#Occupied: Reports From the Front Lines

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Occupy Oakland's Move-In Day, #J28. Photo: Glenn Halog

This week in Occupy, Mitt Romney got mic-checked, Davos was #occupied, the President co-opted Occupy language in his #SOTU address and Occupy Oakland’s attempt to transform an abandoned building into a community center ended with 400 arrests and sparked coast-to-coast solidarity marches.

#On Saturday, January 28, Occupy Oakland commenced with “Move-In Day,” an attempt to establish a more permanent collective by converting the long-abandoned Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center into a social and political gathering place. The occupation began with a march, and as it reached the convention center it was met by a phalanx of police, preventing anyone from entering. Accounts on the ground and videos capturing the action show police blockading and kettling protesters until night fell, some of whom beg through tears “I just wanna go home! Please let us go home!” 400 were arrested, including journalists, such as Susie Cagle from AlterNet and Gavin Aronsen from Mother Jones, who delivered a detailed account.

Oakland PD traps demonstrators outside a YMCA. Photo: Guerrilla News

#As usual, AlterNet reports, the corporate media relied on police accounts, which painted protesters run amok, while more accurate reporting came from the livestreamers embedded in the action. Filmmaker Brandon Jourdan captured the Battle of Oak Street, where police fired tear gas, rubber bullets, bean bag rounds and concussion grenades at demonstrators. In a press conference, Mayor Jean Quan blamed the violence on the demonstrators and suggested that those who’ve been arrested multiple times over the course of the Occupy movement be barred from the city of Oakland. She also reportedly doesn’t bother to notify arrested protesters that charges have been filed against them. How did a liberal mayor who once marched with protesters in defiance of police fall so far?

#To understand more about the historical animosity between the people of Oakland and the Oakland police department, PBS’s Frontline reported last fall on the department’s troubled criminal history, which included brutalizing poverty-stricken West Oakland. Because the department refused to rein in its violent factions – though it had nine years to do so – it may be weeks away from being placed into federal control. It would be the first time a police department of a major American city was placed under federal receivership, but the infuriated judge seems likely to follow through on his threat – he was the one who moved California’s prison health care system under federal administration in 2005. Good luck, Oakland PD!

From Rochester, With Love. Photo: Johanna Grube

#The events in Oakland sparked solidarity marches the next day, #J29, in New York, Boston, Austin, Louisville, Tuscon, Des Moines, Vancouver, Baltimore and Detroit. In New York, police tried to divert an evening march – blocking demonstrators from crossing at crosswalks with green lights, arresting random women and men in the crowd – and “black bloc” protesters made an appearance, triggering a debate over their role in demonstrations. In Boston, Dewey Square was briefly reoccupied.

#Elsewhere, foreclosures are being #occupied in DetroitAtlanta and Chicago. In New York, protesters interrupted a foreclosure auction at Brooklyn Supreme Court with song: “Mr. Auctioneer/All the people here/Are asking you to hold all sales right now/We’re going to survive, but we don’t know how.” The auction was quickly called off. Occupy Our Homes is spearheading a national effort to place families in foreclosed homes. There are 18.5 million vacant homes in America and 3.5 million homeless.

Occupiers block a bridge leading to a global hedge fund conference in Boca Raton. Photo: Occupy Miami

#On January 22, Occupy Daytona Beach mic-checked Republican front runner Mitt Romney while he extolled the virtues of Ronald Reagan. “Corporations are not people! We are the people!” they shouted, referring to the “Corporations are people, my friend” remark Romney tossed off in August, before breaking into chants of “USA! USA!” Lest he feels singled out, Newt Gingrich was mic-checked in Iowa in December.

#Elsewhere in Florida, Occupy Palm Beach and Occupy Miami crashed a four-day hedge fund event called GAIM USA in Boca Raton starting on January 22. (Yes, “GAIM,” because shifting billions from side to side is apparently a game to the 1%.) GAIM is “the global hedge fund industry event attracting the largest number of asset allocators” which “could well be compared to the Bilderberg Group,” and the companies expected included Bank of America, BP, Cargill, Koch Brothers and Goldman Sachs, among others. Three were arrested after laying in the Camino Real Bridge roadway, blocking traffic at rush hour.

#On January 23, Occupy Maui established an encampment near the Monsanto offices in Kihei, a site chosen because of the company’s herbicide use and production of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. The occupation was planned for months and permits were granted, but the ACLU has filed a letter on the occupation’s behalf alleging threats and harassment by Monsanto. The week-long occupation lasted until Sunday. Here’s why they occupied.

An occupier inside his igloo in Davos. Yes, igloo. Photo: #Occupy_WEF

The brave, topless women of Davos.

#The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, was #occupied beginning on January 25 by activists and their igloos and yurts. They were aided by the mayor of Davos, Hans Peter Michel, who has been more welcoming toward protesters than his predecessors. Michel reportedly “cleared the parking lot, offered the protesters the use of a portable cabin and helped them build igloos.” Three Ukrainian women went topless, braving the cold to draw attention to their message, which equated bankers with gangsters. Bloomberg News, of all outlets, covered the forum with the headline “Mega-Rich Occupy Davos as 0.01% Decry Income Gap,” noting that the word “inequality” appeared only once in the event’s 130-page program – in the title of a panel about art – despite the fact that the forum’s Global Risks 2012 report describes “severe income disparity” as the world’s top risk over the next 10 years.

#At the State of the Union address on January 24, President Obama spoke the language of the 99%, demanding a tax increase for millionaires and vowing to solve the problem of widening income inequality. He also said ”no options were off the table” to prevent Iran from developing nukes. Occupy DC and Occupy Portland gathered in Washington, D.C. and delivered their own response to the State of the Union, closing with, “We are the 99%. Our spring is coming.”

The South Street Seaport Museum, half a mile from Liberty Plaza, opened with an Occupy photography exhibit. Photo: Andrew Hinderaker

#The FBI released details of plans to continuously monitor the global output of Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. Twitter, which gained global popularity with the Green Revolution in Iran and became the engine powering the Arab Spring, announced it could start censoring certain content in certain countries, sparking outrage and a Twitter blackout. But it didn’t take long for someone to figure out how to circumvent the new policy.

#Anonymous has revealed evidence of spying and infiltration in various outposts of the Occupy movement.

#The Stop Internet Piracy Act, or SOPA, a bill aimed at stopping Internet piracy – but in practice could have shut down a website if a third party posted copyrighted material – may have lost support in Congress after an online outcry, but  the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA, is just as bad, if not worse, and has the support of the European Union, the U.S., Switzerland and Japan.

#A report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that rising income inequality is the biggest threat to security, and the United States ranks as the most unequal in two categories: the distribution of earnings among full-time workers and the share of total income earned by the top 1 percent.

#The targeting of journalists covering the Occupy movement has caused the United States to drop precipitously in the latest Reports Without Borders survey. The U.S. fell 20 places this year, to 47.

#More than 5,000 tweets using the #needsoftheoccupiers hashtag were collected from October to December of last year then geo-located and sorted into top unique needs per occupation site, resulting in this handy nationwide “Needs” chart spanning encampments across the continent.

Blake Lively, Michael Bloomberg and Penn Badgley, 99%er. Photo: Dana Rubinstein

#Penn Badgely, one of the stars of “Gossip Girl,” a CW soap that feverishly dramatizes the 1%, posed with New York Mayor and First Amendment nemesis Michael Bloomberg wearing a “We Are the 99%” T-shirt. Nice photobomb, Lonelyboy!

#The South Street Seaport Museum has reopened with a photo exhibit chronicling Occupy Wall Street.

#The Atlantic lists the strangest charges levied against occupiers: wearing a mask, felon conspiracy and…lynching?

#New York City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who has been arrested twice at Occupy Wall Street marches, announced that he was donating his $5,000 leadership stipend to the movement.

#Adbusters, which issued the call to occupy the financial district on September 17, has issued another one, calling on occupiers to converge on Chicago for the G8 and NATO summits in Chicago this May “in the tradition of 1968.”

#@OccupyArrests has a running tally of arrested protesters since the Occupy movement began; as of this posting it’s 6,300.

#6,200 have been killed in Syria since the uprising started in March, including as many as 100 more since Thursday. The violence, focused on Damascus and Homs and committed by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, claimed women and children among the victims. It was so bad that the Arab League was forced to suspend their mission there. Don Lemon of CNN interviewed a protester there via Skype, asking him if he expected to survive, explaining that some Syrian sources he has interviewed have been killed soon after. The man, who was unidentified, said with a laugh, “I hope I do!” But he added:

“I’m just one of the people. Nothing else – I’m just one of these people who’s asking for freedom. I hope I survive to see the end of it, but if I don’t survive to see the end of it, neither have my friends. I’ve lost more than 30 of my friends now. So if I don’t survive this, why not? We aren’t going to stop fighting for it. We started this revolution and we will end this revolution.”

Want to report news about your occupation or meetup? Email us at occupymedia@gmail.com.

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  • Dissent3d

    Your link to the NY Observer concerning a “debate” about the black bloc led to what read more like a sly condemnation from corporate media. Diversity of tactics is one of the founding principles of Occupy Wall Street. People as celebrated as David Graeber supported that principle. I think it’s overdue that you hosted a genuine informed debate about the role of militancy in our movement, and American social movements in general. There are a lot of neo-pacifist lies floating around the subject.

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  • http://judgeright.vox.com/ JudgeRight

    Ain’t no bias like the one you got. Ignorance in anger is a danger to everyone. Like firing arrows straight up. 1 you should look closely at those acting like friends. Someone set you off. Who, find out why, hint; it wasn’t your targets. (that’s just the manifestation of the planted seed) Who set him/her off? Go all the way back because the dissidents have been here since WW1 and before. They OCCUPY key positions everywhere including THE top spot. You have been indoctrinated to hate and blame those who value and promote self discipline the same way he was. 2 OWS is designed by several elements acting as fifth column in free society. You began to suspect only 1 conspiracy and assumed the rest are merely criminally selfish. 3 the broad brush of 1% misses most of the guilty and punishes the producing innocent along with very few criminally greedy. 4 OWS openly states they want a revolution just like the Arab Spring, check out where the Arab Spring is one year after the event. Crueler hands rule and the little freedom they had evaporated. The American revolution was the exception rather than the rule. http://judgeright.blogspot.com