This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Volume 2 Jan./Feb. 2012 Issue 1
NPS cracks down after Issa hearing
By Michael Goldman and Alec Kerestesi
In the small hours of the morning on February 4, police raided the Occupy DC camp at McPherson Square days after a two-hour hearing by Darrell Issa’s (RCalifornia) Oversight and Government Reform Committee on January 23. The National Park Service issued an order to cease camping activities at all Occupy DC sites. The order took effect on January 30, and required the removal of all items at the Occupy DC sites which could be construed as either being used for sleeping or for preparing to sleep. However, according to witnesses the police removed tents were in compliance with the announced regulations. Eyewitnesses said that police entered the square wearing riot gear and riding horses with an “immediately combative” attitude. They started by tagging tents and numbering the items removed, presumably so their owners could reclaim them. About halfway through the day, however, they began to destroy tents indiscriminately and throw everything inside them away. There were eight arrests, mostly for crossing a police line or resisting police orders. “They raided us this weekend for two reasons,” said Javier Ocasi, an occupier at Freedom Plaza. “The first is that it is Super Bowl Sunday, and anything done to us isn’t going to become front page news. The second is 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 to contradict their testimony at the prior hearing and in written form. On the afternoon of January 27, NPS police officers placed notifications on tents in both McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza, stating that people would be individually arrested or fined for sleeping in any “temporary structure” in either location. There seemed to be no indication of the mass removal of tents at one time that was seen on February 4 in any of their documentation or public statements. During questioning, NPS representatives testified that there was precedent for allowing “24-hour vigils,” such as those being held in Freedom Plaza and McPherson Square. Previous vigils include Resurrection City, an encampment on the National Mall planned by Martin Luther King, Jr. and a seven-week convergence of tractors in 1979 that drew 6,000 farmers to the city. Jarvis concluded that, “barring an emergency situation,” he saw no reason why Occupy DC should be evicted from McPherson Square. Continued on 2
DC actions take national focus in 2012
On Tuesday, January 17, hundreds of people converged on the West Lawn of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. for “Occupy Congress.” The morning consisted of teach-ins, rain and mud, minor police scuffles, a massive multi-occupation general assembly, and lots of mingling. Three groups split off to actually occupy Congress, or at least the congressional office buildings. Coordinators waving color-coded flags led the groups to the Cannon, Longworth, and Rayburn buildings, where members of the House of Representatives have their offices. The goal was for people to speak directly to their own representatives. People from all over the United States showed up to confront their representatives. Though most were
disappointed and had to content themselves with conversations with congressional staffers, people still expressed their belief in the importance of showing up and having a physical presence. A sampling of protesters told us who they wanted to talk to, what they wanted to say, and how they felt about “J17” (see full story 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 commemorate the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday (see coverage on page 3). This was followed by two days of anti-corporate protests on Jan. 20 and 21 to mark the two-year anniversary of the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court.
By Karina Stenquist
99% crash 99th Alfalfa Club gala
The Alfalfa Club was founded in 1913 to honor the birthday of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. It did not allow African-Americans until the 1970s or women until the 1990s. For 99 years it has brought the richest and most powerful people in the United States together for an exclusive black-tie affair. The president and the wealthiest people in America got 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 festivities involved dancing, hurling glitter at a tuxedoclad U.S. Senator, and tasteful nudity. It was likely the more lively party of the two. Bill Wagner, protesting outside, was upset that the club would hold this kind of party in the middle of a recession. “I don’t think the people in there are tuned
By Andrew Breiner
in enough to know anybody out here is having any problems,” he said, “and Obama’s here because the money’s here. I think he’s addicted.” From the start, police kept the elite well away from the general public. Roadblocks of snowplows and metal barricades gave attendees at least a block’s distance from any common people. But Occupy DC already had people inside. Five occupiers had spent the day posing as hotel guests. They took the opportunity to scatter envelopes containing the Occupy DC declaration throughout the hotel, 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 main road entrance to the hotel on K St near 16th St. Continued on 3
Park police prepare to raid McPherson Square. (Pablo.Raw)
Volume 2 Jan./Feb. 2012 Issue 1
NPS cracks down after Issa hearing..........................1 99% crash 99th Alfalfa Club gala.................................1 DC actions take national focus in 2012.......................1 Editorial.......................................................................2 “Occupy the Dream” takes up King’s mission and demands action......................................3 Kucinich talks shop with protesters...........................3 McPherson Square montage....................................4-5 Occupy Congress personal stories.............................6 An open letter to occupiers everywhere Amanda, Occupy Eaton Cindy, Occupy Greensboro McPherson Square personal stories.............................7 Drew Kathryn Amal Hillary ACTA out!....................................................................8
As we go to press for the first time this year, we no longer having a substantial presence in McPherson Square. Rumors of Occupy DC’s demise, however, are severely exaggerated. On February 4, when National Park Service personnel came to “inspect” our temporary home, occupiers were compliant. Yet officers proceeded to remove the majority of tents from the space, without issuing a court-mandated, mandatory 24-hours notice. For the most part, Occupy DC has so far been spared the heinous treatment received by those with similar grievances in Oakland, Boston, New York, Davis, or Berkeley. Yet the batons, tasers, mounted officers, and plexiglass shields that have been wielded against us still clearly demonstrate the increasing militarization of law enforcement across the board. Mainstream media coverage has focused on violent confrontation, neglecting much-needed, considered debate of the issues Occupy emphasises and seeks to redress. In contrast, our coverage remains calm and resolute. We know that, no matter a publication’s editorial line, the images distill the story: This is what state oppression looks like. On February 5 we, supporters of Occupy DC new and old, returned en masse. We did not go to reoccupy the public space, although that idea continues to be discussed. We went to do what we do best: to talk, to listen, to share ideas and make plans for the future. The clock ticked over two hours before everyone already involved in active social justice oriented organising had chance to speak. Announcement and invitations to get involved covered a free learning collective, a faith outreach group, student solidarity, foreclosure and eviction resistance, criminal injustice response, homeless advocacy, radical media production, and many more. We know what our readers have seen and heard elsewhere: The Occupy movement is aimless and feckless. In September, when camps started setting up across the US, that was the easy headline, the comfortable, ubiquitous lie. Now, the powers that be are struggling to keep up the pretense. Because the undeniable truth is that we are actively shifting political discourse towards addressing social inequality and injustice.
We are agitating for change, by marching up to the doors of Congress and demanding an audience with our representatives. We are building links with likeminded activists across the nation, and linking up with local, like-minded organizations. We turning new heads every day, and those who catch a glimpse are starting to ask questions, too. Our aims could not be more clear: we stand against the corrupt financial institutions and decaying economic systems that exploit the many to profit the few. We fight against an entrenched two-party system that compromises citizens’ voices in exchange for moneytary gain. We also fight in solidarity against the rise of the industrial-prison complex; in support of affordable public housing initiatives; for medical care for those most in need, forgotten and cast aside; to support veterans and active servicemembers; for voting rights for D.C.’s 600,000 unrepresented inhabitants; and for a culture shift away from the persistent patriarchal and racist structures that divide and suppress us. In this issue we tell the story of our eviction from McPherson Sq. but we linger on our successes as a movement. 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 cues from private interests, The Occupied Washington Times works to provide a platform for marginalized voices. We need a broad base of support to fulfill this primary aim. We invite community organizations and individual contributors to submit news items, opinion pieces, photographs, and action updates. We also hope that you will visit our website, where we regularly publish news, opinion and in-depth analysis pieces. All print content will also be published online. Finally, you can also contribute towards The Occupied Washington Times by helping us cover our printing costs. We are a volunteer-run paper that does not rely on advertising revenue, and without the support we have already received from readers like you, this would not have been possible.
Jillian Blazek Andrew Breiner Natalie Camou (Photography) Michael Carbone Benjamin Daniels Michael Goldman Siobhan McGuirk Karina Stenquist
- The Occupied Washington Times editorial team
To donate, visit: http://www.occupydc.org/newspaper
Issa leans on NPS to evict Occupy DC
Coming to the defense of Occupy DC were Representatives Lacy Clay (D-Missouri), Elijah Cummings (D-Georgia), Danny Davis (D-Illinois), and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). Cummings commented that, while there had been numerous committee hearings under Issa, now including Occupy DC, he was frustrated that none had focused on robo-signing or the thousands who had their homes foreclosed due to the practice. “It’s a damn shame,” Cummings said in response to the content of the hearing. “I wish we had as much concern about the people who have lost their houses ... it baffles 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 either Occupy DC camp was allowed to testify at the hearing. Davis read the First Amendment into the record along with a statement approved by the Occupy DC General Assembly. In it, Occupy DC stated they were willing to work with the NPS to “to improve the health and safety of our conditions.” The NPS representatives defended the rights of Occupy DC to maintain a vigil in both Freedom Plaza and McPherson Square and stated that protesters had been “cooperative” and that “self-policing” policies were working. Despite having their camps raided, many occupiers are optimistic. Many of them seemed to have nowhere else to sleep, but found
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places outside of the camp. Some occupiers from both McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza stayed at Luther Place Memorial Church. Some refused to leave the park altogether and continued to hold a vigil using the remaining tents. The occupiers plan to maintain a presence at McPherson Square. Plans have been discussed at the General Assembly to begin less picket and camp oriented protests. Many feel the need to focus on more outreach-oriented actions, such as fighting against the foreclosure of houses in communities in and around the DC area. On top of this, plans for better communication between different occupies, which would allow for larger coordinated actions to happen effectively, will also be discussed in future General Assemblies.
Continued from 1
“Occupy the Dream” takes up King’s mission and demands action
By Karina Stenquist
Kucinich talks shop with protesters
In at least 13 cities across the country on Jan. 16, lo2. “Absolute security” on Pell grants to create a globcal branches of Occupy the Dream marched on offices of ally competitive generation of educated young the Federal Reserve to honor the legacy of Martin Luther people. King Jr.’s campaign for economic justice. In Washington, 3. An immediate moratorium on home foreclosures. D.C., a group of around 100 activists from a variety of Af4. $100 billion fund to be used for job training, entrerican-American organizations as well as the black church preneurial investment, and jobs rebuilding Americommunity gathered in front of the Fed to demand a can infrastructure. more humane national economic policy. Bryant also laid out a plan to have a series of rolling “Instead of using the money for communities, they’re monthly actions, starting with a “Love your community” spending it on themselves,” said Samuel Washington, action on Feb. 14. Similar to “Bank Transfer Day” on Nov. 47, from Laurel, Md., criticizing the consistently large 5, organizers are asking people to close accounts with bonuses doled out by many financial sector institutions. large banks and reinvest in community banks and credit For many, the Federal Reserve symbolizes the control of unions. private financial interests over the economy. In addition to a shared economic message, there is also Like many others, Washington came with his church, common tactical ground between Occupy the Dream and The Church of the Lord’s Harvest. Though he had worked the main Occupy movement. Occupying public space, a as a truck driver and done some organizing with his union central tactic used throughout the wave of recent ecoin the past, Washington said he was relatively new to po- nomic justice protests, pays homage to Dr. King Jr.’s litical action of this type. methods of resistance. Washington’s pastor, Bishop Steven Smith, says he’s been actively involved since the beginning of the foreclosure crisis. The on-going crisis has hit the African American community particularly hard, forcing several black churches to face foreclosures in recent years. “We’re going wherever we can to get attention,” said Smith, explaining why tapping into the energy of the Occupy movement is crucial in his view. “We all have the same concern, the same issues.” Across the nation, the Occupy movement has been criticized for being predominantly white, even though non-white communities have suffered disproportionately from the economic crisis. Protesters’ messages echo the King demonstrations. (Rick Reinhard) “Here’s the disconnect,” said Dr. Jamal Bryant, pastor at the Empowerment Temple in “One of his last acts was to occupy Washington, D.C. Baltimore and main speaker at the day’s events, “The is- and to build tents on the Mall,” said Smith, referring to sue Occupy is raising is not new to black people. So we the Poor People’s Campaign that King was working on at looked at Occupy and said ‘What took you so long?’” the time of his assassination. He also pointed out a disconnect in terms of tactics. The campaign included a march on the capital and the “The African American community is used to having a erecting of a tent city on the national mall to commemvisible enemy,” said Bryant. “You know, we march until morate King’s “Ressurection City” from 44 years ago. the ‘Whites Only’ signs come down … since Occupy re- Though King’s death struck a blow to the campaign’s fused to have a leader or spokesperson it was hard to un- energy, the campaign did go forward. Resurrection City derstand what they’re after.” lasted nearly six weeks despite rain and mud, and called Shamar Thomas, the marine sergeant whose rant di- for an “economic bill of rights.” rected at New York police officers went viral on YouTube, Smith praised King’s legacy of confrontation, and said said a culture of police harassment also deterred African- he wanted to bring young people out “not just for a day of Americans. service but a day of activism.” “[Black] people feel that if they go to jail with their white Organizers repeatedly asserted that the day’s action in counterparts that they will bear the brunt of the brutality,” front of the Fed was merely the beginning. explained Thomas. “That they’ll [end up with] the assault “This is just an awareness piece,” said Farajii Muhamcharges.” mad, 32, a community organizer from Baltimore. The What Occupy the Dream is after was clearly defined. At real work, he said, would be done on the ground. And the rally, organizers unveiled a concise list of demands while he agreed that the African American community and a plan for moving forward. has faced economic struggle before, he also found a silver The four demands were explained as follows: lining in the crisis. 1. Campaign finance reform: “We want politicians, “Sometimes tragedy plays a dual role – it can hurt, but not puppets.” it can unite people.”
By Benjamin Daniels
The headline event of Occupy Congress on January 17 was not so much direct action as direct conversation, and with the people who occupy the Capitol every day: congressmen and their staff. A group of protesters spoke to Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), one of the Occupy movement’s most vocal supporters in Congress. The group, which included both Occupy DC members and others from out-of-town, sat down with Rep. Kucinich towards the end of ‘J17’ in his office on 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 around here until it had an agenda. You guys have got a lot of attention even without one,” Kucinich told the assembled protesters, “but in the spring, come back with specific demands.” Cecilia, an Occupy Congress organizer, had been looking forward to the Kucinich meeting. “I agree we need to make demands as part of a long term strategy,” she said after the conversation was over. “It will take more time than the Tea Party, because of how we operate, but I think we will get there.” As winter has drawn in, the McPherson Square camp has been less active than in the fall. This is especially evident after dark, even when the nightly General Assembly convenes at 6:00pm. The holiday season also brought a lull in visible actions, as many occupiers returned to their homes from this notoriously non-native city. Despite the temporary drop in McPherson Square’s resident population, planning continued for 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 Citizens United decision, and protests against corporate personhood.
“This isn’t Valley Forge,” Kucinich said.
Kucinich suggested that a sincere regrouping effort was needed to bolster the movement. “No one’s going fault you if you die down for the winter and come back as strong in the spring as you were in the fall,” he said, referring to the early days of the Occupy movement, when warm weather and daylight facilitated well-attended and highly visible outdoor actions. The Ohio representative also offered advice for those living in the park: “You don’t have to sleep in the snow and wear yourselves out. This isn’t Valley Forge.” However, with D.C. public housing waiting lists extending into the years, and inadequate temporary shelter provisions, many protesters simply cannot pack up for the winter. The park was still reasonably populated when Washington saw the year’s first snowfall on the weekend following Kucinich’s remarks. With reporting by Natalie Camou
“We were able to put our biggest group where we knew they’d be entering,” said Drew Veysey, one of the organizers 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 water balloons and a bucket of glitter to the party. Occupiers hurled both at the expensive-looking people in tuxedos and gowns who waited for police to open the metal barricades and let them pass. Senator Joseph Lieberman drew a personal barrage, and emerged from the crowd with wet patches of glitter stuck to his jacket and a look of outrage. With the Alfalfa Club all inside, the group outside turned into its own party. The speaker system blasted Public Enemy and a dance party broke out. About a dozen men and women took the opportunity to go topless, seeming to ignore the winter night’s chill that had others in hats and gloves. Tiffany, from Washington, stood on the outskirts of by Mike Flugennock
Continued from 1
the crowd taking photos. “It seems like good energy. I’m excited to be here,” she said. Soon after, hearing that there was another entrance letting cars into the hotel, the crowd marched up to the intersection of 16th St and M St, finding police on horses, but no barricades blocking their way. Occupiers made several attempts to rush through the police line and on to the hotel, but were pushed back each time. Then, mounted police charged on the occupiers, using their horses to frighten and push people back, clearing the intersection. That done, the march returned to the original location, to await those leaving the party. Wagner was happy with the day’s events, he said. “This is the way we apply pressure. This is the way we change things.”
“You can’t e
evict an idea whose time has come.”
Occupied: The Supreme Court steps have been officially off-limits to protesters since the Vietnam War. (W. L. Pierce)
On January 17, protesters from around the country travelled to the nation’s capital. They sought to “Occupy Congress” on the first day of its new session. This is a sampling of their stories and reactions.
An open letter to occupiers everywhere
One of the most powerful weapons a human being can wield is their voice. The older generations will remember the works of Dr. King and Malcolm X. The history buffs will remember the writing of Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin. Those of us who occupy live this truth every day, using our weapon freely, to fight against the injustices that surround us. The year 2011 was one of revolution. From the spring revolutions that erupted across the Middle East, where hundreds of thousands of people opposed regimes that had been in power for decades, to the riots in Russia after a rigged presidential election, the spirit of change has overcome us all. What allowed for that spirit to spread so quickly? What made it possible for us to be inspired by each other and coordinate to form what has become a nationwide movement? It was nothing less than our freedom of speech. The ability to freely share ideas and information with each other allows us to not only organize protests, but makes us aware of the most important thing: the strength we possess as a group. Think of what we have done because of our freedom of speech: We have already enjoyed a multi-occupation General Assembly, which gathered in D.C. near the Washington Monument. On January 17th, we occupied Congress, stormed the steps of the Supreme Court, and climbed on the fence of the White House. We did things that would have gotten a smaller group of protestors arrested. It was through the printing press that news about America’s own revolution was spread to France, enabling us to become an independent nation. Through televised media, the civil rights movement spread across the country like wildfire. Today, we depend on the Internet for all of this. Everything from raising public awareness to sharing information with each other is done online. Even the occupiers who have been evicted from their camps have continued to fight for social change because they formed online communities and have used them to organize GAs and protests. That is why, when our Congress pushed the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I was mortified. The NDAA says that anyone suspected of “belligerent acts” against the U.S. can be held indefinitely and without trial by the military, crippling our right to protest. SOPA gives the government the right to censor the Internet, restricting our ability to communicate and coordinate with each other. It is nothing less that a two-pronged attack meant to break our movement by eradicating the First Amendment. Be on your guard. Stand firm. Be full of courage and be strong. As long as we are capable of remember the power of our collective voice, no amount of censorship and no threat of imprisonment will be able to stop us. As long as we remember to keep making noise and pushing for change, keep strong lines of communication, and encourage each other, nothing they can throw will stop us. We will overcome. - Alec Kerestesi
Amanda, Occupy Easton
About a month ago, I began to follow the Occupy movement. I began to learn about the flow of money within our government and started to read about the erosion of our rights and democratic voice. It was important to me to teach my twelve-year-old daughter about these things. Initially my daughter was a little scared - as you can imagine - surrounded by armed police and seeing the first arrest. “It’s okay, it’s okay,” I kept telling her. We stayed on the West Lawn of the Capitol Building quite a while but left for a bite and to warm up. We returned and were taking in some thought-provoking poetry, when my daughter said, “Look, everyone is walking toward the street.” What I write next is what I want to say the most. We began to walk to the House Office buildings, my daughter in front of me. People chanted: “Whose streets? Our streets!” and, “This is what democracy looks like!” The police brought bags of God-knowswhat and started filing along the sidewalk - weapons in clear view. I felt so empowered to be there, yet still intimidated. I glanced at my daughter who - smiling and looking at everyone - said, “Mom it’s okay, it’s okay.” I wish more of the 99% from my demographic (30s, married with children) would get involved. My daughter shared her experience with her social studies teacher, and her teacher was very interested in sharing with the class. The teacher, however, was told she was not permitted (it was not clear by whom) to have us simply share our experiences because it was not related to the curriculum. I repeat: “not related to the curriculum.” I plan on reading more, being more active in local and national events, spreading the truth, and having my voice heard thanks to Occupy Congress. And I just attended my first local general assembly today.
Cindy, Occupy Greensboro
At 2 a.m. on Jan. 17, 50 sleepy occupiers from Greensboro & Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and I boarded a bus for the six-hour ride to Occupy Congress. Occupy Greensboro organizers had set up appointments with Sen. Kay Hagan and Reps. Richard Burr and Howard Coble. We first headed to Hagan’s office, were told that she was in North Carolina. We expressed our disappointment since we thought the appointment was with her, personally. We were, though, able to get our points across, and all three staffers took copious notes, which was encouraging. However. we got no answer to questions about who produced laws like SOPA and PIPA or why Hagan voted for the NDAA. In the end we felt the staffers had said nothing of substance. Around 6:30 p.m., we started the march to the White House, chanting, moving together, in the dark. The people were old, young, children in strollers, anarchists with face masks. I loved the banners: slowing us, leading the way to the Supreme Court. I felt peaceful and protected. I loved seeing young masked people running along the sides like sheepdogs, protectors. I loved the sounds of voices bellowing,
“Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!”, “The people, united, can never be defeated!”, and “Whose streets? Our streets!”, I had a deep feeling of ownership in the process of freedom. Swarming to the top of the steps of the Supreme Court was powerful for all of us. “Whose court? Our court!” We then walked to the facade of the Newseum where the text of the First Amendment was carved and read it aloud. Occupiers at Freedom Plaza lined up along the wall to take pictures, and cheer us on. It was a full-on parade. Puppets joined us, weaving around and passing over us. Magic. We arrived at the White House and people surged up to the fence. We watched and waited then the march took off back to the Capitol. I was grateful for the police escort that “permitted” the organic flow and kept an outer ring of safety. The next day I woke up realizing that had been one of the most exciting, powerful times in my life. When I tell friends about it, they sense my excitement and thank me for being there representing them. I am grateful for all of the participants and to Occupy DC for amazing facilitators.
Reflections from McPherson Square
Kathryn, Occupy DC Amal, Occupy DC
“Let’s do the one thing” someone shouted to the wet and ragged crowd. “Let’s do the one thing!” we mic checked back. “That will scare them the most” / “That will scare them the most!”; “Let’s hold a general assembly” / “Let’s hold a general assembly!”; “Right here, on K street” / “Right here, on K street!” Police officers stood like stone soldiers behind the barricades that blocked the park, staring out at us in resolute silence. I watched the drizzle of rain in the bright police floodlights which lit our frantic gathering of the freshly displaced and downtrodden. We gathered in a tight circle. Live streamers and photographers pushed their way into the middle - shoving phones and cameras in the faces of everyone who spoke. As the General Assembly began, the rain continued to fall. It washed away any resentment and dejection we felt. As people told their stories from the day and the occupation, our anger was replaced with a new, warm feeling. I thought back to my first General Assembly. It was a warm October evening. There were close to a hundred people there, and the circumstances could not have been more different. When Occupy DC was set up in the fall, everyone was warm, dry, and comfortable. As we faced eviction in February, it was cold and wet. Tensions were high. Yet both nights were filled with an unmistakable feeling of hope and defiance. In October, we had been optimistic. Our movement was brand new and everything was happening, all at once. We felt as if we could do anything. By the time we left the park, on that cold February night, our hopes had evolved. We’d been pushed out of our park and the police had beaten our friends. But we were still standing. They took our park, but they could not take our spirit. Post-eviction, over the course of a couple of hours, we drank and ate; sang songs and mic checked our views. We were boister(Craig Hudson) ous and excited. It was not the end. It was only the end of the beginning. If we had been adolescents before, now we were growing stronger and stepping out on our own. It was the start of our life. The morning after our eviction night, I slunk into a 24-hour McDonald’s and threw myself down next to two friends. After a few minutes of chatter about the day and what was next, there was a long silence. I searched for words to stem the quiet. I found none, so I said nothing. The silence lingered, noticeable and distinct. There was nothing left to say. Everything had been said and the day was done. But we would be back tomorrow. The tent has also grown in more than just size since the early days. Initially maintained by one or two dedicated librarians, it now boasts a full committee. They are firmly committed to consensus decision-making and equally dedicated to finding ways to providing more than simply access to books, but an intentional forum for dialogue, and promotion of self-empowerment and collective liberation. In addition, the library follows community guidelines established to prevent hate speech or violence, which extends to the books kept on hand and the discussions it helps to foster. Aiming to provide educational opportunities for both occupiers and the community at large, the library sponsors book clubs, works closely with the sister library collection housed in the radical tent as well as the newly formed DC Learning Collective, and has plans for author events in the spring. Inspired by the OWS People’s Library, it has also created two mobile units for use during off-site actions. According to a survey by Library Journal, 72 percent of surveyed libraries were forced to slash their budgets in 2010 and nearly half reported having to cut staffing. Yet the emergence of libraries at the occupations throughout the country, and the fierce loyalty and love for them demonstrated by occupiers and allies alike, shows that there is cause for hope among library-lovers and education advocates, despite the bleak statistics. Indeed, libraries have become a central feature of the occupations. The national outrage expressed at the destruction of the books during the eviction of Zuccotti Park in New York clearly points to this significance and what they symbolize for the movement. On Saturday, over a hundred occupiers and supporters stood their ground in defiance of the National Park On February 3, 2012, the military regime in Syria murdered two hundred people and protests erupted around the world outside Syrian embassies. The New York Times reported both events but they failed to report that protests took place in Washington, D.C. as well. On Friday evening, while bracing for an early morning raid, Occupy DC protesters came together with Arab-Americans outside the Syrian embassy to denounce the atrocities of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s regime against civilian protesters. I am a university student, who spent two years of my undergraduate career studying abroad in Cairo, Egypt. However, my proudest title is “Occupier.” The end of this last semester coincided with my involvement in Occupying DC as pictures of a young Egyptian woman being brutally beaten and sexually violated emerged on computer screens around the globe. At the same time, I watched a young Syrian man being kicked in the face by the giant boot of a soulless soldier asking, “You want freedom!?” I felt grief, sorrow, and outrage to an extent unrecognizable in my reservoir of emotional experience. The peaceful expression of such human emotion through speech is vital to humanity. Or else, what have we been given voices for? However, in order to have free speech one must be heard. There is no speech without a listener. On a personal level, Occupy DC has been my listener. In a square on K Street, I have met all types of people: old, young, black, white, Hispanic, Arab, Asian, men, women, gay, straight, students, professionals, retirees, homeless, unemployed, married, single, with faith and without. I have met the people of this nation and they have listened to me. They have given me back my free speech which has become a commodity in the mainstream media. The day after the Sryia massacre, amid the chaos of the heart-wrenching eviction at McPherson Square on Saturday, a Syrian flag emerged, showing support. My heart rejoiced. It showed that reciprocity works and solidarity across borders and perceived boundaries is what will bring the people of the world and this nation together. Let’s begin to put our trust in people, in each other, and stop relying on corporate institutions to make change and to bring us together. We must listen to each other and listen to the voice within that demands that we stand up for what’s right. Let our causes unite us, because I know your struggle is bound up with mine. Service, courageously putting their own safety at risk to protect the library. They were standing up for far more than just a tent of books -- they were standing up for the esprit de corps of the movement. At a time when libraries are facing dramatic cutbacks and access to education in America is under siege, it speaks volumes that the “last stand” during the eviction of the OccupyDC encampment at McPherson square was largely a defense of the community library. The reclamation of public space is a tactic used by occupiers with a multi-pronged purpose. Among them is the space it fosters for people to forge ties, in some cases, across previous divides, and engage in free exchange of thought and collective visioning for a society built along more just and equitable lines. Those who protected the DC People’s Library in the face of egregious acts of violent oppression, were taking a stand to say: another world is possible, and Occupy DC, its library, the Occupy movement and all they represent are here to stay.
Drew, Occupy DC
I occupy because I am concerned about climate change. The science is settled and there is precious little time for us to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We already have low-carbon technology, and enough popular support exists to make a rapid and orderly transition to renewable energy. Standing in the way, however, is the most powerful lobbying industry in the history of humankind: oil. Corporate power over the government and our lives will doom us to a very difficult century full of the ferocious climate change-induced disasters. Indeed, the ruinous effects long predicted by climate scientists are already beginning to manifest. To counter this, we created a beautiful base to try to take on this corporate power. But how does the phrase go? “All good things must come to an end”? With overwhelming force, Barack Obama’s Park Police put an end to the first occupation of McPherson Square. Large tracts of the park were bulldozed, leaving a mixture of mud and horse shit in their wake. How Occupy DC will remake the space is still an open question, at the moment. Tactically, the Occupy movement is about far more than just camping in a park. But setting up camp in symbolically important areas of major cities is a very good tactic. We will keep standing up to the 1%, and keep fighting corporate control over the government. The Occupy movement will keep going until our grievances are addressed. I will keep protesting because I believe we have no other choice but to change our government and our economy in a way to avert catastrophic climate change.
Hillary, Occupy DC
“Cutting libraries in a recession is like cutting hospitals in a plague.” - Eleanor Crumblehulme The DC People’s Library began in the first days of Occupy DC as little more than a handful of radical pamphlets on the back of bike trailer. A couple of occupiers were stationed on a bench with a sign reading, “ask an anarchist,” a precursor to the radical reference service now available in-person and online through the library. Within the first two weeks, a small shelf of donated books had appeared. By the time Occupy DC was raided, the once-tiny library had become one of the camp’s most vibrant and well-established service tents. It had amassed nearly 2000 donated books – from contemporary politics and history to classics, comics and a kid’s section – as well as numerous periodicals, pamphlets, and other ephemera, including the flyer archive and activist-oriented resources like the “safer spaces” binder. A sign at the entrance to the library reminds visitors that “knowledge = power.” The loan policy assures that books are available for any and all to borrow, or even keep. This ensures that the library avoids re-inscribing social patterns that deny traditionally marginalized people access to educational resources, while opposing promotion of private ownership. It does, however, keep reference copies of particularly popular books and papers that are quick to be taken. It is also creating a virtual catalogue for historical purposes through “Library Thing,” an online cataloging tool.
=========================================================================== ACTA out! --------------------------------------------------------------------------Occupy groups across the United States have joined the protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Yet few Americans are aware of another policy proposal, also known by its four-lettered acronym, that threatens to increase censorship of the internet on an international scale. The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) treaty has already been signed by the U.S., along with 22 European Union members. According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, ACTA is a response to the “proliferation of counterfeit and pirated goods [posing] considerable challenges for legitimate trade and the sustainable development of the world economy.” Critics of ACTA have outlined a number of provisions in the treaty that they believe will damage citizens’ privacy and freedom of expression. The treaty may require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to police their users and deny service based on the downloading or uploading of copyrighted material. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), an online digital rights advocacy group, opposes the treaty on the basis that it was negotiated in secret. While certain companies and organizations, including the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), were allowed to view copies of the treaty beforehand, it was not released into the public domain. According to CNET.com, disclosure requests were denied by both the Bush and Obama administrations, which both claimed it would “damage national security.” Yet according to CNN’s Fortune Tech website, before Barack Obama used executive powers to approve U.S. participation in the voluntary treaty, over 75 law professors addressed a letter to the President, urging him not to sign it. In Poland, thousands have taken to the streets to protest the treaty. Members of the Ruch Palikota party even wore paper cut-outs of the iconic Guy Fawkes mask during a parliamentary session to demonstrate their opposition to the treaty. In the U.S. public response has been muted. Entertainment industry lobbyists, however, have been pushing ACTA for months. In 2011, Chris Dodd, a lobbyist for MPAA, which backed both SOPA and PIPA, claimed that ACTA is “an important step forward in strengthening international cooperation and enforcement for intellectual property rights.” Dodd, a former senator from Connecticut, has fallen under intense scrutiny recently following comments he made on Fox News. He stated that Hollywood “is watching very carefully who’s going to stand up for them when their job is at stake.” He added, “I would caution people don’t make the assumption that because the quote ‘Hollywood community’ has been historically supportive of Democrats, which they have, don’t make the false assumptions this year that because we did it in the past, we will do it again this year.” Dodd immediately faced backlash on the blogosphere, where he was accused of blatantly blackmailing politicians. Many believe Dodd’s statements imply that Hollywood money would only continue to be donated to Democratic candidates, if they supported the copyright enforcement desired by the MPAA. Now, a number of prominent internet companies are considering a boycott of Hollywood for continuously lobbying on behalf of “anti-piracy” bills such as SOPA, PIPA, and ACTA. OpenSecrets.org claim that the MPAA has already paid $180,000 to Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP lobbying firm, whose partners and senior advisors are among the 30 most powerful lobbyists in Washington, according to the First Street Research Group. Online activists are also calling for a month-long protest of Hollywood in March. They are asking Occupy movements to participate and publicize a boycott of movies, music, and theatre tickets in response to Chris Dodd’s statements on Fox News. The event has been named Black March, and its impact will rely on consumer action. --------------------------------------------------------------------------by @DBCOOPA ===================================================================================