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D.C. Mic Check: Volume 2, Issue 3

D.C. Mic Check: Volume 2, Issue 3

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Published by D.C. Mic Check
A May Day edition of the D.C. Mic Check featuring extensive coverage of union activities in Washington D.C. Published April 30, 2012.
A May Day edition of the D.C. Mic Check featuring extensive coverage of union activities in Washington D.C. Published April 30, 2012.

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Published by: D.C. Mic Check on May 03, 2012
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 With the arrival of spring, occupiers in Washington, D.C.are sleeping outdoors to decry the greed of big banks andcorporations again. But they aren’t setting up tents in Free-dom Plaza or McPherson Square this time. They are on thesidewalks in front of the corporate targets that they see asrepresentative of the one percent.“It started as a necessity [since] we had nowhere elseto sleep,” said Robert Dilley, a protester who had slept atMcPherson Square since November, explaining the pro-tests’ origins. “[But] it’s turned into a new and creativeform of protest.”The protests are a direct message to the banks, accordingto Haris Ntabakos. “If you are going to take homes from
people,” he stated, “[protesters] are going to ght back by sleeping in front of your ofce so [that] when you get to
 work you’re going to see what you’ve done.”Bank of America, a popular target of the group, received$45 billion in taxpayer money as part of the 2008 Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) bailout. After receiving thismoney, the bank provoked public anger when it was re-ported that they paid their CEO Brian Moynihan $7.5 mil-lion in a year when stock prices fell by 58%.Rudy Roberts, an occupier visiting from Orlando, Flor-ida, said he was participating in the sleepful protest “be-cause I feel that money needs to come out of the banksand go into credit unions, so that big banks can’t use thatmoney against us.”The seed of the idea for these protests came in early Feb-ruary when the National Park Service began enforcing theregulations banning camping in both McPherson Squareand Freedom Plaza. Several McPherson Square protestersdecided to move tents to a public sidewalk on 14th StreetNW each evening. They would then sleep through the nightand return the tents to the park in the morning.The occupiers studied Washington D.C. ordinances andfound none prohibiting sleeping on sidewalks, said Dilley.On the night of April 3, a small group of occupiers from both camps, at the urging of Dilley and Ntabakos, sleptin front of the Citibank branch facing McPherson Square. What began as a “targeted occupation” became their “sleep-
ful protest.” The name comes from a rifng off the common
Occupy chant of “this is a peaceful protest!”
That rst night, a security guard threatened to return to
the scene with friends to assault the “sleepful protesters,”according to several occupiers who slept out that night.
D.C. Mic Check 
MAY 2012
On a weekend evening in April, several dozen peoplegathered at Don Juan’s restaurant in Mount Pleasant tohear stories, poems, and music and to show support for anew workers’ group taking its first steps in an experimentin labor organization. The half-dozen men in the group were day laborers who had come together to form a worker-owned cooperative, seeking to break away from the risk and uncertainty typical of their jobs.“I don’t like being dependent [...] on a mediator or asubcontractor,” explained Carlos Castillo, who came fromPeru two years ago when university strikes interrupted hisdegree in mechatronics, an engineering field.He got involved with the group after he was paid only a week’s wages for a two-week job, an instance of wage theft.“It doesn’t happen everyday, but it happens a lot,” he said.“It sucks the energy out of you. You’re excited to work andthen, when [the employer] disappears, [...] it’s unpleasant.” After that experience, Castillo got in touch with ArturoGriffiths. Griffiths is an organizer with Jobs with Justice, which runs the day laborer group Union de Trabajadores.It was out of his experience with this group that he decidedto form a worker cooperative of his own.Castillo and others said they don’t like waiting aroundin a parking lot for a job. Making the case for a co-op,members spoke of the advantages of looking for work asa group, signing contracts with contractors directly, andfinding work instead of waiting for it to find them.“When I heard about this, it sounded like a magnificentidea,” said Carlos Diaz, who joined conversations aboutthe co-op about a year ago. Diaz came from El Salvador12 years ago as a teenager. He says he began working inconstruction because he saw possibilities for advancement,despite his lack of formal education.Diaz displayed near immunity to doubt, which seemedtypical of these workers. He said, “You see a contractormanaging a job one day and you think - why not me?” Diazcame from an entrepreneurial background; his mother Washingtonians gathered on a rainy day to protest thepolice response to the killing of Trayvon Martin. Citizensheld up photos of Trayvon wearing a hoodie outside the D.C.City Council near Freedom Plaza. The crowd numberedseveral hundred, spilling onto Pennsylvania Avenue.On February 26, George Zimmerman of Sanford, Floridafollowed and shot the hooded black youth, killing him.Trayvon’s parents reported their son missing for threedays, while his body lay in the city morgue. After claimingself defense under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law,Zimmerman was released by police without charge.Coast-to-coast interest in the story gave rise to afirestorm of national protests, marches and speeches. “Ican’t believe that such a terrible thing could happenin 2012,” said Janice Ferebee, author and community advocate for minority girls. “This is truly a sad moment forhis family and we’re here to show support for them.”Dick Gregory, who worked with Martin Luther King, Jr.during the civil rights movement in 1960’s, said, “This is bigger than what we think it is, there are some questionsthat need to be asked. […] How can he be killed 70 feetfrom his home, his body held for three days, and hisparents don’t know about it?”Reverend Hagler, local civil rights activist and SeniorMinister of Plymouth Congregational United Church,spoke at the protest, “Racism has been pervasive in thiscountry since the first folks set their foot on PlymouthRock, […] Racism has become so insidious and when you mix guns with race and racism you’re bound to havea disaster!” He added, “We’re here to say that enough isenough. We’re gonna stand up and we’re gonna standshoulder to shoulder with one another and we’re not gonnalet anybody die in vain. Are you ready to stand up?”The Stand Your Ground law was authored by themembers of the American Legislative Executive Council(ALEC), a conservative corporate support organizationthat has since disbanded its pro-gun lobbying arm. ALEChelped pass similar laws in 23 states by funneling supportfrom corporate interests to state legislatures. The Stand Your Ground law received broad support from pro-gungroups and gun manufacturers.
Continued on 6Continued on 5
Million Hoodie March: Locals expressgrief, anger over Trayvon Martin killing
Corporations abandon ALEC over controversial gun law 
By John Zangas
“Sleepful protest”seeks to wakepeople up tobanking practices
By James HillContinued on 7
Day laborers unite to avoid exploitation
ByKarina StenquistBrian Eister participates in the Sleepful ProtestPajama March. (Coulter Loeb)(Coulter Loeb)
Natalie CamouBenjamin DanielsJarrad DavisMichael GoldmanJoe Gray Devora LissCoulter LoebSiobhán McGuirk Karina Stenquist
Doyle Printing & Offset5206 46th AvenueHyattsville, MD3000 copies
Special thanks to the Metro WashingtonLabor Council, the Washington-BaltimoreNewspaper Guild (CWA Local 32035), andthe Communication Workers of America,and to all our readers for their support.Back page graphic: Rich Black 
 D.C. Mic Check
was commissioned by the General Assembly of Occupy DC atMcPherson Square. Free from corporateadvertisers, this paper is dedicated tocovering all aspects of the movement forsocial and economic justice in the D.C. area.Our goal is to show readers that there is realhope for change in D.C. by highlighting whatis being done, and showing them how they 
can join the ght.
Check Mic
Volume 2, Issue 3
Read, contribute, or donateonline at dcmiccheck.org
@dcmiccheck The D.C. Mic Check 
To celebrate the end of winter, on March 31 and April 1,Occupy DC held a “Carnival of Resistance” in McPhersonSquare. The event was seen as a rebirth for the movementafter the hardships of the camp’s eviction in February.Each Occupy DC committee and working group wasinvited to come up with a carnival game for occupiers andcurious weekend tourists in Washington D.C. alike to enjoy.Live music filled the air both days as the many musiciansin the movement participated in open mics and plannedperformances.The weekend’s activities culminated in a “Fool’s March”on April 1 where participants from the movement marchedthrough the streets wearing finery to satirize the 1% andsipped ginger ale from glasses to simulate champagne.Many D.C. residents attended the festivities and a lot of attendees said the feeling was similar to the energy they felt in the park at the start of the encampment in October.Photography by Kara Harkin, Coulter Loeb, AnneMeador, and John Zangas.
Carnival of Resistance
In the Occupy DC Earth Week demonstrations, every day had a theme. The first four days of actions were dedicatedto the elements: air, fire, water, and earth, whileFriday morning broughta march against BP onthe anniversary of theDeepwater Horizonoil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The rest of the weekend, co-organized by the Anarchist AllianceDC, was dedicated to theInternational Monetary Fund and World Bank Group, since it coincided with their biannualconference.Monday’s “Air” themetargeted the AmericanPetroleum Institute (API),the main lobby and tradeassociation for the oilindustry. The brief marchfrom McPherson Squareto a rally outside the API’s offices on L StreetNW decried the API’scampaigns to discreditscience that shows man-made climate change isoccurring.The Keystone XLpipeline, and the Albertatar sands that wouldsupply its cargo, werethe subject of Tuesday’s“Fire” demonstration.Demonstrators marched to, and rallied in front of, theoffices of Bryan Cave LLP, lobbyists for TransCanadaCorporation, owners of the Keystone pipeline. They thenmarched to the Canadian Embassy, where they rushed tohold the doors open for a mic check into the interior.TransCanada’s current pipeline runs oil from Alberta tothe oil hub city of Cushing, Oklahoma. An extension that would run from Alberta toMontana has raised concernsover possible contaminationof the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides 30% of irrigation water in theUnited States and drinking water to approximately 1.9million people.However, some feel thatthe pipeline is only partof the larger problem of  burning “dirty” fossil fuelsregardless of how they’retransported. “The KeystonePipeline isn’t the problem,the Alberta tar sands are theproblem!” said Brian Eister,a member of the Occupy DCEarth Week working group. Wednesday’s “Water”action was against the American Natural Gas Alliance for their supportof hydraulic fracturing(colloquially known as“fracking”). Fracking involvespumping vast quantitiesof special fluids into shalerock at high pressure tofracture it and release any natural gas trapped inside.These fluids contain toxicchemicals, such as benzene,that can then seep intodrinking water, as can sandcontaining radioactive tracers used to map the fractures.Occupiers mic-checked their opposition in the lobby of the building that houses ANGA’s offices.“Anyone that has even a cursory understanding of theprocess knows that yes, it is dangerous. It is poisoningour drinking water. You cannot tell anybody that dumpingmillions of gallons of a toxic chemical cocktail into theground, past our aquifers, will not have a negative effect,”said Barry Knight, a protester.Thursday, focusing on “Earth,” Occupiers marchedagainst “corporate agribusiness,” specifically the officesof Monsanto and Cargill, located on I Street NW and 15thStreet NW, respectively. Monsanto’s primary business isgenetically modified seed, while Cargill’s, as the largestprivately held corporation in the U.S., is food processing,logistics, and commodities trading.The Friday activity, marking the two-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, brought the first arrestof the week. Occupy DC marched from Freedom Plaza tothe New York Avenue offices of BP, where Ray Voide, anartist, built an oil rig statue and dumped “oil” (water-basedink and flour) onto the sidewalk outside BP’s offices. Policedetained Voide on noticing the oil. “I’m only sorry it wasn’ta bigger mess I made,” Voide said. “My job as an artist [...]is to make sure that people say, ‘what’s going on here?’”That afternoon, demonstrators marched on the IMFand World Bank complex in Foggy Bottom. After afailed attempt to get inside via the “InfoShop” bookstoreentrance, the march circled the complex before returningto McPherson Square, stopping in most intersections before the police threatened arrest. A repeat march on Saturday morning caught delegateson their way into the conference. “Loan shark, loan shark, what do you say - how many kids did you kill today?”chanted protesters, two of whom were arrested thatmorning. One was reportedly hospitalized from injuriessustained during the arrest. The other, Nancy M. of the Anarchist Alliance DC, was defiant. “No matter what, we will continue raising our voices against the IMF and the World Bank, and about what they do, to call out thesecorrupt capitalist organizations to the public.”Saturday night’s demonstration, the week’s largest withabout 80 people, first targeted party tents outside the IMF- World Bank complex, and then moved on to three hotelshousing conference attendees. Protesters wrapped up onSunday with a last, brief march and rally for about a half anhour in front of the complex.The separate Occupy encampments in Washington, D.C. were merged into a single Occupy DC located in McPhersonSquare on April 14, after both General Assemblies voted tosupport the move in early April. Supplies from FreedomPlaza’s occupation were transported to McPherson Square before the 6 a.m. April 14 deadline stipulated in FreedomPlaza’s National Park Service permit.“Since the breakdown of the camps [by the NationalPark Police] we have seen more andmore collaboration between the twocamps,” said an occupier during ageneral assembly (GA) discussionon the move. “This merger was in-evitable.” While both GAs agreed individu-ally to support the merger, the com- bined assembly was unable to findconsensus on whether to transfera permit from Freedom Plaza toMcPherson Square. There werediscussions on options includinga blanket permit for the park or toonly carry it over to a single sec-tion. Both ideas were rejected by the McPherson Square occupation.The entire Occupy DC encampmentat McPherson Square will continue without a permit. Ann Wilcox, a member of theNational Lawyers Guild who hasprovided legal support at FreedomPlaza, argued during a combinedgeneral assembly that a mixed per-mitted/unpermitted space wouldallow “the best of both worlds. The permit would allow ac-cess to certain resources but also more liberty in the unper-mitted space.” A permit from the Park Service would have addressedconcerns such as the use of an on-site kitchen and ampli-fied sound. After the permit proposal failed, Bill Miniutti, who inher-ited signatory status on the permit for Freedom Plaza afterthe initial signatories abandoned the encampment, stated,“I am probably the happiest guy in the world right now be-cause I can get off of that damn permit. It was needed at atime and that time has passed.”Both Occupy camps began at around the same time, but they had very fundamental differences since the start.McPherson Square’s occupation formed much as the oth-er occupations had across the country with a general as-sembly meeting in a public park.Freedom Plaza’s camp was ini-tially named “Stop the Machine”and was planned before the Oc-cupy movement swept acrossthe country last fall.Focused primarily on anti- war activism, Stop the Machinelacked the horizontal organiza-tional structure of other occupa-tions. Instead, what would soon become Occupy Washington DCembraced a vertical structure with a small group of organizersmaking a majority of the deci-sions.“The horizontal organizing is what makes the Occupy move-ment so uniquely potent andactually effective,” said Lacy Ma-cAuley, who has been involved atMcPherson Square. “Everyone isincluded in an egalitarian way.The organizers [from FreedomPlaza] demonstrated in theirmeetings about it that they werenot able to horizontally organize.”Despite this, talk of a merger had gone on since the firstday of the two separate encampments. Barry Knight fromFreedom Plaza said prior to the merger discussions, “Idon’t see a difference between Freedom and McPherson.I think they’re two different camps working towards thesame goals.”
 Week of direct actions highlights environmental problems
By Jason Woltjen
Merger unifies D.C. occupations
Freedom Plaza and McPherson Square come to consensus
ByCoulter Loeb
Occupy Spring
 After a winter of planning meetings held in co-opsand basements around suburban Maryland, Occupy Montgomery County emerged for their first People’s Assembly on March 31. The assembly, attended by over 50people, took place in Woodside Park in Silver Spring.“It’s nice to see people coming together so close to D.C.,”said Michael Acosta, who came from Occupy Reno. “Itshows that there are interested people everywhere.”The group met for the first time in early February aftersuburban members of Occupy DC decided it was time toaddress local issues in Montgomery County and open upthe Occupy experience to those with other commitments.Much of the discussion at early planning meetings had beenon how to foster a family-friendly atmosphere with shortermeetings and a revised consensus process. The planninggroup even discussed whether the Occupy Montgomery County meetings should be held outside.“[I] feel like the first stage of Occupy was to grab attention,”said Kathleen Sutcliffe, explaining Occupy Montgomery County’s focus on local issues. “[Now the movementis about] being where the people are. That’s one of thestrengths of Occupy Montgomery County - confronting theissues where they are.”Several families with children participated, and a few curious passers-by joined as well. “It went great,” saidMartine Zee, who was heavily involved in the planningstages. “We had a lot of new faces [who hadn’t been at theplanning meetings] and a lot of diversity.” Among those new to the Occupy movement are severallocal high school students who have begun attending Oc-cupy Montgomery County meetings. “This is one of the few things I get out and do,” said Daniel Zucker, a student atEinstein High School in Kensington. He stated that he usu-ally doesn’t get involved in school activities but loves par-ticipating in Occupy Montgomery County. “People who arededicated inspire people to be dedicated,” he said.
Occupy Montgomery County can be found on Twitter ast @OccupyMoCoMD.
Community-basedoccupation bloomsin Maryland
ByMichael GoldmanEdward Hunt, a Vietnam veteran,removes a dreamcatcher from aFreedom Plaza tent. (Coulter Loeb)(Nina Montenegro)

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