Tuesday, April 10, 2012

OWS Occupies Wall Street -- Literally

For the first time since the movement began, Occupiers set up camp on the actual Wall Street in the wee hours today. Forty protesters parked themselves right across the street from the New York Stock Exchange and remained for five hours until the NYPD showed up with the plastic cuffs. There's more on the official OWS site.

And following up yesterday's post, you can read more opinions on the co-optation controversy here and here and here

One thing I forgot to mention yesterday was that the 99% Spring's "week of action" just happens to coincide with the Tea Party movement's traditional Tax Day protests on April 15. This feeds into the canard that the Occupy movement is the Democrats' answer to the Tea Party Republicans. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

The closest you will come to discovering the official White House position on the Occupy movement is to go to its unofficial think tank, the Center for American Progress. In an interview with the New York Times last month, president Neera Tanden took the "concern troll" approach. (Concern troll definition: a wet blanket who pretends to be on your side by offering "constructive criticism", all the while sowing the seeds of doubt) Tanden says Occupy is not getting as much media attention because of suddenly being rousted from the camps; she does not offer an opinion as to the illegality and immorality of police treatment of the demonstrators. Just that the demonstrators had better find a way to gin up more press:
They have fewer people, and it’s not a new story anymore that there were people protesting in the streets or sleeping in parks. They need to think of new ways to garner attention and connect with people around the country.


Anonymous said...


This from Salon.com:


An open letter protesting the Obama Admin's harassment of journalists.

I'm pretty disappointed that there aren't bigger names signed to the letter. Maybe they'll join in later? I'd expect Gibney, Spurlock, Maysles, but where is Spike Lee? Oliver Stone? Where are bigger-name directors?

The woman filmmaker has been detained over 36 times. It's insanity.

Anonymous said...

"They have fewer people, and it’s not a new story anymore that there were people protesting in the streets or sleeping in parks. They need to think of new ways to garner attention and connect with people around the country."

This is essentially true, and I have faith that, as we speak, thinking of new ways to focus attention on reform is exactly what OWS is doing. They are not necessarily likely to announce their more strategic plan, given the insane level of police harassment they endured in 2011 and 2012.

Eliot Spitzer had provided the same advice to OWS late last fall, but in a more upbeat way. He said that OWS had already succeeded in doing the most difficult thing, which was to pull the argument into focus. His advice was for them to stop occupying parks and start occupying banks.

I think we can guess which entity is more difficult to occupy legally, so it is understandable that OWS is grappling with whatever its necessary next step, undoubtedly civil and peaceful, will be.

Separately, did you see the following NYT article?


I was really shocked by the responses in the comments section. I think the callous disregard (or, rather, the open schadenfreude) on the part of so many commenters is an indication of the country's contempt for the growth of arbitrary, menacing police authority ten years after the inception of the "war on terror" and 30 years after the birth of the "war on drugs."

Elizabeth Adams said...

Here is a follow-up on the jury case I linked recently. This is a blog post by the lawyer who represented the brothers.


Valerie said...

Really? I looked at the first handful of comments - Reader Recommendations - and they seemed to point to the fact that the police have become more militarized and more violent in their approach to dealing with law abiding citizens.

Valerie said...

I think those of us sitting in the cheap seats should stop criticising these OWS protesters and their approach. They managed to get income inequality into the public debate when no one else could and they have kept the investment bankers' "feet to the fire" in a way no one else has. There is a reason Obama isn't supporting Occupy, they have outed him for the collaborator he is.

My hat is off to these protesters - I think they are the best thing to happen to American democracy in a decade.

Zee said...

@Elizabeth Adams--

Thanks for posting the link to Paul Boylan's blog.

We truly have become a nation of sheep.


Anonymous said...


"Really? I looked at the first handful of comments - Reader Recommendations - and they seemed to point to the fact that the police have become more militarized and more violent in their approach to dealing with law abiding citizens."

Sorry, that's exactly what I meant. I was just shocked by how open people were in their comments. Maybe schadenfreude was the wrong word. Then again, maybe not.

What interested me was the proportion of comments critical of the police. Where I live, which is supposed to be so "liberal" but where in reality the police union power is far stronger than in New York, whenever there is a story on the police, the comments run more 50-50, (so I have always suspected that a lot of the comments were from police union hacks.)

To read so many comments that openly stated that the police authority has become so overbearingly abusive that the jump in statistics of officer deaths was "unsurprising", well, I thought it was a turning point ESPECIALLY since it was one of those mindless articles written to prompt us to think the police are some terribly beleaguered force when, in reality, they only have the 10th most dangerous job in the nation, after #9, garbaragemen.

To keep it in perspective, I was impressed by the comments from scientist readers on "statistical significance" especially - they wrote in that the "jump" is little more than an aberration, and appears to be being misinterpreted by the media and abused by the police unions.

I would like to point out that the death of a police officer, or anyone for that matter, is not something I personally feel any schadenfreude about. But for that same reason, the overgrowth of police abuse of power is ALSO something that concerns me, particularly since I am funding that abuse through my tax dollars.

About the comments - I had a similar experience after watching Ken Burns' documentary "Prohibition". While I was watching it, I thought the parallels to the "war on drugs" were so obvious, but none of the people with whom I viewed the series wanted to discuss the parallels, so I thought it was just my take. Then I read the formal reviews and online comments... and realized that it was not just my take that Burns was deliberately drawing every possible parallel to the war on drugs without actually saying so.

If you haven't seen the Ken Burns documentary on the "war on liquor", it's really, really, really worth watching.

Also: if you haven't heard the author of the best-selling "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness" on NPR, it's also essential. And terrifying. And inspiring. Here's a link:


Valerie said...

Oh, I thought you were implying that the comments were the typical "thin blue line" rhetoric. There was some of that but yes, I was glad the police might be getting the message that the public is viewing them as what they are, footsoldiers for the 1% - in otherwords, hired thugs.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Elizabeth for the link to Paul Boylan.

Here’s another outrage, although it is a little dated. Last year Florida toll booth collectors were caught illegally detaining drivers who paid with large bills, meaning a $20 bill or larger. The state program used racial profiling in order to identify suspicious persons. After the program became public the state claimed it was intended to stop counterfeit bills, but no counterfeiting cases were ever referred to law enforcement.

5 million motorists were detained according to the news video.