Nel's New Day

October 6, 2011

‘Occupy the World’ Fights ‘Fat Cats’

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 9:20 PM

First the media thought that the people occupying Wall Street to protest the “fat cats” would go home if they ignored them; now conservatives assume that the movement will disappear if pundits sneer at them—despite the geometric progression of protest groups around the world, over 700 cities at last count.

Rich Lowry calls it “a juvenile rabble, a wooly-headed horde” compared to the “solid burghers” of the Tea Party who “had its signature event at a rally at the Lincoln Memorial where everyone listened politely to patriotic exhortations and picked up their trash and went home.” Evidently, Lowery thinks that all protesters should not do this 24/7 but just get back on the buses that wealthy people provide.  Sean Hannity called one of the protesters “Marxist” and told her “you don’t believe in liberty, you don’t believe in freedom” before he said she wants to destroy America.

The New York Police Department has been equally negative, seeing the group as a visible example of lawlessness akin to that which had resulted in destruction and violence at other anti-capitalist demonstrations, like the Group of 20 economic summit meeting in London in 2009 and the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle in 1999. Early in the protest, people—both protesters and watchers—were corralled by police officers with orange mesh netting, forcibly arrested some participants, and pepper-sprayed even if they were on the sidewalk behind the netting. A few days later police arrested 700 of them as they crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, including a transman who was handcuffed to a toilet and denied food for eight hours.

Despite these police actions and in a contrast to the violence sometimes threatened by the Tea Party, protesters monitor their own to maintain non-violence. For example, when a man threw something at a cop, protesters chased after him to stop him.

In case you have missed the growing media coverage about the event (from blackout to circus, as Jon Stewart describes it), a group of protesters have set up camp in New York’s Zuccotti Park, bounded by Broadway and Liberty Street, near Wall Street. They have their own radio station and newspaper, keep the grounds policed in all ways, and get their food from a centrally-located station where donated meals, especially pizza and Popeye’s chicken, are disbursed.  Although they’ve been there only three weeks, the inspiration came from a July call for action in a blog connected with a Canadian advocacy magazine, Adbusters, and recent meetings in Madrid. Organizational meeting in Tompkins Square and other public places led to a September 17 march near Wall Street before they developed their base.

The place behaves like a village with its recycling center, media center where a gasoline generator powers computers, a library, medical station, and post office set up at a U.P.S store. There is a location for lost and found items, and some therapists have set up shop. The group holds two daily General Assembly meetings to conduct organizational business and work on objectives. Without permission to use amplified sound, each speaker says a sentence that is repeated by others so that it ripples outward. Decisions are by consensus using hand signals: palms upward and wiggling fingers mean approval; palms and fingers downward indicate disapproval; level hands are uncertainty. Committees  include town planning, child care, direct action, and a de-escalation group charged with keeping things orderly.

Congress should be so organized! In fact, some Democratic Congresspeople have decided to support these protesters whose actions may give politicians courage to push back against the ultra-conservative right that has led them around by the noses etc. for almost a year. Even Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), a leading Republican presidential candidate, agrees with the protesters. “If they were demonstrating peacefully, and making a point, and arguing our case, and drawing attention to the Fed–I would say, good!” Paul said following a town-hall meeting in New Hampshire.

Occupy Wall Street is making a difference across the country. The Los Angeles City Council has moved to support a Occupy L.A. camped on the City Hall lawn with seven of the 15 members signing a resolution to support “peaceful and vibrant exercise in First Amendment Rights carried out by `Occupy Los Angeles.”‘ Although reporters have said that the protesters have no goals or objectives, the Council understands that the demonstrations are aimed at calling attention to the gap between wealthy and poor people.

The Los Angeles resolution also calls for a vote on a “responsible banking” measure by October 28 that would require the city to divest from banks and financial institutions that have not cooperated with efforts to prevent foreclosures. “This resolution supports the goals of Occupy L.A. and the need for responsible banking reform,” said valley-area City Councilman Richard Alarcon, who co-sponsored the motion with his Westside colleague Bill Rosendahl.

The office of L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa distributed 100 rain ponchos to the demonstrators yesterday. That’s a bit different from New York Mayor Bloomberg’s position about wanting all the protesters to move on, perhaps because he’s the nation’s 13-richest man with at least $19 billion and his long-time, live-in girlfriend, Diana Taylor, is on the board of the park’s owner.

Even President Obama has added to the commentary. “I think it expresses the frustrations that the American people feel that we had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, huge collateral damage all throughout the country, all across Main Street, and yet you’re still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on abusive practices that got us into this problem in the first place,” he said. “So yes, I think people are frustrated, and the protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works.”

How long the protesters will be allowed to stay in their New York location is not known. Zuccotti Park, former known as Liberty Plaza, is private property owned by the real estate agency Brookfield Properties.  In public statements, Brookfield has suggested to the city that it is past time to restore the space to its normal use and has posted signs in the park objecting to the sleeping bags, tarps, and use of benches as beds throughout the space. A representatives of the police department said, however, that Brookfield would have to formally declare the protesters trespassers before they could be removed.

There’s lots more out there on the Internet about these protests, but the important piece is that this was truly a grassroots protest. Well-known protesters like Michael Moore have appeared at the demonstrations, but he didn’t organize it. The Tea Party can brag about coming up from the members, but anyone who pays attention to the media (other than Fox) knows that the Koch brothers funded it and Dick Army organized it. The same “fat cats” that these demonstrators are protesting paid for the buses to move Tea Party members around, at times not even getting more than a handful of people at their demonstrations. Occupy Wall Street (and all those other cities) is truly from the People.

2 Comments »

  1. BRAVO! Thanks once more for digging till you found the facts I needed to operate from somewhere higher than my gut and heart. The Occupiers speak for me and every one I know who hasn’t been bamboozled by the Foxes.

    Like

    Comment by Lee Lynch — October 6, 2011 @ 11:34 PM | Reply

  2. I think that you intended to write ‘camp’ in paragraph 5 instead of ‘came’. Thanks for the post–it’s a good one.

    Like

    Comment by Jane — October 6, 2011 @ 11:08 PM | Reply


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