#Occupied: Reports From the Front Lines
This week in Occupy, the National Gathering culminated in a gathering at Independence Mall, TPP was exposed as the latest NAFTA/SOPA nightmare, a Romney fundraiser hosted by David Koch was #occupied, and a homeowners bill of rights passed in California.
#NatGat culminated in Washington, D.C., on July 4 after a four-day occupation that began on June 30. The convergence gave participants a venue to network, prioritize issues and vent their grievances with the movement. This being an Occupy event, activists were greeted with oppression and harassment by police, and dozens were arrested. At one point, riot police engaged in a standoff with members of Veterans for Peace and Occupy Marines, who refused to vacate Independence Mall. Because of the modest turnout – hundreds, as opposed to the hoped-for thousands, some are asking whether the event was a bust.
#About 100 Occupy supporters, led by the Occupy Guitarmy, gathered by the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia on July 5 to kick off a 99-mile march to Wall Street. Their week-long journey is tied to the 100th anniversary of Woody Guthrie‘s birth on July 14.
#California lawmakers passed the nation’s first homeowners bill of rights, which will provide homeowners with some of the nation’s strongest protections from foreclosure, and such aggressive bank practices as seizing a home while the owner is negotiating to lower mortgage payments.
#The Libor scandal, in which bankers artificially set interest rates on unsecured borrowing, is being called the crime of the century. While the British media has trumpeted the story from its front pages because of Barclays’s involvement, the U.S. media hasn’t given it the same attention, despite the fact that nearly every major American bank is about to be engulfed. Some speculate that this may mark the end of the banking cabal that has apparently learned nothing from the crisis it caused in 2008. Eliot Spitzer, who prosecuted a number of fat cats during his time as Attorney General, says it’s no surprise – the Mafia has been emulating Wall Street’s crooked tactics for years. The biggest losers in this mess are the local governments that entered into false interest rates.
#The Occupella Chorus of San Diego, which raises awareness of Occupy-related issues through song, mic-checked a meeting between U.S. Trade Rep Barbara Weisel and lobbyists, professors and investors at a business roundtable at UCSD on July 3. At issue is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade contract dubbed “NAFTA on steroids” that would supposedly allow for a more open system of exchange between the U.S. and less-developed nations. In addition to driving up the price of medications and other goods across the world, the TPP is also said to include rules on intellectual property that would make participating countries adopt copyright measures far more restrictive than currently required by international treaties. The TPP will also rewrite the global rules on IP enforcement; for this reason, Anonymous refers to it as “SOPA 2.0.” The White House attempted to conceal the plan from the public and Congress because it demonstrates how Obama frequently bows to multinational corporations. The Yes Men crashed secret TPP negotiations in Dallas in May in an attempt to sound an early alarm. Protests against TPP are now popping up everywhere from secret negotiations to shopping malls.
#Censoring social media actually leads to more violent protests, two European researchers found.
#The MoneyOut/VotersIn affinity group of Occupy Wall Street #occupied a lavish fundraiser for Mitt Romney at David Koch’s palatial Southampton estate attended by titans of industry. The mainstream media noticed.
#The barricades around the iconic “Charging Bull” statue in the Financial District aren’t just ugly, they’re also pushing tourists dangerously into traffic allege 40 members of Community Board 1, who passed a unanimous resolution against the metal gates. The gates were famously erected after the occupation of Zuccotti Park on September 17.
#Chase Manhattan Plaza, one of the early proposed sites for Occupy Wall Street, was open to the public for decades – until September 17. Ten months later the plaza is still closed and Chase is evasive as to why.
#Occupy Storefront issued a call to support Con Ed Local 1 and 2 after the utility locked out 8,500 workers following the failure of contract negotiations on July 1. At issue are pension plans, which the financial giant wants to scrap in favor of riskier 401 (k) plans. About 5,000 managers filled in for the locked-out workers during the recent heat wave, and some were injured as a result of their inexperience. “They’re going to kill somebody,” union spokesman John Melia said.
#A 20-year-old New School student and Occupy Wall Street activist is the subject of a new graphic novel, Strong Female Protagonist.
#Three Occupy Wall Street activists were arrested after attempting to chain themselves across a Brooklyn Bridge exit ramp to protest the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and the tsunami of corporate campaign funding the decision unleashed.
#While media pundits sound out death knells for Occupy, many activists face harsh consequences for their involvement – like Mark Adams, who is serving a 45-day sentence for trespassing at Trinity Church-owned Duarte Square on December 17, earning him the unenviable distinction of being Occupy’s first political prisoner.
#The NYPD created and distributed Wanted-style posters featuring two Harlem activists who film the police as they conduct unlawful stop-and-frisks, labeling them “professional agitators” and including their home addresses on the flyers. The NYCLU called the harassment “disgusting.” The activists refuse to be intimidated.
#The NYPD also ticketed a couple for dancing the Charleston in a deserted subway station last week, then arrested them for filming the altercation. Neither of these activities is illegal.
#Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is unhappy with Occupiers for posting a photo of two allegedly undercover officers who entrapped Occupiers during the anti-NATO gathering. While the police department won’t confirm or deny that the two are officers, the police superintendent did say that the picture’s release is unethical and “personally disgusting.” So there you go.
#Three Occupiers protesting the arrests of the NATO 5 were arrested themselves as they protested at the State Attorney’s Office. Police arrived at the sit-in almost immediately, arresting the three as they refused to leave.
#Despised South Carolina governor Nikki Haley is trying to eliminate funding for the arts, prompting the rise of a new group called Occupy the Arts, which plans on holding a protest at the Statehouse next week. Haley also vetoed nearly half a million dollars that was slated to go toward domestic violence and sexual assault prevention, calling it a “distraction.”
#The Lakeview Elementary School occupation in Oakland was raided on July 2. The dispersal was calm by all accounts, although protesters say that officers threatened to use chemical weapons to disperse the crowd. The People’s School, which offers classes, is still operating. Lakeview Elementary has been fixture of its neighborhood for nearly 100 years and is currently threatened with closing.
#The 626 Wilshire occupation has been confronted with targeted arrests and escalation of violence. Anthony Lascano, an activist there, was remanded back into custody at a trumped up bail hearing and is now being held on $75,000 bail after speaking truth to power on the sidewalks of Los Angeles for nine months. Help contribute to his bail fund.
#Friend of the paper Mickey Z-Vegan wrote about corporate media blackouts, which make it difficult to get Occupy news. (Hence the need for roundups like these.)
#Occupiers – and Etsy hipsters – have reclaimed the octopus, once a symbol of corporate domination.
#Occupy Buffalo and other Western and Central New York peace groups are calling for the end of the military presence at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station to make way for a solar array, which could increase the area’s renewable energy output by as much as 50 percent and create more than 600 new, higher paying jobs.
#Occupy the Farm is trying to prevent the city of Berkeley from turning a plot of university-owned land into a Whole Foods. Two days earlier, members of the Gill Tract occupation briefly returned to the contentious plot of farmland in Albany to harvest cucumbers, eggplants and other vegetables they planted before police evicted them seven weeks ago for trespassing.
#New Orleans, which has become a haven for sustainable living in the years since the federal government fatally bungled the response to Hurricane Katrina, is home to an awesome community printshop that every occupation should patronize for their printing needs. Here’s how you can keep this project alive.
#Occupy Boise is teaming up with the ACLU to sue the state of Idaho over new protest laws.
#Residents of Detroit’s Goldengate neighborhood reported that police ticketed some of the people who are living in abandoned houses they helped make habitable as part of the Goldengate Restoration Project.
#On July 10, SWAT police forced their way into the Seattle apartment of Occupy organizers, who were confronted with automatic weapons.
#During the annual July 4 Cherry Days Parade in Paonia, Colorado, former town councilman Sid Lewis stepped in front of a tank owned by billionaire energy magnate and local ranch owner Bill Koch – brother of Charles and David and owner of Oxbow Mining Co., Gunnison Energy Corp. and a growing list of ranches around Delta, Pitkin and Gunnison counties – in protest of a land-swap project, earning him the nickname “Tienanmen Sid.” “I thought it would be a good chance to speak up about democracy,” Lewis said.
#Bill Zimmerman of Truthout theorizes that Occupy will surpass the activism of the 1960s.
#Several groups affiliated with OccupySF took to the Canadian Consulate to protest in solidarity with students in Quebec.
#Gay couple Mark “Major” Jiminez and Beau Chandler were arrested at the Dallas County Clerk’s Office on July 5 after they were denied a marriage license and handcuffed themselves to each other and sat on the floor. “This is about not being treated equal,” Chandler said. For what it’s worth, the couple earned well-wishes from straight couples waiting to get married, as well as the clerk’s assistant, who got teary-eyed when Chandler and Jiminez stated their intention to marry.
#Austin activists celebrated the 4th of July by occupying the capitol building.
#When students at Texas A&M found out that the bile-wielding Westboro Baptist Church was planning a protest at the funeral of a soldier who was killed in active duty, they formed a “maroon wall” around the church to shelter the family and friends of the fallen soldier.
#The Peruvian government has declared a state of emergency in the mountain region of Cajamarca, where thousands have gathered to protest the expansion of a gold mine owned by the U.S.-based Newmont Mining. Using live ammunition against the protesters, police killed five people this week alone.
#The European Parliament overwhelmingly defeated an international anti-piracy trade agreement after concern that it would limit Internet freedom sparked street protests in cities across Europe.
#On July 6, the women of Tahrir Square staged a protest against sexual harassment, which is epidemic in the streets of the Arab world’s most populous country.
#The Quebec student strike, which dominated the spring sitting of the Quebec National Assembly, will resume on August 17 when courses are set to begin again at 14 junior colleges.
#Two Athenian men leaped to their deaths on June 28 and 29: a 70-year-old man who jumped from his flat after a court clerk stopped by to issue him an eviction notice, and a middle-aged bank worker who leapt from the Acropolis. Experts associate the growing suicide rate with the disillusionment of the Greek population at the unabated financial crisis.
#Israel’s Occupy movement is struggling against divided leadership, a stronger government and the perception that last summer’s protests accomplished little. Occupy Wall Street organizer Yotam Marom penned an article in Haaretz, “Advice From the Occupy Movement,” urging occupier there to stand with their impoverished Palestinian neighbors.
#Police stopped by an Occupy London, Ontario, general assembly meeting to have a dialogue with occupiers, who schooled the police on the Occupy protest experience and asked questions about how to better co-exist moving forward. If only cops in every city were as willing to engage in discussion.
#Ireland is ready to frack, despite the dangers.
#Thousands of people rushed to stores to redeem pre-paid gift cards they said were given to them by the party that won Mexico’s presidency, inflaming accusations that the recent election was marred by widespread vote-buying.
#The Oklahoma Daily wishes Occupy had the passionate intensity of European, Canadian and Mexican protests, which routinely attract tens of thousands. Don’t we all.
#We’ve reported on this before, but debtors’ prisons are making a comeback, thanks to the farming-out of fine collection to private companies, which routinely add interest that people cannot pay. The criminalization of the poor continues.
#Those who default on their student loans are at risk of having their bank accounts drained and wages garnished — more than 30 years after the fact.
#A Pennsylvania voter ID law will disenfranchise 10% of voters. Laws all over the country are tossing thousands of votes on technicalities, placing the upcoming election in peril. In Florida, Governor Rick Scott’s voter purge list proved to be 98.4% inaccurate and targets primarily people of color, proving that voter purges are thinly-veiled racism.
#Veteran journalist Bill Moyers explains how SuperPACs are robbing Americans of their say in their democracy. “People haven’t lost their voice – they can’t afford a voice,” he said.
#“The American people are angry,” Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said from the Senate floor. “They are angry because they are living through the worst recession since the Great Depression.”
#Cellphone carriers reported that they responded to a startling 1.3 million demands for subscriber information last year from law enforcement agencies seeking text messages, caller locations and other information in the course of investigations.
#Fact of the day: America is the easiest country in the world to fire workers, according to the OECD.
#The Union of Concerned Scientists has launched an aggressive ad campaign against Monsanto.
#Are governments preventing people from growing their own food?
#In an apparent capitulation to the exceedingly unpopular tobacco industry, a tiny amendment buried in the federal transportation bill put operators of roll-your-own cigarette operations in Las Vegas and nationwide out of business on July 7. “These cigarettes don’t have any of the chemicals in them, and the papers are chemical-free, unlike the cartons people buy from Philip Morris,” explained Amy Hinds, operator of Sin City Cigarette Factory.
#A student at the School of Economics and Management in Essen, Germany, has been sued for finishing his masters degree eight semesters early, depriving the university of money. Wow, Germany, how downright American of you.
#In a frightening example of how the state is tightening its grip around the Internet, it has emerged that YouTube is complying with thousands of requests from governments to censor and remove videos that show protests and other examples of citizens simply asserting their rights, while also deleting search terms by government mandate.
#The ACLU’s New Jersey chapter has introduced a smartphone app to allow state residents to secretly record police stops, protect the recordings from being deleted by displeased officers and report the incidents to civil rights groups.
#More and more Republican GOP challengers and incumbents have declined, so far, to take Grover Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Maybe because austerity is unpopular and DOES NOT WORK.
#Shocking: Like the oil industry, Wal-mart receives more government handouts than people in need. Meanwhile, the Waltons are the richest family in America – six of them have more wealth than the bottom 30 percent of the country. That’s right: Six old white people have more wealth than millions of Americans in need.
#There are 18 countries where it’s better to be a woman than the U.S., the only developed nation that does not offer health care or paid maternity leave.
#Joyce D. Miller, an influential advocate for women who believed that equality in the workplace could be best achieved through labor unions, and who championed that cause when she broke into the male-dominated leadership of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., has died at age 84.
#Have you been to jail for justice? You’re in good company.
#Occupy Our Homes ATL and the Pittsburgh community are trying to keep Tacco Collins, single mother of 11, from becoming homeless. Here’s how you can help.
#Occupy Healthcare. Just do it.