Showing posts with label Occupy Wall Street. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Occupy Wall Street. Show all posts

Friday, June 08, 2012

Judge Rules 'Occupy' may Proceed in Class-Action against NYPD for Brooklyn Bridge Entrapment

On Oct 2, this blog reported how the NYPD led Occupy Wall Street protesters onto the Brooklyn Bridge, only to then kettle and arrest hundreds of them. The initial reports in the New York Times reporting the entrapment was then changed (and the reporter’s name changed) after receiving calls from NYPD spokesmen 20 minutes after publication (see original article New York Times Changes Story, Shifts Blame)

 In an opinion issued late yesterday, US District Judge Jed Rakoff ruled that a class action lawsuit against the police may proceed, and that New York Police Department officers are not entitled to qualified immunity from the arrests from the October 1, 2011 Brooklyn Bridge incident. He has ordered the lawsuit to proceed. In issuing his ruling, Judge Rakoff referred to historic protests by Thomas Paine and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"This is a major victory in the fight for justice and vindication for the seven hundred people falsely arrested by the NYPD," stated Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund which filed the class action lawsuit days after the arrests. "This is a clear message in defense of free speech. The Court's ruling means that scores of NYPD officers are potentially liable to hundreds of arrestees who were mass arrested in a peaceful protest in a blatant violation of their constitutional rights."

"From the onset, this case has involved competing narratives: the police's carefully crafted PR presentation that was spun to the press in the immediate hours after the mass false arrest, versus the truth," stated Carl Messineo, Legal Director of the PCJF. "The plaintiffs in this lawsuit sought to set the record straight in their demand for justice. The court repeatedly cited the evidence presented in the complaint, including multimedia video evidence, in its finding that NYPD officers can be held liable for conducting these false arrests. We've said all along that the police invited protestors into the bridge and then turned around and, without notice or warning, arrested them. The ruling vindicates and credits that narrative that we have said is the truth all along."

The Judge’s rulings states:

 "[A] reasonable officer would have understood that it was incumbent on the police to clearly warn the demonstrators that they must not proceed onto the Brooklyn Bridge's vehicular roadway...the officers...turned and started walking away from the demonstrators and onto the road way -- an implicit invitation to follow. While the demonstrators might have inferred otherwise if they had heard the bull horn message, no reasonable officer could imagine, in these circumstances, that this warning was heard by more than a small fraction of the gathered multitude...Indeed, the plaintiffs' video shows what should have been obvious to any reasonable officer, namely, that the surrounding clamor interfered with the ability of demonstrators as few as fifteen feet away from the bull horn to understand the officer's instructions."

The ruling opens with the following: "What a huge debt this nation owes to its 'troublemakers.' From Thomas Paine to Martin Luther King, Jr., they have forced us to focus on problems we would prefer to downplay or ignore. Yet it is often only with hindsight that we can distinguish those troublemakers who brought us to our senses from those who were simply . . . troublemakers. Prudence, and respect for the constitutional rights to free speech and free association, therefore dictate that the legal system cut all non-violent protesters a fair amount of slack. These observations are prompted by the instant lawsuit, in which a putative class of some 700 or so 'Occupy Wall Street' protesters contend they were unlawfully arrested while crossing the Brooklyn Bridge on October 1, 2011."

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Montréal: Student, Labor and Citizen Protests Grow

It started three months ago as a student-initiated protest against university tuition hikes.

By American standards – in fact, even by Canadian standards – the tuition that Québec students pay is very low. But the protest is not about the actual tuition figure, as much as it is about the principle of what education means in Québec society. The province’s notoriously low tuitions were instituted during the “Quiet Revolution” of the 1960s as a means of ensuring greater accessibility, especially among the francophone population that had long lagged behind the rest of Canada. Borrowing from the pages of America’s “Occupy” movement and the “Arab Spring” halfway around the world, the protests have come to embrace a wide spectrum of causes….and is coming to be known as the "Printemps Érable,” the “Maple Spring.”

And it is a movement that was launched by students – and by all measures, its growing.

Last week, the government negotiated an agreement with student leaders in an effort to end the 13-week walkout that included at $250 increase in tuition. But across Québec, the students who have been asked to approve the agreement are rejecting it in overwhelming numbers. As the possibility of finishing this semester looks less likely each day, students are delivering a message to the governing Liberal Party that they are not going to settle for a poor deal.

“I am surprised to see the impact on the semester is not the major preoccupation of students,” said Léo Bureau-Blouin, President of the Fédération Étudiante Collégiale du Québec (The Québec College Student Federation) “I didn’t realize how far they were willing to go to solve this crisis. Students are ready to make real sacrifices.”

Observers blame Education Minister Line Beauchamp for extending the crisis by not responding more quickly to concerns that were raised about the agreement. Worse, students say that government officials bragged that they had won on the tuition issue, which outraged students who had negotiated in good faith.

As the protests grow, they take on more of the look of the Occupy Wall Street protests. Signs have appeared opposing oil sands drilling, supporting gender equality, opposing the privatization of public services, and opposing the government’s plan to extract resources in the northern Québec wilderness (“Plan Nord”).

And now, political parties and labor unions have joined the students. Concordia political science professor Bruce Hicks described it this way:

“There has been an element involved in the student strike all along that I think grew out of the Occupy movement….the student protest movement has tapped into outrage over the economy and society and government from more moderate individuals, creating a sort of hybrid between an anarchist movement, but also a socially progressive protest vote.” (Precisely the sometimes uneasy but purposeful alliance that has characterized the American movement).

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, the spokesperson for CLASSE, the largest and most militant of the three student federations orchestrating the strike, stated from the beginning that students’ fight was with Québec’s “greedy elite,” and that the strike would lead to a “much deeper, much more radical challenge of the direction Québec has been heading in recent years.”

Two major parties - the Parti Québécois and Québec Solidaire - have endorsed the student protests. Québec unions have donated C$60,000 to the student groups. The Ontario branches of the Canadian Union of Public Employees gave an additional $30,000.
“They can continue to count on our support in the future, we are against the tuition increase,” said Louis Roy, president of La Confédération des Syndicats Nationaux (CSN), one of the province’s largest unions.

Roy said his union, along with the Fédération des Travailleurs et Travailleuses du Québec (The Worker’s Federation of Québec) and the Centrale des Syndicats du Québec (CSQ), have been working with the students for more than 18 months. The unions and the student federations are part of a group called the Alliance Sociale, which was formed in the fall of 2009 to oppose the Liberal government’s budget.The unions have also provided sound systems for demonstrations and organizational support.

Roy applauded the student’s negotiating skills with the government.

“Their ability to communicate is very good. They are young, but they are not children. They don’t need to be held by the hand.”
They also know how to leverage Montréal’s transit system.

Just as Twitter, Facebook, and text messages have become communication catalysts, the Métro has become the student’s trump card for physical movement. Police complain that protesters are able to shift their actions from one part of the city to another more quickly than police motorcycles or squad cars can move through city streets.

The Police have responded by posting helmeted transit security agents at the Métro station entrances and exits, donning riot gear, brandishing nightstick, and holding police dogs. But tens of thousands of Montréalers who use the line for commuting have grown disgusted – not with the students, but with police lines deployed at each station.

Insp. Alain Larivière, head of the Montréal Police Dept.’s Métro division, claims that Police are merely protecting commuters from protesters.

“The métro may be open, but we can’t just let (passengers) go out while a demonstration’s been declared illegal, while there’s an intervention in progress by the officers or the cavalry…”

Larivière later admitted that all of the demonstrations that have taken place within the Métro have been peaceful. In fact, of the 190 demonstrations staged during the protests, not once has the subway system’s operations being disrupted by the students.


Sunday, May 06, 2012

France Elects Socialist Hollande, Echo "Occupy" Values

By a vote of 52% - 48%, François Hollande has become the first Socialist to win the Presidency of France since François Mitterand held the post from 1981-1995. More than 80% of the nation’s voters cast votes.

Jubilant Hollande supporters gathered at La Place de la Bastille in Paris (see picture), the iconic symbol of both conservative state oppression under the Monarchy, and its overthrow as it was stormed by citizens on July 14, 1789 during the French Revolution. It has become a traditional rallying site for French leftists.

Hollande’s victory follows a pattern unfolding throughout Europe:

All 17 nations in the Eurozone (those using the Euro as a common currency) are struggling to bring government debt under control and make good on existing debt (with Greece, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, and Spain feeling the crunch the hardest). In response, the largely centrist and conservative governments throughout Europe have been in slashing spending and curtailing government programs.

Citizen opposition to these measures has taken two forms: on the left there has been a call for more government stimulus spending and economic justice (echoing the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States); on the right there has been a frightening rise in an anti-European, anti-immigrant nationalistic neo-fascism. While polar opposites in philosophy, both groups have found common ground in their desire to oust sitting governments. Just two weeks ago, the neo-fascists in the Netherlands under Geert Wilder forced the collapse of that government, which will hold new elections in just under four months.

France holds two rounds of voting; in the first round, which took place on April 22, incumbent center-right candidate Nicolas Sarkozy won 27% of the vote, carrying the northern and eastern sections of the country; Socialist François Hollande carried just under 29% of the vote, carrying the southwest part of the country and the Brittany peninsula; and Marine LePen, the far-right candidate, shocked observers by polling almost 18% of the vote. The remainder of the vote was scattered between seven other candidates, none of whom polled more than 11% of the vote. Under the French electoral system, if no candidate receives a majority of the vote, a runoff is held between the highest two candidates, which took place today.

And with today’s vote, France has spoken: they have elected a candidate who has promised a top tax rate of 75% on those earning more than one million euros annually, a renegotiation of Europe’s austerity measures, and the hiring of 60,000 additional teachers, providing a European version of the American “Occupy” movements’ message.


Thursday, May 03, 2012

9 Rights Groups to Attorney General: "Protect Occupy Reporters"

Earlier today 9 different organizations suporting the First Amendment's Freedom of the Press delivered a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder demanding that his office investigate the jailing of more than 70 citizen-journalists during Occupy Wall Street Protests, and the intimidation of dozens of others. The groups termed police actions since the September 17 Occupy protests began a "suppression of speech as a national problem that deserves your full attention."

In August of 2011, the First Circuit Court of Appeals (covering Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Puerto Rico) ruled in Glik v. Cunniffe that citizens have a Constitutional right to film police in the course of their duties Full Text.

Glik was arrested for using his cell phone’s digital camera to film several police officers arresting a man on the Boston Common. The charges against him for violating a state wiretap statute and two other offenses were eventually dismissed. Glik sued the officers under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming that his arrest for filming the officers violated his First and Fourth Amendment rights.

The court held that the officers were not entitled to immunity from prosecution. First, a citizen’s right to film government officials, including law enforcement officers, in the discharge of their duties in a public space is a basic, vital and well-established liberty protected by the First Amendment. Glik was exercising clearly established First Amendment rights in filming the officers in the Boston Common, the oldest city park in the United States. Additionally, the officers arrested Glik without probable cause, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The full text of today's letter:

Dear Attorney General Eric Holder:

The First Amendment has come under assault on the streets of America. Since the Occupy Wall Street movement began, police have arrested dozens of journalists and activists simply for attempting to document political protests in public spaces. While individual cases may not fall under the Justice Department’s jurisdiction, the undersigned groups see this suppression of speech as a national problem that deserves your full attention.

The alarming number of arrests is an unfortunate and unwarranted byproduct of otherwise positive changes. A new type of activism is taking hold around the world and here in the U.S.: People with smartphones, cameras and Internet connections have been empowered with the means to report on public events. These developments have also created an urgent need for organizations such as ours to defend this new breed of activists and journalists and protect their right to record.

Freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of access to information are vital whether you’re a credentialed journalist, a protester or just a bystander with a camera. In the digital age, these freedoms mean that we all have the right to create and share information using all manner of devices and lawful means.

In this new environment, we must guard these rights and protect the networks that give so many the means to connect and voice their political beliefs. The First Amendment’s protections must extend to everyone. The right to record is an essential component of our rights at a time when so many of those witnessing public protests carry networked, camera-ready devices such as smartphones. Continuous access to the open Internet and social media — over both wired and wireless networks — is also essential.

We the undersigned call on authorities at the local, state and federal level to stop their assault on people attempting to document protests and other events unfolding in public spaces. We must protect everyone’s right to record.


American Civil Liberties Union
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Free Press
National Press Photographers Association
New America Foundation
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
Reporters Without Borders


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Year in Review: The Top 10 News Stories of 2011

From this Blogger's perspective, here are the top 10 news stories of 2011. Each was chosen based on their potential on-going long-term effects on humanity. In no particular order, they are:

1) The Arab Spring: Erupting in Tunisia and spreading across the Arab world, the entire year was characterized by protests and political changes in Northern Africa and the Middle East. Regime changes in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, as well as on-going protests in a dozen nations (currently (most serious in Syria and Yemen) represent serious winds of change throughout the geo-political sphere. A timeline of protests throughout the Arab world can be found at The Guardian

2) Weather Extremes and Global Warming: Once a matter of debate, the vast majority of the world’s climatologists agree that global warming is happening at an even faster rate than expected, with significant changes in the ocean temperatures and subsequent weather patterns. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there were an all-time record of twelve weather disasters costing more than $1 billion each in 2011 (for a total of 45 billion dollars in damage). The previous record was nine such disasters in 2008. Weather events included a blizzard across much of North America on February 2, record wilfires in the US west, a tornado outbreak that levelled Joplin, Missouri, Hurricane Irene (which uncharacteristically inundated and devastated inland communities in Vermont and Upstate New York), and a foot-and-half snowfall at Halloween in the northeast US. Elsewhere, record high temperatures were recorded in Iraq and Kuwait, an all-time record low volume of Arctic sea was recorded, record floods inundated Australia and Asia, and the worst droughts in three decades affected Africa.

3) Osama bin Laden Killed: A decade after he masterminded the 9/11 attacks on New York City’s World Trade Center, Osama bin Laden was killed in a surgical strike on his hideout in Pakistan. This represented the most visible and significant victory in the global fight against terrorism and the al Qaeda organization.

4) New York State Enacts Marriage Equality: Four days after its scheduled adjournment for the season, the New York State Senate gave its approval to Marriage Equality by a larger-than expected margin of 33-29 when four Republicans broke rank and joined the majority of Democrats, making New York the seventh and largest jurisdiction in the US to permit same-sex marriage. Full story at Tully's Page

5) Occupy Wall Street and Police Brutality: Beginning on September 17 in New York City, the “Occupy Wall Street” movement in many ways inaugurated an American version of the Arab Spring. Spreading to other cities across the nation, thousands of Americans from all walks of life took to the streets to protest persistent unemployment, indebtedness, foreclosures and economic injustice in raw juxtaposition to the trillions of bailouts received by Wall Street financial houses and executives. The movement elicited a brutal response by police forces, and the use of pepper spray against peaceful protesters, young women, and veterans became a national outrage. The movement propelled Time magazine to name “The Protester” as it’s Person of the Year.

6) Federal Reserve Bailouts Revealed: For almost 100 years, the Federal Reserve System, which serves as the nations Central Bank, operated without an audit or significant political oversight. In the aftermath of the bank bailouts commencing in 2008, Congress began looking into the Fed’s activities using taxpayer dollars. In all, it was revealed that over 16 trillion in secret unpaid loans were made to both American and foreign banks. Sen. Bernie Sanders

7) Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Meltdown in Japan: On March 11, an 8.9 Magnitude earthquake rocked Japan, the worst earthquake in modern history. Over 16,000 people died from the quake and the tsunami that followed. When the Fukushima Daiichi power plant site in Fukushima was inundated by a 49-foot high tsunami wave, the nuclear reactors could not be cooled, began to overheat, and meltdowns began at three of the reactors. What followed was a release of radioactive cesium, evacuation of the surrounding area, and subsequent government and industry cover-ups of the extent of radiation. Fukushima Radiation

8) John Wheeler Murdered: On New Year’s Eve, after the death of 100,000 fish and 5,000 blackbirds in Arkansas, John P. Wheeler, a decades-long government expert in toxic chemicals, was found murdered in a dump as he was en route to Washington DC. The kills and murder came in the wake of the US Government’s Pine Bluffs Arsenal "disposal” of mustard and nerve gas in the area, as well as active “fracking” by energy companies. The incidences awakened a national concern for the environmental effects of these activities, and was the single most visited and cited webpage on this site: John Wheeler

9) Milton Hershey Rejects HIV Positive Student: In an almost incomprehensible burst of ignorance, prejudice, and chutzpah, the highly-vaunted Milton Hershey School (a private, tuition-free boarding school), issued a statement coinciding with World AIDs Day explaining their refusal to admit a student due to his HIV positive status, in direct violation of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Outrage was swift, and brought additional publicity to continuing ignorance about HIV transmission. Milton Hershey

10) European Debt Crisis: Beginning in Greece, the ability of some Eurozone member nations to repay their government debts created continental – and global – concern. Ireland, once seen as the “Celtic Tiger” for its explosive, high-tech-driven growth found itself enacting austerity measures and slashing government spending; Italy, Portugal, and Spain found themselves in a similar condition. The downgrading of these nations bonds began a record weakening of the Euro against the US Dollar that continued throughout the year. A weakened Euro makes it more difficult for the Eurozone members to purchase American goods, endangering the US recovery.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Green Party candidate Jill Stein defends First Amendment

In spite of efforts by police across the nation to silence the media during their coordinated assault on protesters, videos made by ordinary citizens and posted on YouTube have gone viral and provided all the evidence that is needed to show the excessive brutality exercised by The Police State against American citizens last night: Pepper spray used on an octagenarian who was moving too slowly, thousands of books destroyed, protesters roused and rounded up at night, press passes confiscated, individuals with official court restraining orders punched in the face by uniformed officers, a NY city Councilor beaten...and the list goes on.

The Republicans continue to dismiss the people with total disdain, while Obama's Department of Homeland Security coordinates with City Police forces to storm the protests.

In the midst of this, the Green Party alone has had the courage to stand up and oppose these gestapo-like tactics. I reprint, in its entirety, the official statement released by Jill Stein, Green Party candidate for President:

"The aggressive, needless police actions across the country against Occupy Wall Street (OWS) are an assault on civil liberties and an effort to suppress a much needed movement for economic justice and democracy. The courageous protesters who have stood up to intimidation by lethal force are standing up for us all.

The use of police in full riot gear with helicopters buzzing overhead to arrest peaceful and largely sleeping protesters is frightening commentary on the militarization of state and municipal security. Unprovoked police violence against citizens practicing peaceful civil disobedience - clearly documented on videos gone viral on the internet - is deeply alarming: young women being corralled and pepper sprayed on Wall Street, students at University of California Berkeley being attacked with nightsticks, Iraq veteran Scott Olsen who served two tours of duty supposedly defending freedom, yet whose own freedom was assaulted in a police attack at Occupy Oakland that fractured his skull and rendered him unable to speak.

In conducting these raids, public officials are suppressing rights of free speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of the press. Routinely, reporters were physically prevented from observing the raids. Many of those who managed to get in to the sites were reportedly intimidated or arrested. If access to public ways and public health and safety concerns were significant, other non-military solutions were available to deal with them. The lack of such efforts belies the excuse that these concerns justified police raids.

As the OWS protesters have said, the defenders of the 1% can evict the protesters, but they can't evict an idea. The protest is here to stay. I call upon the mayors of the occupied cities to follow the example of Green Party Mayor Gayle McLaughlin of Richmond, California, who welcomed the local occupation, and to allow the Occupy gatherings to continue.

Throughout American history public assemblies by the people have been essential to the advance of our civil liberties and to the defense of our freedoms.

Coxey's Army in 1894 marched from Ohio to DC, demanding public jobs for the unemployed in the midst of a recession. In 1932, the Bonus Army of 17,000 World War I veterans and their families, in the third year of the Great Depression camped in DC demanding the immediate cash-payment redemption of their World War I bonuses that were scheduled to be paid in 1945. In 1968, the Poor People's Campaign, a legacy of recently assassinated Dr. Martin Luther King, set up a shantytown in DC known as "Resurrection City" in support of an Economic Bill of Rights, seeking full employment, a guaranteed annual income, and affordable low-income housing. In 1985-86, students erected and camped in anti-apartheid shantytowns on college campuses to protest investments in corporations in apartheid South Africa.

Some of the OWS protesters are homeless. Many more are young and jobless, often carrying unconscionable college-loan debt burdens. They are the tip of the iceberg of insecurity that is increasingly intolerable for growing numbers of the American public, with the upper 1 percent of Americans now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year and controlling 40 percent of the nation's wealth. Income disparity in the US now exceeds that before the Great Depression. Thus, the anguish that compels protesters to sleep on the cold hard ground is not going away.

The political parties of the 1% are showing signs of neither understanding the protest, nor acting to address the root economic causes. I challenge President Obama to forbid all Federal involvement in these disturbing violations of civil liberties, and to urge all elected officials to respect the right of citizens to peacefully assemble to petition their government for redress of the economic grievances caused by rule by the 1%."

Jill Stein for President Campaign


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NYPD clears Occupy Wall Street

This is how a Fascist Police State Operates:

Shortly after midnight, the Mayor has a secret meeting, calling NYPD, NYFD, and Public Works Departments to City Hall.

NYPD shut down all subways, subway stations, and the Brooklyn Bridge at 1:20 am. All New Yorkers held hostage by the NYPD.

NYPD amass in riot gear at Broadway and Canal, 1:43 am. Snipers take position on rooftops.

In spite of Constitutional provisions guaranteeing Freedom of the Press, Press are barred from entering Zuccotti Park to record the imminent raid at 2:07 am, and Press helilcopters are evicted from airspace. Defiant reporters rounded up by NYPD: one pepper sprayed at 2:03 am, at least one New York Times Reporter demanding to exercise his 1st Amendment rights is arrested and removed at 2:22 am. Press several blocks have press badges confiscated; police refuse to give badge numbers or names.

The NYPD assault on Zuccotti Park, which is private property, begins.

5,000 Books discarded in a dumpster at 2:42 am. Bulldozers move into Zuccotti Park. NYC Council Member Ydanis Rodríguez arrested and bleeding from head, 2:44 a.m

Remaining Occupiers chain themselves to tree, which had been protected by Occupiers throughout. The tree is cut down by NYPD at 2:55 am. Fire Hoses are brought in at 3:08 am.

Doormen at area residential apartments ordered by police to prevent residents from leaving (confirmed by NBC news at 3:37 am)

130 police in Riot Gear surround Zuccotti Park. Deputy Mayor and Legal Counsel in Oakland, California, resign in protest of Oakland raids on Occupiers...raising the question of a nationally orchestrated 'cleansing' campaign.

Combined action by government entities, in the dead of night. Silencing of the Press. Cutting off of transportation routes. Destruction of books. Sweeping of private property by government thugs. Pepper spray, arrests, assaults.

Call (212) NEW-YORK. Sheldon Silver 212-312-1420. Christine C. Quinn - City Council (212) 564-7757 Brookfield Properties(212) 483-0771


Friday, November 04, 2011

Onsite at #OccupyWallStreet: 10 Myths Debunked

Over 35 years ago, Jerry Mander wrote a landmark book titled, “Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television.” One of those arguments was that with TV, the media now had the power to edit the variety of pictures they showed to the public, thus enabling them to create whatever ‘story’ they wanted based on what they chose to show.

Today, my partner and I finally got to Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan and joined in the Occupy Wall Street encampment. And I have to admit that what I saw was not at all what I had read or seen in the media reports. Thus, my post today is meant to debunk some of the myths I have heard over and over.

Myth #1: The Protesters have ‘taken over’ Manhattan’s Financial District and are interrupting and burdening normal activities.

Wrong. OWS “occupiers” are compactly situated in Zuccotti Park, a plaza about two short blocks north of Wall Street. It is plaza that is normally “occupied” by the public. For the last eight years I have taken student groups to Manhattan, and each year we have had lunch at the plaza. The sidewalks surrounding the plaza are clear, and there is no interruption of vehicular or pedestrian traffic. From as close as one block away, we had no idea that anything unusual was taking place.

Myth #2: OWS is destroying the “park.”

Those unfamiliar with the park may incorrectly imagine this to be a grassy oasis in the midst of lower Manhattan. But there is not a blade of grass in the ‘park’ – it is a 100% paved plaza. The tents that have been erected are not compacting soil, killing vegetation, or being secured into the ground with pegs; rather, they are simply weighted down by their contents on the pavement. The Occupiers have taken great care to protect a planter of flowers and the small locust trees that have been planted around the plaza.

Myth #3: These protesters are just a bunch of spoiled young brats.

No, actually the group is as amazingly diverse as New York City and America are. Occupants are black, white, asian, and latino. They are students, war veterans (actually, veterans are present in significant numbers), grandmas knitting in chairs, economists in ties & suit jackets, middle –aged laborers, and senior citizens. My favorite sign, held by one middle-aged man with a great sense of humor, read, “Another green-haired, deer-hunting, real estate developer in support of OWS.”

Myth #4: They may be diverse, but they’re simply whiners looking for handouts.

No, these people are heroes. With temperatures falling below 40 and wind whipping through lower Manhattan, it is very cold right now. It is also very cramped: with over 100 tents squeezed together, occupiers barely have room to stretch out. They lack most of the creature comforts that the majority of us take for granted and go home to each night, without complaint. Rather than whining, these people are enduring hardship for all of us – hardship that many Wall Street Executives have never experienced.

Myth #5: OWS has no clear focus or message.

Nonsense. The diverse interests that make up OWS have a consistent thread: – opposition to corporate domination of the American political system. This opposition manifests itself in various ways: opposition to fracking, nuclear power, and the Keystone pipeline; indictments of corporate refusals to hire veterans; student loan burdens, and the exclusion of such loans in bankruptcy proceedings; the imprisonment of Bradley Manning; the Citizens United Court ruling; the irony of lower wages in a time of higher corporate profits; and the capture of both major political parties by corporate donors. Diverse causes, yes…but all undergirded by the influence of large corporations in government decisions.

Myth #6: OWS is disorganized and aimless.

A mere walk through the Occupy Camp shows an incredible amount of organization: there is a large lending library, a medical tent, a welcome table, a press tent, on-site legal assistance, scheduled teach-ins, addiction assistance, a food tent, a sanitation crew, and an energy operation. OWS has managed to create a voluntary, need-based, consensus-embraced camp, in spite of Mayor Bloomberg’s cutting them off from heat & energy sources and sanitary facilities.

Disorganized? Lacking electricity, OWS participants are peddling used, stationery bicycles to create electricity that is being stored in car batteries to continue their computer feeds – an effort in which your Blogger participated. This is impressive creativity, not disorganization.

Myth #7: OWS is hurting New York’s image and its economy.

First of all, the exercise of Constitutional Rights is not subject to image niceties. However, it is fair to say that not only is OWS not hurting New York’s image and economy – it has become a tourist attraction in and of itself. Located in the shadow of the newly-rising World Trade Center Building #1, tourists ringed Zuccotti Park the entire time I was there, snapping pictures, taking videos, speaking with Occupiers. The mobile food carts that have always been located on the south edge of the park remain there and are thriving….as are an increased number of street vendors that are set up across the street on the east side of Broadway.

Myth #8: These people are really anti-capitalist Communists.

To be sure, there are some Occupiers sporting Che Guevara signs and anti-capitalist slogans. There are also a number selling t-shirts, pins, souvenirs, and even refrigerator magnets. More than anti-capitalist (many of them are engaging in entrepreneurial activities), they are anti-corporatist, pro democracy, and promoting new approaches to wealth disparity. More than anything, they value social responsibility and paying a laborer what he or she is worth – a very American principle that has been sorely upended in the last two decades.

Myth #9: The Occupation has become unsanitary and a health hazard.

There’s no doubt that Zuccotti Park is messy & cramped – though hardly more cramped than some 6 x 10 student hostel rooms I’ve stayed in. And tents and canvas and signs and wind and a “camping” situation that is now 6 weeks old will not look like Martha Stewart’s living room. But “Unsanitary?” No. OWS has instituted recycling, composting, and its own “Sanitation Department,” complete with cleansing agents, brooms, and a garbage collection squad. On each side of the Park, very large “Good Neighbor Policy” signs are posted, clearly spelling out behavioral expectations. Considering it is the City of New York that blocked the delivery of port-a-potties (Bette Midler offered to pay for them), it is rather disingenuous of them to then suggest that the plaza is ‘unsanitary.’ (Ironically, *this afternoon* it was announced that port-a-potties will be located on the loading dock of the United Teacher’s Federation building, about two blocks away)

Myth #10: Crimes are going unreported (said Bloomberg today), and it is a lawless community.

I just have to laugh at this one. Police cars, trucks and at least one Police Tower are parked side-by-side along the north side of the park. TV trucks, with cameras looking down from twenty-foot-high booms, line the south side. Police stand on the sidewalks on all sides. There are more police at Zuccotti Park per square foot than in a Dunkin Donuts parking lot. To suggest that Zuccotti Park is crime-ridden in the face of the videos, cameras, cell phones, TV crews, and round-the-clock police presence, would tell us more about the ineffectiveness of the NYPD than about the Occupiers.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Occupy Wall Street discusses National Political Convention in Philly

By Linette Lopez

It's in the works. A massive Occupy Wall Street gathering with delegates from all over the country. And if these plans are carried out, Occupy Wall Street will be a major force to be reckoned with on Election Day 2012.

The date? July 4, 2012.

Put aside questions of whether or not the movement will survive that long. Imagine that they do, because they have no doubt.

If only our economy had that kind of confidence.

Discussions on how to proceed will begin tomorrow at a massive General Assembly at 7 PM. Here's how they describe what they're about to do:

....the election of delegates and holding of a national general assembly or convention on July 4, 2012 must be organized. No calls for violence. No calls for the violent overthrow of the government.

...Once organized and the delegates have been elected by direct ballot in all 435 districts. They must demand that our elected leaders take action. If they do not take action within one year of the demand, we will demand their mass resignations and that new elections be held so we can take back our democracy from the corporations and those who BUY power and influence with MONEY. Yes this includes unions and lobbyists.

The Citizens United case must be reversed...

More concrete, long-term measures can also be found on their website in a document called The Steps to Non-Violent Revolution and the Convening of a National General Assembly. There are ten of them, and the most amazing thing about them, is that they outline a democratic plan to decide on a platform of reforms supported by occupations across the entire country leading right up to the 2012 election.

Perhaps Occupy Wall Street only thought of doing this now, but I sincerely doubt it.

Basically, if this is carried out, Occupy Wall Street could shift the course of American politics at its highest levels.

Here are the steps:

1. The Occupy Wall Street movement, through the local general assembly, should elect an executive committee comprised of 11 people or some other odd number of people that is manageable for meetings. Ideally this committee should represent each city in the U.S. that is being occupied.

2. The executive committee will then attend to local issues such as obtaining permits, paying for public sanitation and dealing with the media. More important, the executive committee shall plan and organize the election of the 870 delegates to a National General Assembly between now and July 4, 2012.

3. As stated in the 99% declaration, each of the 435 congressional districts will form an election committee to prepare ballots and invite citizens in those districts to run as delegates to a National General Assembly in Philadelphia beginning on July 4, 2012 and convening until October 2012.

4. Each of the 435 congressional districts will elect one man and one woman to attend the National General Assembly. The vote will be by direct democratic ballot regardless of voter registration status as long as the voter has reached the age of 18 and is a US citizen. This is not a sexist provision. Women are dramatically under-represented in politics even though they comprise more than 50% of the U.S. population.

5. The executive committee will act as a central point to solve problems, raise money to pay for the expenses of the election of the National General Assembly and make sure all 870 delegates are elected prior to the meeting on July 4th.

6. The executive committee would also arrange a venue in Philadelphia to accommodate the delegates attending the National General Assembly where the declaration of values, petition of grievances and platform would be proposed, debated, voted on and approved. The delegates would also elect a chair from their own ranks to run the meetings of the congress and break any tie votes. We will also need the expertise of a gifted parliamentarian to keep the meetings moving smoothly and efficiently.

7. The final declaration, platform and petition of grievances, after being voted upon by the 870 delegates to the National General Assembly would be formally presented by the 870 delegates to all three branches of government and all candidates running for federal public office in November 2012. Thus, the delegates would meet from July 4, 2012 to sometime in early to late October 2012.

8. The delegates to the National General Assembly would then vote on a time period, presently suggested as one year, to give the newly elected government in November an opportunity to redress the petition of grievances. This is our right as a People under the First Amendment.

9. If the government fails to redress the petition of grievances and drastically change the path this country is on, the delegates will demand the resignation and recall of all members of congress, the president and even the Supreme Court and call for new elections by, of and for the PEOPLE with 99 days of the resignation demand.

10. There will NEVER be any call for violence by the delegates even if the government refuses to redress the grievances and new elections are called for by the delegates. Nor will any delegate agree to take any money, job promise, or gifts from corporations, unions or any other private source. Any money donated or raised by the executive committee may only be used for publicizing the vote, the National General Assembly, and for travel expenses and accommodation at the National General Assembly ONLY. All books and records will be published openly online so that everyone may see how much money is raised and how the money is spent each month. There will be no money allowed to "purchase" delegate votes as we have in the current government. No corporate "sponsorship".

Source: Business Insider

Saturday, October 15, 2011

110 turn out in Keene NH in solidarity with #OccupyWallStreet

At least 110 residents of my hometown of Keene, NH gathered at Railroad Square in Keene at 12:15 this afternoon in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Holding signs decrying corporate greed and the shrinking of the Middle Class, the group decided on a spontaneous march up Main Street to Central Square, which serves as the Town Common in the middle of a busy traffic circle. Chanting “Wall Street- Our Street!,” “This is What Democracy Looks Like,” “We are the 99% - You are the 99% per cent!,” and “ We got Sold out – They got bailed out!,” the group divided into two streams, with one parading up the sidewalk and the other occupying the northbound lane of traffic. The two streams then joined forces again at Central Square, where they directed their protests to passing drivers, many of whom honked and waved back in solidarity.

The group was as diverse as Keene itself: mothers with children in carriages or alongside them with signs, senior citizens, war veterans, peace activists, active community members, blacks and whites, Unitarians and Jews, college students, professors from at least three colleges, at least one State Rep (Chuck Weed), some members of Free Keene and CopBlock, GLBT activists, local musicians, grandmothers, and middle class men. No one group predominated or ‘controlled’ the event, and many took turns leading in protest chants. One teenager introduced the group to “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Corporate Greed has got to go!,” a consistent and humorous counterpoint to us aging hippies singing Buffalo Springfields’ “For What it’s Worth” by memory.

The demonstration continued at full strength for at least an hour. The group decided on another General Assembly Meeting at 4 pm, where one of the major issues to be discussed was a protest at a major corporate entity in Keene. More details on Friday from that event…

Gallery of Pictures from Today's Event at Facebook Photo Gallery

Video of Keene Demonstration

For What It's Worth,
by Buffalo Springfield

There's something happening here
What it is ain't exactly clear
There's a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware
I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

There's battle lines being drawn
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind
I think it's time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

What a field-day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly say, hooray for our side
It's time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you're always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away

We better stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, now, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

Friday, October 07, 2011

CNN Ownership biases #OccupyWallStreet reporting

Throughout the Occupy Wall Street protests, those involved have complained that the mainstream media were turning a blind eye to the events taking place. While individuals on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube were posting minute-by-minute updates, the largest media outlets in the country appeared bored, annoyed, and even antagonistic towards the swelling protest movement. One evening, a clearly annoyed news anchor quipped, “Alright, for all you people tweeting us, here’s a shot of Wall Street.” A few seconds of clip followed, with snarky comments and rolled eyes. But now, three weeks into protests which have attracted tens of thousands, in dozens of cities, from the retired to union workers to students from all walks of life, with hundreds of arrests and verified reports of police misconduct, it's hard for the media to avoid the movement.

But that doesn’t mean they have to report fairly or objectively. And they aren’t.

Three days after #OccupyWallStreet issued their Sept 29th official list of grievances (posted on this blog), reporters were still making snide comments about the protesters not knowing why they were there. And one of the most blatant exercises of biased journalism this week came from CNN’s Erin Burnett, who dripped with condescension for the protesters. She looked straight at me through my television screen and spat “Who are these people? What do they want?” and then proceeded to interview people in a way that treated them like they were just stupid. She proactively went to the defense of the Financial Industry, telling those she interviewed that the bailouts actually produced a profit for taxpayers. As she concluded her report, she gratuitously threw in the comment “seriously!?” (an unprofessional reference to the Saturday Night Live routine).

Another journalist, David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun, responded to Burnett’s report by writing “…two of the most fundamental attributes of good journalism are curiosity and a respect for the people on whom you report. Burnett got an "F" on both those counts with her Occupy Wall Street piece."

Why all this antagonism towards this movement, especially from CNN? When the Tea Party protests began, the media practically ‘created’ events by suggesting that a few hundred people heralded a mass movement. Now, thousands are involved in calling for reform of the political and economic processes in this country, and much of the media appears antagonistic towards its growth and demands.

Whenever you want to understand “the story behind the story,” just follow the money.

CNN is a wholly-owned company of Time-Warner, the conglomerate that has been routinely allowed to escape antitrust laws as it acquires and merges with other media outlets by describing itself as being in the “Communications & Entertainment Industry,” a category so broad as to include magazines, news outlets, music production, and sports franchises.

And who owns Time-Warner?

The Financial Industry.

52.57% of the outstanding voting shares of Time-Warner were owned by Financial Houses as of the June 11 quarterly ownership reports.

The largest of these are:

The American Funds, owner of 94 million shares and 9% of the company, is the third largest holder of mutual fund assets in the US. You may not have heard of them, because they do not advertise, but prefer to make all sales through private broker-to-client recommendations. In 2007 the California Attorney General brought suit against them for fraud, stemming from allegations that company was paying kickbacks to brokerage firms to entice brokers to recommend the funds to their clients.

Dodge & Cox, Inc, subject of a 2009 Kiplinger’s article, “What Went Wrong at Dodge & Cox,” by Andrew Tanzer, detailing their over-exposed position with Lehman Brothers, Wachovia Bank, and Freddie Mac. At 88 million shares they represent more than 8.5% of the company.

J P Morgan – Chase, owner of over 49 million shares. The same company that just gave the NY Police Department a 4.6 million “gift,” and which received a 25 billion dollar bailout from taxpayers – not for loans or to stabilize the company, but to buy other companies, according to Chase CEO Jamie Dimon (“What we do think it will help us do is perhaps be a little bit more active on the acquisition side…”) as reported earlier by blogger Jonathan Turley.

FMR LLC, better known to most people as Fidelity Investments, the same company that was accused by the SEC of pressuring 62 employees in 21 different branch offices to destroy or alter improper documents. The majority of Fidelity itself is owned by Ned Johnson and his daughter Abigail. Abigail, with a personal net worth of $11 billion, was ranked by Forbes as the 17th wealthiest person in America. Her father is ranked number 40.

State Street Corporation, global financial investors with offices throughout the Pacific Rim, currently owns 40 million shares, or almost 4% of Time-Warner. They are currently fighting or settling 31 separate legal actions by clients, including “unconscionable fraud” for overcharging pension funds, fraudulent pricing, mingling funds with the now-defunct Lehman Brothers, and mismanagement.

BlackRock Trust, which bills itself as the largest handler of financial assets in the world. BlackRock is the investment house that, one year ago, was involved in the purchase of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, both Manhattan housing complexes. When the complexes went into default in January of 2010, BlackRock walked away from the deal in spite of having already invested significant amounts of workers pension funds into it. Workers in the California Pension and Retirement System, the nation’s largest pension fund, lost $500 million.

Marisco Capital Management, a subsidiary of Columbia Group, itself owned by Ameriprise, a financial services company with a list of legal actions longer than this blog article.

Rounding out these owners would be The Vanguard Group, Fundamental Investors Inc., and T. Rowe Price.

Make no mistake about it: CNN is owned by the very financial houses against which #OccupyWallStreet is protesting. The very financial houses that have gambled with workers pensions, taken tax money in the form of bailouts in order to make further 'investements,' and engaged in fraud on a widespread, pervasive, and global scale.

And Erin – having broken through the glass ceiling – has now decided to engage in “Good Little Girl Syndrome,” deciding that if she pleases her financial-house bosses, she’ll get a reward.

Pity for Erin…she’s on the wrong side of history.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

New York Times changes story, shifts blame at #OccupyWallStreet march

Confirming reports that the NYPD entrapped protesters after leading them 1/3 of the way across the Brooklyn Bridge is this original New York Times story...which was apparently quickly altered (and credit given to an author other than the original writer) twenty minutes after publication. The original reporter was on the scene; the second edited the article after receiving "information" via telephone from the NYPD. This is propaganda spin in its most blatant form:

1st Official Declaration of Grievances by Occupy Wall Street

Voted by voice acclamation at 8pm on Sept 29. (For all the naysayers in the media who insist that the protest is unfocused):

Declaration of the Occupation of New York City

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.

They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.

They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.

They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.

They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices.

They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.

They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.

They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.

They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.

They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.

They have sold our privacy as a commodity.

They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.

They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.

They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.

They have donated large sums of money to politicians supposed to be regulating them.

They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.

They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantive profit.

They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.

They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.

They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.

They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.

They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.

They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.*

To the people of the world,

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

NYPD Corrals, then Pepper Sprays Wall Street Protesters

Last week, we reported on the planned protest on Wall Street by Anonymous and other groups, protesting the growing economic inequality in the nation and the role of the Financial Industry in that phenomenon. For almost an entire week, mainstream media sources have ignored the protests as much as they were able, responsing only to bloggers and tweeters (and Keith Olberman) who wondered why Al Jazeera and BBC were reporting on this growing protest, but not US (and Bloomberg-owned) media sources.

Unable to squash the protest, Media Mogul and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Police force crashed a protest march from Union Square to Wall Street, corralling marchers behind a barrier and then pepper-spraying them in the face. The video below captures the incident, showing the young women who were sprayed falling to the ground, and screaming as the pepper spray hit their eyes.

According to the National Lawyer's Guild, over 100 protesters were arrested Saturday as they carryied banners and chanted "shame, shame" and walked between Zuccotti Park, near Wall St., and Union Square calling for changes to a financial system.

One more notch in the death of Democracy and Constitutional Rights, as the Old Republic becomes Darth's Empire.

UPDATE II: Pepper-Spray Officer has a history: A senior New York police officer accused of pepper-spraying young women on the "Occupy Wall Street" demonstrations is the subject of a pending legal action over his conduct at another protest in the city.

"The Guardian" reports that the officer, named by activists as deputy inspector Anthony Bologna, stands accused of false arrest and civil rights violations in a claim brought by a protester involved in the 2004 demonstrations at the Republican national convention.
One protester, Jeanne Mansfield – who said she was standing so close to the women sprayed in the face that her own eyes burned – claimed other NYPD officers had expressed disbelief at the actions of the senior officer.

In a vivid account of the incident in the Boston Review, Mansfield said: "A white-shirt, now known to be NYPD Lieutenant Anthony Bologna, comes from the left, walks straight up to the three young girls at the front of the crowd, and pepper-sprays them in the face for a few seconds, continuing as they scream 'No! Why are you doing that?!'"

Despite her attempts to turn away, Mansfield suffered burning and temporary blindness in her left eye.

She continued: "In the street I shout for water to rinse my eyes or give to the girls on the ground. But no one responds. One of the blue-shirts, tall and bald, stares in disbelief and says, 'I can't believe he just fuckin' maced her.'"

UPDATE: Statement from Noam Chomsky to the Protesters:

Anyone with eyes open knows that the gangsterism of Wall Street -- financial institutions generally -- has caused severe damage to the people of the United States (and the world). And should also know that it has been doing so increasingly for over 30 years, as their power in the economy has radically increased, and with it their political power. That has set in motion a vicious cycle that has concentrated immense wealth, and with it political power, in a tiny sector of the population, a fraction of 1%, while the rest increasingly become what is sometimes called "a precariat" -- seeking to survive in a precarious existence. They also carry out these ugly activities with almost complete impunity -- not only too big to fail, but also "too big to jail."

The courageous and honorable protests underway in Wall Street should serve to bring this calamity to public attention, and to lead to dedicated efforts to overcome it and set the society on a more healthy course."

Noam Chomsky is Scientist, Linguist and Professor Emeritus at MIT. He is the recipient of Honorary Degrees from 37 institutions around the globe.

Friday, September 16, 2011

"Occupy Wall Street" at hand

In a move reminiscent of the final scenes in "Vendetta," a coalition of citizens uniting under the banner of "Occupy Wall Street" will begin rallying at Bowling Green Park tomorrow (Saturday, September 17). The group, which opposes the concept of "corporate personhood," financial industry manipulation of a brutal economy, student loan debt, an avalanche of home foreclosures, and wall street influence in Washington and at the ballot box, intends to begin an open-ended "occupation" of Wall Street. In-depth instructions on civil disobedience, food arrangements, and the encouragement of a 'tent city' have characterized what appears to be a well-organized movement to call attention to the growing economic divide in the United States, as well as corporate influence in politics. The US Dept. of Homeland Security sees the movement seriously enough that last week it sent out security warnings to Wall Street area banks and financial institutions, in spite of the groups insistence that they will only engage in non-violent civil disobedience.

The groups' website, in an update posted three days ago, states

The people coming to Wall Street on September 17 come for a variety of reasons, but what unites them all is the opposition to the principle that has come to dominate not only our economic lives but our entire lives: profit over and above all else. Those that do not embrace this principle: prepare to be out-competed. They will lose the race to the bottom and the vulture will swoop down to feast. It is indicative of a deep spiritual sickness that has gripped civilization, a sickness that drives the vast deprivation, oppression and despoliation that has come to cover the world.

The world does not have to be this way. A society of ruthlessness and isolation can be confronted and replaced with a society of cooperation and community. Cynics will tell us this world is not possible. That the forces arrayed against us have won and will always win and, perhaps, should always win. But they are not gods. They are human beings, just like us. They are a product of a society that rewards the behavior that has led us to where we are today. They can be confronted. What's more, they can be reached. They just need to see us. See beyond the price tags we carry.

The NY City police response should prove quite interesting. On Thursday, September 1, a small group demonstration took place as an intended "test run" for tomorrow's occupation using the "legal encampment" strategy. Nine demonstrators were arrested for disorderly conduct, but were later released without charge.

According to a federal court ruling in 2000, the use of "public sleeping as a means of symbolic expression" is permissible as a protected form of protest and expression on public sidewalks in New York City. METROPOLITAN COUNCIL, INC. VS. HOWARD SAFIR, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department, et al., 99 F. Supp. 2d 438; 2000 U.S. Dist. Ct..

The group specifically intends to target Goldman Sachs (gold manipulators extraordinaire, who masterminded the destruction of Ashanti Gold and provides more than their fair share of employees to the Federal Treasury and the Federal Reserve Bank); the Securities & Exchange Commission (which is supposed to regulate stock market exchanges); the Federal Reserve (the unaccountable "fourth" branch of Government and personal kingdom of Ben Bernanke); and the New York Stock Exchange.