I had an experience two days ago when I was on a train and a homeless person walked in. I was sitting in the corner seat by the window and the homeless person sat in the seat right next to me. Then he started speaking outwardly in French, but not to an particular person around him. I pretty much ignored him because I found the entire situation amusing.
I didn’t find this man’s position to be amusing. What I found amusing was every other passenger’s reaction to the man. They all had looks of uncertainty, or like they had just become guarded, or looks of disgust. I found the other passengers hysterical. Of course it’s New York so seeing a homeless man walk into a train, even if they are outwardly speaking in French, is not something that’s really going to strike me as too strange. However, I realized in that moment how much I’ve matured since a year ago.
A year ago unless the person actually smelled bad I wouldn’t have had much of a disgusted look, but I may have had the same look of uncertainty on my face. I certainly would have been on my guard for the person’s intentions or his next move. Two nights ago however, my reaction could have essentially been summed up like this: “Eh, it’s a homeless dude who’s drunk on a train. That’s funny he’s speaking in French. Whatever, he’s just having a beer and chilling. No big deal.”
This experience really made me reflect on how we are trained to view the homeless. We view them as scum, as pathetic existences, as people who should not be helped because they are at fault for their position. This is a very shameful viewpoint we have been trained to look through.
It really is because of the time I have spent with Occupy that my horizons have grown. I’m not referring to any work Occupy did for the homeless, I’m referring to the fact that over the past year I have had far more interactions with the homeless of this city. It has been an eye-opening experience.
I can’t really go into much detail on my experiences because there are no particular instances to really discuss. What I can say is, through spending a good amount of time at Occupy encampments after a while I had trouble telling apart Occupiers from homeless. This is because those Occupiers who sleep on the streets, even if they are doing it in political protest, they do it in the same frequency that a homeless person might even if they had homes to go to. After a while, so long as I recognized one person in the group of sleepers, I was able to associate openly with all others present. Obviously, there were times when I felt my personal space was slightly intruded upon, but it was never more than a hug or a kiss on the cheek. Those experiences were not malicious at all.
There was never any interest in asking me for anything, or any attempt to insult me, or to hurt me. The experiences were simply displays of affection. I have livestreamed so much, even if I don’t always remember the person, they recognize me. They appreciate my presence. They are happy to have me there, and I get a friendly greeting. There have been a few times someone asked me to find a song on YouTube for them with my phone. They needed the comfort of music for 5 minutes and I was always happy to oblige.
This has really caused my perspective of the homeless to change from “ugh, who are they…” to “eh, these are tough times, everyone is in bad shape, no one is really trying to help these people and they are people just like everyone else trying to survive.”
I don’t pretend to understand just how hard things are for them. I do come from a much better position and I’m grateful. All I can really say is, over the past year, I’ve been exposed to a great many more of the problems facing those people written off by society at large. As a result of this exposure I can sympathize with them, understand the potential systematic causes which led them to where they are now, and not freak out when we are within 15 feet of one another.
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So the Students who were pepper sprayed by Lieutenant Pike last year are getting nearly $1,000,000 from the University in a settlement that grants each student $30,000 and an additional $250,000 for their attorneys to split. There’s also an additional $100,000 to be set aside for anyone who can prove they were arrested or pepper-sprayed during the November 18, 2011 demonstration.
Here is an article on it:
Based on the title of the blog I suppose it sounds like this settlement is how I think the Students at UC Davis won big. It’s not. Yes this is a big win for them. However, I’d prefer to focus on something which no one else did back when the video of the demonstration and brutality went viral.
It made my blood boil seeing Lieutenant Pike pepper-spray those students with the same casual nature he might use to water plants. However, after he did this, and the students who were seated were arrested something else even more magical happened. What happened was a beautiful display of discipline, courage, strength in numbers, and overall solidarity.
Here is the video so I can reference it:
UC Davis pepper-spraying
After the demonstrators were arrested and taken away the crowd begins to chant in unison, with anger “SHAME ON YOU! SHAME ON YOU!” At around the (3:18) mark the attitude of the officers changes. They begin to realize they are surrounded by a bunch of extremely angry students. Immediately the officers regroup into Spartan defensive formation (4:05) approx.
Despite the training all these officers have received before getting their badges they still saw the need to regroup and assess how to proceed in the given situation. This group of unarmed students chanting “SHAME ONE YOU!” managed to unsettle these 20 (approx) officers in helmets; some with paintball guns (I assume) prepared if necessary. Full-blown Spartan defense formation (4:23).
The officers continue to inch back slowly, very mindful of the angry crowd around them chanting “WHOSE UNIVERSITY?! OUR UNIVERSITY!!!” at about (5:52).
Then at about the (6:15) mark magic happens. A mic-check beings: “We are willing! To give you a brief moment! Of peace! So that you may take your weapons! And our friends! And go! Please do not return! We’re giving you a moment of peace!” The crowd then starts chanting “YOU CAN GO! YOU CAN GO!” (6:56)
The officers are now instructed to turn around and that it is time to leave by I think Lieutenant Pike (he’s holding a pepper-spray canister). The crowd of students at UC Davis immediately erupts in cheers and celebration. They’ve won this battle, in several ways. The most obvious way is because they used strength in numbers to force the officers to leave. The less obvious ways are because, even after seeing their friends pepper-sprayed in a manner that was brutal enough to send this video to viral status, they didn’t become violent. They remained vigilant. They stood their ground and made a statement, and this statement sent the officers away in shame. To me this is the focus of the video. Having watched the video all the way through when it was going viral, it was this last part of the video which made me tremble for about an hour, in shock and inspiration (I’m not exaggerating, I really trembled for that long) when I first saw it.
Obviously the news media focused on the first few minutes when we saw garden-hose pepper-spraying, because “if it bleeds it reads” and brutality is what sells. They also didn’t focus on the latter part because that could have given too much inspiration to see (excuse my speculation). Seeing the brutality was what was needed to sell papers and air time and that was all they were interested in. I have a feeling as well, since it’s the internet generation and we don’t really have the patience to watch a video for 8 minutes (especially after wanting to curse out police for the pepper-spraying); many didn’t wait until the end anyway.
I’ve somewhat digressed into a broader criticism but the fact remains where the last few minutes of the video are the most important to learn from; not the first part. As a livestreamer the first part really just strikes me as more of the same. I’ve seen brutality in NYC. I’ve been on countless Occupy demonstrations. The moments which really stand out most to me are those when we stand our ground in a group, show vigilance, solidarity, and make the police stop enforcing the fact that for some arbitrary reason “we can’t have food in Zuccotti Park/Liberty Square.” Yes, that actually happened once…
So yes, the students of UC Davis won big in their lawsuit for police brutality. However, I recommend everyone watch over this video again and ask ourselves which part of the video is more meaningful. People getting the crap kicked out of them for civil disobedience? Or people standing strong and, despite understandable rage, not becoming aggressive and ultimately, winning a battle where their friends were just arrested moments earlier? We all have our own impressions of which part of the video is more meaningful, and we’re all welcome to these impressions. Personally though, I like the feeling I get when I stand with my brothers and sisters in solidarity for what we know is right, and continue the fight to win it long after we were attacked by what are essentially the pawns of a greater evil.
What about you?
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When explaining what I do with others I am often faced with a question: How do I relate what I do to people? Do I say “I am a journalist;” do I say that “I’m a journalist covering the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations;” do I say “I’ve been involved in the Occupy Movement and I help to film its development.”
I know how I view myself. I am an activist first, an Occupier second, and a journalist third. I ended up as a journalist by chance after going to Occupy Wall Street because I was pissed off about how things were and thought there needed to be a change. How do I relate this issue which is so unnecessarily complex to people who may frown on activism, or anyone who doesn’t see why you can’t just work within the system?
Then you have the deeper issue of how people define journalism. Some people do not accept the idea of independent journalism, with no “credentials.” That these “credentials” may be distributed by agencies with interests other than just reporting the news is irrelevant. So far as I see it journalism can be defined as someone who can report the facts accurately, as objectively as possible (even if a natural slant may come through slightly), and can give some backing and explanation for how things came to be as they are to create the issue currently being reported on.
What is the best way to convey what I do as a livestreamer, or what others may do as livetweeters, bloggers, or filmmakers?
My goal is always to give people an alternate means of information. A side benefit of what I’m doing is the gradual creation of a historical archive of the Occupy Movement.
Another very important question is this: As many people seek information from those whom they view as “trusted sources,” what makes someone a “trusted source?” What happens though when you are not considered a trusted source?
What it ultimately comes down it is, whose word-of-mouth do you trust more. Word-of-mouth is generally considered anything you hear from a friend, your family, or “through the grapevine.” However, unless you actually on scene when the event is occurring anything you learn about, regardless of whether or not it is from a “trusted source,” is going to be something conveyed in their words, based on what information that person has been given, and how that person has come to understand the information so they can further understand how to present it. I this not word-of-mouth too, even if it’s from CNN, ABC, NBC, Fox News, or an independent journalist like myself?
Where do you draw the line and come to your own conclusions?
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Yesterday September 21st, 2012, I attended an event called “99 Blitz.” The idea here was to go into different stores and expose the ways store management treats its workers to the customers present. We ended up not going into several stores but rather just going to 1st avenue and 14 street and handing out flyers by Brick Oven Pizza. I found out shortly afterward Brick Oven Pizza is owned by the same company as Hot and Crusty. Another store were the workers are currently on strike for better wages and treatment. Brick Oven Pizza was the name adopted shortly after the workers began to organize so as to distance the pizza place from Hot and Crusty.
The actual flyer we were handing out read:
“The company Hot and Crusty (Brick Oven Pizza) did not pay overtime hours to some of our co-workers. We have been verbally abused by management because of our physical appearances. In some instances, we were called idiots and ignorant. Two months ago, management referred to one of our co-workers as a fat idiot. When we brought our grievances to the management, they began to retaliate against us. They fired some of our co-workers and then began a campaign of intimidation against us. We want to bring public awareness about the working conditions inside this store because we work hard to provide a good service to you and the only thing we are asking is to be treated as Human Beings.”
In attending this demonstration I had something of a realization. There is a lot we take for granted in this country. The conditions and treatment workers at Brick Oven Pizza receive is very poor, but how did we get the current perks of working life now? I’m asking about things like weekend days, or sick leave, or maternity leave, or paid vacation, or overtime pay, or an end to child labor, or better working conditions, or pensions. The list goes on. We have what we do right now because we organized. We realized that we were treated poorly; we realized that without the workers nothing would get done; we realized we deserved more; We organized and fought for a better life.
Thinking about these things made me realize how the workers of Hot and Crusty, and Brick Oven Pizza are at the beginning of their struggle. Early unions in America were not respected and were barely recognized when they started their efforts. It is likely the general public shrugged them off at first as well, just like many people shrugged us off as we handed out flyers in front of Brick Oven Pizza, but they kept going. Due to their resilience these workers earned for themselves what we have been born into.
Before I go praising how wonderful things are. Let me say how aware I am of these benefits we have fought for have been slowly stripped away over time. The Brick Oven Pizza workers were the most prominent example of organizing and labor struggle yesterday, but this does not mean the rest of us aren’t facing cut-backs too. The workers of Con Ed recently were locked out over a refusal to sign a new contract which would have turned their pensions into 401k’s and would have made them pay for their own health insurance. They got their health insurance back after about two weeks I believe. I think they also got their pensions too. However, as I understand it any new employee working for Con Ed might not have a pension under the new contract. If the outcome I have described is incorrect please correct me in the comments. Need I mention the number of people in this country who work 2 or 3 jobs just to support a family’s basic needs? Need I mention how many jobs have been shipped overseas to help the employers profits at the worker’s expense?
My point here was never to say we have a perfect system and there clearly is a lot which is under attack. My point is how I can understand where the workers of Brick Oven Pizza and Hot and Crusty are coming from, and it’s more than just from a sympathetic or moral sentiment. Unfortunately, for those who have lost their jobs, I do believe what will need to happen (to bring jobs back to America) is to improve the educational system here (where America regularly competes in the sciences at the level of a 3rd-World country) so we can compete for the jobs which are shipped overseas. We will also need to take part and help organize labor movements overseas. The economy is a global market now and we must learn to adapt and work together.
As some food for thought I am linking a Wikipedia article to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s (FDR) second Bill of Rights, which was never ratified by congress. If you check the link out and you might understand why it wasn’t ratified. It’s terrible for business.
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So literally last night an email was passed around in one of the affinity groups I’m in citing an article about an Anti-Occupy Wall Street/Anti-Obama rally to take place in New York. The rally was part of the “Obama’s Failing Agenda Tour.” It was paid for by Americans For Prosperity (AFP), the SuperPAC funded by the Billionaire industrialist Koch Brothers, who co-opted the original Tea Party movement to get the current Republican congress (Headed by John Boehner) elected. There was a buzz in the listserv about attending the demonstration and making an ass of them. I was really looking forward to getting some sleep, but as soon as I saw that I was down for streaming. Even if no one went to it I would have gone and been the most sarcastic person on the planet. As it turned out we had about 6 people go there to fool around.
I get to Times Square at around 9:30 and see no one from the affinity group. So I headed to 6th and 50th because, whether I was alone or not, I was gonna have fun at that demonstration. I ended up finding the group and we headed to the rally with signs reading “I dream of a white president…Just like they used to be,” “Every Man For Himself – Jesus,” “Get the government out of my social security,” “Let them eat cake,” and others. With friends I could livestream, I was just gonna watch the magic unfold…
We get there at the end of a speech, from a paid representative for AFP doing the normal, tax the rich less BS. We quietly join the crowd and hold up our signs. Once they realized what we were doing the Tea Partiers began efforts to block our signs. Standing in front of us, or holding their signs in front of ours. What ever they could do to shield us and our infiltration from the cameras. Didn’t work. By the way I saw two Tea Partiers holding signs that reading “Thank you Koch Brothers” and “99% Shut Up.”
Once the speaker finished we started getting more attention. Our intention was just to engage them in discussion, and we did just that. An Occupier using the pseudonym Warren Bancroft, representing his facebook group Americans For Inequality. Took the Tea Partiers to school.
Warren Bancroft talks about how the banks didn’t get a bailout (0:17)
A woman gets baffled when Warren Bancroft talks about his group Americans For Inequality (0:39)
Warren Bancroft talks about the need to reverse the Narrative (0:30)
Warren Bancroft talks about how to deal with inequality (0:54)
It was a great action and we ended up in tons of different News outlets.
The guardian even came out with an article called “Occupy Wall Street activists commandeer anti-Occupy Wall Street rally”
Read it here
This was such a success, and we completely stuck it to the Koch Brothers. It is very likely the Koch Brothers planned this rally to counteract the success (maybe) of the Occupy Wall Street 1-year anniversary. Well I’d say Occupy took the reigns and built on the momentum of the September 17th day of action.
Happy Birthday Occupy!
Also, “like” Americans For Inequality on facebook!
As the 1-year anniversary is now a few days behind us I wanted to check out the Occupy University which has been going on for a few months I believe, at Madison Square Park in Manhattan. I’d been curious about this for a while but never had the chance to go. I figured now was the perfect time for a few reasons.
1) It was a good way to Occupy while still relaxing.
2) It was something I hadn’t seen yet and love watching the development of the movement.
3) I missed the discussions we used to have at Liberty Square back in the original days of the encampment.
4) It would be good to stream some discussion to reflect the more educational/sit-down aspect of the movement. After just filming 17hrs of marching, demonstration, disruption, occupy-police interaction and celebration it would be nice to show what we do when we aren’t making a scene.
It was great. I get to Madison Square Park and had to look around before I saw a big cluster of people. Once I saw this I headed over. There were probably about 7 groups in total sitting in circles having discussions. One group talking OccupyTheory; one group talking about organizational structures (top down vs. horizontal movement-building); one group talking about about swarm tactics; one group talking about the Labor Movement in the time of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR); one group talking about the history of slavery; many more.
I chimed in a few times on the group about organizational structures because the diagrams being presented, although very interesting and effective, weren’t so clear about where exactly the educational aspects came in. As the presenter explained, education comes in at a few levels such as organization and recruitment, media, and wherever else.
I really feel it’s crucial for Occupy to put more emphasis on the educational aspects of things. It might be, as a streamer, I’ve been more inclined to to go actions. If this is the case the fault is mine. However, if there is too much emphasis being placed on the organization of actions and not so much on outreach and learning the movement will have a serious problem with growing.
The reason Occupy started was not only because a few people were crazy enough to stand up and protest. It was also because a few people actually bothered to research things and not just say “well this is the way it is and there’s not much we can do.” Most of the time in society, when people look to cause change, they do so because they were exposed to a potentially different way of doing things. This makes people reflect on their own situations and work to improve. Many people in this country, I’m sorry to say, are quite uninformed about what’s going on. This is largely due to the amount of media we consume, which is larger than any other country in the world if I’m not mistaken. When you are dealing with media consumption, you are essentially dealing with the consumption of propaganda. Propaganda which has its sole motive in profits and therefore will not encourage its audience to think outside the box, or to deviate to any other source besides itself. When you aren’t encouraged to deviate to other sources, it is left completely in the hands of a media-saturated audience to do their own research. Most of the time, the Television is a far more preferred source of information.
So I went to the Occupy university to show any interested viewers that there is more going on than just confrontations with police. I was quite please with what I saw. A learning environment with involved and attentive discussion on all topics. I honestly could not tell if any of the people talking actually had degrees in their subjects. However, if you think about it, when you get a degree it just requires a lot of research and then for a paper to be handed in to a teacher who will grade it and critique what you’ve wrote. Chances are though, if you know how to cross check your facts, you can give (and participate in) an intelligent discussion on just about any topic. A teacher may be nice because anyone with a degree is expected to have gone through years of study in a given subject. However, in order to have a discussion for an hour or two to open someones mind and show them other possibilities, an efficient researcher can certainly host or give a enlightening dialogue.
I was happy with what I saw.
Discussion about FDR and his relationships with Labor Unions (video length 2:41)
Discussion on movement building and organization (video length 8:41)
Discussion on movement building and organization cont’d then me giving a recap and showing other groups (video length 13:29)
I want to also shout out to the Chicago Teachers Union currently on strike! Search for “#ctustrike” or “#teachers” on twitter to find out more about the ongoing demonstrations.
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I set my alarm to go off at 5:00 so that I’d be able to leave by 5:30 to get to 55 Water (The Vietnam Veteran’s memorial) at 6:30. The alarm went off and I got up, but I figured “I showered last night I don’t have much to do before I leave, I can lay down for a second again and then head out.” I wake up again at 6:30…
I throw clothes on, pack up my battery pack, and book it. I get to Wall street at 7:15. OccupyTime is a wonderful thing as they are still organizing.
A group of about 300 people leaves from 55 water at around 7:30 and we march with intent to form The People’s Wall in front of the NYSE. This action’s intent would be to block anyone from entering the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). It is no surprise this action really just ended up with us marching in circles around the financial district. The area was heavily fortified and there was no way the police were going to let us anywhere near the NYSE. This was not terribly surprising but it was certainly discouraging to me. No matter back to 55 Water St to regroup.
Now for the action entitled “99 Revolutions.” This is when the fun began. We left the Veteran Memorial in smaller Affinity Groups. The idea for 99 Revolutions was to disperse in small groups and block traffic at intersections in a very decentralized manner. The theory: the police know how to deal with a centralized group. The police will not be as able to stop a great many different groups, in various locations, around the financial district. Some groups would get stopped yes, but many would likely be able to cause traffic jams. This plan worked brilliantly.
I happened by about several different intersections where traffic was being slowed down considerably due to the protester and police presence. I saw several arrests as well. Here are some videos:
Congestion at William and Pine (video length approx 4 mins):
Arrests resulting from the congestion at William and Pine (video length approx 5 mins):
At the 3:00 mark of this video you can hear the crowd chanting “We! Pay Your Salary!”
Marching in circles, blocking traffic, at Beaver and South William St. (video length approx 1:45)
More at the same intersection of Beaver and South William St. (video length approx 1:45)
More at the same intersection of Beaver and South William St. (video length approx 2:00) (dancing in street begins at 1:27)
Chanting “A-Anti-Anticapitalista” in the same intersection of Beaver and South William St. (video length approx :18)
It is very much worth noting the success of this tactic of intersection blockades can be seen through the action at this intersection lasted about 5 and a half minutes. During that time. Not one police officer came to stop us. I heard somewhere the officers were busy on dealing with our successful congestion of Broadway
The intersection blockades lasted until 10, at which point we all met up at Bowling Green (the location of the Wall Street Bronze Bull Statue) for an environmental action. As usual the police had the bull completely surrounded and guarded from the threat of protesters who, at most, would have had difficult time putting a dent in the statue because it is made of bronze.
To gather everyone together, all 3 to 400 of us we had Reverend Billy Talen doing his thing with the Stop Shopping Choir
Next there was a theatrical performance about the environment. To help the show the Rude Mechanical Orchestra rocked some background music:
Jill Stein spoke next
My feeling about Jill Stein is as follows. I like what she says. However, there’s no chance she’ll ever win election. Until there is serious electoral reform (at least) the only candidates who will ever have a chance to win are those from the corporate whore parties (Democrats/Republicans). So though Jill Stein seems cool to me, I can’t get overly excited about her. At most I hope she inspires others.
After this we took a short break and had an Action Spokes council in Battery Park to discuss what actions would take place for the rest of the day. I didn’t attend this because my phone was not charging well off my battery which meant I needed a new cable. I headed to J&R. This unfortunately did not pan out well since J&R is owned by Jewish people and S17 was the first day of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. So I looked around, saw a Sprint store, assumed a cell phone store would have a cable to charge a cell phone, and went there to buy it. Success!
This is also when I realized I had an opportunity to get lunch so I hit up a halal cart and went to eat in Liberty Square. I met with friends, chatted, and nourished myself on Chicken and Rice. I was also informed of a march that would be taking place by VOCAL NY I believe after the rally that was about to take place.
I want to say right off the bat, I respect and appreciate every organization that came to the rally and said their piece. The more community groups we have the better. The more organized we are the better. The more we work to fix our own problems instead of relying on a leader the better. However, I really really really really really really really hate rallies. I find them incredibly boring and scripted. I can appreciate an organized march with a scripted demonstration within it. However, I get bored out my mind standing in one place for an hour listening to community organizations plug themselves. Some people like rallies because of the structuring, programming, and the way that they can learn about organizations. For learning about organizations, yes, rallies are cool. However, most of the time the speakers at rallies just say relatively generic stuff which appeals to audiences interested in the same causes they are.
Anyway, after the rally I got wind of another action to happen at the World Financial Center. I raced over.
As soon as I got there I noticed there was private event going on (it seemed to be a car show). I hit up the celly loop to get the word out. The new plan was apparently to meet up by the marina. Yup there was a crowd there of probably 3 to 400. We had a short discussion over the fact that there were people in Liberty Square who wanted to join us. This however would have taken too long. The group ended up splitting at this point. One group went to Goldman Sachs to do a civil disobedience where I believe 5 people were arrested. Another group went to the FDR drive to block traffic for about a minute. I went with the group to Goldman Sachs. Unfortunately my camera angles weren’t very good here so there’s not much to post.
Next we went back to Liberty Square. By this point the atmosphere was vibrant in the park. Full of celebration, discussion, nostalgia, singing, dancing, drumming. It was just like the days of the Occupation when the movement had finally gotten mainstream attention to draw in the crowds, and we hadn’t put up tents yet. It was perfect and words can’t describe it, just watch…
(approx video length 30:00)
The next march we did was at about 3:30 and we wanted Wall Street. The restrictions on the area had dropped a bit from the morning’s attempts and we got so far as a block from the New York Stock Exchange. Upon reaching Nassau Street and Pine Street I had already made my way to the front of the march and I got a surprise. THE PEOPLE’S GONG! It was unfortunately cut short as the police realized what we were doing and viewed it as something which could be a potential “win” if we were allowed to recite the whole thing; so they pushed the entire crowd back. It was awesome though.
At this point I took down my feed and needed lunch. My lunch had left me relatively unfulfilled, I was dehydrated, and dealing with the shock of being EXTREMELY close to police brutality on the last march (I saw an officer ram an Occupier’s head into the scaffolding on Cortlandt St. I’d post this footage, but even though my phone never showed any kind of signal problem, the footage is no longer in my archive and I never deleted it).
The GA happened at 8 in Liberty Square and I just wanted to relax for a bit and talk to friends, and gather myself. I took my feed down for maybe an hour.
At around 10 was when we got the first sign of the police saying “okay kiddies, time to end the celebration.” The lights over the park turned off, and the police presence had grown to some degree around the park. This caused some concern amongst those present in the park which a few people (GA provocateurs from back when) took full advantage of and almost manipulated us into a march. A march would have led to a beat down as it was after hours, and past sundown, in New York. We were saved though. Occu-cake was served.
(video length approx 3:30)
The rest of the night consisted of the police intimidation tactics and not much else. They shined 6 floodlights into the park. Yes, 6 floodlights, because 7 would have been too many… They came in and escalated the environment for no reason and then left. We reacted with some cop hate getting spewed on one side of the park while people danced for Anarchy on the other side. Some of us dealt with the the police escalation with a massive Occupy Ohm Circle. It was a wonderful, trademark, way to end the 1 year anniversary.
I remember, when the park was raided back on November 15 and the newspapers were saying “Occupy faces an uncertain future,” my response was “the raid saved the movement because it forced us to band together and stand our ground.” The raid also gained us a lot of support from the general public as, on raid night, the Occupy Wall Street trend eclipsed ALL other trends on twitter. Everyone who was involved in the movement just laughed at the media’s death sentencing of us. We got together and we organized, we did road trips, we made friends, we started building alliances with community organizations. We started Interoccupy. We resurfaced on May Day and inspired tons of other groups to join the May Day march (who’d never wanted to associate with it before). We went to the NATO summit in Chicago in spite of the fact that everyone was terrified of what might happen to us, and we ended up becoming very acquainted with Michigan Avenue lol. We held the National Gathering. We did a 99 mile march. We went to the RNC and the DNC.
Now however I do need to ask whether or not we face an uncertain future. Occupy succeeded in changing the conversation of the nation, which is no easy task. There has also been a lot of inspired activism from Con Ed workers, the Chicago Teacher’s strike, and smaller more under-unionized groups like Car Wash Workers. It’s wonderful how we’re starting to see a growth in activism in the country. I do need to ask though. What does Occupy do now? We spent a year complaining, and there was a LOT to complain about. However, amidst the complaining, we’re going to have to start offering solutions. Maybe not concrete solutions, but we need to start offering ideas and having discussions. You can’t only talk about the negatives without exploring ways to fix them. This does not necessarily mean reforms. It just means we have to start giving people reasons why they should still believe in us.
The anniversary proved that Occupy never died (Even though the Mainstream Media has said the 1500 protesters in Zuccotti Park/Liberty Square only numbered “a few hundred” protesters on S17). What do we have to show for it though? Great, we never left, what did we learn in over the past year about ourselves and about organization? Where did we mess up? Where did we succeed? Where did we wander with a lack of understanding what we were doing? How do we do outreach? How do we communicate better with one another? What does it mean to Occupy?
No matter what the answer is we can’t be stuck on particulars. In-fighting wont solve anything, and we’ve seen too much of that already. We have to work towards the world that we want, but we CANNOT be certain of what that world will be. The main reason for this is, we’re not prophets, and we if we try to be extremely rigid in our visions of the future, we’ll fail at accomplishing any vision for the future besides a dispersed, and divided one. One of the values of true Anarchy, as I understand it, is learning to respect one another and accept our differences, coexisting but making sure we hold each other accountable. Can we do this? We wont reach solve everything in a year from now, and we wont do it in two years either. However, what can we accomplish in a year? What would be significant, yet practical?
I’m in this for the long haul, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
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So really should be going to sleep and resting up for tomorrow, but instead I’m going to write this up because I’m stupid. Today started off with a march from Gansevoort and West St (the construction sight of the Spectra Pipeline). I got to this late and had to log into another channel to get directions and a location for the march.
The march was a lot of fun. I caught up with it around 3rd avenue and 14 street and followed it to Union Square where we saw a few speak outs and some music from the Guitarmy. Then we marched to Foley Square where Occupy Town Square would take place with a permitted concert. Yes, that’s correct, Occupy Wall Street got a permit for something. Hell has frozen over…
On the way to Union Square there were two arrests of members of the group Code Pink. Both arrests were of women. These arrests were done to quell the momentum of the march as the arrests were of two of the main speakers. As a result of both arrests the remaining Code Pink members lost their initiative to make their statement in front of Bank of America. This is unfortunate because Code Pink rocks.
Anyway upon getting to Foley Square I took my feed down to go and exchange the Galaxy S3 I bought on S15. The next Galaxy was just as bad and didn’t connect to my hotspot. So now I’m using the original phone which unfortunately means I can’t livetweet pictures. Also, the biggest issue I have is my hotspot is not very good. I need one that is more reliable unfortunately this costs a lot more and I don’t have the money for monthly fees.
The Occupy Town Square was fun and we had nice music. Most of the artists I wasn’t terribly impressed by but Tom Morello played and he always kicks ass. At the end of his set he also asked the Occupiers present to rush the stage
Following this we had an action spokes council meeting… I don’t wanna say much about this until things are carried out tomorrow. I have opinions but I’d prefer to comment on the events after seeing them in action and not speculating about them from a theoretical perspective. The only thing I will say is the meeting was held in a humorous location… 1 Police Plaza lol.
Next we had Occupy Rosh Hashanah, which was really beautiful. I was surprised how many Occupiers could accurately mic-check in Hebrew haha. We broke Challah bread, drank Grape Juice (no alcohol in public) and blew Shofar. I thought some of the readers were REALLY over the top but whatever. It was a nice night.
Now the fun begins…
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10am to 1pm: Spectra Pipeline march with Guitarmy starting at Gansevoort and Hudson River Greenway
I believe this march will end up at Foley Square for the next event.
12pm to 7pm: Occupy Town Square Thomas Paine Park
1pm to 6pm: Concert: 99 Revolutions.
(These will be in the same place so I’ll probably be moving around)
7:30 Occupy Rosh Hashanah Services at Liberty Plaza
10 I will try and make the Occupy The Times Square Big Screen event.
7:30 People’s Wall at the NYSE
I have no idea what else is gonna happen after this lol
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