#Occupied: Reports From the Front Lines

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#Occupied: The Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. Photo: @ghostpickles/Twitter

This week in Occupy, demonstrators swarmed on Washington D.C. to mark three milestones: the 83rd birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., the return of Congress following the holiday break and the second anniversary of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.

#On January 16, in observance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, the Occupy The Dream action drew hundreds of demonstrators to Washington D.C. to protest the Federal Reserve Bank’s monetary policy and growing income inequality.

#On January 17, occupiers entered the Rayburn House Office Building, the home of Congress, where they dropped a banner from the front of the structure and roamed the hallways in search of representatives to talk policy with as part of the Occupy Congress action. Demonstrators outside were serenaded by Madison Rising, a self-described “pro-American” conservative band, who performed an impromptu five-song set. Lead singer Dave Bray said that, to his shock, “we were met with a warm welcome.”

Sgt. Shamar Thomas at Grand Central Station, January 3. Photo: Allison Kilkenny

#Elsewhere on January 17, occupiers demonstrated outside the Apollo Theater in Harlem, where President Obama was holding a $36,000-per-ticket fundraiser. (The average median income in Harlem is $27,515.)

#On January 20, the second anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision – which granted corporations the same rights as people when it comes to political spending, prompting the rise of wallet-busting SuperPACs – demonstrators occupied 75 federal courthouses across the country, including the Supreme Court, and staged Occupy the Courts to promote a 28th constitutional amendment declaring that corporations are not people and that campaign contributions are not a form of speech. Once the peaceful demonstration reached the steps of the Supreme Court, police swooped in, arresting 11. Activists in more than one hundred cities participated, including Boston, Minneapolis, Cleveland and London.

#Also on the 2nd anniversary of Citizens United, the recently-evicted Occupy Syracuse launched a petition drive to get the Syracuse Common Council to support a constitutional amendment declaring that corporations are not people. The encampment joins the New York City Council, which earlier this month passed a resolution asking Congress to pass an amendment overturning the decision. In December, the Los Angeles City Council and the Duluth, Minnesota, city council passed similar resolutions; in November, it was Missoula, Montana and Boulder, Colorado. Vermont, Orlando and Portland, Maine are poised to join them. Here is a complete list of federal, state and local proposals to overturn the disastrous decision, which has become a rallying point for the movement.

Carolina Soza-Gonzalez of Occupy Riverwest makes black snow. Photo: Occupy Riverwest/Facebook

#The Occupy Milwaukee encampment known as Occupy Riverwest, on the east side of Milwaukee, celebrated its 99th consecutive, uninterrupted day of occupying. Recently they’ve been dropping banners from abandoned and foreclosed properties and holding bus chats, where they engage commuting Wisconsinites in political discourse.

#In Portland, Oregon, Cameron Whitten, 20, of Occupy Portland, entered the race for mayor. Whitten gathered the papers to register on November 14th, the day after he was arrested during the Occupy Portland eviction. “Portland has a history of economic and racial oppression which is still apparent in its highly segregated neighborhoods,” he said in a press release. “Although the city flaunts its liberal, progressive politics, it is lagging behind in employment and education in comparison to the rest of the country.”

#Some creative direct action tied to the Republican presidential race has grabbed headlines. In South Carolina, where a primary was held on January 21, activists reportedly from Occupy Charleston glitter-bombed former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who is a frequent target because of his antiquated and bigoted views on homosexuality. Elsewhere during the primary, occupiers passed out surveys at polling stations and engaged voters in an attempt to combat voter apathy. “We talk about the 99%; we need to sometimes talk about the 40% of people who don’t come out and vote,” Dave Crossley from Occupy Charleston told the local ABC affiliate.

#On January 9, timed to the New Hampshire Republican primary, Occupy Worcester staged a die-in outside President Obama’s local re-election headquarters to protest his signing of the National Defense Authorization Act into law.

The Occupy the Caucus headquarters in Des Moines. Photo: Mike Hiatt

#Occupy demonstrators also made their mark at the Iowa caucuses, where they stormed the Democrats’ war room and asked to speak with Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. “The Democratic party has held the White House since 2008 and had a Democratic majority in Congress for two years,” they wrote in a letter they hand-delivered to Democratic staffers. “During that time, President Obama and the Democratic party put the agenda of Wall Street and the corporate 1% first over the needs of 99% of the country. Your leadership failed us. You must do better in 2012.” Occupiers operating under the Occupy the Caucus banner also staged a die-in to protest the signing of the NDAA.

#The Florida primary on January 31 will no doubt set the stage for Occupy marches and demonstrations, as Florida counts 19 occupations within its borders. On January 10, Occupy West Palm Beach joined the state’s 18 other encampments in hosting the “Awake the State” rally to protest Governor Rick Scott and his Republican-controlled statehouse. Self-described “Raging Grannies,” activists and labor leaders turned out on the first day of the legislative session because “we know we’re not safe,” Tony Fransetta, the president of the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans, told the Palm Beach Post. “We know they’re going to do things that aren’t going to be progressive. We know they’re going to attack the middle class.”

#Occupy Chicago has secured headquarters for the winter, when the average temperature hovers around 25°F. The convergence of the G8 and NATO summits on the city in May will likely be the locus of massive demonstrations.

#Occupied: Grand Central Station, January 3. Photo: Katie Moore

#On January 3, New York’s Grand Central Station was occupied and a massive mic-check conducted during rush hour to protest the signing of the NDAA, which could one day be used to arrest citizens on American soil for any number of offenses, including protesting.

#Occupy London has staged the first of its citizen tribunals at a former magistrates court in the London borough of Hackney. On Thursday, a four-man panel presented evidence for the former British government under Tony Blair to be prosecuted for war crimes, and on Friday they examined the government’s plans to criminalize squatting. Both feeds will be edited together and presented to the police.

#Occupy Madison held its final outdoor rally of the winter on January 8, drawing about 30 men, women and children holding signs demanding economic justice.

Occupy France feels the love.

#The effort to recall Wisconsin governor Scott Walker – who ended collective bargaining rights for public employees, kicking off a new wave of American activism last winter – has garnered more than a million signatures. To spark a recall election, only 540,208 were needed.

#Despite pressure from Congress and the mayor, Occupy D.C. is holding firm at their encampment site at McPherson Square. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, will hold a hearing on January 24 entitled, “McPherson Square: Who Made the Decision to Allow Indefinite Camping in the Park?”

Occupy Worcester stages a die-in during the New Hampshire primary. Photo: Occupy Worcester/ Facebook


#Occupy Gainesville is hosting the first Southeast Regional Conference of Occupations in the lush cypress groves of North Florida on March 23-25, 2012.

#Occupy Davos has begun in earnest as protesters have started constructing igloos in the Swiss snow to form the basis of their occupation ahead of the January 25 World Economic Forum.

#A Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 33% of the global citizens who are familiar with the Occupy movement feel favorably toward it.

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

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  • Steve Burghardt

    This edition shows how much OWS has impacted the globe…and the willingness of the 99% to make a claim for a new and better world. Our work going forward is to develop these individual actions into a strategic coherence so that our message of economic injustice expands and our base of support widens. The planned city-wide assembly in NYC and the national actions we create for the Spring are examples of how we can do that so OWS is sustained for the long haul.

  • Metamuser

    A day or so ago I saw a report on the history of Apartheid in South Africa and how small and isolated protests around the world grew and included hundreds of college campuses that eventually caused college pension funds to stop investing in mega corporations supporting the oppressive and corrupt apartheid movements … all that over 6 or 7 years eventually led to the creation of a free people.

    So good luck in building momentum and your movement by formulating SMART objectives and … by DOING SAMART things. 1- Specific … 2 – Measured and Meaningful … 3 – Assigned with people held Accountable … 4 – Relevant and Realistic and 5 – Time Dated Due.

    • http://twitter.com/LiLightfoot Li Lightfoot

      Thanks for the thanks but your suggestions sound like a corporate agenda. Loosen up my friend, try not to have a heart attack.

  • http://twitter.com/Sparky4Peace Candace McFarland

    I am moving back to Detroit. I hope to join my brothers and sisters in protest of our nation’s unwillingness to understand the concepts of a government of, by and for its people…all of us!

  • Sungypsy19

    I want to thank everyone from occupy Miami, ft lauderdale, Gainesville, and Palm Beach for occupying the G.A.I.M. Conference in Boca Raton Florida yesterday. Power to the people!

  • D xx

    sending much love from ireland and gratitude for the bravery of all who stand up for love . In support and solidarity , i haven’t purchased oil for homeheating in the past 8 weeks . Thank you to all those who have endured challenges as well as harsh weather conditions on my behalf and on behalf of all . I love you .

    D xx

  • raven evermore

    http://www.sayoccupy.com for the 99 by the 99 :D

  • http://twitter.com/etan009 ETAN

    Earlier this month, journalist/activist Allan Nairn spoke to the OccupyWallStreet ThinkTank about the successful movement to support East Timor’s independence and restrict U.S. military assistance to Indonesia and its significance for Occupy Wall Street and today’s global movements for justice. See video here: http://etan.org/news/2012/01nairn.htm

    Allan Nairn’s reporting has been crucial in exposing U.S. complicity with human rights and war crimes by Indonesia’s security forces. He has forcefully urged that U.S. officials be held accountable for their crimes against humanity.

    On November 12, 1991, Nairn with Amy Goodman witnessed the Santa Cruz massacre in Dili, the capitol of East Timor. Nairn was beaten and had his skull cracked. Their reports of the massacre inspired the founding of the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN), which recently turned 20.

  • http://www.paulglover.org/ metroeco

    The next stage of Occupy will be to 1) make specific demands; 2) create parallel authority by becoming the government. I’ve written “How to Take Power” based on 40 years starting organizations and campaigns. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/paul5gloveratyahoodotcom

  • guest

    Sadly, no necessary changes are going to take place in U.S. Politics, such as prohibiting big corporate money being used in election campaigns; and U.S. Tax Code reform that eliminates the U.S. elites not paying their fair proportionate share of taxes, until blood is shed. A lot of it unfortunately.
    The Occupy Movement is a noble cause for true patriots and a good starting point. However, the elites do not and will not abide by the spirit of the U.S. Constitution.
    The goon squads you see on display, in military-style regalia, are not there to uphold The Constitution. They are there to protect the assets, and lifestyle of the elite one per cent (1%).
    The situation is as simplistic as that. Look at the obvious. It is in plain view.

    James Madison, IV

  • gypsy cat

    occupiers, i’m making a film, i need the dirtiest cops getting off on hurting citizens, especially those where women have lost fetus’s after being beaten in the belly with batons, 85 year old women pepper sprayed in the face, any pictures you have that will show we are in the same boat with some other nations. no video, please, unless it is particularly egregious.

    i am also trying to collect pictures of truly poverty stricken american neighborhoods – as many as possible, as well as huge amounts of protesters being treated unlawfully (according to the old laws). also, anyone with similar pictures of other countries – not as bad as the worst of the middle east, but parallel to the frustration we have.


    *** smug “get a job, hippies” jerks that make 60k a year hate you, cause they are sittin’ on their cushy faux leather recliner watching faux news***, they believe they “know” they have all the answers, and yet all they do is complain about the people in it. then they vote against their best interests.

    ideology is one thing, following a party blindly without checking out if it still parallels yours, is lazy and unamerican. nobody wants your money! they want jobs….

    BTW, take down your shredded american flags. show your f’ing love for it.

    you hear “the rich must be vilified. then hung from trees, and put their head on posts so everyone can see you are not welcome here.” but, what is rich? just pay your way, like the rest of us. besides, it’s the .00003 percent of criminal and treasonous amercans that need to get their asses in line with the laws of this country, not you.

    get your affairs in order, old guard, you’re comin’ down. all you old farts will die and if you aren’t already dead you’ll retire, while these highly educated protesters fill your jobs. the rest of you will have strokes and heart attacks, using your own money on trying to live forever, without insurance, without social security, without medicare, and with no options for death with dignity. we already pity you and the lives you have chosen to live.

    occupiers, thank you. i do my lobbying on line, not only to the people that make the laws, but with other things computers can do. let the able bodied folks sleep in tents in the cold. i’m way too old.

    oh. smug conservatives, i’m liberal (obviously), i worked hard, and i retired at 39 years old. i have enough money, i don’t need more than required to live a good live. i leave my money in my own country, not in investments to benefit myself, but to circulate.

    live like you signed a morality clause. glory hole monsters. closeted gays creating laws against themselves, taking women’s rights back – will we able to vote in 50 years?

    those of you telling these people to get jobs? why don’t you make some, so they can. we like to work, you just send jobs away, so we can’t have them. you pricks. you don’t even have a real job.

    thanks to all the OCCUPIERS. you have already shown the major differences in how this country thinks, and how other countries see us, as people, not as our government. i’ll continue the work i’ve been doing before you came into being, i will still promote your causes, and i will defend your rights.

  • gypsy cat

    please send pictures to ltc805@gmail.com