Revolution #250, November 17 2011
Occupy Updates - November 17, 2011
Revolution received the following reports early Thursday evening:
Snapshot from the Revolution Crew at Occupy Wall Street, NYC
November 17, 3 p.m. Early this morning, to stand against the violent eviction at Zuccotti Park and to mark the two-month anniversary for the Occupy movement, groups of hundreds of people took to the sidewalks and streets near Wall Street with the intention of shutting down the New York Stock Exchange through a cacophony of resistance. People came out at 7 a.m. to have "breakfast." One sign read, "Egg, Cheese, Revolution." This seemed to be a way of saying let's start the day off right. People had a healthy diet of marching, hollering and shouting, occupying intersections, blockades, making their voices heard and showing support for this movement with a hell of a lot of determination to go forward and get stronger. In the face of the violent attack on Tuesday, the mood was not dampened but celebratory, defiant, with groupings of marchers parading through the blocks of Wall Street singing and dancing. There was street theater and drumming as well.
There seems to be a strong show of support of New Yorkers coming out. A group of doctors came to help with non-violent direct action; some protesters held signs telling stories of struggle and injustice in this society. One recent college graduate had a sign that simply said, "I played by the rules." She explained how in spite of that she is unable to survive because she's paying off student loans. Other signs read, "Demands are for the small minded," "We are the source of wealth," "Wake Up," "Laid off stock broker" and "We are human beings, not commodities."
Many occupiers participated in non-violent civil disobedience, linking arms in attempts to blockade intersections to shut down Wall Street. Eventually it looked as if a shutdown was not going to occur and many hoped the action would at least delay the bell. Some groups held intersections for over an hour. There are reports that 60-75 arrests took place. Some groups took to the street marching to the Wall Street bull (sculpture). The police were very aggressive and hostile, pushing and grabbing people, throwing them to the ground. At least one woman was dragged by her hair. One group that included the Revolution crew reported being pushed by the police and hit with billy clubs. As this occurred young middle school students in the windows above inside a school banged on the window for the police to stop.
It's been tit-for-tat with the authorities all the way through and it's tense and intense in Zuccotti Park. The mood can alter in an instant from drumming, jubilation and dancing to stand-offs with the NYPD. One occupier described:
"I was in the drum circle and we were chanting 'We are united, we'll never be divided.' There was momentum and enthusiasm with protesters, then there was some kind of a commotion, some kind of hoopla at the gate where you enter now, on the left. Twenty people from the circle went over there and someone was being chased by cops. I went to see who was being arrested, there were so many people. I looked over and saw 15 cops circling someone, swinging batons; well over 100 cops started pushing everyone back and there was so much force one of the gates went over the park and hit a car. Cops came out with someone, their head was bleeding. Women were crying, everyone's screaming 'peaceful, peaceful.' After the guy emerged with blood on his head, two other individuals were arrested."
Shortly after this, scores of cops in riot gear lined up in rows along one side of the park and on at least two corners they had closed the sidewalk. As we write, thousands are gathering for a student walkout in Union Square; protesters are occupying the subway, traveling to several locations throughout all five boroughs to tell their stories.
The police presence was massive, dressed in full riot gear, turning Wall Street into a gated police occupation. Over the course of the morning hours 177 were arrested, several injured. When people returned to Zuccotti Park the police were surrounding, wading into the crowd. A video circulated widely on the Internet showed a bloodied protester being led out of the park by police.
The Occupy Wall Street website under the banner of International Day of Action listed a full day's menu including: "Lunch: 3PM Occupy the Subways and 5PM Dinner: Occupy the Square," referring to Foley Square at the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge. A few thousand students from colleges and high schools gathered at Union Square at 3 p.m. There was militant and heartfelt testimony through mic checks about the massive debt that students face, with rising tuition and declining prospects for work. Some marched to Foley Square while others flooded onto the subways. Massive numbers of police were out with new mobile barricades to confine the marches to the sidewalk. Yet, along the route there were numerous signs of support from people in office buildings and apartments.
As of 5 p.m. people are starting to rally at Foley Square and the news of the protest is dominating the airwaves—regular programming interrupted by newscasts devoted to "Occupy Wall Street." While Mayor Bloomberg took to the airwaves to say that the protest was no big deal, and his thug police chief Ray Kelly complained of protester brutality—a charge that was rendered absurdly deceitful from the images being broadcast—the message of the day was the message of OCCUPY Wall Street.
More to come...
SF Bay Area: Police Tear Down UC Berkeley Encampment, 1,000 March in SF, Strike at Hayward State
by the Bay Area Revolution Writers Group
At 3:30 a.m. this morning (November 17), more than 100 police in riot gear attacked the Occupy Cal encampment and ordered it to be disbanded or face arrest. Two people were arrested and non-students were forced to leave the campus. By 4:30 a.m. the encampment was completely destroyed and at around 5:15 a.m., a backhoe and trucks were brought into the plaza to clear the remains of the encampment.
Eight days ago, on November 9, police had attacked and beaten students putting up tents on campus, an assault that sparked campus and national outrage. The encampment was re-established after a rally of an estimated 10,000 on Tuesday, November 15 (see report at http://revcom.us/a/250/occupied_cal_report.html).
At least six different police agencies participated in today's assault, including UCPD, Emeryville, Oakland, Newark, Union City and Alameda County sheriffs.
Afterward, police and campus administrators said students wouldn't be allowed to camp, but would be allowed to continue to have a presence at the site. Despite this, the police arrested one student for just sitting on the steps of the administration building, and they also tore down much of the creative art pieces erected on the plaza, including a 10-foot-tall bright red "Regentasaurus" sculpture.
Freshman Aly Maun told the Daily Cal, "At about 3:30 [a.m.], I looked outside my tent, and I saw what looked like hundreds of police officers coming up the steps [from Lower into Upper Sproul Plaza]. Now they're tearing down the art, and the art is beautiful. I don't think this was necessary."
Alex Kim, 24, an English major, was arrested after he stood in front of police officers and flashed peace signs with both hands. "We're coming back," Kim told the San Francisco Chronicle before being led away by police.
Fighting Repression with Creativity, Spirit and Increasing Numbers
On Wednesday (November 16), in between a police raid on one of the San Francisco Occupy sites and this morning's raid on the Occupy at UC's Sproul Plaza, students and Occupy activists marched in the streets of the San Francisco financial district. A protest had been planned to coincide with the meeting of the UC Regents but the Regents abruptly canceled the meeting, citing police warnings about "rogue elements" "intent on violence" among the protesters.
The UC students have been battling increasing budget cuts. The Regents, who control the funds for the UC system, have many ties to banking and huge corporations and one of the UC Regents is on the Board and a director of Bank of America. Students from UC and other colleges streamed into the financial district, joined by other activists. About 1,000 people marched, and hundreds tried to enter the Bank of America. In spite of police attacks and arrests, people stayed inside the bank for hours, some of them pitching a tent—occupying Bank of America! This occupation was live-streamed by a TV station, and hundreds of people outside stayed to support it as traffic was completely disrupted for hours. Ninety-five people were eventually arrested inside the bank.
Today, Thursday, November 17, a strike is also planned at California State University at Hayward, in protest of steep fee increases.
Seattle Occupy Update 11.17.11
The Occupy Seattle encampment has moved to Seattle Central Community College (SCCC) where as many as 100 tents are pitched each night. Protests and marches have continued. On November 17 in solidarity with OWS in New York, students are holding a student general assembly, and marches from SCCC and University of Washington are converging together and have created a big stir in the university area.
On November 16, Cornel West spoke at the Occupy Seattle encampment. A student from Seattle Central Community College who attended said, "It was announced in classes, a reporter from the Seattle Times came, and news spread like wildfire that Cornel West was coming to speak to the occupiers. Organizers had set up a canopy in the rain and a sophisticated sound system, and 100-200 people gathered around. He spoke from the heart, as usual, and said that this is a movement of love for the people, and inclusion of different sections of the oppressed."
The Seattle City Council passed a resolution saying they support Occupy Seattle's First Amendment rights, but nonetheless Seattle police attacked an Occupy protest in downtown on November 15. Seattle police slammed bikes into protesters and doused dozens of people with pepper spray, including clergy, a pregnant woman and a well-known 84-year-old activist, Dorli Rainey. Images of Rainey covered with pepper spray and being helped by others flashed around the world and created widespread outrage. Rainey appeared on Countdown with Keith Olbermann. When asked how she was doing she said, "I'm feeling great. I feel so energized. It's amazing what a little pepper spray will do for you."
She said that on riding the bus home, people asked her what had happened and she told them she had just been pepper-sprayed by "Seattle's finest." People were horrified and the entire bus got into a conversation of what had happened and about the Occupy movement after hearing her story.
Seattle's mayor, Mike McGinn, felt he had to apologize for the pepper-spraying and said police will review policy, but he was speaking for the city whose police have repeatedly arrested protesters, trashed their encampment at Westlake Mall and harassed them as they tried to sleep. McGinn said that Occupy "needs to work with us too." Occupy Seattle responded: "On this particular night, we had informed the police of our march and route in advance so as to assure public safety. Given that the police blocked our passage and then used pepper spray indiscriminately suggests that it is not Occupy Seattle that is unwilling to work with the city, but rather that SPD is not willing to work with Occupy Seattle."
A statement put out by Seattle distributors of Revolution called for people to "defend and support Occupy coast to coast and worldwide" and to condemn all the police attacks on the Occupy movement. It said, "The attacks on occupy movements coast to coast can't be allowed to stand. Many know in their hearts that justice is on the side of the occupy movement and people who know and feel this must act on this knowledge to stand up and fight for our collective future. Join the resistance to these attacks today and from here on. The whole world is watching!"
Report from Occupy Los Angeles
November 17, 2011, 3 p.m. The national day of action began early as over 1,000 protesters gathered at Bank of America Plaza in downtown L.A. The action was called by Good Jobs LA, and supported by many unions, including the SEIU, the Teamsters, and teachers' unions. Many had watched the night before as students at Cal State Long Beach resisted budget cuts. About 150 occupiers marched over from Occupy Los Angeles at City Hall, and the whole crowd took up their chants: Occupy LA! We are the 99 percent! As the protesters marched around downtown, they blocked a freeway entrance and exit. Twenty-five people were arrested for sitting in the street.
On the heels of the morning protest, people gathered at the occupation at L.A. City Hall for an un-permitted march down Broadway and through the L.A. Financial Center. Many of the unions that had marched in the morning joined them. When the 99% got back to Bank of America Plaza, they rallied briefly, and then a group of occupiers set up tents across from the bank building. The LAPD has declared this an "unlawful assembly," but the occupiers aren't moving.
Across town at UCLA, dozens of tents have been erected in an action called in solidarity with the Occupy movements at UC Berkeley and UC Davis, and the global movement for justice. UCLA officials have declared the encampment illegal and are threatening to move in after midnight.
The struggle is growing and becoming widespread, involving many students and others. November 16, police attacked protesters at a California State University Board of Trustees meeting at Cal State Long Beach, as trustees voted yet another increase in student fees. A November 17 faculty strike at nearby Cal State Dominguez Hills drew hundreds of students from Cal States in San Diego, Los Angeles and surrounding areas.
Boston, November 17, 2011
In the wake of evictions in Oakland and NYC, hundreds marched and rallied the following night during rush hour and held a speakout to reaffirm their determination to go forward and spread the occupy movement everywhere. People testified to the role of the police as brutal enforcers and the need to "know your enemy". "I want to live in a world that cares about the environment and the future of the planet". "My mother migrated here looking for opportunity, but I don't see that" A host of issues were spoken to and debated over, like when two speakers referred to their desire to see America prosper again. Someone else pointed out that America includes a whole hemisphere not just the USA. It was a spirited evening captured in one daily the next morning with a banner headline "Hell no, we won't go!" On another front activists got a court injunction saying the city couldn't evict them from their camp, except in an emergency, with many expecting a sneak attack from the authorities. Meanwhile Students at Northeastern U. and Harvard have set up tent cities on campus. At N.U. tents went up for three days and a big teach-in was held, while Harvard tents remain to this day in the yard while the school administration has instituted a lockdown barring all but Harvard personnel and students from entering the grounds. Public opinion here is divided over who to blame for this disruption of the normal routine and the struggle continues. People in the movement are also struggling over which way the movement needs to go and what to do if the main camp is in fact evicted. The city has prevented people from bringing in winterized tents and has also begun harassing people trying to drive by with supplies and food donations.
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