. Hundreds gathered in the park where Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix once congregated as the anti-war movement raged in New York City. The assembly attracted hoards of people, many of whom marched from the movement's mecca, Liberty Plaza, to Washington Square Park. No one seems to have been arrested, at least not in numbers as significant as previous un-permitted marches.
To start the assembly, the speaker's voice, amplified in waves through the crowd, explained the various hand signals used to communicate emotion and opinion without disrupting the human microphone. Wiggling fingers with hands straight up in the air means "I like it. I'm feeling good" and can be used instead of clapping. Fingers out straight in front of the body mean "I'm on the fence" and fingers straight down communicate "I don't like it."
After explaining the basics, speakers from various working groups - labor, information, media, comfort, call to action, coaching, direct action, arts and culture (and that's not even all of them!) - explained their groups' function and encouraged those interested to join at upcoming meetings, most of which are held daily.
Then, in the most inspirational moment of the meeting, "Muhammad", a speaker from Egypt, encouraged demonstrators to keep up the fight:
My name is Muhammad. I am an Arabic citizen from Egypt. I am coming from the Arab Spring, from Tahrir Square to Washington Square, to support Occupy Wall Street.
Many things separate us - national orders, homeland insecurity, armies, and police. They have the laws, they have the nets, and we have our revolution.
They handcuff our hands, but they will never cuff our ideas and revolutionary souls. They will never cuff our own revolution. We have nothing to lose except our change. Long live the revolution!
The crowd cheered. Another Occupy Wall St. speaker took the human microphone. She said,
The future of this movement lies in our commitment to create the world we want to live in - a world where people are not commodities...a world with mutual aid and solidarity, a world with self determination and direct democracy within our communities, a world where foreclosed homes, empty buildings, schools, and parks are occupied by the people.
She went on,
Start general assemblies in your communities and occupy your own spaces. Act now. But remember to have patience in this process and with each other. We are all in this together. Occupy everything!
After a few more words expressing the facilitators' thanks for growing support and encouraging people to get to know each other, the crowd dispersed and supporters, new and old, wandered through the park, stopped at informational booths, and socialized. Another general assembly will be held at 7pm in Liberty Plaza.
11:40 AM The Atlantic has published 44 beautiful photographs of the protests from NYC to NOLA, driving home how much of a national movement this has become. And it's only spreading; read below for updates on new cities joining the cause; two African American men from Queens have started Occupy the Hood, a movement to diversify OWS; and Occupy DC has settled in at Freedom Plaza, video below. Inspiring.
9:30 AM The Second General Assembly of Manhattan will convene today at 3 PM at Washington Square Park. The punk band Anti-Flag will play there in solidarity.
Verso Books' McKenzie Wark is blogging the OWS experience from a rather more literary standpoint:
A woman smiled at a man sitting on one of the stone benches. She parted her thighs and planted herself on his lap. He kissed her; she kissed him back. Her hands were in his hair. I thought of that line in Raoul Vaneigem about those who go on and on about class struggle without speaking of love. They speak with a corpse in their mouth, he says.
An older group, earnest, weathered, held up signs about class struggle so that the TV crew on the southern side could see them. They did not have the curious, expectant, hesitant look of some of the younger people. Not everybody finds all this so surprising. As another Situationist writer, René Viénet famously put it: our ideas are on everybody's minds.
- Friday, October 7
9:22 PM Occupy Cincinnati kicks off tomorrow, and supporters are getting prepared. The group has permits for up to 2000 protesters, according to the KY Post, and while it expires at 1 AM Sunday morning, a Facebook message indicates protesters intend to stay for the "foreseeable future."
Worcester, Massachusetts, is preparing for its own protests, beginning Sunday afternoon at 1:30 PM on Worcester Common. They will be joined by 1199 SEIU United Health Care Workers East—Massachusetts' largest health care union—while students at Brandeis University, outside of Boston, are planning their own on-campus protest.
And in Utah, Congressman Jason Chaffetz stopped by Occupy SLC to show support—in contrast to Orrin Hatch, who believes OWS to be "alarming." Organizers in Salt Lake expect their protests to last at least a month, according to the Salt Lake Tribune:
For Karo Christensen, a Web designer from Bountiful, the goal is to occupy "until we start seeing a change in the country" — politicians listening and making the changes the group would like to see happen, such as getting corporate dollars out of politics and having the government take over the Federal Reserve.
The broad discontent fueling this growing movement centers on corporate greed and lack of government responsiveness to "the 99 percent."
"There’s a growing number of people who can’t find work and can’t do things," Christensen said. "The government doesn’t seem to be helping us with any of that stuff, but they jump on the chance to help the [top] 1 percent with anything that goes wrong."
8:23 PMReason TV has an excellent video from the ground in New York that counters all those silly reports that say the protesters don't have clear goals. The people they interviewed seem to know exactly what their objectives are—including raising taxes on the rich to fund education, and forming a clear collective bond. Really great work on their part, a must-watch:
7:32 PM The full text of Naomi Klein's OWS speech is up here:
If there is one thing I know, it is that the 1 per cent loves a crisis. When people are panicked and desperate and no one seems to know what to do, that is the ideal time to push through their wish list of pro-corporate policies: privatizing education and social security, slashing public services, getting rid of the last constraints on corporate power. Amidst the economic crisis, this is happening the world over.
And there is only one thing that can block this tactic, and fortunately, it's a very big thing: the 99 per cent. And that 99 per cent is taking to the streets from Madison to Madrid to say "No. We will not pay for your crisis."
7:10 PM Providence, RI, is preparing to join the movement, and its jump-off date is proof that the protests across America show know signs of slowing: Occupy Providence is set to begin in one week, on October 15, in Burnside Park. Boston.com: "Member Michael McCarthy said Occupy Providence is more about starting a conversation than it is about any particular agenda. If the group gets people talking about corporate influence in Washington, or social inequalities, then it's accomplished something important, he said."
"If this was to end tomorrow I wouldn't feel like I've wasted my time," McCarthy, of Providence, said.
6:15 PM Report from AlterNet's Kristen Gwynne, who's been covering OWS from the ground in New York:
After Occupy Wall St. led a march that attracted some 20,000 supporters on Wednesday and gained long overdue mainstream media attention, all eyes are on Liberty Plaza (Zuccotti Park). The amped-up media focus has drawn tourists and the curious to the site, where a different-looking scene is developing in the square. The communal movement has attracted people from all walks of life, and as people with personal issues and various types of self promoters squeeze in, the ecosystem shows some fragility.
The growing mass makes differentiating between the movement's facilitators and the fakers newly problematic. Wide-open inclusion leaves room for all kinds of participation, and some outliers have infiltrated the scene. Their hearts may not be in the right place.
Along the East side of the park, facing the busy street Broadway, supporters shout slogans and hold signs to passers-by. Exiting the park from the steps at this entrance is difficult. Hoards of people - from Time Square's Naked Cowboy to idealistic students - gather with signs, pins, and costumes to catch an eye or the flash of a camera. Tourist buses pause and cameras click by the dozens. Snagging some attention should be no problem for the camera-hungry. Media and film crews swarm the park, where interviews are constantly conducted throughout.
There are some marginal personalities- perhaps with emotional issues, some on drugs, others hustling -- who will inevitably turn up at a space where free food and mass camp-outs exist. The presence of these types has the potential to undermine the efforts of the whole, and can add tension to the organizers and activists trying to keep things running smoothly.
And while there is no blame to be placed on those with personal issues, there is a problem where people can be outright rude. Disrespect crops up around the park as some less understanding campers and pan handlers start un-necessary confrontations. But controlling for these variables is difficult. The demonstrators are an open group dedicated to fair representation and participation: Kicking people out is not part of their character, and they are not equipped to treat the most needy.
Still, the spirit of the movement remains strong. For every camera-hungry faker or free-food attracted character, there are at least 20 more hardcore supporters dedicated not to media coverage or handouts, but creating a safe space and facilitating a fair economy. The challenge to keep the movement in the hands of the true believers is a sensitive issue, and how the organizers will work out the growing ingenuity problem has yet to be determined.
6:00 PM Eric Cantor continues to rightfully receive flack for his comments on OWS; a new piece in the Washington Post scorns his interview with Don Imus and calls Cantor's words hypocritical, insulting, and dangerous, among other things.
And two comedians are doing their part to "represent the 1%," lurking around the protests in New York with signs that promise to "Occupy Occupy Wall Street." "Everyone's talking about the 99%," joke Davram Stiefler and Jason Selvig, "but what about the 1%?" (Video of them in action below.) The Washington Post investigates.
4:24 PM The Occupy Wall Street movement is obviously striking a nerve, and the financial media are reacting with shock and horror.
Think Progress's Pat Garofalo watched some of CNBC's coverage so you wouldn't have to...
Occupy Wall Street protest that began in New York City more than three weeks ago has sparked an entire movement, based on the principle that the economy should work for everyone, not simply the richest one percent. At a time when income inequality and corporate profits are running sky high, right alongside joblessness and foreclosures, a movement like this captures the very real pain felt by “the 99 percent.”
However, the financial prognosticators on CNBC — including Larry Kudlow, Jim Cramer, and Joe Kernan — have found nothing but scorn for the protestors, deriding them as “bizarre,” “freaks,” and “law-breaking” “anti-American” “anarchists” who are “more aligned with Lenin.” Watch a compilation:
It’s no real surprise that the same pundits who derided subprime lending victims as “suckers,” vigorously defended the righteousness of bailed-out banks paying million dollar bonuses, believe tax havens prevent tyranny, and cited Glenn Beck as a new economic indicator would find the Wall Street protests offputting. But their comments merely highlight how out-of-touch they are with the common American, as they cater all day, every day to the Wall Street crowd.
3:26 PM What's it all about? Here's AlterNet's Joshua Holland discussing the predation of the top 1% with Thom Hartmann and Mojo's Andy Kroll...
2:50 PM Chris O'Connor, a local public defender, writes a sobering warning for those participating in #OccupyPortland...
You need to be 100 percent realistic about the fact that getting arrested going to hurt.
A protest with hundreds of people, no permits, and intentional or unintentional violations of numerous city ordinances you are going to be dealing with some physical pain. Never forget that in this city a police officer can literally shoot you in the back with a rifle as you surrender and still get his paycheck for years. So don’t be surprised when they bust out the beanbag guns, chemical sprays and gases and riot shields. Like the early South Park episode taught us, all an officer has to say is “He was coming right at me” and the district attorney will apologize to the grand jury and the officer for wasting their time with this whole silly case. The officer’s sergeant might even buy him a drink after the debrief. Your bruises from the batons will go away in a few weeks.
It's interesting to see this continuum of responses from police and local officials -- from the madness in New York to Los Angeles, where mayor Antonio Villaraigosa personally dropped off 100 ponchos to rain-soaked protesters. Portland appears to somewhere around ... Egypt on that scale.
12:38 PM It looks like the tide is really shifting in OWS' favor, as media coverage goes. A Reuters piece just posted wonders if OWS is the beginning of a new protest era reminiscent of the movements in the '60s (while at the same time making Eric Cantor's depiction of OWS as divisive mobs sound boob-ish and out of touch). Cuba's Havana Times says OWS "could be the first real activist movement to enact significant change in the U.S. since the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s" and says that the movement's "legitimacy stems from its growing role as a political force outside of the corruption and corporate influence in the established political structure."
12:15 PM Occupy Philly kicked off yesterday, and today a really compelling and inspiring, positive "welcome" video was posted by the Philadelphia City Paper, along with a grip of photos showing a massive group of protesters, many of them young. Watch below, and check the pics over here.
11:15 AM Time's Nate Rawlings predicts that on Friday afternoon, New York will see some of its biggest protest numbers yet:
The protesters have marches planned for the stock market's opening and closing bells on Friday. Because many protesters come in for the weekend, the Friday afternoon march may be one of the biggest yet, with the exception of the union march. Growth appeared to begin on Thursday, when even the drum circle set up on Zuccotti park's east side was the biggest I have seen. Many nights, lonely percussionists bang away on various drums with a few people dancing; on Thursday, there were several dozen people in the group.
Meanwhile, some of the most interesting reporting we've seen thus far has, ironically, come from Forbes, which conducted its own random survey of the protesters on Wall Street for a piece entitled, "Some Say Occupy Wall Street Protesters Aimless, Facts Say Otherwise." Of course, it's framed from a conservative standpoint—the reporter tends to focus on the most radical people he met—but the piece captured some of the express points of the protests, like limiting CEO pay and taxing the highest earners proportionately.
10:50 AM Bloomberg has once again tried to characterize OWS as counter to the economic make-up of the city, and Wall Street as a bunch of proles just thugging it out at their tough jobs every day. The Village Voice reports the billionaire Mayor slammed OWS on his weekly radio show, stating:
"we're not going to have money to pay our municipal employees" if the financial sector takes a hit and New York's tax take goes down with it.
"Everyone's got a thing they want to protest, some of which is not realistic," Bloomberg said. "And if you focus for example on driving the banks out of New York City, you know those are our jobs ... You can't have it both ways: If you want jobs you have to assist companies and give them confidence to go and hire people."
"Driving the banks out of New York City," of course, is not the goal—and he didn't mention that if big banks paid their top executives more proportionately, no one would suggest that higher taxes on the rich would put lower-level employees out of jobs.
9:58 AM Sam Graham-Felsen, who once worked as Obama's head campaign blogger, confesses his OWS change of heart—from cynical and jaded to engaged and excited—in Mother Jones. "In spite of all I saw that I didn't like," he writes, "there were clear signs that the movement is maturing, getting more organized, coalescing around a message: "We Are The 99%."
Like the protesters in Tahrir, there are clean-up crews keeping Zuccotti as spiffy as possible. Organizers are even enforcing message discipline by urging supporters on Twitter to shorten protest-related hashtags from #OccupyWallSt to #OWS. Perhaps it's a natural evolution, but it also seems likely that the movement is changing because the seasoned organizers and pragmatists are working alongside the radical idealists who were there from the start.
The only reason those pragmatists are there is because the crazy ones took the first steps.
9:42 AM Bernie Sanders, Senator of Vermont, throws his considerable progressive weight behind OWS, passionately supporting the protesters on CNN. "The people who caused this damn recession in the first place, the folks on Wall Street, because of their greed and illegal behavior, you know what their punishment has been? They're now making more money than they ever made before." Palpable anger:
8:54 AM The AFP reports that 11 were arrested in Los Angeles' demonstrations last night, among a reported 500 people (the LA Times seems to underestimate the crowd at 100). Six men and five women were detained for trespassing in the lobby of a Bank of America branch, protesting the big bank's foreclosure practices; they were let go on around $5000 bail each.
In Seattle, unions joined the movement yesterday, as that city's protesters prepare to join forces with a protest of the ten-year anniversary of the Afghanistan War Friday afternoon.
In St. Louis, ten protesters were arrested after refusing to leave their post in Kiener Plaza after curfew.
And in Portland, organizers estimated a turnout of as many as 10,000 people, with no arrests. Today, however, Twitter reports suggest the cops will pen in the protesters and arrest them. An incredible photo of the Portland protests, courtesy the Guardian.
8:14 AM Marisa Egerstrom, a phD candidate in American religious history at Harvard, outlines the parallels between #OWS and Christianity for CNN:
...At its heart, the Occupy movement is about creating a democratic society in which everyone matters, there is dignity in working together across differences, and there is enough for everyone. Is this vision tantamount to socialism? No. Once upon a time, we called this “American.”
It also sounds pretty Christian to me. What the early Apostles called “The Way” was a vision for peaceful living that built on Christ’s teaching, life, death and resurrection. The Way repudiates the pursuit of individual wealth in favor of building communities that care for the marginalized, the desperate and the powerless. Jesus demonstrated this by healing lepers and dining with prostitutes and tax collectors.
Reuters' David Cay Johnston writes, "protests show signs of sparking a major change in U.S. politics by creating common ground among people with wildly divergent views," while the New York Times sees the protests as a challenge to President Obama to mobilize the progressive base. And Occupy Together has chronicled #OWS meet-ups in 852 cities and counting, and three weeks in, RT chronicles the joining of major unions to the #OWS movement:
- 10:12 NOLA.com reports: "A sea of dissatisfaction swept through downtown New Orleans shortly after noon Thursday."
Hundreds of people, young and old, black and white, marched with signs held high and slogans spewing. It was a disjointed group: upbeat, angry, courteous, displeased, but united in unhappiness with the current economic and political climate. If there was a singular message shared among the masses, it centered on a simple idea: The status quo has got to go...
People gathered about noon outside the Orleans Parish criminal-justice complex at Tulane Avenue and Broad Street. The swell started slowly, from dozens of activists to more than 100 people. There were the usual gadflies and familiar faces from City Council meetings and other public arenas. They shouted for the New Orleans police chief's ouster, decried the parish prison, deplored police brutality.
Read the rest here.
- 10:01 PMAlterNet Executive Editor Don Hazen sends in this awesome photo from today's DC protests:
- 8:35 PMAlterNet's Joshua Holland reports on last night's action at #OccupySF, and notes that you can't always take what you're hearing on Twitter at face value.
You should keep in mind that messages relayed via social media like Twitter (follow me!) are a bit like that old game of telephone -- each retweet alters the sense of the original. Also: people engaged in emotionally charged situations -- like confronting a line of riot cops while occupying a city street -- can be a bit excitable.
At about 10:30 last night, the word started going around: in the dead of night, the SFPD was preparing to move in and crush #OccupySF -- one of hundreds of occupations around the country. They needed witnesses -- as many warm bodies as they could rouse!
Read the rest here.
- 7:45 PM @OccupyLA, via Twitter:
Back at camp, tents still everywhere, people protesting, food being served, & someone bought our teams Quizno's! Thank you!
Here's a photo of their tent city, via the same stream:
- 7:10 PM@OccupyWallStreetNYC reports via Twitter:
Heard on the #PeoplesMic: #OccupyWallStreet has spread to 683 cities worldwide!
That's a lot of cities.
- 6:55 PMThis image is going around the InterNet, but sources tell AlterNet that it is not a product of the General Assembly in New York:
As one might imagine, it's inspiring quite a lot of commentary. But a community organizer who has been working with the General Assembly tells us that they are very happy to have the support of any outside groups that respect their model of protest, and that this was put out by someone (an un-named someone) seeking to divide the movement.
- 6:00 PMIt appears that New York's Mayor Bloomberg, in addition to definitely being one of the 1% who controls massive amounts of the country's wealth (he is America's13th-richest man with $19 billion or so to his name) has alittle bit more interest in what goes on in Liberty Plaza, officially called Zuccotti Park, than was previously disclosed.
If the city moves to squash the revolt by evicting the protesters, Mayor Bloomberg and the owner of Zuccotti Park, Brookfield Properties, will be inviting a lot more attention from the occupiers, the press, and the public. The public-private partnership that controls the park has not received much scrutiny so far. An eviction would change that dramatically.
It has not been reported, for instance, that Bloomberg’s longtime, live-in girlfriend, Diana Taylor, sits on the board of Brookfield. The relationship gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “public-private partnership.” Numerous articles have noted that Brookfield owns the park and is in close contact with the city about the situation there, but oddly enough no one seems to have looked at its board (not hard to do). The connection should confirm, in case there was any question, that Bloomberg and the owner of the park are in constant communication.
"This is not the time to be looking for ways to dismiss a nascent movement against the power of capital, but to do the opposite: to find ways to embrace it, support it and help it grow into its enormous potential. With so much at stake, cynicism is a luxury we simply cannot afford."
Riot police arrest Occupy L.A. demonstrators (happening now), despite Los Angeles city council members' declaration of support for Occupy L.A yesterday.
Seven of the 15 council members signed a resolution to support "peaceful and vibrant exercise in First Amendment Rights carried out by `Occupy Los Angeles."'
The Los Angeles resolution calls for a vote on a "responsible banking" measure by Oct. 28. It would require the city to divest from banks and financial institutions that have not cooperated with efforts to prevent foreclosures. "This resolution supports the goals of Occupy L.A. and the need for responsible banking reform," said valley-area City Councilman Richard Alarcon, who co-sponsored the motion with his Westside colleague Bill Rosendahl.
Rows of riot police close in on Occupy L.A. demonstration. Watch live video here.
- 4:40 PM tvtoni tvtoni
- 4: 03 PM tvtoni tvtoni
Zuccotti Park, AKA Liberty Plaza, is not owned by the city, but the Real Estate Agency Brookfield Properties. The private ownership at first made Occupy Wall St. possible. But now, Brookfield may be mobilizing to shut it all down.
For the hub of the revolution, Nancy Scola suggests the clock may be ticking:
In public statements, Brookfield has gently suggested to the city that it is past time to restore the space to its normal use, and has posted signs in the park objecting to the sleeping bags, tarps, and use of benches as beds throughout the space.
But they've stopped there, according to a representative of the New York Police Department who attended the meeting last night. He said that Brookfield Properties would have to formally declare the protesters trespassers. It's something the real-estate company hasn't yet done, but when and if it does, it is likely to result in the clearing of the park by police.
Last night, as Scola reported, a meeting on the 7th floor of the Emigrant Bank Building on Chambers St. was often interrupted by chants from demonstrators in and around the park. There,
...the Financial District Committee of Community Board One met to wrestle over whether to issue a formal resolution on the swarms of people who have, for the last 19 days, made their home in the center of their district.
What emerged over the course of the night is that the community board’s greatest hope for restoring some degree of livability to their neighborhood—one affected by the Sept. 11th attacks, a decade of construction and uncertainty since, and now street closures, late-night drum circles and a loss of vendors—is, for the time being, to work with the protesters to negotiate some terms of peaceful cohabitation. Clearing the park, if that goal might ever ultimately be agreed upon, would at any rate have to wait.
“What would have to happen is that a representative from Brookfield would go into the park, and say, ‘You’re in violation of the rules of the park that apply. You’re trespassing,’” Detective Rick Lee of the NYPD's community affairs office told attendees.
And there were worries that putting the community group’s concerns in writing could put the organization in an unwelcome political position.
Last spring, Community Board One found itself the target of considerable heat when it voiced support for the building of the Cordoba House Project—the so-called Ground Zero Mosque. Last night, committee members tried with varying degrees of success to avoid to politics of the moment, and stick to the logistics. Sometimes, the temptation was too great.
- 3: 00 PM Protestors in D.C. are marching from Freedom Plaza to the Chamber of Commerce. The rally is the beginning of a four-day occupation. AlterNet's @RaniaKhalek reports from the scene via Twitter:
-3: 33 PM Marchers passing by white house chanting 'they got bailed out, we got sold out'#occupydc
- 3:10 PM dc police blocking road for us to march safely to chamber of commerce, hope they stay this nice tonight
- 2:56 PM Protesters are forming a human 99% for aerial image
Giving some credibility to the mainstream media, The Washington Post covered the D.C. actions earlier today:
A couple of hundred social justice protesters launched an “occupation” of Freedom Plaza Thursday, the area’s first major demonstration against rising inequality since the Occupy Wall Street movement began last month in New York and spread around the country.
Decrying corporate greed, ineffective political leaders and a rising gap between the haves and the have nots in the United States, protesters unfurled sleeping bags and raised tents in the public plaza in the shadow of the White House, vowing to stay indefinitely — or until their voices are heard. They only have official U.S. Park Service permits through Sunday.
...the four-day occupation of Freedom Plaza will include Thursday’s rally, a protest march to the nearby U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a candlelight vigil in the evening. Another protest is planned for Friday at the Ronald Reagan Building against the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline planned to stretch from Canada to Texas.
Demonstrations gain the attention of President Barack Obama:
"I think it expresses the frustrations that the American people feel that we had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, huge collateral damage all throughout the country, all across Main Street, and yet you're still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on abusive practices that got us into this problem in the first place," Said Obama.
"So yes, I think people are frustrated and the protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works."
But frustration is just the beginning. People are suffering. With one in six Americans living below poverty, people are desperate. And as student loans pile up and youth unemployment lingers above 50%, frustration turns into fear.
Obama also said the people's "frustration" would be evident in the 2012 election, and that "The American people understand that not everybody's been following the rules, that Wall Street is an example of that." He pointed to the Consumer Financial Protection Board and the Dodd-Frank Consumer Protection Act as efforts to counter what he described as "two sets of rules" for the American people and Wall St.
Douglas Rushkoff knocks down mainstream media criticism and ignorance surrounding the Occupy Wall St. movement. Rushkoff wrote for CNN,
To be fair, the reason why some mainstream news journalists and many of the audiences they serve see the Occupy Wall Street protests as incoherent is because the press and the public are themselves. It is difficult to comprehend a 21st century movement from the perspective of the 20th century politics, media, and economics in which we are still steeped.
In fact, we are witnessing America's first true Internet-era movement, which -- unlike civil rights protests, labor marches, or even the Obama campaign -- does not take its cue from a charismatic leader, express itself in bumper-sticker-length goals and understand itself as having a particular endpoint.
Are they ready to articulate exactly what that problem is and how to address it? No, not yet. But neither are Congress or the president who, in thrall to corporate America and Wall Street, respectively, have consistently failed to engage in anything resembling a conversation as cogent as the many I witnessed as I strolled by Occupy Wall Street's many teach-ins this morning.
Matt Stoller, the former Senior Policy Advisor to Rep. Alan Grayson and a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, knocks down criticism that the movement has no goals.
What do the people at #OccupyWallStreet actually want? What are their demands? For many people, this is THE question.
So let me answer it. What they want… is to do exactly what they are doing. They want to occupy Wall Street. They have built a campsite full of life, where power is exercised according to their voices. It’s a small space, it’s a relatively modest group of people at any one time, and the resources they command are few. But they are practicing the politics of place, the politics of building a truly public space. They are explicitly rejecting the politics of narrow media, the politics of the shopping mall. To understand #OccupyWallStreet, you have to get that it is not a media object or a march. It is first and foremost, a church of dissent, a space made sacred by a community. But like Medieval churches, it is also now the physical center of that community. It has become many things. Public square. Carnival. Place to get news. Daycare center. Health care center. Concert venue. Library. Performance space. School.
Few people, though an increasing number daily, have actually taken the time to go through a general assembly, to listen to what the people at #OccupyWallStreet actually want. General assemblies are the consensus-oriented group conversations at the heart of the occupations, where endlessly repeating the speaking of others is the painstaking and frustrating way that the group comes to make decisions. I spoke with a very experienced older DC hand who told me that he hasn’t been because he doesn’t have the patience of the young. This is as different a way of doing politics as distributed computing was to the old world of mainframes. So it isn’t surprising that the traditionalists are reacting as perplexed and dismissive of this new style of politics as the big iron types were with the rise of PCs.
I have been through a few general assemblies now, and they are remarkable because the point of the assembly is to truly put listening at the heart of decision-making. There’s no electronic amplification allowed in Zuccotti Square. So the organizers have figured out an organic microphone system. A speaker says a half a sentence, everyone in earshot repeats, until the whole park can hear that half a sentence. Then the speaker says another half a sentence. People use hand signals to indicate approval, disapproval, get a move on, or various forms of objections and clarifications. During these speeches, speakers often explicitly ask for more gender and racial diversity, which is known as “progressive stacking”.
The Progressive Librarians Guild supports the initiative of the Occupy Wall Street protest and the movement it has sparked, with manifestations all across the U.S.
We applaud the commitment and creativity being shown in providing a space for the articulation of opposition to the whole apparatus of the one-sided class war against workers, unions, the poor, immigrants, minorities, people of color, women, students and other sectors which make up the vast majority of Americans. We applaud the movement’s resistance to the greed,,injustice and inequality which is corroding the fabric of American society and its desire to imagine and help build a better future ,starting right now , for all Americans, by freeing ourselves from the destructive grip of unaccountable elites , insatiable profiteers and ruthless and cynical corporate plunderers.
1:00 PMThe Village Voice reports that over a thousand New York City college students participated in a walk-out yesterday in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street. The article only mentions NYU students being involved, but I heard reports yesterday that students from the New School and FIT also walked out of class to attend the rally.
-- 12:45AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka released an excellent statement to the Wall Street activists. "Occupy Wall Street has captured the imagination and passion of millions of Americans who have lost hope that our nation’s policymakers are speaking for them. We support the protesters in their determination to hold Wall Street accountable and create good jobs, he said, adding that the labor movement “will open our union halls and community centers as well as our arms and our hearts to those with the courage to stand up and demand a better America." Watch it here:
Meanwhile in Los Angeles, mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is officially backing the protests, handing out rain ponchos to the protesters....This is the difference between a city beholden to the vampires in the financial sector, and a city that isn't. It's the difference between a mayor with a community organizing and civic activism background, and a mayor beloved of the corrupt Third Way crowd who "earned" his chops playing games with other people's money. It's the difference between real progressivism, and authoritarian conservatism with a happy, socially liberal smile on its face.
--Speaking of pepper spray, the Times reports that Officer Anthony Bologna, the infamous "pepper spray cop," has been in trouble with the law more times than we realized. He's been involved in nine lawsuits, apparently, including four that resulted in a combined $30,000 settlement.
It's 10 PM in Liberty Plaza and the jubilant 20,000-plus crowd from the day's solidarity march has dwindled, now, to the faithful, the regulars, having debated and decided by consensus against another attempt at marching.
The police have dropped barricades around the entire plaza, but rumors that they are coming in are so far unfounded. The medical team has calmed down and are eating pizza from the boxes being carried throughout the plaza. A giant projection on the wall of a building across Trinity Street reminds the protesters "The Whole World is Watching #OccupyWallStreet."
AlterNet's Kristen Gwynne reports from the heart of the occupation:
The energy pouring out of different people united under one common goal - to fight greed and return money back to the workers - was unstoppable. People were tired, angry that they lost their jobs, their schools, and their public services as Wall St. got richer. They were all races, ages, religions, and sub-cultures. They were the 99%, and they marched all the way from Foley Square to Liberty plaza. Some even marched from Liberty Plaza to Foley Square, then turned around and came back. But after that, things turned violent.
For the march from Foley to Liberty, organizers obtained a permit and police interfered little with the demonstration. Barricades, however, kept protesters on a minimal section of the street. Following the massive march, thousands of organizers and high-profile supporters, including Michael Moore and Reverend Billy, revved-up the crowd for what was intended to be a historic march on Wall St. The momentum building up to the un-permitted march was lost in the mobs of people blocked once again by police. Cops put barricades up on the sidewalk to prevent the demonstration from reaching Wall St., at the corner of Broadway. Horses, NYPD pick-up trucks, and an NYPD bus arrived at the scene. As organizers attempted to have an assembly behind barricades and determine the next steps, chaos broke out and several people were pepper sprayed. Even more were arrested.