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Occupy! – Day 48

I first went to Occupy Wall Street on its Day 9.  Inspired, I covered it.   It was just a smattering of people then, barely even acknowledged by most New Yorkers.  Over the past 6 weeks, however, it has bloomed further than many would have  ever expected.  There are now more than 1,000 occupations in more than 85 countries.  What began in a lonely square in Lower Manhattan has spread far and wide-   Though the movement is still in its infancy, its fervent global participation is unprecedented.  Fantastically so.

Zuccotti Park, increasingly known as Liberty Square, has become the modest epicentre of an aspiring global revolution.  There’s nothing there now that is actually much different from 40 days ago.  Volunteers supply the food, the general assembly convenes, much is discussed, the library thrives, sanitation is well maintained.  The cold New York winter is ahead, and tents have gone up and supplies are being gathered in preparation.  The community has become more organized.  The worldwide community is becoming more connected.

These scenes are a slice of November 2, 2011 at OWS:

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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!


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.

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.  (

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

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)

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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 - September 25, 2011

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More pictures of Day 9:

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