Everything You Want to Know About What OWS Is Up To Now (And Why It Just Had Its Biggest Media Week Ever)

"Screw us and we multiply," protesters declared last week after a series of crackdowns. The pithy slogan resonates: after the NYPD's cruel Zuccotti raid stunned onlookers, the number of events attended, endorsed, or created by the New York Occupy protesters has kept on expanding.

Indeed, thanks to those raids and rebunds, Pew reports that OWS had its biggest press week yet.

New actions, campaigns and ideas are being hatched at a rapid rate--and new occupations are already occurring.

Today at 3pm there is a gathering in Zuccotti Park to express solidarity with Egyptian protesters in Tahrir square, which should have a significant attendance. Here is a comprehensive rundown of what has occurred OWS-wise in the past day and what to expect in the coming weeks. Please share this with friends and family who are asking "what's next?" and "what's going on now?".

--As the Super Committee announces its failure,the OWS NY to DC march aka "Occupy the Highway"is about to arrive in DC!

From their press release: 

Their journey was timed to coincide with the announcement of the so-called Super Committee; to bring a message to Congress to end corporate welfare and tax breaks for the rich and to stimulate the economy by rebuilding the country's infrastructure and investing in education, clean-energy and public health; items that are supported by the vast majority of Americans in poll after poll. 

‘Occupy the Highway’ participants expect to arrive at McPherson Square at around 2:30pm today, where they will hold a General Assembly-style press conference. From there they will march to Freedom Plaza, and from there to the Capitol steps, where they will discuss the failure of the U.S. Government to be accountable to its people.

--Yesterday CUNY students protesting tuition hikeswere assaulted by police in the lobby of Baruch college. Many arrests were made and cops used batons to subdue students. The protest was against massive tuition hikes at this vaunted public institution. It should be noted that CUNY students and professors have been at the heart of OWS organizing from the begining, and the traditionally immigrant and working-class friendly system of city universities is one of the last standing education systems of its kind.

One Hunter College student told the Daily News that he and over a dozen other students were pushed into a room when campus cops showed up, "I’m an Army veteran. I didn’t serve five years in the military to come here and see civilian people threatened this way. This is a complete disgrace to the ideology behind this country."

Video below:


--Also yesterday, religious leaders held a major "Living Wage NYC" rally, supported by occupiers. The Columbia Spectator reported:

Over 2,000 labor and civil rights activists rallied at Riverside Church Monday night in support of a living wages act to be voted on today in the New York City Council. 

“The battle for a living wage in this nation is fundamentally to ensure that our children’s generation is better off when ours is dead,” National Association for the Advancement of Colored People President and CEO Benjamin Jealous, CC ’94, said.

The act, which already has enough sponsors to override a veto from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, would ensure that mall outlet employees earn at least the living wage of $10 per hour...

The night featured a mix of religious spirit and Occupy Wall Street-inspired solidarity. Several speakers emulated “the people’s mic,” an OWS amplification strategy in which the crowd repeats the speech line by line to ignite excitement about the legislation.

--A general meeting was held by an allied group: "Organize for Occupation" which is using the Occupy tactics in extremely exciting ways. According to reports on Twitter last night, they are going to organize occupations around evictions, as many have been doing informally thus far, trying to keep families in their homes. Their mission statement: "We intend to create housing through the occupation of vacant spaces and to protect people’s right to remain in existing housing through community based anti-eviction campaigns."

--Meanwhile, the student occupation of a building on Fifth Avenue continues. The  NYU Local went "inside"and finds fascinating stuff (the whole piece is worth a read):

General Assemblies are held at least once a day to decide on logistics and to discuss politics. All decisions are reached after a lengthy process of democratic discourse where individuals propose agendas. Discussion of each agenda item can last for up to 15 minutes, after which a vote is taken. During these meetings, individuals from other Occupy movements update about is happening at other gatherings, and what events are being planned.

Of course, the deliberative processes themselves are in a state of constant evolution, as the GA develops additional sets of rules on conduct as the need arises. During times where there are no scheduled meetings or events, the atmosphere goes back to that of a quiet study area. Student occupiers get on with their own  school work. And without the lurking presence of NYPD, the mood resembles a laidback café; a safe environment where individuals gather to learn, speak out, and exercise the right to activism.

 --On the legal front, here are details ontwo protesters suing the city for infringement of civil liberties. This is for the incident in which protesters were arrested for withrdrawing funds from a bank--and the plaintiff in the case is a woman who claims she was dragged back into the bank and then charged for trespassing.

--Mother Jones goes into the "OWS Office"and notes it is one of many new and expanding hubs where OWS work takes place:

Among other things, the office houses OWS' press and media teams, the Finance Working Group—which dispenses small amounts of cash to occupiers who show up with receipts—and other working groups such as Internet, Open Source, and Technology.

It's hardly the movement's only workspace. The Spokes Council, the movement's quasi-governing body, held it's latest meeting at a Times Square auditorium owned by a local chapter of the Service Employees International Union. Students at Manhattan's New School have occupied a classroom that they are using for teach-ins. Two Manhattan churches have opened their doors to the camp's homeless. And meetings continue at the park, in the nearby atrium of 60 Wall Street, and in other spaces owned by religious and labor groups. The Center for Constitutional Rights will soon roll out online listing service to connect occupiers with other groups that can offer free space.

Exactly. In addition to all the events above, GA and spokescouncil meetings occur on a nightly basis around the city. Things are moving. Stay tuned for more.

AlterNet / By Sarah Seltzer

Posted at November 22, 2011, 5:30am

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