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By the Grace of the Constitution and Our Duty to Monitor It.

We must never act in accordance to laws blindly.  By the grace of our Constitution, drafted during a time of almost worldwide dictatorial monarchy, the laws to which abide come from the consensus of the people.

 Until 1870 this standard excluded blacks and other minority races.

Until 1920, this standard excluded women.  

The Constitution is brilliant in its ideals, but must also be monitored so it is effective for all.  (Which is the purpose of Amendments)  At this time in our history, laws can be flagrantly bought and sold.  The political process at all levels inherently engages the need for money.  And so those who hold the money hold the power.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong about being wealthy.  But once you exert wealth to service your own needs at the expense of others, something MUST be done.

Tonight the city is moving to evacuate OWS from Zuccotti Park.

If forced to leave, leave it spotless, and then move to a different park, or multiple parks-   confound the powers that be as much as possible.  The movement has become bigger than a park, so it doesn’t matter so much where the headquarters is.  Occupy everywhere!

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UPDATE  – Oct 16 As most of you know, at the last minute, discouraged by 300,000 complaints, and a large physical presence, the mayor and police stood down.  What followed was an amazing weekend.

On Saturday, Oct. 15,  50,000 flooded Times Square and there were rallies and marches throughout the city-  overwhelmingly peaceful. 1,500 other cities in 82 countries staged their own occupations.

What started as a small gathering in Lower Manhattan has now exploded across the globe. When people begin to say the things that are on the lips of millions, fantastic things are born.

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Occupy Wall St.: March on the Billionaires, and Chicago, 1884

Yesterday on the Upper East Side

October 11, 2011

Now in its 4th week, the Occupy Wall Street movement has picked up tremendous steam, despite inattention from most of the nation’s media.  The movement has inspired similar occupation protests around the world, in more than 600 cities.   Each one is bound by a realization that all governments must answer to the people, the common people who labor for their living and pay the taxes that keep society running.

On Saturday, October 15th,  662 cities around the globe will protest in a day of solidarity against the corrupt economic and political practices of their governments.  In NYC, this day will include rallies in Lower Manhattan and Washington Square Park; and a mass march on Times Square. <a href=”http://15october.net/&#8221; rel=”nofollow”>15october.net/</a>

Marching up 5th Avenue

Today, #OccupyWallStreet led a march through the Upper East Side of Manhattan, home to some of the richest and most corrupted people on Earth.  Along the way, the demonstration stopped and chanted in front of the homes of selected billionaires, including Rupert Murdoch, and other leaders of business who benefited from federal bailouts on the people’s dime.

It seemed media was there from all over the world, from Japan to Italy.  There was a lot of positive energy in the march, and there were no notable confrontations with the police.

Two chants stuck out:

“We are the 99%!” – which has become the movement’s battlecry

“Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!”  – aimed, obviously, at the rich CEO’s who live in the neighborhood

Along the way, many bystanders paused, and expressed their support.  They far outnumbered the scoffers…

A similar thing happened in 1884, in Chicago –  though that was a bit more sinister.  On Thanksgiving Day, protesters marched past the mansions of the robber barons on Prairie Avenue.

‎”On Thanksgiving Day 1884 the anarchists [of Chicago] unveiled their new symbol. The black flag of hunger and death joined the red flag of social change. Playing the anthem of the French revolution, the Marseillaise, they began a march which took them past Potter Palmer’s elegant hotel, the Palmer House. Then on to the Prairie Avenue mansions of the capitalists who had “deprived them,” their leaflets said, “of every blessing during the past year.” “Every worker, every tramp must be on hand to express their thanks in a befitting manner….

‎…And they’re going up and they’re ringing the doorbells. And of course nobody’s answering the doors. But they’re screaming that they want bread or power. There’d just never been a direct demonstration quite like that…”

( http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/chicago/filmmore/pt_2.html)

Park Avenue

on Park Avenue

below Rupert Murdoch's penthouse

Many more pictures here:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattron/sets/72157627754699192/with/6238183718/

www.occupywallst.org

Declaration of Independence and Occupy Wall Street

A chief criticism of Occupy Wall Street is that there are a lot grievances with no proposed solutions.  We forget, though, that our most sacred document, the Declaration of Independence, was itself a list of complaints offering few answers.  Answers come after the inspiration.

The 99% is Growing!

(Special Thanks to field correspondents Sarah Valeri and Isabelle Garbani)

Lower Manhattan’s Foley Square sits at the edge of what was 19th century New York’s most notorious neighborhood, the Five Points –  setting of Martin Scorsese’s 2002 Gangs of New York

Foley Square - Occupy Wall Street - October 5 (photo - Isabelle Garbani)

Yesterday something extraordinary happened there.  A march of thousands (up to 50,000 by some estimates) rallied at the square to express their discontent with a broken system – a system in which common people are charged with funding the caprices of the extravagantly rich.  A system with an ever-increasing disdain for the citizens in its care.  A system in which basic American rights are being trampled upon.  We’ve been seeing in the previous weeks that people are beginning to realize that the “system” is OUR system.  We pay the taxes, we support the economy, we contribute to the services that are meant to make  a society work.  When an apathetic population comes to, and realizes that it is meant to lead a country instead of blindly follow a select few, great things can happen.

Foley Square - Occupy Wall Street - October 5, 2011 (photo - Isabelle Garbani)

Three  weeks ago, a few inspired individuals took over a small park in the Financial District and set up a model society – with cooperative medical services, food contributions, security, a media center, and decision making by consensus.  The usual happened: snide references to “over-privileged, over-educated, short-sighted hippies” etc. etc.  The past week, however, has blown this stereotype straight out of the water:

  Perhaps a society run for the people and by the people is not just a stale 235 year old catchphrase.  Because- as it turns out, the “fringe” settlement at Zuccotti Park  has amassed support from far and wide.

Yesterday, at Foley Square, we saw representatives from almost every major union imaginable – postal workers, teachers, laborers, nurses, marines, and the transit workers (Who are said to have decided to stop donating buses for mass arrests by the NYPD).  Occupations have begun in cities across the country. – In solidarity, students have walked out of schools and colleges.

Foley Square - Occupy Wall Street - October 5, 2011 (photo: Isabelle Garbani)

Yesterday’s march was the biggest yet of the Occupy Wall Street movement.  It was peaceful-  full of anger, but also of optimism.  Unlike at the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday, and Union Square the week before, the police, for the most part,  kept themselves in check- Though after much of the crowd had dissipated, they unleashed their typical brutishness once again, this time flailing wildly with batons, and later bragging about it:

Naturally the city and police department would like to avoid investigating this like the plague. But enough outcry may change that:

1st Precinct: +1 (212) 334-0611
NYPD Switchboard: +1 (646) 610-5000
NYPD Central Booking: +1 (212) 374-3921
NYPD Internal Affairs: +1 (212) 741-8401
Mayor Bloomberg: +1 (212) NEW-YORK or +1 (212) 374-392

HOWEVER – The experience for the vast majority of people in the march was positive.  “Good vibes”.  The national Occupy Wall Street movement is not only about poverty or the disadvantaged, it is about all of us– working, middle, and even upper-middle class – the 99% of us whose pursuit of the American Dream slips further and further from our reach, not by our lack of effort or where-with-all, but by a government that has wrenched it from our grasp.

Foley Square - Occupy Wall Street - October 5, 2011 (photo: Isabelle Garbani)

Occupy Wall Street marches the Brooklyn Bridge

On Saturday, October 1, a solidarity march left the Occupy Wall Street encampment at Zuccotti Park, and thousands proceeded north to City Hall and then began to cross the iconic Brooklyn Bridge.  A stand-off with police ensued and mass arrests numbered up to 1,000.

I was out of town and missed it but this is an excellent video showing the march and stand-off:

The movement is gaining traction and is spreading to cities across America:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2044267/Occupy-Wall-Street-protests-spread-LA-Boston-Chicago-Denver-Seattle.html

We Take for Granted Many of our Liberties – Occupy Wall Street, Day 12

 One-day protests come and go, usually without much notice.  In our world of continual distraction, these things are easy to gloss over –  especially in the hands of an apathetic media.  The strategy of indefinite occupation is far more effective –  it is designed to create ever-increasing involvement and solidarity.  As the word spreads, the movement is moving beyond fringe groups.  This week has seen the picketing of postal workers and pilots’ unions before the steps of the New York Stock Exchange:

Today was the 12th day of the Occupy Wall St movement and it is growing in strength and in numbers, not just in New York anymore, but all over the country and world.  (http://occupytogether.org/)

The optimism and determination at the Zuccotti Park encampment is fueled by this progress.  It is palpable as you walk around- scattered about are small groups talking policy, tactics, by-laws, etc.  Organization is being organized.   Along Broadway, demonstrators appeal to the rush-hour crowds.  Makeshift cardboard signs line the perimeter of the  park – attracting tourists, shoppers, and businessmen –  some of  whom  express support, others of whom have many questions, and, of course, those who pass with mocking laughter.  The weather has been weirdly summer-ish; but more humid rain is coming –    tarp-lined beds are being  set up.

At the other end of the park, drummers and various other musicians have assembled in an improvisatory canon resembling the Terry Riley classic “In C”

And in true NY entrepreneurial spirit, a number of food carts have set up along the edges of the square –  In a weird comingtogether, both protester and police have lined up to partake of their offerings.

protester and police alike need a smoothie!

The movement has attracted a number of high-profile figures, including Immortal Technique

Protest movements have always attracted harsh criticism and cynical mockery.  People do not like their boats to be rocked.  It is very easy to forget that many of the rights we enjoy come from a similar voice as that of the current expressions.   Both the Progressive era of 100 years ago and the Civil Rights movement of 50 years ago attracted their fair share of scorn in their day.      However – their outcomes are now a part of common American life.

This flag is pretty much the Revolutionary flag of Ethan Allen's Green Mountain Boys http://www.virtualvermonter.com/history/greenmtboys.htm

From the stalwart of rugged individualism that was Theodore Roosevelt, the progressive, come these:

“A typical vice of American politics is the avoidance of saying anything real on real issues.

“The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living, and the get-rich-quick theory of life.”

“The liberty of which Mr. Wilson speaks today means merely the liberty of some great trust magnate to do that which he is not entitled to do. It means merely the liberty of some factory owner to work haggard women over-hours for under-pay and himself to pocket the profits. It means the liberty of the factory owner to close his operatives into some crazy deathtrap on a top floor, where if fire starts, the slaughter is immense….We propose, on the contrary, to extend governmental power in order to secure the liberty of the wage workers, of the men and women who toil in industry, to save the liberty of the oppressed from the oppressor. Mr. Wilson stands for the liberty of the oppressor to oppress. We stand for the limitation of his liberty not to oppress those who are weaker than himself”  also T. Roosevelt (1912)      http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5722/

More info: https://occupywallst.org/

More photos:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattron/sets/72157627754699192/

Occupy Wall Street, Day 9

In the last post, I wrote about the Equitable Building, the gargantuan block of a building looming over the narrow streets of Lower Manhattan.

Incidentally this architectural landmark overlooks Zuccotti Park, the homebase of OccupyWallStreet, a major protest action that began on September 17 (“Constitution Day”) and is to continue indefinitely.

OccupyWallStreet September 25, 2011

With the world economy flagging, unemployment soaring, and promises continually disappointed, this has been a year in which people around the globe are finally empowering their voices and actions to facilitate fundamental change.  It is a movement of anger at the broken systems of the world, but also a movement with the optimism that reform is a real possibility.  And for the first time in history, unhindered by the selectivity of mainstream media, the world is truly watching itself.  Earlier this year, we watched how the power of numbers and connections brought revolution to the Middle East, and the spirit of the Arab Spring is spreading to all countries.

OccupyWallStreet - September 25, 2011

In the United States, we’re experiencing pervasive unemployment, extreme debt, and the increasing inability for a huge portion of the population to sustain a decent quality of life.  The OccupyWallStreet movement aims to represent the “99%” of Americans whose government, financial system, and wealth are determined by the remaining one percent.

Even the mainstay of the “American dream”, the middle-class, has been increasingly degraded.  Decades ago, one could live a modest life in this country and still be able to own a small chunk of the earth.  Under the current system of politics and business, this has become increasingly impossible for many of us.  In a democracy, everyone must contribute their fair share to the functioning of society.  It is evident that most of America is paying a greater share than those in control, those with the most influential wealth- wealth which is concentrated on Wall Street

OccupyWallStreet - September 25, 2011

And so for this, and many other related issues, OccupyWallStreet aims to hunker down in Lower Manhattan, draw as much awareness and support as possible, and present to the nation and world a basis and philosophy for change and a better society.  There is great patriotism here, and the wish to return to the core principles and ideals of the Constitution – a nation truly governed by the people.

Community kitchen of free food. OccupyWallStreet

The occupied Zuccotti Park (just blocks from the NY Stock Exchange, which itself has been cordoned off to anyone except employees) is a city within a city- with a library, a media center, a “kitchen” which serves free food, a medic, and people sweeping and taking care of garbage.   Sympathetic local businesses have allowed the use of their bathrooms (and of course appreciate the extra income).  The occupiers meet periodically to rally and discuss policy, and at night sleep on the hard pavement, often in the rain.  This is all under the watchful eye of the NYPD, which on Saturday overstepped decency with a number of arbitrary arrests and abuses, including the unwarranted pepper spraying of a woman already enmeshed in a net.  And this sorry episode:

OccupyWallStreet is explicitly non-violent and the police response was criminally heavy-handed.

OccupyWallStreet - September 25, 2011

Day 9 of the occupation was far more quiet, the police kept their distance, and the vibe of a subdued Sunday afternoon took hold.  It’s hard to say what the immediate future will hold, but it is clear that more and more Americans are starting to think outside of the broken, stalled-out Republican/Democrat system of false promise and self-interested money grabbing.

As we’ve seen in American history, democracy sometimes needs a little shaking-up in order to work for all.

OccupyWallStreet

OccupyWallStreet - September 25, 2011

For more:  https://occupywallst.org/

More pictures of Day 9: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattron/sets/72157627754699192/

#occupywallstreet on Twitter