It’s Day 20 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. Yesterday, in the biggest action yet, over 20,000 people marched in Lower Manhattan. Occupations have sprung in over 200 cities all over the country. Occupy Wall Street is only getting bigger.
AlterNet has the latest updates — check back for continuing coverage.
“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 videohere.
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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 PM The 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.
– 12:45 AFL-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.