Three to Get Ready

Through Changing Times, Occupy
Wall Street Remains on Message

While the third anniversary celebration of the Occupy Wall Street movement was a subdued affair last Wednesday at Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, it’s fitting that Strike Debt, one its offshoots, was scoring a major win on its efforts to buy and cancel debt.
As a couple of hundred activists were back at the place where the protest was launched, on Sept. 17, 2011, the group’s Rolling Jubilee fund announced that it’d cancelled some $3.9 million in private student debt it’d acquired.
Raised by donations, the amount covered unpaid tuitions owed to one of for-profit Corinthian Colleges‘ schools, and so far, represents the only effort being made nationwide to alleviate an estimated $1.3 trillion owed in student debt by some 40 million Americans, no thanks to Congress or the federal government.
Not bad for a movement that has refused to abide by a national political agenda, has no recognized leadership, and despite declarations to the contrary, remains one of the sole voices still seeking justice for millions of Americans penalized by the Wall Street excesses that brought the world financial system to its knees in 2008.
While the movement as a whole is not exempted of criticism for its at times fractionary strategies, and internal divisions, it’s managed to remain on its progressive message Continue reading

Used Books

City Fined for Destroying
Occupy Wall Street Library

It was an act of truculence from the NYPD, just as the many arrests and illegal surveillance of members of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which even at its peak, remained an example of restrain as far as protest rallies go. An act that, even after two years, has no defenders.
A mistake, it’s now agreed, that will cost New York City, or rather, its taxpayers, $230,000, which includes reparations for the destruction of the volunteer-maintained People’s Library, plus the small windfall that lawyers, hired by the movement to litigate the case, have earned.
OWS has gone through many phases since that spring, summer and fall, still the only consistent act of rebellion against the widespread multi-billion malfeasance, perpetrated by Wall Street bankers, that brought most of the world’s finances to an almost standstill. Not quite, though, as it turned out.
Neither the U.S. government has managed to punish a single character in that tragic operetta, which bankrupted entire nations across the world, along with millions of working families. On the contrary, as far as anyone know, those same bosses have since thrived and are, in fact, wealthier than ever nowadays.
That’s why the raid of Zuccotti Park, in Lower Manhattan, was so out of proportion then, and utterly absurd now even as it recedes in time. While the city was wasting its highly trained law enforcement agents, their very own pensions were too being raided by the same chiefs who’d called them to clear the park in the first place. Not even Machiavelli could’ve envisioned such a mascarade.
The movement has found other venues to remain relevant since that fateful year. Whether it’s found its true calling by purchasing and forgiving debt of common citizens, as in the Strike Debt initiative (see on your left), or just being instrumental whenever needed, as it did during the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, it’s a discussion for another post.
In this context, beating the city in a lawsuit is not even its greatest achievement. But it sure helps. Thinking about that, here’s what Colltales published about the raid, and the chilling message it sent to some of us, to whom any time libraries and books are destroyed, burned, or dumped, the hair in the back of our neck stands up. Enjoy it.
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Booking the Future

When Libraries Are Destroyed,
Bad Memories Drive the Protest

When the New York Police Department raided the Occupy Wall Street encampment in Zuccotti Park, Lower Manhattan, last Tuesday, destroying its free makeshift library, it unwittingly joined a sad and brutal roll call of fanatics that stretches back many centuries.
The NYPD became just the newest member of an infamous club that includes the Taliban, German Nazis, the Khmer Rouge, Imperial Japanese forces, The British Empire, the Catholic Church, and an assortment of despots and bloody occupation armies across time, religions, cultures and ideologies.
All at one time or another, have been singled out by history for being responsible of the destruction of millions of books. The volumes will never be recovered or even identified, and those who did away with them exist now mainly under the general banner of scourge. But what has been lost to mankind certainly goes way beyond their horrific deeds.
Even before Gutenberg officially invented the modern print, books were perceived as a threat to power. Thus, the way the police confiscated the 5,000-odd volumes covering a wide array of subjects that had been donated to the OWS movement, was but a small, albeit not new, Continue reading

Rolling Jubilee

Occupy Wall Street Moves
On To Erase Consumer Debt

Among much of what was left unsaid during the U.S. presidential campaign is about rampant consumer debt. In fact, credit card bills and student loans are two of the major components weighting down household budgets throughout the land. And Washington is just not in the same page about this.
Now a group within the Occupy Wall Street movement took the issue at heart and came up with the Strike Debt initiative, the ‘people’s bailout,’ which aims at purchasing large amounts of consumer debt for pennies on the dollar, and simply erasing it, all done according to the law.
As it turns out, the feared collector agencies do exactly that: they buy out debt from banks and credit card companies and then proceed to pressure those who contract it to pay it back by all means necessary, and for top dollar. Strike Debt, however, will pardoned these debts at no charge.
The ballsy and creative movement has already been raising funds by donations (they’ve already close to $200,000, which roughly would equate to $4 million in debt), and is holding a telethon, at Le Poisson Rouge in the New York City Greenwich Village. It’s called Rolling Jubilee, after the biblical expression of forgiving those who owe you.
The event, a variety show with a number of local celebrities and activists, will be streamed live on the Web, and it’ll do much to inform a Continue reading

Occupy Wall Street

Peaceful Six-Month Anniversary Marked
by Zuccotti Evictions & Dozens Arrested

In a ‘court order violation,’ according to witnesses, the NYPD re-occupied Zuccotti Park last night in Lower Manhattan, and arrested an unknown number of participants in what had been a day of celebration for the Occupy Wall Street movement’s first six months.
As it happened before, police used MTA buses to take away those arrested and at least one protester, which sources say it’s student Cecilia McMillan, has been injured and remains at a non-identified city hospital. Elsewhere in the city, incidents of public intoxication and disorderly conduct by St. Patrick’s Day revelers, however, didn’t deserve the same attention from the NYPD.
After being evicted from Zuccotti, which was closed with barricades to ‘undergo cleaning,’ according to some uniformed officers who declined to be identified, hundreds of protesters headed to Union Square park, where they congregated until early morning. Reports of additional arrests can not be independently confirmed at this time.
Last night’s incidents, although far from the confrontation of previous months, in New York and other cities throughout the world, may have served as a sample of the NYPD’s plans for the expected increase in street protests by the OWS movement in coming months: a massive police display and the willingness to arrest even those who’re peacefully and lawfully exercising their civil rights.
It’s a risky strategy and, despite being presented as an attempt at preserving the rights of those not directly involved with the protests, as Mayor Bloomberg has stated in the past, the use of heavy riot gear and equipment by the police is, in itself, a confrontational gesture towards a movement that, for the most part, has accommodated and follow all rules concerning street protesting.
This being a presidential election year, too, it’s necessary to call attention, once more, to the fact that most New York elected officials, at city, state and federal level, have been missing in this six-month struggle to bring the crucial issue of accountability from financial institutions to the national debate. There must be something about the OWS movement that’s keeping them all away.
It’s doubtful, though, that such an abandonment of their constituency will remain so after November’s election. When their own well-heeled seats will be up for grabs, it’s only fair to expect that OWS participants and sympathizers, who have been literally thrown under the NYPD-driven MTA buses, will respond in kind. After all, NY taxpayers fund, at least in part, their elected officials’ salary.

Booking the Future

When Libraries Are Destroyed,
Bad Memories Drive the Protest

When the New York Police Department raided the Occupy Wall Street encampment in Zuccotti Park, Lower Manhattan, last Tuesday, destroying its free makeshift library, it unwittingly joined a sad and brutal roll call of fanatics that stretches back many centuries.
The NYPD became just the newest member of an infamous club that includes the Taliban, German Nazis, the Khmer Rouge, Imperial Japanese forces, The British Empire, the Catholic Church, and an assortment of despots and bloody occupation armies across time, religions, cultures and ideologies.
All at one time or another, have been singled out by history for being responsible of the destruction of millions of books. The volumes will never be recovered or even identified, and those who did away with them exist now mainly under the general banner of scourge. But what has been lost to mankind certainly goes way beyond their horrific Continue reading

The 1% Solution

The Clarity of Simple
Truths & Justice for All

“During times of universal deceit, telling
the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”
Few quotes, such as the one often attributed to George Orwell, could’ve been better tailored to express what the Occupy Wall Street movement is going through right now.
Whether he said it or not is irrelevant. But it does frame with accuracy and flair, the political risks and personal cost for those talking straight to power.
Last night’s raid of the Ground Zero of the movement that has since spread out globally, ordered by the Mayor of New York City and executed by the NYPD, only reinforced the old concept of history repeating itself, except that without the benefit of the farce.
The violent invasion of the Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, was, of course, no theatrical laughing matter. On the contrary, despite not having been so far as harsh or even lethal as elsewhere in the country, it was scary enough to remind everyone of infamous assault on the Bonus Army veterans camped at the Capitol lawn in 1932. Continue reading

What Now?

Police Raid Is Attempt to
Behead Occupy Wall Street

With Blitzkrieg efficiency and the truculence of Syrian armies, the New York Police Department dismantled last night the original HQ of the Occupy Wall Street protest movement, at Zuccotti Park, in lower Manhattan.
Just after 1AM, and at the dawn of its second month of continued peaceful occupation, one of the most liberal cities on earth decided that the annoyance of U.S. citizens exercising their right to seek public accountability from the government was simply too much.
Judging by their riot gear attire and loud warning shots fired into the unarmed crowd of, initially at least, about 2,000, the forces of law and order were apparently prepared to a violent confrontation, which hasn’t happened.
The destruction of the Ground Zero of public demand for justice for those who caused the devastating 2008 global financial crisis has been broadcast live to the world.
Tents, food courts, libraries, personal possessions, electronic equipment and other ‘facilities’ created by the movement were broken down, piled up and generally reduced to rubble. The evicted protesters remained on the sidelines, expressing one of America’s greatest democratic traditions: peaceful civil disobedience.
Few were not expecting at least some kind of attempt to dislodge the ragtag group of concerned citizens occupying the privately-owned park, Continue reading

Live Change

See New York Slowing
Down (and Waking Up)