Occupy Wall Street – a first hand assessment
Here is an honest assessment of what’s going on with the Occupy Wall Street protest by someone who has been part of it for, it seems, at least several days. It was forwarded to an email list I monitor by a friend of the writer. If is assessment is correct, it’s important to pay attention to this movement as it could lead to all sorts of big and unpredictable changes – some of them positive and some not (think about the response of those in high places if this movement grows enough to pose a serious threat to the status quo).
Good night all. I’d love to hear other opinions – especially from folks with first hand experience of what’s happening in NY and other protest sites that have sprung up.
This is a communique intended for you individually. I have been extremely busy, and have had only time to post to Facebook regularly, but not to further networks. I hope that this note can be shared more widely. (so please do your part ;))
first off… if you are in the dark, I highly recommend checking out some videos on these links
and then google or youtube search "occupywallstreet"
Where I am…
As many of you know, I have been part of the group of people occupying a park in the vicinity of wall street. The Occupation is 13 days in and shows no signs of slowing up, but rather signs of growth. I meet people from all over the place who are new here everyday both from within NYC, but also as far as Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, Philadelphia and more. Moreover, this model of occupation is being replicated in cities all over the country as citizen activists begin occupations in places such as Boston, Sacramento, Chicago, San Diego, Phoenix, Portland, OR, SF, St. Louis, Detroit, LA…. and that is just off the top of the heads of people sitting around me right now.
what is happening
In short ‘future kulture’ is happening. We have organized a micro city on purely democratic principles in which anyones voice can be heard. There are two General Assemblies per day and many meetings of separate working groups, some discussing solutions, demands, and tactics on a global and local scale, and others managing operations of our camp. Working groups include but are not limited to Food, Comfort, Sanitation, Medical, Library, Media Production, Streaming Media, Media Relations, Finance, Direct Action, Security, and many more. I hesitate to call this a protest. It is an Assembly and a Call to Action. Three days ago, I would not have necessarily believed that I would be writing this, feeling the way I do about all of this, or even still here. This is real. It is growing, and it IS the beginnings of a new, young, social movement that has real potential (and those of you who know my typical cynicism will be surprised by this) to steer our country towards the necessary General Strike of working people, unemployed people, owning class people, students, and everyone else.
a call to action
I want to personally urge people to come here. On first reading that, the impression might be that we need more people on the ground here. That is only partly true. The camp grows to multiple thousands of people everyday, and more every day. However, that is a small part of why your presence (even for a day) is useful and necessary. Really, what is going on here is political education of a profound and new kind. Activists and concerned citizens need to witness the model that is happening here in order to replicate and allow the Occupation of the US to virally grow as quickly as possible. The virus will mutate. Occupations will look different as they spread, but to those of you within traveling distance of NYC, please hear me that this is something like I have never experienced and it has changed my life, and I would like to share that experience in a deeper way than posting to Facebook and telling people about it.
who is here
all kinds of people are here, and as I said more and different people every day. the overwhelming majority at this moment are young people who have never been part of past actions or movement. That alone is jawdropping to me. it is not the typical lefty crowds that are found at peace marches etc. it is those folks too, but it is more far-reaching, and i think that is highly significant.
what to expect
expect to be fed for free as much as you can eat. expect to witness true democratic decision making. expect to have genuine conversations about everything that matters to you about the future of our society and planet with fellow occupiers, passersby, and police. expect truly horizontal organizing and decision-making expect participate teach-ins. expect to lead teach-ins if you so desire. expect to work (join a working group and help with whatever your particular skillet provides). expect to be slightly overwhelmed at first. expect to be interviewed by television stations, radio reporters, and writers. expect to participate in different kinds of peaceful marches. expect to march in solidarity with unions (CWA, Airline Pilots, Postal workers, etc) expect to meet a LOT of people. expect the unexpected.
when to come
I have put my life on hold and taken considerable risk personally to come here. I intend to leave to rejoin my life of employment and local activist responsibility Saturday night. I urge people to come here on Friday night or Saturday. If you come Saturday, try to arrive early as marches generally leave at 9am, and activities build from there. The weekday climax of events tends to be in the after-work hours when thousands of people converge here for a daily General Assembly in which anyone can have the ‘peoples mic’ (a system of human amplification) that can be witnessed on various youtube videos out there. I don’t know what specifically will be happening on that day, so I can’t provide any more details… but I don’t think it necessarily matters. This is ongoing, daily, and is not stopping. It is building, and in a few months this will be bigger than you or I can imagine. it’s not a promise, but it is an honest prediction…. and I would not have predicted it 4 days ago.
Towards the end of this LA Times article.
The hardships brought on by resource depletion along with the elite jockeying to protect their wealth and stay on top of a shrinking economy(which entails the heavy hand of an expanding national security state) will only strain the social fabric even further in the future. The result will inevitably be even more protest movements such as the one now developing. Before the fall of Mubarak earlier this year, there had been labor protests building every year in Egypt for the past decade. This is all the result of ‘neoliberal capitalism’, a more virulent form of capitalism:
Silence = Death
Thanks for posting the Henry Rollins clip. Exercising our freedom of speech is exactly what the protest movement is about.
The LA Times is feeling left out and is attempting to push THEIR own agenda. I get the distinct impression that mainstream media is desperate to get noticed and to pigeon hole the movement in order to slant public opinion to the benefit of their corporate bosses. Good luck with that. Compare the LA article to the above 1st hand account and that of Matt Stoller:
#OccupyWallStreet Is a Church of Dissent, Not a Protest.[quote]You can tell this is a somewhat different animal than other politicized gatherings. No one knows what to expect. There are no explicit demands. It’s not very large. And yet, celebrities are heading to Zuccotti Park. Wall Street traders are sneering and angry. The people there are getting press, but aren’t dominated by it. People are there just to be there, because it feels meaningful. The camp is clean and well-organized, and it feels relevant and topical rather than a therapy space for frustrated radicals. Just a block away is the New York Fed, a large, scary, and imposing building with heavy iron doors, video cameras, and a police presence that scream “go away”.[/quote][quote]The protesters are what you’d expect, a kind of hippie dippie group of students, anti-globalization activists, and antiwar movement actors. There are backrub circles, innumerable pizzas (“the food of revolutions”), but these people do not think of themselves as fringe in any sense. They believe themselves to represent all Americans who are frustrated by politics and finance. Whether or not this is true, what is happening is that there is a belief that their actions matter, that they themselves are moral beings who have dignity and power simply by the very act of self-expression. This is rare in radical activism, most of it is so infused with cynicism that self-marginalization, deadly irony, and mau mau’ing by professional liberals works to persuade protesters to believe themselves a sort of libertarian nihilists. Not so here. There are people wearing tape over their mouths, grandmothers for peace, signs about new death penalty icon Troy Davis, and signs with coherent messages about debt, the Fed, and various wars. Many of the organizers were inspired by Wisconsin and Egypt, by attacks on teachers, by corruption on Wall Street, by money in politics, and are just happy to be out in the streets after a long period of absence of formal protest.[/quote][quote]Many of the angry establishment liberals are frustrated that this protest has no top-down messaging strategy (this tweet from Dave Roberts of Grist in which he calls the protests “horrific” and “designed to discredit leftie protest” is representative). But these people, who represent the rump of support for Obama, are not part of the conversation here. The conversation is global. And you can sort of tell that this protest really bothers the community on Wall Street, stirring up deep existential questions for the people that work there, many of whom know there is a spectacle going on in the streets below.[/quote]
The protests in NYC certainly were a wake up call for me… the NYC white shirt (Mgt/Leadership) cop who pepper sprayed a group of young women who were corralled in a "pen" was the last straw for me. This is part of a bigger whole… the Supreme court granting the same free speech right to Corporations… etc. My own response as a suburban NYC resident is to email everyone I know (in suburban NYC) about the incident and indicate that my own form of protest is to keep my own business out of NYC. I will not be going in for any shows, events, or dinners until the NYPD reins in the brutality against those simply exercising free speech. To me, this is more fundamental than whether I agree with the protesters or not. I wrote in to the NYC police civilian complaint board as well to voice my boycott.
Note: This is not an indictment against all police officers.. in fact many I think were just as flabbergasted as I at the pepper spray incident. This is an indictment of NYPD leadership, and the creeping forward of Fascism.
Warning.. don’t watch this video unless you are prepared to get boiling mad… especially if you (like I) have a daughter who is young and idealistic;
WOW crazy video Jim.
I’m guessing the COP was yelling "Liberal, Unemployed, pot smoking Hippie" I have been on a few other sites (yahoo news and others) to read peoples reaction. The ignorance is endless. The majority of people think this is about poor people complaining and so on, and sticking to their left/right indoctrination programing coupled with their Talking Points and name calling. Exactly when did the unemployed/laid off make derivative bets that needed bailed out? …..i herd crickets
These Protest are about TRILLIONS going to Banks who did not earn what they got, fueling this insane derivatives bubble that cannot be funded, fractional reserve banking SCAM and people not being able to find livable wages. A great Trend Forecaster, Gerald Celente said this would eventually happen, and finally the chaos will be coming to America we see it.
Hmmm I wonder how much of those trillion in bailouts have a address that in located in the Cayman islands?
Is JP Morgan Getting a Good Return on $4.6 Million “Gift” to NYC Police? (Like Special Protection from OccupyWallStreet?)
No matter how you look at this development, it does not smell right. From JP Morgan’s website, hat tip Lisa Epstein:
JPMorgan Chase recently donated an unprecedented $4.6 million to the New York City Police Foundation. The gift was the largest in the history of the foundation and will enable the New York City Police Department to strengthen security in the Big Apple. The money will pay for 1,000 new patrol car laptops, as well as security monitoring software in the NYPD’s main data center.
New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly sent CEO and Chairman Jamie Dimon a note expressing “profound gratitude” for the company’s donation.
“These officers put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe,” Dimon said. “We’re incredibly proud to help them build this program and let them know how much we value their hard work.”
Perhaps I remember too much of the scruffy and not exactly safe New York City of the 1980s, where getting your wallet pinched was a pretty regular occurrence. My perception has been that police-related charities have relied overmuch on the never-stated notion that if you didn’t donate, you might not get the speediest response if you needed help. As a mere apartment-dweller, I can’t imagine that anyone could scan incoming 911 calls against a priority list. But the flip side is if I owned a retail store and thought the beat police would keep an extra eye on it if I gave to a police charity, it would seem like an awfully cheap form of insurance.
But what, pray tell, is this about? The JPM money is going directly from the foundation to the NYPD proper, not to, say, cops injured in the course of duty or police widows and orphans. But that is how the NYPD Police Foundation works. From its website:
The New York City Police Foundation, Inc. was established in 1971 by business and civic leaders as an independent, non-profit organization to promote excellence in the NYPD and improve public safety in New York City.
The Police Foundation supports programs designed to help the NYPD keep pace with rapidly evolving technology, strategies and training.
The New York City Police Foundation:
Provides resources that are not readily available through other means – to date over $100 million has been invested in 400+ innovative NYPD programs;
Serves as a vehicle for tax-exempt gifts and grants from individuals, businesses, and philanthropies;
Is the first municipal foundation of its kind in the country, and serves as a model for similar organizations in other cities;
Is the only organization authorized to raise funds on behalf of the NYPD and;
Does not solicit by telephone or use telemarketers.
The Police Foundation works closely with the Police Commissioner to develop a strategic program agenda. The Foundation encourages and supports NYPD programs in two main areas:
Projects, research studies, and equipment to improve the effectiveness of police activities; and
Education, training and skill development to strengthen the partnership between the police and the public.