The OB Media Rundown for 3/30/12

Occupy Pittsburgh Answers Call to Join National Day Of Action For Public Transportation

On Wednesday, April 4, Occupy Pittsburgh invites the people of Allegheny County to stand together with those across the country to demand public transportation for the 99%. Public transportation provides vital access to work, housing, medical care, school, and other services for citizens in our county. It is a basic human right which helps everyone reach a decent standard of living, and secures health and well-being of our families.

April 4th is the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s groundbreaking speech “Beyond Vietnam: Breaking the Silence” in which he spoke of the connections between war and poverty. He explained his understanding that “America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube”, and that he had become “increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.”

In this spirit, we recognize that attacks on public transportation happening across the country, from Boston to Portland, Pittsburgh to Oakland, and DC to LA are part of a larger austerity program being enforced against the 99% of Americans. We also recognize that these and other austerity measures are a result of the military adventures that “draw men and skills and money” away from the poorest and weakest in our society and for the benefit of the richest and most powerful 1%. These are fronts of the same struggle for a humane society, in which the needs of all come before the profits of the few.

Occupy May Day: Not Your Usual General Strike

One thing is for sure: Such a May Day action is unlikely to be very much like the general strikes that have cropped up occasionally in US labor history in cities like Seattle, Oakland, and Stamford, Ct., or the ones that are a staple of political protest in Europe. These are typically conducted by unions whose action is called for and coordinated by central labor councils or national labor federations.  But barely twelve percent of American workers are even members of unions, and American unions and their leaders risk management reprisals and even criminal charges for simply endorsing such a strike.
Most Occupy May Day advocates understand that a conventional general strike is not in the cards. What they are advocating instead is a day in which members of the “99%” take whatever actions they can to withdraw from participation in the normal workings of the economic system – by not working if that is an option, but also by not shopping, not banking, and not engaging in other “normal” everyday activities, and by joining demonstrations, marches, disruptions, occupations, and other mass actions.

The Making of a 99% Spring

Next month, activists and organizers across the country are planning to train 100,000 people in nonviolent direct action for what they call The 99% Spring. But despite borrowing one or two of the Occupy movement’s favorite slogans, The 99% Spring hasn’t been called for by any general assembly. Rather, this massive and controversial effort is coming from the institutional left – a diverse coalition of labor unions, environmental and economic justice groups, community organizations and trainers’ alliances. While some celebrate what appears to be a mainstreaming of resistance thanks to Occupy, others are crying co-option.

Battle Still On Between Americans, Wall Street Fat Cats


Prep for Spring: Student Teach-Ins Prior to Direct Action

During the fall and winter months of the 2011-12 school year, Occupy Ohio State students picked up a teach-in technique, similar to that of the 1960s teach-ins, in order to hold and expand their activist base and to strengthen minds on the hot topics of planned warm-weather direct action.

Re-examining poverty in America

The Holy Cross-sponsored “The Other America Then and Now” poverty conference in Worcester brought together more than 100 participants, including nearly two dozen Brandeis students and staff last weekend. The conference demonstrated how much has been achieved and remains unfinished in efforts to eradicate unfair income inequality in America.

“The Other America,” published in 1962, was written by Holy Cross alumnus Michael Harrington. The book chronicled American poverty at a time of unprecedented prosperity for Americans of all social classes. Many citizens were shocked to learn from the relatively short work how economic growth was not helping millions of their fellow citizens. Key figures in the Kennedy administration read “The Other America,” pushing the president and his successor Lyndon Johnson to launch the War on Poverty.
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There was also discussion of action in addition to education. A conference topic was how Harrington might view today’s Occupy movement. Harrington, an early supporter of civil rights for African Americans as a young man, likely would be very supportive of Occupy activists’ goals of addressing income inequality. Like the sit-ins of the ’60s, Occupy uses direct action to tackle larger political and structural barriers to social justice.

The religious side of Occupy

As Occupy has continued to mature, its religious component has become more direct, up front and articulate.

People from a large variety of faith communities met at the Judson Memorial Church in New York in December and drafted a religious statement in support of Occupy called, Waking Force.

Subsequently a group of religious leaders from around the nation met last week at an ecumenical Seminary in Berkeley, affirmed the statement and developed an additional action agenda. The statement is described below.

Teach-in explores Occupy Wall Street

Disparities between economic classes have become glaringly more apparent in recent years, as Jeff Reynolds pointed out Thursday.

During a teach-in held at Northern Illinois University exploring the Occupy Wall Street movement, he said in 2007, the top 1 percent of households held one-third of the nation’s wealth.

“There’s inequality, and yes, it’s growing,” said Reynolds, director of Operational Analysis and Reporting for the NIU Provost’s Office who previously taught economics courses.

He was one of four panelists who explored the Occupy Wall Street movement from economic, historical and global perspectives; another panelist gave the perspective of a local mother and activist. NIU Women’s Studies and the Center for Non-Governmental Organization Leadership and Development co-sponsored the event.

Letter to the editor: Americans’ voices matter less

There is a crisis of under-representation in Washington. One need only look at the Occupy Wall Street movement that has swept the globe of late to see how under-represented we truly are.

Ostensibly, the collective voice of hundreds of thousands of people should be able to effect change in the politician’s minds and yet, no changes have or will occur. In this case, as in most others, the only screams heard by the career politicians – a term that would seem so foreign to the framers of our constitution that they would surely term it an oxymoron – is the scream of the dollar bill.

NYPD rounds up and questions public transit workers after Occupy subway protest

A day after Occupy Wall Street activists chained open subway entrance doors to 20 stations, the MTA and the NYPD grilled transit workers to see if they were involved in the stunt.

A clerk and a cleaner at the Beverly Road station in Brooklyn – one of the spots of the citywide protest – were questioned by MTA brass for two hours, sources said.

Cops also went to the home of a third transit worker, looking for information.

Occupy Protesters “Mic Check” Chicago Mercantile Exchange CEO

Occupy Chicago protesters traveled to Houston to “mic check” the CEO of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to criticize him for the massive tax breaks the company received from the state after making “empty threats” to move out of the state. In January protesters gifted a golden toilet to CME Group chairman Terrence Duffy.

Security Guards Rally for Unionization at Love Park [PA]

hyne, who works in Center City, was at Love Park today for a union rally. The gathering was held to show solidarity for a number of security guards at institutions and universities, such as Penn, organizing with SEIU 32BJ for better wages and benefits. Those security guards were backed by a number of speakers, including AFL-CIO Pennsylvania President Richard Bloomingdale, Wayne MacManiman of SEIU 32BJ and others. They were joined by the Communication Workers of America, Bricklayers, Occupy Philly (some of whom wore Guy Fawkes masks), Fight for Philly, Action United and other union and community organizing groups supporting the effort to unionize security workers.
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Brianna, a student at Temple and member of Occupy Temple, spoke to make student support known for unionization.
“Coming from Occupy Temple, it is truly empowering to see change like this come from the community and for the community,” she said. “You don’t need to be an activist, a radical or involved in any left organization to know that [the wages, benefits and equipment afforded to security guards] is a disgrace.” She called the fact that you can walk into any building on campus and see a security officer a “tribute to the integral nature of their very jobs.”

Occupy among protest groups planning welcome for Obama

Faint against an anticipated blue-state roar of support today for President Obama, a diverse assemblage of Vermonters plans to protest politely.

Rallies sponsored by conservatives, libertarians, socialists, anarchists and Occupy Vermont activists will converge – if not merge – at 11 a.m. at the intersection of Spear Street and Williston Road.

More than 150 people have signed on to protest through a Facebook page titled “Obama in Vermont: Stand Up for Peace, Economic Justice and a Livable Planet.”

Occupy Boulder plans ‘American Spring’ marches, rallies starting Saturday

Occupy Boulder is planning a series of downtown marches and rallies starting Saturday and continuing through May 1 to draw attention to local issues such as GMOs on county land and fracking, as well as national issues including home foreclosures and economic inequality.

Dubbed “American Spring,” the marches will culminate in a number of “direct actions” or targeted protests and street theater on Earth Day, April 22, and a general strike called in solidarity with the national Occupy movement on May 1.

Students Push NYU to Sever Ties with JP Morgan Chase

Inspired by Hempstead’s example I thought of what an enormously powerful message a large private institution such as NYU could send were to stop doing business with a bank as corrupt and unethical as Chase. Since NYU is supposed to be “a private university in the public service,” it should not maintain financial ties with the bank that has the worst track record of keeping people in New York in their homes. My fellow activists from NYU4OWS and I thus have launched a campaign calling on the administration to cut its ties with Chase until the bank stops foreclosing on families.

Still energized from our teach-in the previous night, on Wednesday, twenty members of the NYU community brought a letter addressed to NYU President John Sexton explaining why we oppose NYU’s connections to Chase and demanding financial practices that prioritize human rights. By presenting this letter, we hoped to open communication with the administration. However, we were not permitted to enter Sexton’s office or speak to his staff, but we were assured by the security guards that he would receive the letter. We will definitely follow up and continue to pressure the administration to implement just financial practices.   _

Judge asked to bar free speech defense in Occupy trial

Polk County prosecutors are trying stronger tactics in an Occupy Des Moines trespassing trial scheduled to begin Monday, arguing that jurors should be barred from considering “free speech rights.”

Earlier this month, former state Rep. Ed Fallon was acquitted in the first of several trespassing trials when a jury decided that the First Amendment outranks a state Capitol curfew.

Court papers filed in preparation for Monday’s joint misdemeanor trespassing trial of Hugh Espey and David Goodner argue that the judge should not cede constitutional decisions to the jury.

Crackdown on protests at courthouse creates more problems than it solves

A normal ordinance gets at least two public hearings before a final vote and takes effect 30 days later. While the county is certainly within its rights to dictate how its property can be used, the board of supervisors owed the public a serious consideration of the larger issues at stake. Holding a single hearing for an urgency ordinance that takes effect immediately after the vote is not the way to implement policy that will bear directly on First Amendment rights.

Instead, Humboldt County now has a needlessly redundant ordinance topped by an overly broad, hastily adopted policy that could chill displays of free speech at the courthouse years from now and does nothing to address the root causes of the complaints that inspired it in the first place.

Occupy Honolulu beats seizure law by rotating tents out to private property

This is an interesting strategy that Occupy Honolulu seems to be employing to maintain a presence at Thomas Square in spite of the city ordinance that bans the storage of personal belongings on sidewalks and in parks.

Apparently, tents marked yesterday for removal today were instead taken off-site to priviate property overnight, and new tents were brought in their place. Now that city workers have given 24-hour notice on those new tents, they’ll be “rotated” out as well.

Occupy part of coalition of groups denouncing Georgia bill that would tack felony conspiracy charge onto other charges commonly leveled at protesters

About 100 people representing a broad coalition of groups rallied this morning to oppose SB 469, which they fear would stifle free speech and would dramatically increase penalties for protesters.

According to Ben Speight, an organizer for Teamsters Local 728, the bill criminalizes forms of free speech and political protest by imposing fines for picketing outside any private residence and tacking “conspiracy” onto some criminal trespass charges that protesters often face. If you plan as a group to commit criminal trespass, like recent foreclosure protests, you could be charged with committing conspiracy, meaning each person participating will not only be charged with a misdemeanor, but also could get two years in prison. That’s stiffer than the penalty for conspiracy to commit murder.

Speakers at this morning’s rally included members of Atlanta’s religious community, the co-founder for the Atlanta Tea Party, and the president of Georgia’s AFL-CIO. Other groups opposing the bill include Georgia Conservatives in Action, Common Cause, the Sierra Club, Georgia Right to Life, Amnesty International, Occupy Atlanta, and many Tea Party groups across the state.

Milwaukee rallies for Trayvon Martin, demands justice for victims of Milwaukee Police Department

Students and community members rallied at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, March 29, to demand justice for Trayvon Martin. Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) organized the rally with the Black Student Union, AFSCME Local 82 and the support of Occupy the Hood Milwaukee and Occupy Milwaukee. 75 students marched silently across campus behind a banner that read “Justice for Trayvon.” When the march reached the student union they began chanting a call and response “Jail the killer, fire the cops! Without justice we won’t stop!”

Daytonans rally in support of justice for Trayvon Martin

Hundreds of Bethune-Cookman University and Daytona State students, joined by members of Occupy Daytona and others, marched from the B-CU campus to protest the refusal of law enforcement authorities to arrest George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old Sanford man who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Park Police remove information tent at Occupy DC

U.S. Park Police removed Occupy DC’s information tent from McPherson Square Thursday, arresting one protester in the process.

The information tent – one of the few structures still standing in McPherson after a police raid nearly two months ago – was taken down because, police said, they found sleeping bags, clothes and suitcases inside. That’s a violation of McPherson Square’s camping ban, which forbids protesters from sleeping or storing sleeping materials in tents.

Park Police also removed the group’s “university tent” from the square.

Wyoming PBS abruptly cancels Occupy Jackson Hole show – Station manager calls Occupy ‘passe,’ local Occupiers are very nice about it

A television show about Occupy Jackson Hole scheduled for tonight on Wyoming PBS has been canceled, a station manager said Thursday._

And while Occupy Jackson Hole members initially were suspicious of the abrupt canning of the broadcast, they now accept the decision as practical, not ideological.
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The problem, [station manager] Conley said, was that results of the taping were disappointing, and also the station sees the movement as “kind of passe now.”

San Francisco Occupier nabs suspect in stabbing

A suspect in a stabbing at the Occupy San Francisco encampment is behind bars thanks to the quick thinking of a fellow protester who made a citizen’s arrest Thursday morning.

“Everybody’s accepted as part of the 99 percent, but if you’re here to harm, or steal from or in any other way give disrepute to Occupy, then we will police ourselves,” said Nick Shaw, 32, the protester who apprehended the suspect.

Occupy Israel? Israeli activists hold Day of Rage against Bank of Israel

Activists in Israel are planning a Day of Rage today to protest the Bank of Israel. The Day of Rage is takes place just as the bank releases its 2011 financial reports, Haaretz reported.

Day of Rage co-founder Idan Miller said that the Israeli banking system is uncompetitive and controlled by the wealthy. He accused Bank of Israel governor Stanley Fischer of enabling banks to exploit the rest of the public.

“There is a closed clique of 20 or 30 people that operates almost like the mafia. But we don’t have any complaints against this clique – the banks’ goal is to maximize their profits and that is okay,” Miller told Haaretz. “Our problem is with the governor of the Bank of Israel, Stanley Fischer, who has allowed them to exploit the public for years.”

Protesters look to save Leyton Marsh from London Olympics

A spin-off Occupy London group has set up camp at the site of a would-be Olympic venue just weeks after being forced from St Paul’s Square by riot police and bailiffs.

They were called in by local campaigners Save Leyton Marsh last week, which opposes Leyton Marsh in east London being used as a basketball training centre.

Local residents had been outraged at losing their public green space to private developers, with resident Vicky Sholund calling the Olympics “disastrous for the East End.”

The protest camp, situated behind the Lee Valley Ice Centre, has brought construction work to a standstill, while events planned include protests against Olympic sponsor Dow Chemical over its role in the Bhopal disaster, a torch relay from Glasgow to mark the Poverty Games and a Don’t Be Harsh, Save The Marsh rally.

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