3 Anchor Pieces

To regain the momentum in defending the 99%, there are three immediate areas OO should be focused on. 1) Protesting the rising price of gasoline. To all working class Americans, employed and unemployed, the gas prices are taking an immediate toll both in out-of-pocket expenses and in the rising cost of food and anything else you buy. In protesting the rises, as much attention should be paid to the banks as Chevron & Co. because it is widely recognized that bank/Wall Street speculation is driving the price escalation. Even while … Continued

Occupy DC got Raided

At around 5:40 am, the peaceful demonstrators of Occupy D.C., were greeted by helmeted, swarms of U.S. Park Police, dressed in full riot gear–despite the very apparent lack of any riot– some on horseback, others wearing unnecessary hazmat suits. Members of the U.S. Park Police immediately began erecting metal barricades around the perimeter and cordoning off sections of McPherson Square (mcpherson square).

A member of the Park Police announced that they would commence inspecting the occupation for compliance with park regulations.

Despite Occupy DC members’ compliance with the Park Service’s regulations, the uniformed officers of the Park Police, have seized and ransacked demonstrators’ private property. Park Police have exceeded the scope of the enforcement of camping regulations 36 C.F.R. §. 7.96(g)(5)(v)(i), seizing empty tents, and tents with non-camping related materials. What was initially described as being a compliance inspection has revealed itself to be a slow-motion eviction, a 99% eviction.

The Park Police maintain that members of Occupy DC have sixty days to obtain property seized during this slow-motion eviction.

The following statement was approved by the Occupy DC (McPherson Square) General Assembly on January 21, 2012, to be read at hearing addressing McPherson Square this Tuesday in the Subcommittee on Health Care, District of Columbia, Census and the National Archives, part of the Oversight Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives:

Citizens of a free country should not have to ask for permission to occupy public spaces. Our occupation of McPherson Square is an expression of our right to free speech and peaceful assembly. We are maintaining a site of protest — a physical presence that gives visibility and voice to our dissent. We are creating a space in which free speech flourishes — not only the speech of occupiers, but that of the general public, the empowered and the disenfranchised alike.

It is a sad day in American history when the small act of occupying public space warrants the heavy-handed response of the Federal Government.

For live updates follow #OccupyDC @OccupyKSt, @Occupy_DC, @Hoosteen, @kleinjos, @luddofthefuture, @sarah_jeans

Press Inquires: 202-540-0155
Media@occupydc.org

UPDATE: 6:14pm
Horse-mounted Park Police officers forcibly moved members of Occupy DC out of the last section of McPherson Square. The peaceful demonstrators are currently occupying K Street to hold a General Assembly.


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Party with the 1% of the 1%

If there were ever an event that embodies what the Occupy movement stands against, this is it — this Saturday, January 28th, the country’s elite of the elite will gather, as they do secretly once every year, for an alcohol-fueled dinner at the Capital Hilton Hotel near McPherson Square. Known as the Alfalfa Club (because of the plant’s infamous thirst), a highly selective group of nearly 200 attendees, including CEOs, Supreme Court Justices, congressmen, and other extremely wealthy dignitaries will get drunk on booze and self-importance. On the 99th gathering of the Alfalfa Club, it is only fitting that the 99% non-violently crash the party and have a gala of their own outside of the hotel. Dress however the hell you want.

Fun facts: The Alfalfa Club’s meeting date is chosen to celebrate the birthday of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. African Americans were barred admittance until the 1970′s, and women weren’t allowed in until the 1990′s. In their annual mock election, they’ve correctly “predicted” numerous future presidents, such as Presidents Nixon, Reagan and George W. Bush.

Let’s kill their buzz. Party outside of the Capital Hilton Saturday night, and bring a friend. Be at McPherson Square by 5:15pm for preparations and festivities, and march at 6:00pm.

For more information on the Alfalfa Club and to see last year’s attendee’s program we’ve obtained, see this document.

No justice, no feast.

Action: Wells Fargo Investment in the Private Prison Industry

At a time when the United States has 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, Occupy DC will stand in solidarity with Enlace and Detention Watch Network on January 24 at 5 p.m. at the Wells Fargo branch in Tivoli Square (3325 14th St. NW, Washington D.C.) to protest the grave injustices of the prison-industrial complex, which has taken its most menacing form in the profit-driven private prison industry.

Wells Fargo is the primary investor in the GEO Group, the second largest private prison corporation in the United States. Over 1,000 D.C. residents are currently incarcerated in GEO Group’s for-profit prison, Rivers Correctional Institution, in Winton, North Carolina. With the consent of federal, state and local governments nationwide, the private prison industry accumulates profit by jailing American citizens with often little to no oversight from those governmental bodies. In addition, the private prison industry is instrumental, if not directly responsible, for writing laws that keep 2.3 million people behind bars each day, nearly 60 percent of them people of color. Nearly 50 percent of all immigrants incarcerated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are held in private prisons. “The private prison industry is … one of the driving forces behind the over-incarceration of youth, primarily youth of color,” Sam Goldberg, a D.C. attorney and juvenile justice advocate, told The Occupied Washington Times.

While the business model of the private prison industry — induce the incarceration of as many Americans as possible — is booming, at the detriment to government budgets (it costs an average of $40,000 a year to imprison a person), private prison facilities have been linked to violence, substandard living conditions and many forms of abuse. This business model does not take into account the broken individuals, families and communities that result from mass, unjust levels of imprisonment in this country at a time when the collusion of government and private interests have left the nation (and world) economy in dire condition. According to a 2011 report by the Council for Court Excellence, 46 percent of the 550 previously-incarcerated D.C. residents surveyed said they were unemployed. The report also found more than 50 percent of D.C. businesses surveyed said factors such as legal liability protection and certificates of good standing or rehabilitation — none of which the District of Columbia government has seriously addressed to improve ex-prisoner employment — would “significantly increase or influence hiring” of a former prisoner.

Occupy DC has previously called on Wells Fargo to divest in the private prison industry. On Dec. 2, 2011, Occupy DC led an action on the Wells Fargo location in the Shaw district of Washington, D.C., at 7th and T Streets NW.

Tuesday’s action will be one of many simultaneous protests going on across the country as part of Enlace’s Private Prison Divestment Campaign. For more information on the campaign and the national day of action go to: http://enlaceintl.org/programs/prison-divestment/.

A flier in English and Spanish with the details of the event, courtesy of Detention Watch Network: http://detentionwatchnetwork.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/raise-your-voice-spa.pdf

PR: Statement for Tuesday’s Congressional Hearing

For press inquiries:
Phone: 202-540-0155
Email: media@occupydc.org

Washington — Occupy DC at McPherson Square/K Street has released a statement to be read at the congressional hearing Tuesday called by multi-millionaire Republican Representative Darrell Issa. As the hearing begins on whether the government should move to shut down free speech and eliminate the right to peaceably assemble in the nation’s capital, it should be noted Issa received more than 90 percent of his campaign contributions from outside of his district, and it is curious he is focusing on a park on the opposite side of the country from the area he represents.

The following statement was approved by the Occupy DC (McPherson Square) General Assembly on January 21, 2012, to be read at hearing addressing McPherson Square this Tuesday in the Subcommittee on Health Care, District of Columbia, Census and the National Archives, part of the Oversight Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Like so many Americans whose voices are not heard in the halls of Congress, we have been precluded from speaking today on a matter that directly concerns us. That we have to ask a member of Congress to speak here for us is symbolic of the disenfranchising top-down nature of the government we are fighting to democratize.

Citizens of a free country should not have to ask for permission to occupy public spaces. Our occupation of McPherson Square is an expression of our right to free speech and peaceful assembly. We are maintaining a site of protest — a physical presence that gives visibility and voice to our dissent. We are creating a space in which free speech flourishes — not only the speech of occupiers, but that of the general public, the empowered and the disenfranchised alike.

Like most people, the members of Occupy DC at McPherson Square do not relish being in uncomfortable conditions that humans without housing have endured for millenia. We do so because it has become a necessary tactic to express our concern for the country’s direction in a way that will maintain public attention. Two out of every three Americans, incidentally, agree that our country is headed in the wrong direction. A far smaller percentage approves of the job Congress is doing. And while foreclosures have become a hallmark of modern America, the solutions to our country’s numerous problems do not include suppressing free speech and evicting peaceful patriots from their tents.

Representative Issa’s motivations for this investigation are clearly political. A vote with him is a symbolic vote for the status quo of money in politics over the value of grassroots democratic expression for the betterment of our country.

The very existence of a committee of politicians controlling a city none of them were elected in is offensive. Though McPherson Square happens to have been declared federal land, D.C.’s forced submission to congressional control is the height of hypocrisy for a nation that considers itself the global arbiter of democracy.

The members of Occupy DC at McPherson have worked hard to build, clean and maintain our site of protest since the beginning of October We are happy to work with the National Park Service, Department of Health, and the city of Washington to improve the health and safety of our conditions. Unfavorable conditions in the park are a distraction from Congress getting to work on the many challenges our country faces today. Let’s work together to improve the conditions of our site and to make this country a better place.

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