Opposing war, racism, sexism, climate change, economic injustice and high-stakes testing.
On the one month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, filmmaker and activist Ed David went to Liberty Plaza asking where the movement will go next.
This inspiring ten-minute film captures the grassroots energy and diverse composition of the movement against the Keystone XL, a 1,700-mile pipeline that would transport tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada across the United States for refinement and export on the Gulf Coast.
The Tar Sands, also known as the oil sands, are one of the largest remaining deposits of oil in the world, and efforts to extract the resource from a mix of clay and other materials underneath Canada’s Boreal forest have created the biggest, and by the accounts of numerous scientists and environmental groups, the most environmentally devastating, energy project on earth. For details and background, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has compiled an extensive document that challenges many of the claims made by TransCanada and the US State Department about tough regulatory oversight of the project.
Environmental leader and writer Bill McKibben narrates the film and explains how the 1,263 people who took arrests over the course of a few weeks in the late summer in Washington, DC, transformed what was a regional issue that hadn’t attracted the notice it deserved into a national and a global issue commanding attention. This is the inspiring part and demonstrates anew the continued relevance of nonviolent civil disobedience.
The next step will take place on November 6 in Washington, DC, where thousands of concerned citizens, your blogger among them, will gather to implore President Obama to say no to the pipeline and attempt a symbolically powerful encircling of the White House. Get more info on the November 6 action; dig into research about the Tar Sands; join the Tar Sands Action Facebook page for updates; organize a Tar Sands event in your community, and donate directly to the cause of stopping the pipeline.
Occupy Wall Street demonstrators won a major victory on Friday when Mayor Bloomberg and Brookfield Properties, the owners of New York City’s Zuccotti Park, backed down on their demand that the activists temporarily vacate the park for a cleaning and subsequently abide by new rules banning sleeping bags, much gear and even lying down on the premises.
Demonstrators in numerous other cities weren’t nearly as fortunate. The same morning that New York City activists were cheering their win, dozens of state troopers in riot gear cleared out Occupy Denver protests, and in cities across the country like Phoenix, Boston and Des Moines, Occupy protesters faced police violence, arrests and forcible removal.
At the same time, some legal scholars and activists are arguing that as long as the actions stay peaceful and law-abiding there is no constitutional grounds for removing protesters from public spaces. As a new public letter circulated by RootsAction notes, the only “permit” Occupy protesters need is the First Amendment, which affirms “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
In the past year, when people across the Middle East occupied public squares, leaders in Washington cheered them on and warned other governments against using force. (See the video below.) Those other societies didn’t even have a First Amendment to cite. Yet official Washington affirmed the universal right to assembly and protest.
Now, it’s time for the pols to stick up for democracy here in the US. Sign on to RootsAction’s petition to the nation’s mayors and police chiefs affirming your support for the right to unfettered peaceful protest. It’s what made America great.
‘I Am Not Moving’
Signs are strong that Mayor Bloomberg is finally trying to evict the Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park under the ruse of a thorough park cleaning.
As Matt Browner Hamlin reports on the AmericaBlog, Bloomberg and Brookfield, which owns the formerly public park, are asking protesters to vacate Zuccotti Plaza in stages tomorrow, Friday, so the park can be cleaned. The problem is that after the cleaning, strong new restrictions about what would and would not be allowed back into the plaza after the cleaning would prevail with sleeping bags, tents and even lying down within Zuccotti Park banned.
“People will have to remove all their belongings and leave the park,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told the New York Post, “After it’s cleaned, they’ll be able to come back. But they won’t be able to bring back the gear, the sleeping bags, that sort of thing will not be able to be brought back into the park.”
Driving protesters out of public spaces as a way to break long-running protests is a common tactic. It happened in Madison, Wisconsin, during the occupation of the capitol; it was done to los indignados in Madrid; it was even done in New York City earlier this year, when activists had set up a Bloombergville tent city.
If you’re in NYC, call 311 and implore Mayor Bloomberg not to interfere with Occupy Wall Street. If you live outside the city, call Bloomberg at 212-NEW-YORK (212-639-9675) now and tell him: “Respect the First Amendment. Don’t evict Occupy Wall Street.” Also call Brookfield Properties CEO Ric Clark at 212-417-7000 to tell him that you don’t appreciate his company interfering in the Free Speech rights of American citizens. MoveOn.org is also circulating an emergency petition in defense of the protesters and their First Amendment rights to remain in Zuccotti Park. Finally, if you're able, the movement has asked all sympathizers to come to Zuccotti Park tomorrow morning at 6 :00am to stand with the protesters. The only way that Mayor Bloomberg will change his plan is massive public pressure. Act now!
As a lifelong Brookynite, I was especially pleased to see the Brooklyn Borough President break with many of his mainline Democratic Party brethren in greeting this Saturday's borough debut of the Occupy Wall Street movement with open arms.
The voluble Marty Markowitz isn't sure whether he'll be showing up at the 11:00am rally on Saturday at Grand Army Plaza but he told the Brooklyn Paper that "It was only a matter of time before the … rallies made their way to Brooklyn. There is no doubt that Americans — those in the '99 percent’ — are hurting, and we can all agree that some of the issues being raised by these protests are concerns we can all rally around."
Six weeks ago, on September 17, the Occupy Wall Street movement protesting economic injustice began, with little attention and derisive media coverage. Now, in its fourth week, Occupy Wall Street has spread well beyond New York City's financial district to more than 400 cities and towns in the US and dozens of solidarity movements around the globe.
On Saturday, October 15, the movement will reach Brooklyn, America's fourth largest city, with a morning event at historic Grand Army Plaza. OccupyBrooklyn has a Twitter feed, a blog, and a Facebook page for info. Details on what to expect are slowly coming together but this event looks to be less an actual occupation, as in Manhattan's Zuccotti Park, and more of a solidarity action. Organizers are holding an open meeting, TONIGHT Thursday night, October 13, at 7:00pm at the Commons Brooklyn to discuss, among other things, whether the movement should attempt to take up indefinite residence in the borough.
Any nominees for Brooklyn's Zuccotti Park?
Last week, a campus walkout in support of Occupy Wall Street, initially called for just New York City high schools and colleges, spread in a matter of days to dozens of schools coast to coast. (Thank you Facebook and Twitter!)
As reported by the Student Activism blog, the actions on October 5 drew numbers ranging from hundreds to, on at least five campuses, individual students, starting from scratch and organizing on their own. In total, students from at least 100 college campuses around the country walked out of class in a show of solidarity and support for the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Students are angry about the debt that many of them must obtain to go to college and the fact that they are graduating into the worst job market since the Great Depression. And it's no wonder: outstanding student loan debt exceeded credit card debt for the first time in 2010 and student loan debt is up 25 percent since 2008.
This week will see the second national student action in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street. This time around, the number of participants is sure to be significantly larger reflecting the increased, and increasingly respectful, attention the growing movement has received in the past seven days.
After a frenzy of discussion and several straw polls on Facebook, the organizers behind Occupy Colleges have announced this Thursday, October 13, as their next day of action. They’re presenting this as a day of protest rather than a walkout, and they already have fifty-six campuses on board.
Find an event here and check back regularly; updates are being made many times each day. Can't find an event near you? Check out this terrific guide to staging your own Occupy action and mount your own protest against economic inequality.
Former Afghan MP, human rights activist and author Malalai Joya has a message worth spreading on today's tenth anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan, now the longest military conflict in the history of the United States.
Joya served as a Parliamentarian in the National Assembly of Afghanistan from 2005 until early 2007, after being dismissed for publicly denouncing the presence of what she considered to be warlords and war criminals in the Afghan parliament. An outspoken critic of the Karzai administration and its Western supporters, Joya's perspective is not one you find often in the US media.
Last night, Michael Moore made his fifth visit to #OccupyWallStreet and delivered an exuberant, celebratory, inspiring sermon via the "human mic” from the steps on the east side of Liberty Plaza (Zuccotti Park).
The burgeoning movement against economic injustice is spreading like wildfire. If you're not in or around New York City, there are Occupy solidarity actions taking place in more than 200 other locales in the United States. Chris Bowers at Daily Kos has the most comprehensive and credible list I’ve seen. Find an action near you, use the comments field to let us know about new initiatives, and check out a brief guide on how to support the new movement.
Updated at 4:00pm
Updated at 2:56pm
The #OccupyWallStreet movement against economic injustice is spreading like wildfire with big labor and established advocacy groups joining a major march today in what is expected to be the largest action of the campaign to date.
If you're not in or around New York City, there are Occupy actions taking place in Allentown, Ann Arbor, Athens, Birmingham, Boise, Chicago, Dallas, Dayton, Denver, Hartford, Houston, Indianapolis, Ithaca, Jersey City, London, Los Angeles, Madison, Miami, Michigan, New Orleans, Pensacola, Philadelphia, Rochester, Sarasota, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Seattle, Tampa, Toronto and Youngstown. Please use the comments field below to alert us to other actions. I'll keep updating as more information comes in.
Occupy Your City
Genetically engineered foods are required to be labeled in the European Union nations, Russia, Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries around the world. But in America, the industrial food industry is still allowed to keep consumers in the dark about the food they purchase.
Join me in signing a petition from the Institute for Responsible Technology calling on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods.