Archive | November, 2011

Occupy Ithaca – Declaration of the Occupation. November 21, 2011

23 Nov

On September 17, 2011, hundreds of people of all ages, classes, races, and incomes marched on Wall Street in New York City and convened in Zuccotti Park, where they set up a cooperative living space that would allow them the freedom of assembly they needed to being a long-term discussion on how to restore and foster a more equitable distribution of economic wealth and resources amongst American people. This protest was a continuation of a long tradition of occupation style protest and was similar in spirit and tactic to the Arab Spring. All year, similar occupations have sprung up in all over the world in towns and cities of all sizes.

 

Beginning at 1pm Monday, November 21, 2011, the people of Occupy Ithaca have begun an occupation at Dewitt Park.  We have taken this step for many reasons, but all these reasons spring from the same root problem: we live in a world where corporate profit is served as the highest good in all matters, local and global, foreign and domestic. The amount of human suffering and damage done to our environment as a result is staggering and unacceptable, and if not reversed or altered, is likely to lead to imminent global crises that will intensify as time progresses. We intend to spend occupation time reflecting on how the primary and unbridled pursuit of profit as the highest social good affects our community here in Ithaca and how we can plan action to alter this pursuit, change its course, and soothe the wounds it causes in the meantime.

 

We are occupying in solidarity with the movement which has spread like wildfire across this country and captured the hearts and imaginations of people across the globe.  We stand in solidarity with the people of Egypt and the other countries of the Arab Spring who stood together during the January 25th Movement in Tahrir Square and the many martyrs who laid down their lives for freedom.  Our hearts are heavy as new martyrs are killed in the square, fighting the military and police who have stolen their revolution.

We stand with the 1st indigenous peoples of the country who have been living under occupation for over 500 years, whose land was stolen and whose ancestors were all but wiped out.  These are the same people who taught our founding fathers about democracy and inspire the horizontal democracy being used by the Occupy Movement today.  We recognize that we are guests here on this land and we seek to honor and respect the knowledge and sacrifice of the haudenosaunee people to whom this land belongs.

 

We stand in solidarity with the people of Greece, Italy, Spain, and elsewhere in Europe who are about to have severe enforced austerity measures imposed upon them by an initiative known as the Goldman Sachs Project.

We stand with those who live on the margins of our society, from the people who call the jungle their home to the farmworkers who work to grow our food.  We stand with those who had to leave their land and their homes behind when they fled militarized violence and political persecution.  The unemployed and the veterans who have sacrificed so much only to be forgotten in their time of need by the country they were sworn to protect.  We stand with women and children who bear the brunt of budget cuts and violence in our society and with all others who are vulnerable.

We stand with the African American community whose ancestors were stolen from their land and brought here against their will, and the many millions who died on the middle passage before even stepping foot on this land.  This is a community that was beaten and murdered in their struggle for equality and raised the powerful example that informs our movement today.  Who have seen justice deferred on every front and are the last to be invited to the table, but the first to feel the cruelty of economic stagnation and downturn. Who take for granted that, based only on the color of their skin, they could be the target of detention, arrest, violence or murder by the police at any time.  This was brought home last year when Ithaca community member Shawn Greenwood was gunned down by an IPD officer, and again this year when Keith Shumway was killed. From henceforth, we name this park Shawn Greenwood Park.
We invite all to join us in our 24 hour vigil for justice and support us by helping to occupy our park.  We also invite those who can’t spend the night with us for reasons of health, employment, criminal record, and family obligations to join the conversation, to bring supplies, get the word out to your friends and family, and bring to bear any the skills or assets that you have to support the movement.  It will be a long winter and we will need all the support we can get.

We would also like to ask forgiveness from our new neighbors who have been informed after the fact of our decision to occupy this park.   This movement is about empowering people to take action, sometimes action that is not popular, to convey our message and to meet each other’s needs.  We will maintain an open door policy and will make ourselves available to our neighbors day and night to address any questions or concerns that may arise.  We will do our utmost to maintain the park as a clean, safe and welcoming environment, and we wish above all else to be good neighbors.

 

The consensus based model of self-governance that has been adopted in New York City, Ithaca, and everywhere Occupiers practice, is an important part of our effort. The fact that only a few thousand people turned out to vote in this last election shows that most Ithacans are not participating in the current electoral and democratic process. We have the highest respect for our elected officials, but a healthy community needs the voices and participation of all its people in order to thrive. The open inclusiveness of the process empowers all people of all backgrounds and classes with representation, a voice, and a true vote that directly affects any action the Occupation chooses to take. Austerity cuts and shrinking budgets mean ever fewer resources will be available to help low-income residents in the years to come, and as such, it is essential that we begin the process of learning to help provide each other with food, education, representation, and sustained social, psychological and emotional support.

We invite the City of Ithaca to join the conversation.  We hold our community to a high standard and believe ourselves to be progressive in many ways; however, many of the economic and justice issues being raised by the Occupy Movement are of great concern in our community as well.  Over the coming days, weeks and months we will be communicating with you about specific grievances and solutions for residents of the City of Ithaca.  Again, we have an open door policy and will address any questions or concerns that arise in an open and transparent manner.

To the IPD, please realize that we are fighting for economic equity for all.  We realize that union benefits, wages and pensions are being attacked across the country, and so we feel we are working for you as well.  Whether or not you agree with this, please remember that we are citizens and taxpayers, and as such, the nature of your work is to protect us, and as such we respectfully request that you restrain from acts of physical or psychological violence directed toward citizens of Ithaca and those choosing to exercise their 1st Amendment Rights guaranteed by the Constitution..

We proceed with these simple principles: people over profit, human rights over corporate greed. We look forward to the conversations, opportunities, and great changes that await us all in the months and years ahead.

Ithaca Occupation Begins

22 Nov

Succesful 1st night of occupation at Shawn Greenwood Park aka Dewitt Park!!! Cold one though with a low of 24, BRRRRR! We could use some sub-zero sleeping bags, wool socks, extra long johns and wool blankets.

We also had some very interesting conversations with the Ithaca Police Department ranging from a very friendly crew of younger officers to a more hardened pair or veterans who were questioning our display of Shawn Greenwood’s image so prominently on the corner of Buffalo and Cayuga. It opened up a whole dialog, as intended, and we were able to talk civilly about some of the social and economic pressures that pushed Shawn into the Life. It broke the figurative ice and hopefully tore down the Us vs. Them mentality on both sides.

6 tents and ten campers as of 7:30 this morning. Come on down today and join us for our ongoing action in the heart of historic Ithaca! Bring warm coffee and tea and suprise those who are still asleep, bring lunch, bring a tent and spend the night tonight, ALL are welcome.

Occupy Albany arrests last night will go unprosecuted

20 Nov
Apparently there were 47 arrests last night in Albany and not one person is going to be prosecuted because the city of Albany is going against Gov. Cuomo’s wishes. NY state should serve as a model of how other states should react.

Occupy Oakland Calls for TOTAL WEST COAST PORT SHUTDOWN ON 12/12

20 Nov

Posted 5 hours ago on Nov. 19, 2011, 8:35 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt

West Coast Port Shutdown

Proposal for a Coordinated West Coast Port Shutdown, Passed With Unanimous Consensus by vote of the Occupy Oakland General Assembly 11/18/2012:

In response to coordinated attacks on the occupations and attacks on workers across the nation:

Occupy Oakland calls for the blockade and disruption of the economic apparatus of the 1% with a coordinated shutdown of ports on the entire West Coast on December 12th. The 1% has disrupted the lives of longshoremen and port truckers and the workers who create their wealth, just as coordinated nationwide police attacks have turned our cities into battlegrounds in an effort to disrupt our Occupy movement.

We call on each West Coast occupation to organize a mass mobilization to shut down its local port. Our eyes are on the continued union-busting and attacks on organized labor, in particular the rupture of Longshoremen jurisdiction in Longview Washington by the EGT. Already, Occupy Los Angeles has passed a resolution to carry out a port action on the Port Of Los Angeles on December 12th, to shut down SSA terminals, which are owned by Goldman Sachs.

Occupy Oakland expands this call to the entire West Coast, and calls for continuing solidarity with the Longshoremen in Longview Washington in their ongoing struggle against the EGT. The EGT is an international grain exporter led by Bunge LTD, a company constituted of 1% bankers whose practices have ruined the lives of the working class all over the world, from Argentina to the West Coast of the US. During the November 2nd General Strike, tens of thousands shutdown the Port Of Oakland as a warning shot to EGT to stop its attacks on Longview. Since the EGT has disregarded this message, and continues to attack the Longshoremen at Longview, we will now shut down ports along the entire West Coast.

Participating occupations are asked to ensure that during the port shutdowns the local arbitrator rules in favor of longshoremen not crossing community picket lines in order to avoid recriminations against them. Should there be any retaliation against any workers as a result of their honoring pickets or supporting our port actions, additional solidarity actions should be prepared. In the event of police repression of any of the mobilizations, shutdown actions may be extended to multiple days.

In Solidarity and Struggle,

Occupy Oakland

Marching now on the west coast, meanwhile occupied DC building raided

19 Nov

http://www.ustream.tv/occupysf

http://www.ustream.tv/occupyoakland

Occupy Oakland: Last days of the 2nd Oakland Commune

19 Nov

I was recently in Oakland and San Francisco for the annual Community Food Security Conference and was able to spend a good chunk of my time exploring Occupy Oakland and Occupy SF.  I arrived late on a Friday night, 2 days after the historic General Strike called by Occupy Oakland, which shut down the Port of Oakland, the 5th largest port in the US.  I missed the last BART train into the city from SFO so I rode the bus to Downtown SF and found a cold lab of concrete to unroll my sleeping bag and catch a few hours of sleep.

First thing in the AM, I caught a train over to Oakland and stopped at Oscar Grant Plaza (aka Frank Ogawa Plaza) in front of City Hall, the home of Occupy Oakland.  People were working on boiling water over a small kettle grill.  I was offered some sheep yogurt and water.  It was all very friendly, although there was an edge of paranoia amongst the campers.  This was little more than a week since their last eviction and that fateful Tuesday night when all hell broke loose.  A night that left Vet Scott Olson with brain damage from a gas canister projectile used on him by a paramilitary police riot squad.

Later, I checked in at the Marriot a few blocks down Broadway and went into full on Confine mode.  It was a drastic change from the last week for me.  I had been glued to the Internet, following the occupy movement and the seemingly nightly evictions.  I think Occupy Boston was one of the first, and then a cascade of others followed and a pattern began to emerge.  I was sitting at home late at night, but I felt I was right there in the thick of it.  I started a twitter account and the world blew up in front of me, bombarded by words and images flying by at lightning speed.  I was having trouble sleeping with shallow sleep punctuated by nightmares of black clad police lines, concussion grenades; even live rounds.

           I went back every day, to see what was happening.  Listened to a General Assembly for a bit, but was mostly there to see the faces.  What were people doing?  Of course, there is the constant dialog; the debate between youngsters and oldsters, between the have’s and have not’s, between black and white, between friends and between strangers.  History was being discussed and the future.  Political theory and tactics.  The Black Panthers, the Free Speech movement; the history of labor and the history of music.

There was the constant drumming coming from 14th St., benches being converted into tarp huts.  A music room in one blasted folk, funk, and Nirvana, while the drum hut next door was an ecstatic blast in your ears, a viral kinetic rhythm for the wild and untamed ones.

Work was happening all around.  It was like a city within a city.  It had rained on November 5th, so when I returned on Monday afternoon, an impromptu landscaping crew was hauling mulch.  This was something I knew.  I jumped in.  There were people building things, a space ship, art, the library, media, medics, security, the archive, the kitchen, the amphitheater, and the street corner.  It was all-alive with activity.  People creating the new world, debating the old one, some just surviving, some just arriving.  Tourists and commentators flowed through with cameras and live satellite feeds.  A high school class was singing on the City Hall steps and a white Rasta was filming his “occupy” video in front of a bank of homemade signs.  And that’s what this thing is all about.  Participation and Empowerment.  Everyone exploring the edges of possibility, a thousand simultaneous autonomous action, tied together by the process, by the horizontal democracy sprouting and growing at the heart of this camp, the heartbeat of a liberated space; the key ingredient for true freedom.

And now the camp is gone.  Just one night after I was up till 2:30am patrolling the perimeter of the plaza with the late night security crew, a man was murdered on the next block.  Mayor Quan used this as a pretext to level the camp for a second time.  This time there would be no bloodshed and no teargas.  The city was already facing potential lawsuits for breaking their own rules about crowd control the week before.  The Mayor ordered a non-violent dispersal and of course, since the cops were not being violent, the event was peaceful.

The Faith Community was plucked one by one from their prayer circle of candles.  3 mediators were cuffed one by one with smiles on their faces as they realized enlightenment.  Only Running Wolf, a Native American activist known for his constant running and flag burning, was left to hold his tree sit.  Yes, the camp is gone now, as is the camp at Liberty Plaza home of Occupy Wall St., but the liberation continues.  The movement grows as more violent crackdowns erupt and the outrage grows.  The corporations have seen that they must stop this thing from spreading now before it’s to late.  The thing they don’t realize is this thing is already well beyond their grasp.

#N17 report from www.occupywallst.org

19 Nov

November 17: Historic Day of Action for the 99%

Posted 19 hours ago on Nov. 18, 2011, 1:11 a.m. EST by OccupyWallSt

November 17 Day of Action:

  • Over 30,000 People Rally in New York City (NYPD estimated 32,500), including organized contingents of workers, students, and other members of “the 99%”
  • Actions in at least 30 cities across the country and around the world
  • Commemoration of 2-Months Since Birth of the 99% Movement, Festival of Lights on Brooklyn Bridge
  • Blockade of all Entry-Points to NYSE; hundreds participate in nonviolence civil disobedience
  • Sense that a powerful and diverse civic movement for social justice is on the ascent

 

Tens of thousands took action Thursday, November 17 to demand that our political system serve all of us — not just the wealthy and powerful. The NYPD estimated tonight’s crowd at 32,500 people, at the culmination of the day of action. Thousands more also mobilized in at least 30 cities across the United States. Demonstrations were also held in cities around the world.

“Our political system should serve all of us — not just the very rich and powerful. Right now Wall Street owns Washington,” said participant Beka Economopoulos. “We are the 99% and we are here to reclaim our democracy.”

New York led the charge in this energizing day for the emerging movement. In the wake of billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s predawn raid of Occupy Wall Street at Liberty Square, 1:00am Tuesday morning, thousands of people throughout the five boroughs and the greater region converged to take peaceful action. Following Bloomberg’s action, the slogan “You can’t evict an idea whose time has come” became the new meme of the 99% movement overnight. The mobilization today proved that the movement is on the ascent and is capable of navigating obstacles.

The day started at 7am with a convergence of a few thousand people on Wall Street. All entry points to the New York Stock Exchange were blockaded. ‘People’s mics’ broke out at barricades, with participants sharing stories of struggling in a dismal and unfair economy.

Through the course of the day, at least 200 people were arrested for peaceful assembly and nonviolent civil disobedience, included City Council Member Melissa Mark Viverito, City Council Member Jumaane Williams, Workers United International Vice President Wilfredo Larancuent, SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry, SEIU 1199 President George Gresham, CWA Vice President Chris Shelton, CWA Vice President , Fr. Luis Barrios of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization-IFCO, retired Philadelphia Police Captain Ray Lewis, and many others.

“All the cops are just workers for the one percent, and they don’t even realize they’re being exploited,” retired Police Captain Ray Lewis said. “As soon as I’m let out of jail, I’ll be right back here and they’ll have to arrest me again.”

57-year-old bond trader Gene Williams joked that he was “one of the bad guys” and said supportively, “The fact of the matter is, there is a schism between the rich and the poor and it’s getting wider.”

At 3:00pm, thousands of students converged at Union Square in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street. They held a teach-in to discuss their concerns about the prospect of a lifetime of debt and economic insecurity. They held a student General Assembly and marched en masse to Foley Square.

The rally at Foley Square was electric. It was remarkably diverse in participation, across race, religion, gender, and age. As the rally concluded, thousands of participants walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, holding up lights — for a “festival of lights” to mark two months since the birth of the “99% movement”. (November 17 marks two months since the start of Occupy Wall Street at Liberty Square.)

“I worked hard and played by the rules, but when budget cuts hit last year I lost my job as an EMT and now I’m about to lose my family’s home,” said Bronx resident Carlos Rivera. “I’m sitting down on the Brooklyn Bridge today because it’s not fair that our taxpayer dollars bailed out big banks like my mortgage holder, Bank of America, but they refuse home-saving loan modifications for struggling families like mine. It’s time banks and the super wealthy paid their fair share and Congress helped people get back to work.”