The OB Media Rundown for 3/16/12

New Occupy forms in Arlington

Please join us on Sunday, March 18 from 2-4 p.m. in front of Arlington Town Hall for the launching of Occupy Arlington. Make Arlington a vital part of Greater Boston’s growing Occupy movement.

If you’re interested in issues such as countering the impact of corporate greed, stopping the sellout of our democracy, finding solutions to disappearing jobs, making education and housing affordable. . . we want to hear your voice.

Occupy! and Make Them Do It


When protest movements do emerge, the price of appeasement can rise dramatically. Protest movements raise the sharp and divisive issues that vague rhetoric is intended to obscure and avoid, and the urgency and militancy of the movement-with its marches, rallies, strikes and sit-ins-breaks the monopoly on political communication otherwise held by politicians and the media. Politicians trying to hold together unwieldy majorities and their big money backers strive to avoid divisive issues except in the haziest rhetorical terms. But movements-with the dramatic spectacles they create and the institutional disruptions they can cause-make that much harder. Movements work against politicians because they galvanize and polarize voters and threaten to cleave the majorities and wealthy backers that politicians work to hold together. But that doesn’t mean that movements are not involved with electoral politics. To the contrary, the great victories that have been won in the past were won precisely because politicians were driven to make choices in the form of policy concessions that would win back some voters, even at the cost of losing others. Thus the Democrats who finally supported civil rights legislation were not stupid. They knew that by conceding to the civil rights movement they were risking the long-term support of the white South. They tried to straddle the divide. But the movement forced their hand.

Thanks to the lunacy that has overtaken the GOP, Obama is in a good position to win re-election. But he is vulnerable to an escalating Occupy movement. In particular, minority, young and poor new voters are volatile voters, and they are susceptible to the appeals of Occupy. I, for one, hope the movement forces Obama to pay for its support, in desperately needed economic, political and environmental reforms.

Give up your bank for Lent

According to the progressive website ThinkProgress, “As congregations across the country observe the period between Ash Wednesday and Easter by sacrificing and repenting, religious leaders are asking big banks that have wrongfully foreclosed on homeowners and exacerbated the pain of the housing crisis to do the same.”

On Ash Wednesday, churches in San Francisco announced they were removing $10 million from Wells Fargo and called on the bank, as per the advocacy group Faith in Public Life, “to put an immediate freeze on its foreclosures and repent for their misconduct.” The March 9 New York Times reported that “The Rev. Richard Smith of St. John the Evangelist, an Episcopal church in San Francisco, likened the divestment campaign and public protests to early Christianity’s ritual of ‘reconciliation of the penitents.’

White Collar Crime and the Occupy Movement Touched on at Sidore Lecture

[Dr. Paul Leighton from Eastern Michigan University] explained many of the different variables that can affect social inequality, such as the median income someone makes, or even their perception of how much a corporation makes. One example he used was how much wealth was being held by people in different income ranges in the United States. Many of the Americans polled thought that the top 20 percent controlled about 30 percent of the wealth. In reality, the top 20 percent controls 84 percent of the wealth. Meanwhile, the bottom 60 percent only owns 15 percent of the wealth. Leaving a margin of error or about 20 percent.

This means that in many ways, the very rich control almost everything, and it can cause social upheaval. Returning to Braithwaite’s argument, Leighton explained that when people feel humiliated by those in a higher social class, they will either feel guilt and shame and continue on, or they will start to feel righteous rage, and will potentially resort to violence.

Leighton explained that the Occupy movement could be a byproduct of righteous rage, and could add a new factor to the discussion about inequality.

Workers of color talk labor organizing

On March 7, union workers of color and Occupy Wall Street protesters held an event at the Communication Workers Association (CWA) Local 1180 building on Harrison Street to discuss racism, resistance and workplace organizing.

“If there is going to be a real mass movement, this is where it is going to start, with people of color and labor,” said Michelle Crentsil, a union organizer who helped organize the event.

About 60 people-white, Black, Asian, Hispanic, Occupy Wall Street protestors, union members, union organizers, organizer’s friends and people just off the street-sat and stood, filling the room in the basement of CWA.

Michael Moore: We Need Daily (Nonviolent) Assaults On Wall Street

Michael Moore thinks the Occupy movement needs to come back and be way more disruptive than it has been.

Moore, the liberal documentarian who made himself famous (and fantastically wealthy) for his films about Flint’s dying auto industry and Bush’s response to 9/11 has written a manifesto for the Occupy movement.

“Occupy has to continue as a bold, in-your-face movement-occupying banks, corporate headquarters, board meetings, campuses and Wall Street itself. We need weekly-if not daily-nonviolent assaults right on Wall Street. You have no idea how many people across the country would come to New York City to participate in wave after wave of arrests as they/we attempt to shut down the murderous, thieving machine that is Wall Street.”

Occupy Asheville’s “Tyrannicide Day” March

Approximately two dozen Occupy Asheville protesters gathered and marched downtown this afternoon in observance of what they call “Tyrannicide Day,” the Ides of March, when Roman leader Julius Caesar was assassinated.

Shouting “Death to tyranny, destroy the economy,” the protesters begin their march at the Vance Monument, accompanied by Asheville police. Occupy Asheville notable Martin Ramsey, wielding a papier-mâché Tyrannosaurus Rex, made a brief speech from the steps of the Merrill Lynch building, accusing corporate bankers of sabotaging the US economy. One protester distributed cardboard guillotines among the crowd, calling the march a “mock death-squad for CEOs.”

Occupy Detroit Protests Michigan CEO Summit With ‘Flash Mob’

n Occupy Detroit flash mob made an appearance in front of the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel in downtown Detroit Thursday afternoon to protest business leaders gathered for the Michigan CEO Summit.

Ten members of the group, some dressed in suits in pearls — CEO costumes, they said — marched around the entrance as police and Westin employees watched the boisterous performance. They carried ironic signs, with slogans reading “We Are The 1 Percent” and “Profit Before People.”

Students set to Occupy Vanderbilt

Students are set to “Occupy Vanderbilt” this coming Monday in solidarity with Occupy movements all over the world.

After a rally at 5 p.m. Monday in front of Kirkland Hall, some students plan to set up tents for an indefinite occupation. In addition to showing solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street Movement, they hope to draw attention to three specific issues related to administrative policy: ethical investment, fair wages to Vanderbilt employees and communication with Vanderbilt students.

Occupy Wall Street Protesters Arrested Outside Bank Of America, Others Amass In Zuccotti Park

Approximately 50 Occupy Wall Street protesters rallied outside Bank of America this afternoon, as part of a nationwide demonstration to symbolically “foreclose” on the giant predatory behemoth. Activists intend to target Bank of America on the 15th of every month until executives break down into tears and turn every branch into a C.S.A. farmshare. Bank of America is infamous for cranking out foreclosures, and has received two bailouts from Washington totaling $45 billion; it was also the first major bank to get into the subprime-mortgage business.

There were at least three arrests at today’s demonstration outside the Bank of America on Greenwich Street, and protesters have now moved to Zuccotti Park, where a large number of police have also gathered. (The NYPD press office does not yet have an arrest count.) Allison Kilkenny reports that protesters have been chanting “spring is coming!” while running around wrapping things in police tape. Others are staging street theater, making a “deposit” into a mock Bank of America.

Protesters announce ‘guerilla garden’ at CVS site

A little more than one month after Occupy protesters were ordered by police to leave the planned CVS building site in Carrboro, a group of demonstrators known as the Carrboro Commune will gather at the same site in a protest.

The Commune is inviting the community to protest the CVS location, the philosophy of private property, and the chemical company Monsanto in a Guerilla Gardening Day. Participants will enter the fenced-off lot and plant seeds in an effort to improve the space – and court a police response.

According to town officials, anyone who crosses the fence surrounding the proposed building site will be committing trespass, which the police plan to enforce.

Occupy-Monsanto to wear bio-hazmat suits

On Friday, March 16, 2012, Occupy Monsanto’s agents of change with the Genetic Crimes Unit (GCU), a group designed to protect America from genetically modified foods, will wear bio-hazmat suits when they visit Congress. The group will gather at Capitol South Metro station at noon on March 16 to highlight how chemical company Monsanto is contaminating our political process. The GCU opposes Monsanto’s bid to increase spraying of food with toxic weed killers like_ 2,4 _D (the main ingredient in Agent Orange), genetic contamination of the organic food supply, and other risks associated with genetically modified food (GMOs).

The GCU will arrive at the metro station wearing bio-hazmat suits to assess whether Members of Congress and their staff have been victims of genetic crimes. The GCU will hold a banner that reads, “Congress is Genetically Modified,” as they circulate on Capitol Hill sidewalks. This day of action is part of a larger international call to ‘Occupy Monsanto’ taking place all over the globe including Spain, Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and at least 28 cities throughout the U.S.

Rally calls for end to state tax on groceries [AL]

Alabama and Mississippi are the only two states in the nation that assess a state sales tax on groceries without any aid or offsets for low- and middle-income households. In Alabama, groceries fall under the state’s four percent sales tax rate. Added to the city’s taxes, Montgomery charges a total of 10 percent on groceries.

Those taxes also tend to augment tax inequality among citizens. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, the top one percent of Alabama taxpayers – those making $384,000 a year or more – paid an average of four percent of their income in state and local taxes in 2007. The bottom 20 percent – those making $16,000 or less annually – paid a tax rate of 10.2 percent.

Attendees of the rally, which drew about 30 people, support legislation brought by Rep. John Knight, D-Montgomery, that would repeal the sales tax on groceries, replacing the lost revenue by repealing Amendment 225, passed in 1965, which allows taxpayers to deduct federal income tax from their state income taxes. The deduction tends to benefit the wealthiest Alabamians.

Educators and residents join occupy New Paltz rally [NY]

More than 50 people participated in a march and rally last Saturday, organized by Occupy New Paltz. The group marched symbolically – armed with signs, drums, tambourines and penny whistles – demanding that state and federal funding for schools receive higher priority in government budgets. The group marched down Huguenot Street, through the SUNY New Paltz campus and ended up outside the Elting Memorial Library on Main and North Front streets.

The Occupiers lined the street corner with signs emblazoned with short bold statements such as: “Out Of Your House, Into The Street,” and “Would You Fund My School If They Found Oil In It?” People driving by slowed down to shout words of support or honk their horns.

Anti-frackers take protest to Columbus

Two groups have now joined forces to battle efforts by the oil and gas industry in Ohio. Ohio Fraction and Occupy Well Street took their protests to Columbus on Wednesday. The occupy group is an off shoot of the Occupy Wall Street effort.

The group protested outside the offices of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources which has oversight over the growing shale related energy industry in Ohio. They were not permitted to meet with administrators of the department.

21 News reporter Janet Rogers says the group brought samples of soil and water they say was contaminated by the oil and gas industry. The group believes fracking, the process used by the industry to release oil and gas from the earth, is poisoning well water and causing earthquakes.

Occupy Farmington [NM] protestors keep going

Members of Farmington’s Occupy movement are committed, but they are glad to be seeing warmer temperatures.

Protesters occupied Orchard Park in downtown Farmington every Saturday all winter, and while the movement doesn’t have as many members as it did when it began six months ago, organizers hope to start seeing greater turnout.

“If anything, it shrunk,” said Occupy Farmington’s Cornelia de Bruin. “To our credit we got it through the winter. There were some pretty harsh days, but it’s already starting to grow with the weather warming up.”

Protestors Target Phoenix BofA Today

Today’s protest, done in solidarity with more than seven other occupy movements across the country – including New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other major cities – is targeting Bank Of America for their role in hastening the Great Recession. The event was started by FtheBanks, a group associated with Occuopy Wall Street.

“This spring, the 99% is taking on Bank of America. For too long they’ve preyed on us – but now, we’re turning the tables. Instead of letting the bank foreclose on us, we’re going to foreclose on the bank. On March 15, April 15th and May 15th we will move our money, put our bodies on the line and bring their crimes to light. It time to break up the bank and create real alternatives. Come out for the big days of action and share your everyday local actions on the map below,” according to the FtheBanks website.

City Offers Space on Library Square for Occupy SLC

Occupy Salt Lake will have a new home in April. After spending the winter on the Gallivan Plaza, the city has offered the group a new location on Library Square. Interim Library Director Linda Hamilton says she’s not concerned with the move, and sees it as the library’s role to provide an opportunity for the public to have its voice heard.

“Part of the values of this library and all libraries is to promote free speech and essentially that’s what these folks are about,” she tells KCPW. “I will tell you we by and large have support from the board and from the tenants here, but not 100 percent support.”

Occupy activists meet in St. Louis

This week’s Occupy the Midwest gathering in St. Louis is more than a reawakening of the movement that took hold in the fall – it is illustrative of the next phase of the effort, organizers and participants said yesterday.

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