United States of Occupation

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Weatherman Sez Occupy

From our friends at Occuprint.org

Liberty Square is where it all began. But far from Wall Street, in parks and plazas and public spaces across the nation, people outraged at financial crimes and political skulduggery have slept and eaten and talked and cared for one another — a new American civic space has been created. In every corner of the country, the occupation has arrived.

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In response to Mayor Michael Hancock’s demand for a spokesperson, Occupy Denver elected the movement’s first leader. Her name is Shelby, and she is a 3-year-old border collie dog. Because Shelby can “bleed, breed, and show emotion,” Occupy Denver reaffirms that she is “more of a ‘person’ than a corporation.” Occupiers also demanded that “U.S. law be followed as it concerns providing an adequate interpreter,” so it’s up to the mayor to figure out Shelby’s demands.

Camping out with strangers is never easy, even under the best conditions. So the Idahoans who’ve joined Occupy Boise have developed an outlet: a grievance booth, designed to collect evidence for the injustices stated in the Declaration of the Occupation. There, people are able to articulate their reasons for joining the movement, vent their frustrations and tell personal stories.

While Occupy Wall Street sits in the belly of the financial beast, Occupy Detroit symbolizes the devastation wrought by those financial and corporate elites: “Wall Street is the source of the problem,” occupiers there say, “and Detroit is the result.” Since the occupation of Grand Circus Park began on October 14, the camp has risen to the challenge of building a political movement in a city blighted by vacant homes, buildings, lots and schools by deploying its resources to provide for homeless Detroiters.

Occupy Los Angeles set up tents on the steps of City Hall, where their proximity to Skid Row has been both a blessing and a curse. Within days, Skid Row residents started showing up for food and water. Thefts and violence soon followed. But since working with local advocacy groups like LA-CAN (Los Angeles Community Action Network), starting an Occupy the Hood affinity group and instituting a policy of inclusive self-policing, security has improved. Many at the camp take pride in this accomplishment.

Occupy Tucson began their encampment on October 15 at Armory Park, just two blocks from the city’s financial district. Each night thereafter, police entered the park at the 10:30 p.m. curfew with a pad of citations; though each carried more than $1,000 in fines, determined Tusconans continued to hold the park. On the evening of November 3, Tuscon police rousted the encampment. Everyone was forced to pack up and leave. They walked a few blocks up South Stone Ave. and reoccupied at Veinte De Agosto Park.

Police trashed Occupy Bostons encampment on October 11, but the protesters returned and several hundred people are now sleeping in Dewey Square. With a unanimous mandate from their general assembly, the legal working group is preparing a preemptive lawsuit which would ask for injunction relief against any future attempt to evict the occupiers from Dewey Square. In light of recent crackdowns, they filed it on November 15, and the next day won an injunction against any upcoming eviction attempt.

In Albany, Governor Andrew Cuomo asked Mayor Jerry Jennings to clear the encampment near the State Capitol, but Jennings and the city police department refused. Tennesseeans scored a victory when a U.S. district judge issued a temporary restraining order against a curfew the police were trying to enforce on the Occupy Nashville encampment at Legislative Plaza.

In the middle of the night on October 25, some 500 riot police surrounded Occupy Oakland’s Oscar Grant Park, tore down the encampment and arrested at least 105 people. That afternoon, more than a thousand people marched back to the camp and though the police once more met them with force—tear gas, rubber bullets and flash grenades—the occupiers took back the park and immediately called for a city-wide general strike. On the same night, across the bay in San Francisco, police backed down on their threat to evict the occupation.

Around the world people poured into the streets in solidarity with Occupy Oakland. One week later on November 2, instructors held teach-ins, dozens of businesses closed voluntarily and demonstrators took to the streets of Oakland for the general strike, periodically clashing with police and eventually shutting down the Port of Oakland. In Los Angeles, New York, Denver and dozens of other cities across the country, people marched to show their support for the strike.

Occupy DC is keeping the heat on at Capitol Hill, with arrests recorded at a super-committee hearing, an occupation of General Atomics (a defense contractor that specializes in drone aircraft) and the periodic shut-down of the Chamber of Commerce. “Thus far the police have been a model that Oakland and New York and other police could learn from,” said occupier David Swanson. “I’ve watched a police officer refuse the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s request to arrest us as we blocked the Chamber’s doors.”

On November 6, thousands from university, non-profit and community groups nationwide joined Occupy DC to protest the Keystone XL pipeline project. Forming an unbroken chain around the White House, demonstrators called on President Obama to reject Transcanada’s plan to send polluting tar sand crude from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. It was postponed.

On November 3, Occupy Wall Street convened a People’s Trial of Goldman Sachs, with Chris Hedges and Cornel West presiding and victims of foreclosures and public lay-offs speaking as witnesses. After finding Goldman Sachs culpable for “fraudulent manipulation of financial markets,” hundreds marched to its headquarters, where the NYPD arrested 16 people.

At Occupy Austin, as elsewhere across the country, protesters have relocated private funds through bank actions. The occupation’s Bank Action Committee has overseen transfers from Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Chase to local credit unions. Texan credit unions reported 47,000 people had joined and $326 million was moved in October — four times the usual growth rate. Nationwide, the Credit Union National Association reports 650,000 people have joined credit unions and have added $4.5 billion in new savings accounts in the past month.

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As of this writing, there have been demonstrations in nearly 1,000 cities worldwide. From Anchorage to Orlando, encampments are being created by people who likely never imagined they would sleep in a park in winter. Even Antarctica has been “occupied,” thanks to researchers at McMurdo Station who braved the cold to show solidarity with the movement. And though police continue to arrest occupiers across the nation, they are quickly learning that while you can arrest bodies, you can’t arrest an idea.

This article was published in our fifth print issue on November 18, 2011.

Reporting by Jon Chisum, John Dennehy, Brad Edmondson, Ruth Fowler, Charlie Lockwood, Joanie Masters, Keesha Renna, Kevin Schiesser, Jenna Spitz, David Swanson, JoAnn Wypijewski

This post is also available in: Spanish

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  • http://twitter.com/jturner97601 Jennifer Turner

    Thank you front liners. You put a name to the rage felt across this country. I’m campaigning from here. Because of your effort and sacrifice, I can engage people in conversation about the unfairness that is occurring and encourage them to look deeper and find areas in their own lives that have been effected by corporate greed. Just about 99% of the time, they are sure to find something outrageous =) THANK YOU!!

  • http://twitter.com/agaitaarino Alex Gaita Ariño

    Hi from Spain, compañeros! From our experience here, occupations/camps are a great start, but one eventually moves on (or expands) to different tactics. We managed to get thirteen different political parties in our Congress a few days ago. That was something great, even more diversity than we had 35 years ago, when our dictator died and we were starting with democracy (again).
    That was mostly our work, the work of the 15M movement (we started our “Occupy” movement after a demonstration on May 15th). Many over here are hoping you will manage to do something serious for your next election, to get more independents in, or maybe third parties, whatever works for you. But the two-party machinery -at least for Spain- is very much part of the problem, and we the 99% can do better. It won’t be fixed in a year, but one needs to start somewhere.

  • Carmine Gorga

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have accomplished so much already — and you are just at the beginning. Be proud of yourselves.

  • http://twitter.com/Kishin_D Jonathan S

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Participism I’m plastering this link everywhere because I think people need to know about it. It’s a model for a country we’d really love. As an added bonus, so few have heard of Parecon and Participism that no pundit has twisted it into a pejorative.

    Currently, to me at least, America = Christmas. Both have fantastic ideals but have been perverted into paragons of consumerism.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tupak-Huehuecoyotl/100000041175116 Tupak Huehuecoyotl
  • April in New York

    Why no mention, as usual, of any Occupy sites in the South. In New York, it was noted that Zuccotti Park lacked “diversity”. Finally a march was arranged for blacks and hispanics to walk downtown. Harlem is now majority white due to gentrification. So most of the integrating march was from the Bronx. New York is the third most segregated city in the country after Detroit and Milwaukee. A friend from upper Michigan has seen KKK signs there. There are at least six or seven occupy sites in NC, my home state, alone. No coverage. It’s usually bicoastal with one or two in flyover country, northern flyover country. Denver, or Milwaukee, for example. A friend who had been in the Civil Rights movement in NC the same time I was – in the mid sixties – hadn’t been back since, when he took a long drive to Florida. He was amazed at how it’s changed. Occupy Savannah, Ga, was integrated and full of smiling biracial couples holding hands. No more “Whites Only” water fountains, restrooms, and waiting rooms. I and other Southerners, some of us, drank out of those fountains, went in those colored restrooms, sat in those colored waiting rooms, unless we were told we were endangering those sitting there. He’s on air when Michael Moore says he did that. I don’t. Neither do other Southerners. He didn’t sit in at the crossroads of the main drags of a white majority town, now half called Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. He didn’t picket a segregated motel, as I did alone at age 18. Was spat at, cursed, things thrown at me. Best day of my life, It feels good to do what’s right. Blacks here understand that. Whites in New York ask “on which side” i.e of the Civil Rights Movement. African Americans point out “that’s why it was called a movement”. I don’t repeat this for myself, but because we’re dying off and no one’s interested. Why not? in the rest of the country its easier to think racism is all down South. On NPR recently a reporter asked Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Center, about “the South’s troubled history with race…” in regard to a horrible racist incident I missed, being out of the country. Morris replied “And the rest of the country.” End of interview. but not the end of story, I hope. That’s why I harp at the NYTimes when they call the same racist Jim Crow law exactly that in SC? but not in Wisconsin, or forfend, when it lands in New York State. They use the word discrimination or racial discrimination. That word belongs only in the South, where a reverse migration is occurring due to racist cops in New York. And other racist northern cities that just can’t wrap their minds around that fact. Unless they’re African American, of course.

  • Fred

    Thank you to all of you who put out cause ahead of everything else. You guys are truly Mt heroes and the reason we occupy. Although United States of Occupation sounds cool, I think the United Occupation of America sounds more in line with our solidarity. Just a minor touch, but that’s what I’ve been telling people.

  • Nono

    Barack Obama you are not president you are murderer and criminal and thief
    you are killing – usa – young men and innocents people just for stealing money and oil from arabic countries shame on you

  • Nono

    Barack Obama you are not president you are murderer and criminal and thief
    you are killing – usa – young men and innocents people just for stealing money and oil from arabic countries shame on you