6 Stories That You May Have Missed From the Occupy Movement
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The re-occupation on the 17th -- the third month anniversary of the initial occupation and a year since Tunisian Street Vendor Mohamed Bouazizi's self-immolation which began the "Arab Spring" -- had been staged as not only as a showing of the occupiers' tenacity and a test of the NYPD's (in)tolerance of protesters, but also as a test of the religious community's commitment to social justice. Trinity Church, while being supportive of the movement, has not yet agreed to lend any portion of the $10 billion worth of land it owns to Occupy protesters. Some members of the city's religious community, including Rev. Michael Ellick of New York's famously social justice-oriented Judson Church, have urged Trinity Church's owners to support the Occupy movement.
"This is truly a theological line in the sand," Ellick said in a recent release. "The gospel is about real-world transformation, not cosmetic charity. How is it that Trinity's real estate is worth over 10 billion dollars, and all they can do for Occupy is hand out hot chocolate?"
Several protesters went on a hunger strike earlier this month to put pressure on Trinity--according to reports on Twitter, they were among those arrested.
Any successful re-occupying of public space in New York, where Occupy Wall Street began, will be a huge symbolic step for the movement, and even a failed attempt could help get the protesters back on the nightly news. It could also help the movement gain more allies among the city's, and the nation's, social justice-oriented religious communities.
However it should also be noted that this action, while affirming for the movement, has the potential to alienate some bystanders, who may be less open to a challenge to Trinity's land use than they were to the "public" space in Liberty Plaza.
2. Protesters and congressman launch hunger strike for DC voting rights.
Four protesters at Occupy DC (which is going strong at McPherson Square) launched a hunger strike last week to protest the District's lack of congressional representation.
An open letter to Congress from the hunger strikers reads:
More than two hundred years after the American Revolution, taxation without representation -- the foundational grievance of our country -- is still alive and well in our nation's capital. Washingtonians pay higher per capita federal income taxes than any state, yet we have no say in how Congress spends that money.
It's true that there was a time long ago when the capital had few residents outside of the legislators and first federal workers who maintained representation in their home states. But DC now has 600,000 taxed, yet voiceless, citizens. Not a Senator to hear them at the Hart Building, no voting representative in the House to stand for their concerns.
This week Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota announced that he would embark on a 24-hour hunger strike of his own to show solidarity with the DC hunger strikers. He also promised to read the protesters' demands on the floor of the House so it would be entered into the congressional record.
The protesters have pledged to go without food until DC is granted full congressional voting representation.
3. New York congressman calls for DOJ investigation.
One New York Congressman is calling for a Department of Justice investigation into the allegations of excessive force by the NYPD towards Occupy protesters.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who represents the area of lower Manhattan that includes Zuccotti Park, issued a statement on December 9 calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to "launch a thorough investigation into law enforcement activities surrounding Occupy Wall Street -- and its national offshoots -- to determine whether the police have indeed violated the civil liberties of demonstrators or members of the media."