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THE OCCUPIED

McPherson SQ. • Washington, D.C.

Washington Times

Vol 1 • Issue 31• •Year 2011 Vol 1 • Issue Year 2011

Inside
levels 2 Occupy blame climate
Common environment arguments charged by Occupy energy, organization.

and 3 Professors align protesters

Acadmics, protesters lend suport across disciplines

Occupy DC Declaration approved, asserts purpose of movement
By Drew Veysey Jubilation erupted on the night of Nov. 30 when the Washington, D.C. General Assembly (GA) unanimously consented upon The Declaration of Occupy DC. Friends old and new hugged and strangers shook hands before moving on to Post Pub to celebrate. It had been a long time coming. During the first week of Occupy DC the Occupy Wall Street declaration was read aloud in unison. The document focused on corporations, the economy and the government. After the recitation of Occupy Wall Street’s declaration, the decision was made to make one for Occupy DC that would focus on government, corporate power, and the disenfranchisement of the District of Columbia. The GA then chartered the creation of a Declaration Committee, which was made up of approximately 55 diverse individuals, with attendance that fluctuated from meeting to meeting. A submissions box was set up in McPherson Sq. on Oct. 11, to solicit feedback on what grievances should be included in the declaration. Over 200 suggestions were received within a week. Following this, the Declaration Committee then met on an almost daily basis, using a leaderless consensus process, to condense all 200 suggestions into what is now Continues on 4

3

Occupy DC responds to Republican strategist on how to discuss Occupy.

What the 1% should have said

4 finally here!

It’s here! It’s

Occupiers engage in civil disobedience by refusing to abandon a wooden structure erected in the early morning hours at McPherson Square on Sunday, Dec. 4. Police ordered that the structure be vacated and dismantled. (Photo by Craig Hudson)

Occupy DC General Assembly approves Declaration - graphic on 4.

Occupiers stand firm at “Battle of the Barn”
By Karina Stenquist On Sunday, Dec. 4, Occupy DC had it’s first major confrontation with police. D.C. Metropolitan Police and U.S. Park Police came to order the removal of a wooden structure that had been built overnight. The 10-hour standoff resulted in the arrest of 31 occupiers. Between midnight and 2 a.m. occupiers had erected a wooden structure from prefabricated pieces. Alternately referred to as the People’s Pavilion or just “The Barn”, it was to be used for General Assemblies,meetings, and as an emergency sleeping shelter as needed, said organizers. At 11 a.m. the Metropolitan Police Department and U.S. Park Police ordered the removal of the structure. “We’re here to stay, we’re here to fight.” That’s the message Antoinette (last name withheld), 23, a recent college graduate in criminal justice, said she was hoping to convey by submitting to her first ever arrest on Sunday. “We’re just building ourselves up, we’re still growing.” Joel Northam, 24, said the action left him “invigorated”. He also believes that press coverage will challenge perceptions and attract new people to the movement. “It’s fun being in my suit and tie, seeing someone reading about us in The Examiner and telling them ‘Oh, hey! I was the second person arrested!’” “The day after [the incident] we had people from different occupies show up in McPherson Square,” Northam continued. “Even if it’s just to show other occupations we’re not stagnant, it’s worth it.” The proposal for the structure was carefully considered, explained Paul (last name withheld), the architect of the structure. “We took it to a lot of committees,” he adds, “everyone was enthused with it.” The proposal was, however, defeated when initially brought to the General Assembly (GA), the open forum, decision-making body of Occupy DC. A contentious debate centered on concerns about legal consequences and the possibility of police confrontation. “We had to break up the first GA,” said Antoinette, who felt arguments over legality were irrelevant. “From day one we’ve been occupying illegally here.” After a day of reflection, the proposal passed at a second GA, on Nov. 7. Continues on 2

Funding
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Crowds of protestors, bystanders, and media surround the “Occu-Barn”. After a 10-hour standoff between protestors and police, it was demolished with a forklift. (Photo by Craig Hudson)

For Wells Fargo, prisons pay
By Amelia Ashmall-Liversidge 1,000 D.C. residents. Individuals and groups advocating for prisoner rights say that private prisons in general are nefarious. The GEO Group seems to fit the bill. Its track record of mistreatment in its forprofit prisons, mental health facilities, and juvenile detention centers includes sexual abuse and assault by staff and guards. Their doctors have been sued for malpractice and have also abused inContinues on 2

Official ‘recovery’ leaves jobs behind
By Andrew Breiner Corporate profits have more than doubled from the depths of the recession to $1.5 trillion today, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve. Bureau of Labor Statistics data for November report unemployment at 8.6 percent, the lowest since the official end of the recession. It looks like a recovery on paper, but the official statistics hide the fact that the jobs situation has hardly improved for most Americans. When someone stops searching for work entirely, they are counted by the Bureau of Labor statistics as having “left the labor force” but not as unemployed. The November employment report said 120,000 jobs were created last month, but “300,000 people left the labor force in October,” said University of Maryland political economist Gar Alperovitz. “That’s what’s really been dropping the unemployment rate,” he said. The bottom line is that the official rate does not adequately describe the true level of suffering. “If you take people who have stopped looking, or would like to work full time instead of part-time, you’re at 25 percent unemployment,” said Alperovitz. “Many economists say we’re going to be stuck with this for a decade, and the idea that it may be permanent is growing as well.” Jobless Americans are also spending more time out of work than ever. In 2011, the average unemployed worker spent 41 weeks out Continues on 4

Wells Fargo is the principal investor in the GEO Group, the nation’s second largest private prison corporation. In 2001, with backing from Wells Fargo, the GEO Group erected the for-profit Rivers Correctional Institution in Winton, North Carolina. According to NPR, Rivers is the nation’s largest federal prison. www.OccupiedWashingtonTimes.org Despite being over 200 miles away from the city, it currently incarcerates over

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2

December 12, 2011

Protestors arrested after 10-hour perch Bank profits tied to private prisons
Continued from 1 Park regulations state that “temporary structures may be erected for the purpose of symbolizing a message or meeting logistical needs.” Although sturdy and made of wood, the Occupy structure was designed for easy assembly and dismantling. It was raised in under two hours and was intended to be disassembled and moved as needed, to avoid violating regulations. The Park Police could not be reached for comment on the designer’s claimed temporary nature of the structure, or on their inspector’s decision to label the structure: “Dangerous”. “I was insulted,” said Paul, who has an M.A. in Architecture from Catholic University. He said he has been working construction since he was 12 years old with his father, with whom he’s built over 100 houses. Despite the care that went into designing the easy-to-dismantle structure, police arriving on Sunday morning, quickly cordoned off the structure, and ordered those inside to leave under threat of arrest. At that point, police informed occupiers that they would have to take the structure down, and get a permit to rebuild it. “We felt that [getting a permit] was unlikely,” said “Gecko” De LaDouche, 25, who was later arrested, “so we’d occupy and defend it instead.” The decision displeased some. “I almost left,” said Melinda Butler, 22, who has been staying at McPherson since Nov. 3. She continued, “I didn’t want to be seen as one of those people who antagonizes police,” referring to them as fellow “bluecollar 99% workers.” Police didn’t display the type of heavy handedness witnessed at U.C. Berkeley or U.C. Davis, where images of nightsticks and pepper spray have become infamous. However, arrested occupiers did report some rough treatment. “I’m a buck fifty,” said Steve Hartwell, 23, referring to his slight, 150-pound frame, “and they took four or five guys to take me down....It felt like I got hit by a truck.” After being dragged over concrete and through manure left by officers’ horses, Hartwell says they made his handcuffs extra tight before shutting him in the paddy wagon. “They were very emotionally involved,” Hartwell commented, “They weren’t behaving professionally.” Regardless of police behavior, which left him with a sore back, Northam said he was not concerned about treading lightly around law enforcement. “To me, not pushing buttons because we don’t want to have ‘bad relations’ with the police is counterrevolutionary,” he said. “Their job is to protect the status quo. We’re all here because of our affinity for disobedience.” “They’re gonna evict other camps but we’re gonna be all kinds of creative.” • Continued from 1 mates. “The conditions are horrible,” says Christopher Glenn, a former Rivers inmate who now works with University Legal Services in Washington, D.C. Former inmates are generally given few opportunities to get back on track after being branded as felons. According to a report from the Council for Court Excellence, nearly 50 percent of D.C. residents with criminal records are unemployed after release. All are at high risk of ending up back in prison,as stigmatization leaves many without jobs or support. “The private prison industry is … one of the driving forces behind the over-incarceration of youth, primarily youth of color,” explains Sam Goldberg, a D.C. attorney and juvenile justice advocate. “[Privatization] has also led to even worse conditions in prisons, resulting in severely inadequate mental and physical health care, in addition to increased accounts of abuses.” As the rate of incarceration increases, Wells Fargo’s profits rise. Inves-

Protester Joel Northram, 24, smiles as he is handcuffed and carried away by police officers for “disobeying a police order.” Ten Occupy DC protestors were arrested during the Dec. 4 protest concerning the constructure of the “People’s Pentagon”. (Photo by Craig Hudson)

tors, however, do not see the families and communities broken apart by the cycle of imprisonment. While D.C. residents continue to be swept up by the GEO Group, a damaging social blow is inflicted on the city. As thousands occupy Wall St. to protest financial institutions’ involvement in the economic collapse, millions more involuntarily occupy private, securitized jails for the benefit of a corporation. On Friday, December 2, 2011, Occupy DC’s Criminal (In)justice Committee led an action against the prisonindustrial complex. At 4pm, 100 protestors marched from McPherson Square to the Wells Fargo office at 1901 7th Street NW. The crowd gathered to block the entrance of the bank. They handed out fact sheets detailing the number of D.C. residents in GEO’s private prison and the high value of Wells Fargo’s investment in the GEO Group. Organizers say this action is only the first step in a sustained effort to effect Wells Fargo’s divestiture from the private prison industry. • With edits and contributions from Brenda Pearson and Sean Wellock.

Occupy Earth: How big money fuels climate change
By Kelsey Tribble Leading climate experts from NASA, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the International Energy Agency warn that when it comes to global climate change and warming, we have two options. We can take immediate action to drastically reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases by essentially halting our consumption of fossil fuels — coal, natural gas, and petroleum — or we must face increasingly catastrophic climate conditions. Cyclical variations in earth’s average temperature and climate are normal. However, our heavy use of fossil fuels has caused the atmospheric concentration of heat-trapping greenhouse gases - particularly carbon dioxide and methane - to spike over the last 200 years. The chemical composition of our atmosphere can only be altered so much before the earth’s systems of selfregulation are derailed. If fossil fuel consumption is not reduced at this critical moment in history, we can expect to see a dramatic increase in severe and widespread droughts, wildfires, flooding and climate-related disease epidemics. President Obama, for his part, has stated: “Unless we free ourselves from a dependence on these fossil fuels and chart a new course on energy in this country, we are condemning future generations to global catastrophe.” He has also publicly acknowledged that transitioning to renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power “has the potential to grow our economy and create millions of jobs.” Yet his administration continues to spend billions on subsidies and tax breaks for fossil fuel corporations every year. Legislation aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions and developing renewable energy infrastructure is consistently blocked in Congress. Moreover, permits for destructive extraction projects like mountaintop removal coal mining, off-shore petroleum drilling, and natural gas hydro-fracking are being granted to multi-billion-dollar corporations including Massey Coal, Shell, and Halliburton. These companies fund massive public relations campaigns designed to debunk global warming and advertise their products as “clean”. As they aim to convince the public that environmentalism will cost U.S. jobs, it’s no coincidence that average Americans remain skeptical of climate science. The Occupy movement is in a position to challenge “Big Oil”. Unfortunately, focus on the financial sector has allowed companies like ExxonMobil - whose 2010 revenue was nearly ten times that of Goldman Sachs - to avoided scrutiny. Yet, like the banksters, fossil fuel execs are profiting through reckless disregard for the 99%. Lobbyists for oil giants Chevron, Koch Industries, and ExxonMobil, consistently rank among the highest industrial spenders on K Street and Capitol Hill. They pour hundreds of millions of dollars into political coffers each year and appear to have bought a central role in shaping energy legislation. In 2002, the National Resources Defense Council conducted a study of 13,500 pages of energy policy that had been released under orders from a federal judge. It found that “Bush administration officials sought extensive advice from utility companies and the oil, gas, coal and nuclear energy industries, and incorporated their recommendations, often word for word, into the [national] energy plan.” The Obama administration has had little success in reforming Bush era energy policies, despite some attempts. Given the political and financial clout of the lobby, the failure is unsurprising. Now, though, we are in position to speak out against them. We must stop relying on their products and buying their lies. Otherwise, we’ll all pay the highest price. • The Sustainability Committee meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8pm or after GA.

OPINION

OPINION
McPherson Sq. Occupiers at a glance
student activist groups, which all collapsed ignominiously in fits of young white maleness, and I didn’t imagine the people chilling in Zuccotti would have much of an impact on anyone. On September 30, someone mentioned that Occupy DC was starting the next day. Someone else scoffed and said it would never work, that what the American left really needed was better messaging. Someone else said Democrats just needed to recruit better candidates. I wanted to throw up. I’m done putting my faith in men. I decided to come down the next day and put my faith in us. I’ve been waiting for something like this to happen in the U.S. all my life. I’m from Bolivia, where the neoliberal model was imposed by the militaryfinancial complex that is now controlling the U.S government. I’ve seen how this system of debt peonage works. Now the vulture has come home to roost. I’m glad America is waking up and that a peaceful revolution is underway. varied perceptions of history as “occupiers”. As a strong supporter of the decolonization movement, I firmly believe that in order for real progress to occur we must examine the ways in which we, through our thoughts, words and actions, manifest and replicate the exploitative system that has rendered invisible the suffering of oppressed people. I’ve learned so much from seasoned activists who’ve injected amazing energy into the Occupy/Decolonize DC and I’ve found challenging and fulfilling work in the Declaration Committee and the White Anti-Racist Allies Caucus. I’m excited to watch the movement and its members grow, myself included. On October 5th, I decided to stop by Occupy DC after work and immediately knew (as cliché as it sounds) that I was supposed to be there. Ever since then, I have been very active in the Action Committee and helping out wherever I can. I am involved because we can no longer sit around waiting for someone else to make the change that we want to see in the world. It is empowering to see women standing strong in this movement. I encourage all people to talk with us and realize we are all in this together.
(All photos by Natalie Camou)

3

Meet Your Neighbors

Professors stand with Occupy protestors
By Gregory Squires At a recent “learn-in” for college professors at McPherson Square, participants asked how occupiers and academics could collaborate more effectively. Some suggested more workshops delivered at McPherson Square and elsewhere; others called for free courses at local universities. Few noted how intensively faculty and protesters have already been engaged with each other. While it may be difficult to measure the influence that college professors have had on the Occupy protesters, there is no question that the protesters have had a dramatic impact on many academics. Sometimes by design and sometimes serendipitously, Occupy protesters and college professors have in many ways been joined at the proverbial hip. Academics have been following the movement intently, and have directed research efforts at its impact. Occupy’s influence on the media, for example, attracted immediate attention. A widespread discussion of inequality and injustice has suddenly flooded local, national, and international media, marking one major accomplishment of the Occupy protesters. Professor Peter Dreier of Occidental College, using a LexisNexis search of newspaper articles, found that 409 stories contained the word “inequality” in October 2010. For the next 11 months, that number hardly changed. In October 2011, it spiked to 1,269. Similarly, stories with the word “greed” fluctuated between 452 and 728 per month over the same period, but jumped to 2,285 the month the Occupy protests launched. One of Occupy’s key phrases - the “richest one percent” - appeared between 11 and 32 times each month before appearing 174 times this October. “We are the 99 percent” is a slogan that will not soon be forgotten. Academics are appearing more often on the op-ed pages and being cited more frequently in news stories in major newspapers and magazines. Scholars like Robert Reich, Emmanuel Saez, and others have been writing about the nation’s surging inequality for the last 30 years or longer - and they have found a much larger global audience since September. They discuss the issues that gave rise to the Occupy movement on blogs of various political stripes, television and radio news, and public affairs talk shows. They work for labor unions, community organizations, and progressive elected officials. In all this work their messages are informed and inspired by Occupiers. And this is not likely to be a short term phenomenon. For example, to examine the lessons of the Occupy protests for future fair housing initiatives, a conference will be held at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago next year, to be followed by a book, both to be titled “From Foreclosure to

I was pretty skeptical about the Occupy movement before October 1. I was involved in various horizontally-run

Wohl

Rob

Fair Lending: Advocacy, Organizing, and the Pursuit of Equitable Access to Credit.” Fair housing and fair lending activists, lawyers, community organizers, HUD and Justice Department officials, as well as scholars who have studied social justice movements will come together to identify next steps in light of the lessons of the Occupy protests. Similar discussions and projects are taking place around the globe. Recently, Cornel West told a George Washington University audience that they needed to find the courage to be critical. Occupiers are helping more academics do just that. • Gregory D. Squires is a Professor of Sociology and Public Policy and Public Administration at George Washington University.

Cecilia

Jawdat
I am participating in the Occupy movement in DC to address issues of systemic racism, misogyny, queerphobia, ablism and the myriad of other “isms” that have informed our

Tate

Protestors and bystanders listen to a lecture by Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law professor and director of the Edmund J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics, at an open teach-in held OCt. 18 in McPherson Square, the site of the Occupy DC movement. (Photo by AJ Mack)

By: Just Regular Folks PR, Inc. • We here at the Just Regular Folks PR firm have bailed you “1 percenters” out of some tight spots before. But all of a sudden, the “whining index” is on the rise. Suddenly, these noisy upstarts think they’re “entitled” to something more than a swift kick in the pants. • The problem? You 1 percenters are getting sloppy with language. Remember, not everyone is as intelligent and hard-working as you are. If they were, they’d be making the big bucks too. Millions of low-class Americans are so dumb, they don’t even know how to move a factory to China! They’re so lazy, they don’t even hire lobbyists! • You guys need a primer on how to talk down to these lesser Americans:

What the 1% should have said
• Don’t say: “Tax cuts for the wealthy”! Call it:
“Returning money to its rightful owners.” the • Don’t use and words “millionaire” “billionaire”! It’s just “upper-middle class”. mentions • If someone hit back taxing the rich, with: “You mean Americahating bums literally robbing taxpayers at gunpoint?”

• Don’t talk about “careers”! People aren’t
going to have those anymore. Instead, talk up the huge revenue opportunities in selling your organs and blood.

Shaw

Sarah

• You aren’t raising75! the retirement age to
You’re “extending job opportunities to millions of jobless seniors.”

• Remember! When they wrote the constitution, only
white male property owners could vote. So we’re getting back to what the framers intended.

Most important of all, relax! You’ve earned it! Anyway, here at Just Regular Folks PR Inc. we’re already working on getting complaining criminalized. This will all blow over soon.

• Don’t say “capitalism”! Say: “The only alternative to
mass chaos and starvation.”

(All photos by Craig Hudson)

4

December 12, 2011

“Hidden” unemployed, demand Declaration of the factors create economic drag
continued from 1 of work, up from the 2007 average of 16.8 weeks. “These long spells of unemployment reduce a worker’s chances of ever returning to the labor market,” according to Economic Policy Institute economist Heidi Shierholz. “People who otherwise would enter the labor force can’t because the jobs aren’t there,” and older workers who are laid off may never return to work, she said. But Shierholz emphasizes that unemployment is not built into the postrecession economy. “We know how to fix it,” she said. “There’s strong, strong evidence that there just isn’t enough demand. Substantial fiscal stimulus would translate into demand, and if done on a big enough scale, bring down unemployment. We can completely afford it. It comes down to politics, where I’m completely stymied.” Robert Zieger, Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Florida, noted that citizens have risen up in the past to demand political change in times of economic distress. “In 1932, thousands of unemployed World War I veterans marched on Washington,” said Zieger. That “Bonus Army”, a group of over 40,000 marchers who camped out in D.C. and whose demands were eventually met by Congress, set a precedent for today’s occupiers. “They lived in tent villages not unlike those in the occupied parks,” said Zieger. Full employment may not return naturally at the end of this recession without similar political action, according to Columbia University sociologist Herbert Gans. “Static wages, new technology, and outsourcing mean corporations can make more profit with fewer employees,” he said. Alperovitz agreed. “We don’t have an economic problem, we have a power problem. We’re the richest country in the history of the world,” he said. “Unless you change the power relationships, it won’t be fixed.” •

occupation

Continued from 1 the published Declaration. Once the committee finished the work of condensing suggestions into a single document, it went to the GA where it received three separate rounds of amendments before it was finally consented upon on the eve of Occupy DC’s two month anniversary. After a great deal of challenge, Occupy DC has finally consented upon a solid foundation for its future. •

Find full text of the Occupy DC Declaration online at OccupyDC.org/Declaration

A disclaimer about OWT
The Occupy DC General Assembly in McPherson Square has entrusted a newspaper working group with the creation of a newspaper to document the social and economic injustices of our time and news of the occupation itself. A rotating editorial board, held accountable to the Occupy DC General Assembly, determines the final content and tone of the newspaper. The opinions expressed represent those of individual authors. In no way do we speak for Occupy DC or the Occupy movement. – The Occupied Washington Times Editorial Board

Editorial Board
Jillian Blazek Jarrad Davis Benjamin Daniels Siobhán McGuirk Justin Jacoby Smith Karina Stenquist

Contributors
Karina Stenquist Drew Veysey Amelia Ashmall-Liversidge Andfew Breiner Kelsey Tribble Rob Wohl Cecilia Nat Jawdat Sarah Shaw Gregory Squires Craig Hudson AJ Mack Natalie Camou

www.OccupiedWashingtonTimes.org

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