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Occupied Washington Times: Volume 2, Issue 1

Occupied Washington Times: Volume 2, Issue 1

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Published by D.C. Mic Check
The first Occupied Washington Times of 2012. Includes extensive coverage of Occupy Congress and the eviction from McPherson Square.
The first Occupied Washington Times of 2012. Includes extensive coverage of Occupy Congress and the eviction from McPherson Square.

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Published by: D.C. Mic Check on May 03, 2012
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 Jan./Feb. 2012
The Alfalfa Club was founded in 1913 to honor the birthday of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. It didnot allow African-Americans until the 1970s or wom-en until the 1990s. For 99 years it has brought therichest and most powerful people in the United Statestogether for an exclusive black-tie affair.The president and the wealthiest people in Americagot together Saturday for the Club’s annual party in Washington, so Occupy DC joined in. Denied entrance,occupiers held their own party in the street. The fes-tivities involved dancing, hurling glitter at a tuxedo-clad U.S. Senator, and tasteful nudity. It was likely themore lively party of the two.Bill Wagner, protesting outside, was upset that theclub would hold this kind of party in the middle of arecession. “I don’t think the people in there are tunedin enough to know anybody out here is having any problems,” he said, “and Obama’s here because themoney’s here. I think he’s addicted.”From the start, police kept the elite well away fromthe general public. Roadblocks of snowplows and met-al barricades gave attendees at least a block’s distancefrom any common people. But Occupy DC already hadpeople inside.Five occupiers had spent the day posing as hotelguests. They took the opportunity to scatter envelopescontaining the Occupy DC declaration throughout thehotel, drop a banner reading “WE ARE THE 99% /City by city, Block by block,” and get out undetected.Meanwhile, the crowd outside took over the mainroad entrance to the hotel on K St near 16th St.
ByAndrew Breiner
NPS cracks downafter Issa hearing
In the small hours of the morning on February 4, po-lice raided the Occupy DC camp at McPherson Squaredays after a two-hour hearing by Darrell Issa’s (R-California) Oversight and Government Reform Com-mittee on January 23. The National Park Service is-sued an order to cease camping activities at all Occupy DC sites. The order took effect on January 30, andrequired the removal of all items at the Occupy DCsites which could be construed as either being used forsleeping or for preparing to sleep. However, accordingto witnesses the police removed tents were in compli-ance with the announced regulations.Eyewitnesses said that police entered the square wearing riot gear and riding horses with an “imme-diately combative” attitude. They started by taggingtents and numbering the items removed, presumably so their owners could reclaim them. About halfway through the day, however, they began to destroy tentsindiscriminately and throw everything inside themaway. There were eight arrests, mostly for crossing apolice line or resisting police orders.“They raided us this weekend for two reasons,” said
Javier Ocasi, an occupier at Freedom Plaza. “The rst
is that it is Super Bowl Sunday, and anything done tous isn’t going to become front page news. The secondis that anyone arrested on a Saturday or Sunday has to be held until Monday when they come before a judge.”The actions of the National Park Service seem tocontradict their testimony at the prior hearing and in written form. On the afternoon of January 27, NPS
police ofcers placed notications on tents in both
McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza, stating that
people would be individually arrested or ned for
sleeping in any “temporary structure” in either loca-tion. There seemed to be no indication of the mass re-moval of tents at one time that was seen on February 4 in any of their documentation or public statements.
During questioning, NPS representatives testied
that there was precedent for allowing “24-hour vig-ils,” such as those being held in Freedom Plaza andMcPherson Square. Previous vigils include Resur-rection City, an encampment on the National Mallplanned by Martin Luther King, Jr. and a seven-week convergence of tractors in 1979 that drew 6,000 farm-ers to the city. Jarvis concluded that, “barring anemergency situation,” he saw no reason why Occupy DC should be evicted from McPherson Square.On Tuesday, January 17, hundreds of people con- verged on the West Lawn of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. for “Occupy Congress.” The morn-ing consisted of teach-ins, rain and mud, minor police
scufes, a massive multi-occupation general assembly,
and lots of mingling.Three groups split off to actually occupy Congress,
or at least the congressional ofce buildings. Coordi
nators waving color-coded ags led the groups to the
Cannon, Longworth, and Rayburn buildings, wheremembers of the House of Representatives have their
ofces. The goal was for people to speak directly to
their own representatives.People from all over the United States showed upto confront their representatives. Though most weredisappointed and had to content themselves with con- versations with congressional staffers, people still ex-pressed their belief in the importance of showing upand having a physical presence. A sampling of pro-testers told us who they wanted to talk to, what they  wanted to say, and how they felt about “J17” (see fullstory on page 6).Occupy Congress activities were just part of a busy  week of protests including “Occupy the Dream”marches to the Federal Reserve Building to commem-orate the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday (see coverageon page 3). This was followed by two days of anti-cor-porate protests on Jan. 20 and 21 to mark the two-yearanniversary of the
Citizens United 
decision by the Su-preme Court.
99% crash 99th Alfalfa Club gala
(Coulter Loeb)
DC actions take national focus in 2012
ByMichael GoldmanandAlec Kerestesi ByKarina Stenquist
Continued on 3
Volume 2Issue 1Park police prepare to raid McPherson Square.(Pablo.Raw)
Continued on 2
Coming to the defense of Occupy DC were Repre-sentatives Lacy Clay (D-Missouri), Elijah Cummings(D-Georgia), Danny Davis (D-Illinois), and EleanorHolmes Norton (D-DC). Cummings commented that, while there had been numerous committee hearingsunder Issa, now including Occupy DC, he was frus-trated that none had focused on robo-signing or thethousands who had their homes foreclosed due to thepractice. “It’s a damn shame,” Cummings said in re-sponse to the content of the hearing. “I wish we hadas much concern about the people who have lost their
houses ... it bafes me, it truly does ... I guess people
 who are protesting and are part of Occupy, they look at a hearing like this and say this is why they occupy.’”Norton was disappointed that no one from eitherOccupy DC camp was allowed totestify at the hearing. Davis readthe First Amendment into the re-cord along with a statement ap-proved by the Occupy DC General Assembly. In it, Occupy DC statedthey were willing to work with theNPS to “to improve the health andsafety of our conditions.”The NPS representatives de-fended the rights of Occupy DC tomaintain a vigil in both FreedomPlaza and McPherson Square andstated that protesters had been“cooperative” and that “self-polic-ing” policies were working.Despite having their camps raid-ed, many occupiers are optimis-tic. Many of them seemed to havenowhere else to sleep, but foundplaces outside of the camp. Some occupiers from bothMcPherson Square and Freedom Plaza stayed at Lu-ther Place Memorial Church. Some refused to leavethe park altogether and continued to hold a vigil usingthe remaining tents.The occupiers plan to maintain a presence atMcPherson Square. Plans have been discussed at theGeneral Assembly to begin less picket and camp ori-ented protests. Many feel the need to focus on more
outreach-oriented actions, such as ghting against the
foreclosure of houses in communities in and aroundthe DC area. On top of this, plans for better communi-cation between different occupies, which would allow for larger coordinated actions to happen effectively, will also be discussed in future General Assemblies.
NPS cracks down after Issa hearing..........................199% crash 99th Alfalfa Club gala.................................1DC actions take national focus in 2012.......................1Editorial.......................................................................2“Occupy the Dream” takes up King’s missionand demands action......................................3Kucinich talks shop with protesters...........................3McPherson Square montage....................................4-5Occupy Congress personal stories.............................6An open letter to occupiers everywhereAmanda, Occupy EatonCindy, Occupy GreensboroMcPherson Square personal stories.............................7Drew KathrynAmalHillary  ACTA out!....................................................................8
Jillian Blazek  Andrew BreinerNatalie Camou(Photography)Michael CarboneBenjamin DanielsMichael GoldmanSiobhan McGuirk Karina Stenquist
Doyle Printing & Offset5206 46th AvenueHyattsville, MD3000 copies
Volume 2Issue 1
 As we go to press for the rst time this year, we no
longer having a substantial presence in McPhersonSquare. Rumors of Occupy DC’s demise, however, areseverely exaggerated.On February 4, when National Park Service person-nel came to “inspect” our temporary home, occupiers
 were compliant. Yet ofcers proceeded to remove the
majority of tents from the space, without issuing acourt-mandated, mandatory 24-hours notice.For the most part, Occupy DC has so far been sparedthe heinous treatment received by those with similargrievances in Oakland, Boston, New York, Davis, or
Berkeley. Yet the batons, tasers, mounted ofcers, and
plexiglass shields that have been wielded against usstill clearly demonstrate the increasing militarizationof law enforcement across the board.Mainstream media coverage has focused on violentconfrontation, neglecting much-needed, considereddebate of the issues Occupy emphasises and seeks toredress. In contrast, our coverage remains calm andresolute. We know that, no matter a publication’s ed-itorial line, the images distill the story: This is whatstate oppression looks like.On February 5 we, supporters of Occupy DC new and old, returned en masse. We did not go to reoc-cupy the public space, although that idea continuesto be discussed. We went to do what we do best: totalk, to listen, to share ideas and make plans for thefuture. The clock ticked over two hours before every-one already involved in active social justice orientedorganising had chance to speak. Announcement and invitations to get involved cov-ered a free learning collective, a faith outreach group,student solidarity, foreclosure and eviction resistance,criminal injustice response, homeless advocacy, radi-cal media production, and many more. We know what our readers have seen and heard else- where: The Occupy movement is aimless and feckless.In September, when camps started setting up acrossthe US, that was the easy headline, the comfortable,ubiquitous lie. Now, the powers that be are strugglingto keep up the pretense. Because the undeniable truthis that we are actively shifting political discourse to- wards addressing social inequality and injustice. We are agitating for change, by marching up to thedoors of Congress and demanding an audience withour representatives. We are building links with like-minded activists across the nation, and linking up with local, like-minded organizations. We turning new heads every day, and those who catch a glimpse arestarting to ask questions, too.Our aims could not be more clear: we stand against
the corrupt nancial institutions and decaying eco
nomic systems that exploit the many to prot the few. We ght against an entrenched two-party system that
compromises citizens’ voices in exchange for money-tary gain.
 We also ght in solidarity against the rise of the in
-dustrial-prison complex; in support of affordable pub-lic housing initiatives; for medical care for those mostin need, forgotten and cast aside; to support veteransand active servicemembers; for voting rights for D.C.’s600,000 unrepresented inhabitants; and for a cultureshift away from the persistent patriarchal and raciststructures that divide and suppress us.In this issue we tell the story of our eviction fromMcPherson Sq. but we linger on our successes as amovement. We do so not to mourn what has passed, but to remind us of how much more we can achieve.
 As the corporate media continues to take its cuesfrom private interests,
The Occupied WashingtonTimes
works to provide a platform for marginalized
 voices. We need a broad base of support to fulll this
primary aim. We invite community organizations andindividual contributors to submit news items, opinionpieces, photographs, and action updates. We also hope that you will visit our website, where we regularly publish news, opinion and in-depth anal- ysis pieces. All print content will also be published on-line.Finally, you can also contribute towards
The Occu- pied Washington Times
by helping us cover our print-ing costs. We are a volunteer-run paper that does notrely on advertising revenue, and without the support we have already received from readers like you, this would not have been possible.
To donate, visit:http://www.occupydc.org/newspaper
The Occupied Washington Times
editorial team
Issa leans on NPS to evict Occupy DC
Continued from 1
(Pablo.Raw) Jan./Feb. 2012
In at least 13 cities across the country on Jan. 16, lo-
cal branches of Occupy the Dream marched on ofces of 
the Federal Reserve to honor the legacy of Martin LutherKing Jr.’s campaign for economic justice. In Washington,D.C., a group of around 100 activists from a variety of Af-rican-American organizations as well as the black churchcommunity gathered in front of the Fed to demand amore humane national economic policy.“Instead of using the money for communities, they’respending it on themselves,” said Samuel Washington,47, from Laurel, Md., criticizing the consistently large
 bonuses doled out by many nancial sector institutions.
For many, the Federal Reserve symbolizes the control of 
private nancial interests over the economy.
Like many others, Washington came with his church,The Church of the Lord’s Harvest. Though he had workedas a truck driver and done some organizing with his unionin the past, Washington said he was relatively new to po-litical action of this type. Washington’s pastor, Bishop Ste- ven Smith, says he’s been actively involved since the beginning of theforeclosure crisis. The on-goingcrisis has hit the African Americancommunity particularly hard, forc-ing several black churches to faceforeclosures in recent years.“We’re going wherever we can toget attention,” said Smith, explain-ing why tapping into the energy of the Occupy movement is crucialin his view. “We all have the sameconcern, the same issues.” Across the nation, the Occupy movement has been criticized for being predominantly white, eventhough non-white communitieshave suffered disproportionately from the economic crisis.“Here’s the disconnect,” said Dr.Jamal Bryant, pastor at the Empowerment Temple inBaltimore and main speaker at the day’s events, “The is-sue Occupy is raising is not new to black people. So welooked at Occupy and said ‘What took you so long?’”He also pointed out a disconnect in terms of tactics.“The African American community is used to having a visible enemy,” said Bryant. “You know, we march untilthe ‘Whites Only’ signs come down … since Occupy re-fused to have a leader or spokesperson it was hard to un-derstand what they’re after.”Shamar Thomas, the marine sergeant whose rant di-
rected at New York police ofcers went viral on YouTube,
said a culture of police harassment also deterred African- Americans.“[Black] people feel that if they go to jail with their whitecounterparts that they will bear the brunt of the brutality,”explained Thomas. “That they’ll [end up with] the assaultcharges.”
 What Occupy the Dream is after was clearly dened. At
the rally, organizers unveiled a concise list of demandsand a plan for moving forward.The four demands were explained as follows:1.
Campaign nance reform: “We want politicians,
not puppets.”2. “Absolute security” on Pell grants to create a glob-ally competitive generation of educated youngpeople.3. An immediate moratorium on home foreclosures.4. $100 billion fund to be used for job training, entre-preneurial investment, and jobs rebuilding Ameri-can infrastructure.Bryant also laid out a plan to have a series of rollingmonthly actions, starting with a “Love your community”action on Feb. 14. Similar to “Bank Transfer Day” on Nov.5, organizers are asking people to close accounts withlarge banks and reinvest in community banks and creditunions.In addition to a shared economic message, there is alsocommon tactical ground between Occupy the Dream andthe main Occupy movement. Occupying public space, acentral tactic used throughout the wave of recent eco-nomic justice protests, pays homage to Dr. King Jr.’smethods of resistance.“One of his last acts was to occupy Washington, D.C.and to build tents on the Mall,” said Smith, referring tothe Poor People’s Campaign that King was working on atthe time of his assassination.The campaign included a march on the capital and theerecting of a tent city on the national mall to commem-morate King’s “Ressurection City” from 44 years ago.Though King’s death struck a blow to the campaign’senergy, the campaign did go forward. Resurrection City lasted nearly six weeks despite rain and mud, and calledfor an “economic bill of rights.”Smith praised King’s legacy of confrontation, and saidhe wanted to bring young people out “not just for a day of service but a day of activism.”Organizers repeatedly asserted that the day’s action infront of the Fed was merely the beginning.“This is just an awareness piece,” said Farajii Muham-mad, 32, a community organizer from Baltimore. Thereal work, he said, would be done on the ground. And while he agreed that the African American community has faced economic struggle before, he also found a silverlining in the crisis.“Sometimes tragedy plays a dual role – it can hurt, butit can unite people.”
“Occupy the Dream” takes up King’smission and demands action
ByKarina Stenquist
Alfalfa Club
Continued from 1
Kucinich talks shopwith protesters
The headline event of Occupy Congress on Janu-ary 17 was not so much direct action as direct con- versation, and with the people who occupy theCapitol every day: congressmen and their staff. A group of protesters spoke to Rep. Dennis Kucinich(D-OH), one of the Occupy movement’s most vocalsupporters in Congress.The group, which included both Occupy DC mem- bers and others from out-of-town, sat down withRep. Kucinich towards the end of ‘J17’ in his officeon Capitol Hill. The congressman offered words of praise for the movement’s accomplishments so far, but argued a need for maturity going forward.“The Tea Party didn’t get any attention aroundhere until it had an agenda. You guys have got alot of attention even without one,” Kucinich toldthe assembled protesters, “but in the spring, come back with specific demands.”Cecilia, an Occupy Congress organizer, had beenlooking forward to the Kucinich meeting. “I agree we need to make demands as part of a long termstrategy,” she said after the conversation was over.“It will take more time than the Tea Party, becauseof how we operate, but I think we will get there.” As winter has drawn in, the McPherson Squarecamp has been less active than in the fall. This isespecially evident after dark, even when the nightly General Assembly convenes at 6:00pm. The holi-day season also brought a lull in visible actions, asmany occupiers returned to their homes from thisnotoriously non-native city.Despite the temporary drop in McPhersonSquare’s resident population, planning continuedfor the string of actions planned for the week of January 17. They included Martin Luther King Day events, the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Cit-izens United decision, and protests against corpo-rate personhood.Kucinich suggested that a sincere regrouping ef-fort was needed to bolster the movement. “No one’sgoing fault you if you die down for the winter andcome back as strong in the spring as you were inthe fall,” he said, referring to the early days of theOccupy movement, when warm weather and day-light facilitated well-attended and highly visibleoutdoor actions.The Ohio representative also offered advice forthose living in the park: “You don’t have to sleep inthe snow and wear yourselves out. This isn’t Valley Forge.” However, with D.C. public housing waitinglists extending into the years, and inadequate tem-porary shelter provisions, many protesters simply cannot pack up for the winter. The park was stillreasonably populated when Washington saw the year’s first snowfall on the weekend following Ku-cinich’s remarks.
With reporting by Natalie Camou
“This isn’t Valley Forge,”Kucinich said.
ByBenjamin DanielsProtesters’ messages echo the King demonstrations. (Rick Reinhard)
“We were able to put our biggest group where weknew they’d be entering,” said Drew Veysey, one of theorganizers of the action. “We thought it was going to be a car entrance, but it turned out they actually had to walk through that barricade.”It was a lucky break for occupiers, who brought wa-ter balloons and a bucket of glitter to the party. Oc-cupiers hurled both at the expensive-looking people intuxedos and gowns who waited for police to open themetal barricades and let them pass. Senator JosephLieberman drew a personal barrage, and emergedfrom the crowd with wet patches of glitter stuck to his jacket and a look of outrage. With the Alfalfa Club all inside, the group outsideturned into its own party. The speaker system blastedPublic Enemy and a dance party broke out. About adozen men and women took the opportunity to go top-less, seeming to ignore the winter night’s chill that hadothers in hats and gloves.Tiffany, from Washington, stood on the outskirts of the crowd taking photos. “It seems like good energy.I’m excited to be here,” she said.Soon after, hearing that there was another entranceletting cars into the hotel, the crowd marched up to
the intersection of 16th St and M St, nding police on
horses, but no barricades blocking their way. Occupi-ers made several attempts to rush through the policeline and on to the hotel, but were pushed back eachtime.Then, mounted police charged on the occupiers,using their horses to frighten and push people back,clearing the intersection. That done, the march re-turned to the original location, to await those leavingthe party. Wagner was happy with the day’s events, he said.“This is the way we apply pressure. This is the way wechange things.”
by Mike Flugennock 

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