Posts Tagged Occupy Wall Street

On the Crackdown Against the Occupy Movement

Interview with RT today:

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Stopping the Police State Growing Around Us

Brownville Brooklyn, November 1, 2011

(Henry James Ferry - WeAreTheOther99.com)

Over the last few weeks, there have been many protests to stop police brutality in NYC.  I’ve been at two very dynamic and inspiring civil disobedience actions to STOP “Stop & Frisk,” including the most recent on Tuesday in Brownsville, Brooklyn, where the NYPD stops people at the highest rate.  Most are young men, but I met several men way over 40, and a woman in a wheelchair who have all been stopped in the area.

28 people were arrested almost as soon as they stepped in front of the 73rd Precinct.  It took until sometime today to get them all out of jail. The last young man released, a 2011 college graduate, just cannot find a job.  He has no arrest record, no tickets, but they still held him almost 48 hours for not having a photo ID.  He just told me on the phone however, that despite dealing with mice and nasty conditions, it was a “much-needed” experience, and he learned a lot from the men he was locked up with.  Going home? No, “I’m going right back down to Occupy Wall Street. THANKS for getting me out!”

This campaign is not stopping, and I am so happy to be doing it with such vibrant, committed, radical people, from clergy to communists.   A question came up at a meeting, from someone who had been arrested in the first action in Harlem, “Are we only trying to stop one policy of the NYPD, or are we thinking about more?  I’ve been stopped and frisked in other cities, including in other countries.”  It’s systematic.

On October 22, I was at my 16th consecutive annual protest to “Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation.”  Once again, heart-breakingly, the parents and siblings of people killed by the police got their chance to speak.  I thought mainly of how many years the toll has piled up.  And these are only a few cases!  Hmm, it’s systematic.

The repression thing, too, is systematic.  The policing of political protest — and I think this is why the authorities really hate the idea of Occupy Wall Street in Brownsville, Brooklyn — is about repressing dissent.  Tana Ganesa asks a good question today on Alternet, “Why is OWS Blanketed with NYPD Cameras, and Are Police Breaking the Law?”  She writes about the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative’s office where Wall Street firms have access to the footage taken by thousands of surveillance cameras

The surveillance gadgetry available to the NYPD, and apparently to the very finance industry forces that OWS is protesting, is sophisticated. There are license plate readers that can capture license plate numbers and match them to a database. The cameras can be programmed to alert officers to activities like loitering, and people can be followed as they move from camera to camera.

Mostly, police departments don’t have the legal authority to maintain records on people not suspected of criminal activity, but increasingly, that’s just what they do.  From the first week of Occupy Wall Street, officers from NYPD’s TARU, the Technical Assistance Response Unit, have ringed the plaza, constantly scanning activity, and peoples’ faces.

This whole “police state” atmosphere doesn’t begin and end with local police departments.  Ken Theisen, in Spying is US: Obama Administration Spends $80 Billion to Continue and Expand Bush Spy Programs details how these programs are growing nationally, with a budget of $80 billion over the last fiscal year

“Only” about $3.5 billion of this amount was spent on Iraq and Afghanistan according to the Department of War.  So how are they spending the other $76 billion?  A look at the 2010 Washington Post Series called TOP SECRET AMERICA   gives you an idea of where much of the money goes.

This machine carries out a systematic, criminal repression of the people.  That’s why the mission of World Can’t Wait is to end the crimes of our government.

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What do we owe Wikileaks’ revelations?

Bradley Manning supporters at Occupy Wall Street

I thought Michael Moore had a good idea when he proposed naming Occupy SF after Bradley Manning.  Bradley is accused by the U.S. government of leaking to Wikileaks government reports and cables on years of military operations and communications about and with other governments.

He may go before a court martial soon, although there is apparently deep disagreement between different sections of the government over what evidence to let the defense see, and what they will allow to be made public.

Michael’s point is that the “Arab Spring” beginning with the uprising in Tunisia last December, spreading across the Mid East, and continuing now in struggle against highly repressive regimes in Syria, Bahrain, and Yemen, was fueled by revelations posted by Wikileaks.  MissionLocal reports

Energizing protesters, he said the origin of the Occupy movement could be traced to Tunisia and the Arab Spring. But the ultimate credit? That belonged to alleged WikiLeaks informant and U.S. Army soldier Bradley Manning, whom Moore called the original Occupy instigator for his purported role in leaking thousands of U.S. government cables. Moore even proposed renaming Justin Herman Plaza to Bradley Manning Plaza in his honor.

BradleyManning.org quotes Moore as calling on people to remember the (alleged) contribution of Bradley Manning, saying it’s

“… sad, tragic and criminal that he is still in jail. Has not been charged with a crime or put on trial. Having done a very brave thing, when you draw a line from A to B to C, that we are here in this park today in part to his courage.”

It’s worth thinking about the war crimes revealed, and how putting reality before people really can bring about change in how the perceive injustice, and how they act.  Isn’t this what we’ve been working on for years?

The BradleyManning.org site has a good summary of those revelations in What did WikiLeaks Reveal?Download PDF version of article here.

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Despite Police Violence, Occupations are “SO Not Over”

Scott Olsen October 25, 2011

Scott Olsen wounded by Oakland CA police projectile

The counter-attack of city authorities to clear the “Occupy” movement has now led to a serious injury, leaving protester Scott Olsen critically injured by an injury to his brain from a police projectile.  Oakland police attacked a peaceful encampment on Tuesday at 5:00 am, after massing 500 police, for hours.  Within minutes, hundreds were driven away, and police destroyed everything.

Tuesday evening, over 1,000 people gathered again in downtown Oakland to protest the eviction, and they were attacked viciously with tear gas canisters shot into the crowd, concussion grenades, and reports of rubber bullets.

While New York Mayor Bloomberg was not able to carry through on his eviction plan of Occupy Wall Street on October 14, because thousands of people answered a call to defend it, we continue to hear rumors and threats, as the New York Post, Fox News and other reactionary media outlets argue for more police repression.

Last night, hundreds from Occupy Wall Street marched uptown to protest the police attack on Oakland, and have adopted the slogan “We are All Scott Olsen.”  I’ve been on the phone all afternoon with a young woman arrested last night in the march who received a puncture wound in the leg from being beaten up by police.  She’s still awaiting arraignment, and may be there until Friday.

The authorities cannot tolerate such gatherings in public space.  Huge numbers of police are surrounding the encampments, and any marches proceeding from them.  Is there anyone that thinks, if there were just more police, that would solve any of the underlying problems causing people to take to the streets in a mix of desperation, anger, and hope?

Kristin Gwynne writes today on Alternet about Scott Olsen:

The videos of his injury (below) are heartbreaking.  The victim is lying in the street, bleeding from the face.  Demonstrators run to help him, and a cop tosses a canister at the crowd gathering around the injured vet.  It explodes. Carried out by a  group of organizers, Olsen emerges from a cloud of smoke, bleeding from the head, his eyes in a daze. His body is limp, with his arms dangling above his face.  When they scream “what’s your name?” he can’t respond. His hand moves, but his eyes stare straight ahead. The crew screams in horror “MEDIC!! MEDIC!!!”

Jon Stewart was shocked by the Oakland police attack.

“They were concerned about a public safety threat, so they did this? [cue footage of tear gas clouds and exploding stun grenades].”

There’s no evidence yet that the police attacks are deterring people from their righteous occupations in the U.S., as the much, much, more violent state repression against the spring uprisings beginning in Tunisia did not, and has not stopped, the people, who continue in Syria, Bahrain, and Yemen to battle the authorities.

Occupy Oakland is back, bigger than ever, and for the time being, the city has backed off with the heavy police presence, at least for now.  Occupy Wall Street is sending them $20,000 and new tents.

We need our own version of mass support for the occupations.  If you can’t get to one right now, get into print, get online, get on the phone, and weigh in:

“Hands off Occupy!”

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Video from Freedom Plaza / Stop the Machine

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We’re Not Stopping Until We Stop NYPD’s “Stop and Frisk”

October 21, 2011 Stopping NYPD Stop & FriskThe mass civil disobedience led by Carl Dix and Cornel West on Friday tapped into a deep well of rage and anger at the racial profiling by the NYPD which is concentrated in “stop and frisk.”  Carl and Cornel were joined by 34  locking arms in front of the 28th Precinct, and hundreds more in support, including a contingent from Occupy Wall Street, based on a unanimous decision at Thursday’s General Assembly to endorse the action.

We marched through the streets of Harlem, greeted by fists pumping and smiles.  This mass resistance could potentially change how people respond to systematic racial profiling, an issue which is going to be fundamentally decided in the streets, with a diversity of people putting something on the line.

Dix and West see Friday’s action as the first of a new stage of mass resistance to “stop and frisk,” as a door to exposing and fighting the New Jim Crow.  There will be no stopping mass racial profiling without mass resistance.  It has begun.

The action resonated because it hit on a profoundly sharp and deeply entrenched, politically explosive contradiction of the all around criminalization and mass incarceration of Black & Latino people, one that touches to the very core of what this country is about and what holds it together, or could tear it apart (and which has historically done so).  The police lashed out, and held two young organizers who had spoken in many schools, both of whom were not  released until Saturday night on charges of resisting arrest.

Carl Dix was the featured speaker at the October 22nd march to stop police brutality from Union Square to the LES with close to 1,000 marchers, bolstered by Wall Street occupiers.  Carl, joined by Cornel, has been speaking to thousands around the country, calling for a movement of resistance to stop these policies.

From Carl, in the Huffington Post Black Voices, Why I Am Getting Arrested Today

This policy is wrong. It is illegal, racist, unconstitutional and intolerable! It is just one of the many pipelines into the wholesale mass incarceration of a generation of Black and Latino youth. Today there are more than two million people held in prison in the U.S. That is the largest prison population in the world! And its not just men; more than one third of all women imprisoned in the entire world are in prison in the U.S.

Along with Carl and Cornel, the core group of those arrested were Rev. Stephen Phelps of Riverside Church; Rev. Earl Kooperkamp of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Harlem; Jim Vrettos, a professor of Sociology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice; and myself and Elaine Brower of World Can’t Wait.  We were joined by students from CCNY, Columbia & Barnard; Wall Street Occupiers and, very importantly, people who have been victimized by “Stop & Frisk.”  8 of us planned to be arrested; the fact that 26 more joined on the spot shows the potential of this as a beginning of mass action.

75 people met in Harlem on Sunday to plan the next phase of the campaign.  More on that soon!  Join in at stopmassincarceration@ymail.com.  See http://stopmassincarceration.tumblr.com/  And here it is:

Tuesday November 1: Stop ‘Stop & Frisk’ Direct Action
Tuesday, November 1, 2011 – 4:00pm – 7:00pm
NYPD 73rd Precinct, 1470 East New York Ave, Ocean Hill – Brownsville, Brooklyn
973-756-7666, stopmassincarceration@ymail.com

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Occupying, Everywhere, to STOP U.S. Occupations

An irony acutely felt this week:

Tens of thousands of people in the U.S., taking the lead from millions in the Middle East, are “occupying” public spaces, seeking change in the the world as it is, standing up to authority, power, and blowing the ceiling off expectations that the vast disparity in global income “has to” be as it is.  We’ve got to spread these occupations!

Hundreds of thousands of U.S. military, support staff and private contractors are “occupying” two countries in the Middle East, in a mission to enforce, with a vengeance, U.S. domination over the region, employing night raids, torture, and terror towards the civilian population.  We’ve got to end those occupations!

We marked the 10th anniversary of the Bush regime’s bombing and invasion of Afghanistan last week, with protests across the U.S. which were in many cases intermingled with the Occupy Wall Street protests, and in all cases influenced by the outpouring of public anger at the system.

Significantly, a protest in Kabul by Afghans demanded the occupiers leave.

Protesters march in Kabul

Watch Reuters video of the protest in Kabul against U.S. occupation

Yesterday, the United Nations released a report on the detention system in Afghanistan, bought, run and paid for by those who occupy the Pentagon. The New York Times reports that it

paints a devastating picture of abuse, citing evidence of “systematic torture” during interrogations by Afghan intelligence and police officials even as American and other Western backers provide training and pay for nearly the entire budget of the Afghan ministries running the detention centers.

Detainees — and we’ve known this since November 2001, when the U.S. first set up operations at an old Afghan prison in Bagram — are hung by their hands and beaten with cables, their genitals twisted until they lose consciousness.  Because of the Obama administration’s successful argument that the prisoners are not entitled to habeas corpus rights, they have no way out.

This is in no way a departure from all the rest of the Bush war crimes begun 10 years ago.  The NY Times, which editorially opposes torture, while supporting the wars in which the U.S. uses it, said today

such widespread use of torture in a detention system supported by American mentors and money raises serious questions about potential complicity of American officials and whether they benefited from information obtained from suspects who had been tortured….There have been a number of instances that raise similar questions in other places, including Uzbekistan, Pakistan and El Salvador, according to a RAND Corporation report in 2006.

This systematic abuse must be working for the United States government.  According to Glenn Greenwald, the Obama administration

unveiled plans for “the construction of Detention Facility in Parwan (DFIP), Bagram, Afghanistan” which includes “detainee housing capability for approximately 2000 detainees.”  It will also feature “guard towers, administrative facility and Vehicle/Personnel Access Control Gates, security surveillance and restricted access systems.”  The announcement provided: ”the estimated cost of the project is between $25,000,000 to $100,000,000.”

This occupation won’t be ended by Obama, or any presidents to follow him, unless people in this country demand it.

Raise your voice!  January 11, 2012, we’ll be back in Washington on the 10th anniversary of the U.S. prison in Guantanamo, marking it with a protest/human chain of 2,200 people.  We’ll stand for the 171 prisoners in Guantanamo, with no way out, and the 2,000 some at Bagram, with no legal standing. Join in!

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Why is the U.S. war in Afghanistan such a central issue?

Standing at #OccupyWallStreet this week, we got a chance to talk with occupiers, supporters, and tourists about the upcoming 10th anniversary of the U.S. bombing and occupation of Afghanistan, and plans to protest it next week, particularly starting Thursday, October 6 at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C.

The great majority warmly embraced us, some literally, helping to write “Stop the War” in Arabic, Spanish, and French for our signs, or dropping donations in our bucket.  People stared a long time at a photo of Afghan civilians wounded by a U.S. bomb, and asked, “Is that war still going on?”  “Why hasn’t it been stopped, because we’re all against it?”  “I think the people there must hate us.”

A couple of Wall Street occupiers took issue, not with ending the war, but with making it a main focus.  One said that he is mainly worried about people in this country, whom he called “Americans.”  A friend of his accurately reminded him that this whole hemisphere is filled with Americans, but only in one country does the use of that term refer exclusively to citizens of the United States.

I read them one of my favorite one-liners from BAsics, the speeches and writings of Bob Avakian.

“American lives are not more important than other peoples’ lives.”

I said why it’s such an outrage that the richest country in history is destroying one of the poorest.  With more than 1,100 U.S. bases in countries around the world, U.S. power amounts to a world-wide empire, and the U.S. has a larger military budget than all other countries combined. Think about the destruction of the global environment caused by this military machine, the largest user of fossil fuels in the world, again, more than most countries.

They were kind of with me on that point.  “Think what could be done with all that money at home,” said the kid with peace sign tattoos.  ” I can see why you think it’s important to end the war. The U.S. really can’t afford the billions of dollars for war.”

But, in reality, the people who run this country can’t afford not to maintain an empire.  It’s how they dominate strategic parts of the world, especially the oil-rich Middle East, and keep other countries from controlling them.  War and the projection of military power is how they control globalized markets and production, which they would lose without the guns to back up their exploitation of people and resources.

Our opposition to U.S. wars of occupation is fundamentally based on morality.  They’re not fought in our interest, and certainly not in the interests of the people of the world.

Stopping the wars is so fundamental because they protect a system which hourly promotes a bigger gap between rich and poor, exploiters and exploited, on a world-wide basis.

Come out, protest, occupy, raise your voices against the 10 years of war in Afghanistan and against US domination of the globe.  That’s where the horrors start, and where we must put a stop to them.

Write me at debrasweet at worldcantwait.net for information on a conference call Thursday Sept. 29. 10pm Eastern/7pm Pacific discussing Why is the U.S. in Afghanistan and Iraq?  What is the effect on those societies?  When, if ever, will the U.S. leave?  Presenters Larry Everest, author of Oil, Power & Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda, and Raed Jarrar, who blogs at RaedintheMiddle, and was born in Baghdad, will take your questions.

UPDATE: You can listen to the recorded conference call here.

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Occupying Wall Street & Resisting State Execution

Over the last few years, people have looked around at the movement for social justice and said, often, “Where are the youth?”  This past week, in NYC they have been out on the streets, crackling with frustration, outrage, energy, and some hope and joy at just standing against what they can’t bear to be a part of.

Mourning Troy Davis, Union Square, September 22, 2011

Monday through Thursday evenings last week in NYC, they turned out for rallies, vigils, and marches at Union Square, Columbia University, NYU, in Harlem, and down to Wall Street, against the “legal lynching” of Troy Davis.

Beginning last Saturday, hundreds of mostly young people, including students, have been occupying Zuccotti Park (Broadway & Liberty) as part of the Occupy Wall Street action.

Though they don’t have an organization, or a set of demands, they are organizing themselves into a structured effort to wake up the population to the vast disparity between wealth and poverty, saying that they speak for the “99%” who have no power in the society.  People are arriving to join in from around the U.S., and from around the globe.

Today, hundreds of mostly young people marched from lower Broadway to Union Square as part of Occupy Wall Street.  It was a loud, energetic, even boisterous, but peaceful crowd chanting “we are the 99% — and so are you!” and “join us!”

Marching up Church Street, NYC, September 24, 2011

Thousands of shoppers in SOHO and tourists and New Yorkers were snapping photos and waving thumbs up.  Cab drivers were honking in rhythm with the drummers.  Troy Davis was present via signs, as people refused to resign ourselves to his execution.

After we made it to Union Square with only about 6 arrests, the NYPD pulled out the orange plastic nets and pepper spray, and arrested upwards of 80 people, for nothing but being in the street, and in some cases, on the sidewalk.  They staged a mass arrest reminiscent of the police state atmosphere they created in 2004 at the Republican National Convention where George W. was crowned again.  It appears from video that people with cameras were specifically targeted for arrest, as they were in 2004.

The New York Times blog reports

Protest organizers estimated that about 85 people had been arrested and that about five were struck with pepper spray. Among those was Chelsea Elliott, 25, who said that she was sprayed after shouting “Why are you doing that?” as an officer arrested a protester at East 12th Street.

“I was on the ground sobbing and couldn’t breathe,” she said. The ongoing protests, against a financial system that participants say favors the rich and powerful over ordinary citizens, started last Saturday, and were coordinated by a New York group called the General Assembly.

The mass arrests are outrageous!  You can see more here, including live feed from Zuccotti Park, where people are feeding themselves and the homeless, playing music, talking to tourists, and working to free their arrested friends, with the help of the National Lawyers Guild.

As of this evening, up to 100 people remain in police custody.

The occupation of Wall Street will soon be joined by an occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington D.C. on October 6.

In 10 days, it will be 10 years since the Bush regime began its bombing and invasion of Afghanistan; an illegitimate, unjust, immoral targeting of one of the poorest countries on earth.

Sign up to be part of World Can’t Wait’s dramatic visual antiwar presence at the Thursday, October 6 encampment October2011.org at Freedom Plaza, Washington DC.  See more at TenYearsandCounting and worldcantwait.net.

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