Egypt-Style Attacks On Several Occupy Camps

When Egyptians stood up to Mubarak they were met with tear gas and clubs. Once upon a time American had freedom of assembly, speech and protest. Even now, as long as protests don’t take on the 1%, they are OK. But in today’s America-for-the-1% protests, assemblies and speech against plutocatic, 1% rule are met with tear gas and police batons to the head.
Occupy Movement camps around the country follow strict practices of nonviolence and democracy. As with any diverse community of people, there are troublemakers who take advantage of loose organization and predators who prey on others. This is why we have police departments in every city and town. But plutocratic government response is to discourage the Occupy Movement, so government services are denied these citizens. Instead of helpfully serving communities, the frown of disapproving authority is cast upon their activities.
Disgust and fear are powerful propaganda tools, and there has been a remarkable “soften up public opinion” media drumbeat using repeated accusations of bugs, thugs, drugs, muggings, disease, rats, filth, and other disgust and fear-invoking imagery. (Perhaps worst of all in the “shame them” index, even beards and general non-consumerism and non-conformity are described!) So with the ground prepared and the way paved for police actions, Occupy camps in Portland, Oakland, Chapel Hill, St. Louis, Albany, Salt Lake City, Burlington, San Francisco, Denver and other cities were raided over the weekend.
“The 1% And Its Government Facilitators”
Of course in one form or another Occupy actions will continue as long as the 1% continues its extreme shock-doctrine power and wealth grab. There are still scores of other Occupy actions taking place in cities around the country and world.
In Oakland the mayor’s legal advisor posted on Facebook that he has resigned over Monday’s police raid of Occupy Oakland.

His Facebook post: “No longer Mayor Quan’s legal adviser. Resigned at 2 am. Support Occupy Oakland, not the 1% and its government facilitators.”

Report From Oakland
AlterNet’s Joshua Holland reports on the police action in Oakland, in Thousands of Riot Cops Descend on Occupy Oakland, 32 Arrested,

It’s the explosions and large volume of gunshots that made these actions excessive. The generous use of flash-bang grenades, tear gas and “less lethal” rounds deployed by police in heavy black body armor felt more like the opening scene to Saving Private Ryan than footage of, say, protests against the Vietnam War being broken up by helmeted police swinging batons. While the weapons deployed by police are designed not to kill or maim (if used properly), the visceral sensation of walking through streets dodging explosions and chemical agents while rounds crackle in the air creates an effect similar to that of actual combat – abject terror, disorientation and a sense of unease that lingers for days.

Roundups And Videos
RT has a roundup of of some of these actions, Occupy camps under attack across America
Here is an AP video roundup of some of these actions:

Here is CNN footage of various actions around the country:

Here is footage from an early Occupy event:

What You Can Do
Attend at least one Occupy event.

You may have heard about the “Occupy” protests that are occurring in cities around the country. They aren’t what you are hearing. Please come to one and see for yourself. If you are young, old, white, black, brown, poor, rich, left, right, centrist, even Tea Party you will find people just like you. You might agree, you might disagree, you might love it, you might hate it, but you owe it to yourself to come and see for yourself.
A lot of people feel frustration with the huge and increasing gap between the rich and the poor and the effect this is having on our country, culture, politics and the way we relate to each other as Americans. It seems like everything in the country is now geared toward the top 1%, and the rest of us are divided and supposed to keep quiet and accept this. Somehow the Occupy movement started at just the right time, when just the right number of people were fed up with the way things are going and the lack of solutions coming from our political leaders. It grew quickly, because people were tired of keeping quiet while our government seems to operate only for the benefit of the top few and expects the rest of us to sacrifice to pay for that.
This all brings us a chance to restore democracy not just in our communities, but within ourselves. By attending and participating, we are exercising the “muscles” of democracy, of speaking up and being part of something. The thing is, you won’t just see it, you’ll feel it. You’ll feel what it is like to have so many people around you who agree with you. You’ll feel what it is like to be part of something important.

How To Find One Near You
The “Occupy” movement has now been going on for just over six weeks, and has spread to hundreds of towns across the country. You can probably find one near you. Start at Occupy Together which is at http://www.occupytogether.org/. Take a look at the page where they show you what is happening in your area, using a map. Also, try typing ‘Occupy’ and the name of your town into Google just to see what pops up.
Also see them on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/occupyeverywhere, and http://www.facebook.com/Gilded.Age . Also visit the Rebuild the Dream movement, and, of course, MoveOn.org.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

Mic Check

In a democracy
     In a democracy
The 99 percent
     The 99 percent
Count just as much
     Count just as much
As the top few
     As the top few
In a democracy
     In a democracy
It’s one person one vote
     It’s one person one vote
And it’s not
     And it’s not
One dollar one vote
     One dollar one vote
In a democracy
     In a democracy
Big corporations
     Big corporations
Don’t get
     Don’t get
To write the laws
     To write the laws
In a democracy
     In a democracy
We the People
     We the People
Are the ones
     Are the ones
Who make the rules
     Who make the rules
In a democracy
     In a democracy
We have rule of law
     We have rule of law
And the rich
     And the rich
Aren’t above the law
     Aren’t above the law
Tell me what democracy looks like
     This is what democracy looks like
Tell me what democracy looks like
     This is what democracy looks like

Occupy Movement Is Spreading And Growing

Our captured government won’t do its job. It doesn’t keep Wall Street and banks and giant corporations from ripping us off and doesn’t prosecute them after they do. It doesn’t stop polluters – even as the effects of climate change increase. It doesn’t enforce employment and labor laws, so all of us who work fall further and further behind. It doesn’t take care of those in need even as more and more of us are in greater and greater need. It just helps the connected rich get richer. So people finally got fed up, and started “occupying.” Now the occupy movement is spreading to more and more cities, growing with more and more people, and expanding people’s understanding of the power that comes from speaking out.
It started with Occupy Wall Street, people rising up over the greed and inequality, the1% vs 99%. Labor joined, adding their voice and grievances. Veterans, teachers and others are showing up in greater and greater numbers now. Others are joining. Now it’s everywhere: Hundreds of towns like Occupy Orlando and Chicago and Portland and Nashville and Asheville and Oakland and even little towns like Redwood City.
People are getting arrested as the powers-that-be react to the spreading and growing crowds. According to Chris Bowers at Daily Kos,

Arrests in Chicago, New York City, Fresno, Eureka, Denver, Portland, Boston, Seattle, Oakland, Ashville, Riverside and more cities over the weekend has brought the total number of arrests of Occupy protesters over 3,350.

Globalization Of Protest
The world feels the effect of their common wealth draining to shock-doctrine attacks from the 1%. Economist Joseph Stiglitz writes at Al Jazeera that in reaction to this we are seeing The globalisation of protest,

The protest movement that began in Tunisia in January, subsequently spreading to Egypt and then to Spain, has now become global – with the protests engulfing Wall Street and cities across America. Globalisation and modern technology now enables social movements to transcend borders as rapidly as ideas can.
And social protest has found fertile ground everywhere: A sense that the “system” has failed, and the conviction that even in a democracy, the electoral process will not set things right – at least not without strong pressure from the street.

Stiglitz writes that arond the world these protesters are sounding an alarm:

They are right that something is wrong about our “system”. Around the world, we have underutilised resources – people who want to work, machines that lie idle, buildings that are empty – and huge unmet needs: Fighting poverty, promoting development, and retrofitting the economy for global warming, to name just a few. In America, after more than seven million home foreclosures in recent years, we have empty homes and homeless people.
The protesters have been criticised for not having an agenda. But this misses the point of protest movements. They are an expression of frustration with the electoral process. They are an alarm.
… On one level, today’s protesters are asking for little: A chance to use their skills, the right to decent work at decent pay, a fairer economy and society. Their hope is evolutionary, not revolutionary. But, on another level, they are asking for a great deal: A democracy where people, not dollars, matter, and a market economy that delivers on what it is supposed to do.

Seniors Occupying Over Social Security & Medicare Cuts
More groups are expressing their own dissatisfaction with the captured government cutting back in order to preserve the tax cuts and other benefits of the top 1%. At The Huffington Post, Lizzie Schiffman reports in, Seniors Join Occupy Chicago, Protest Cuts To Medicare, Social Security

More than 1,000 senior citizens and their supporters marched from Chicago’s Federal Plaza to the intersection of Jackson and Clark Street Monday morning to protest proposed cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
… Amid chants demanding that the cuts be forestalled — with suggestions for alternatives, including tax hikes — 43 demonstrators were escorted from the intersection (see video, above) by police and issued citations for pedestrian failure to “exercise due care,” or for blocking traffic. Those cited included four protesters using assisted mobility devices and at least one centenarian.

Moving Money From Banks
In conjunction with the Occupy Movement, people have started to move money from the too-big banks to non-profit credit unions that exist to actually serve the customers instead of the few at the top. 650,000 pedople moved from banks to credit unions just in October — more than all of the prior year — and early estimates of the recent November 5 action calculate that perhaps $60 billion was moved.
Occupy The Super Committee
Congress’ supercommittee of the 1% is discussing how much money to take out of the economy of the 99% by cutting back on the things our government does for We, the People. They want to cut the deficits that resulted from tax cuts for the rich and huge increases in military spending — without undoing those. So now a group is setting up to occupy the supercommittee. The Occupied Super Committee Hearing of the 99%

OccupyWashingtonDC to hold Occupied Super Committee Hearing for the 99%
Wednesday, November 9th at 11:00 AM

OccupyWashingtonDC.org will hold a hearing on the economy for the 99% that will examine how to create a fair economy for all Americans.
The Occupied Hearing will contrast with hearings on Capitol Hill which are destined to enrich the 1% and protect major donors.
The Occupied Super Committee Hearing for the 99% will examine critical issues facing the economy and the federal budget. The hearing will include testimony from people with great understanding of the issues facing the country as well as comments from the 99% who are directly affected by the economy.

Hundreds Of Thousands Of Views Of A Congressman’s Occupy Video
How often does a member of Congress put a video on YouTube and quickly get hundreds of thousands of views? Keith Ellison (D-MN), Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, made a video for the “CongressionalYoutube Town Hall” series, talking about the Occupy Wall Street movement. The video has received 340,000 views as of Tuesday morning.

Occupy Everywhere And Everything
Possible new Occupy actions include places that the government is ignoring its responsibilities, and people are sick of just taking it. Some ideas:

  • Occupying polluting companies, until they stop polluting.
  • Occupying privatized public functions — jobs that have been handed to private contractors in order to pay people poverty wages, while making a few at the top very, very rich.
  • Occupying companies that refuse to hire the unemployed.
  • Occupying companies that refuse to hire people over 40.
    Encouraged by the Occupy Movement, more and more people are finding their voice and speaking out.
    This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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  • Occupy’s Asshole Problem: Flashbacks from An Old Hippie

    A guest post by Sara Robinson
    I wish I could say that the problems that the Occupy movement is having with infiltrators and agitators are new. But they’re not. In fact, they’re problems that the Old Hippies who survived the 60s and 70s remember acutely, and with considerable pain.
    As a veteran of those days — with the scars to prove it — watching the OWS organizers struggle with drummers, druggies, sexual harassers, racists, and anarchists brings me back to a few lessons we had to learn the hard way back in the day, always after putting up with way too much over-the-top behavior from people we didn’t think we were allowed to say “no” to. It’s heartening to watch the Occupiers begin to work out solutions to what I can only indelicately call “the asshole problem.” In the hope of speeding that learning process along, here are a few glimmers from my own personal flashbacks — things that it’s high time somebody said right out loud.
    1. Let’s be clear: It is absolutely OK to insist on behavior norms. #Occupy may be a DIY movement — but it also stands for very specific ideas and principles. Central among these is: We are here to reassert the common good. And we have a LOT of work to do. Being open and accepting does not mean that we’re obligated to accept behavior that damages our ability to achieve our goals. It also means that we have a perfect right to insist that people sharing our spaces either act in ways that further those goals, or go somewhere else until they’re able to meet that standard.
    2. It is OK to draw boundaries between those who are clearly working toward our goals, and those who are clearly not. Or, as an earlier generation of change agents put it: “You’re either on the bus, or off the bus.” Are you here to change the way this country operates, and willing to sacrifice some of your almighty personal freedom to do that? Great. You’re with us, and you’re welcome here. Are you here on your own trip and expecting the rest of us to put up with you? In that case, you are emphatically NOT on our side, and you are not welcome in our space.
    Anybody who feels the need to put their own personal crap ahead of the health and future of the movement is (at least for that moment) an asshole, and does not belong in Occupied space. Period. This can be a very hard idea for people in an inclusive movement to accept — we really want to have all voices heard. But the principles #Occupy stands for must always take precedence over any individual’s divine right to be an asshole, or the assholes will take over. Which brings me to….
    3. The consensus model has a fatal flaw, which is this: It’s very easy for power to devolve to the people who are willing to throw the biggest tantrums. When some a drama king or queen starts holding the process hostage for their own reasons, congratulations! You’ve got a new asshole! (See #2.) You must guard against this constantly, or consensus government becomes completely impossible.
    4. Once you’ve accepted the right of the group to set boundaries around people’s behavior, and exclude those who put their personal “rights” ahead of the group’s mission and goals, the next question becomes: How do we deal with chronic assholes?
    This is the problem Occupy’s leaders are very visibly struggling with now. I’ve been a part of asshole-infested groups in the long-ago past that had very good luck with a whole-group restorative justice process. In this process, the full group (or some very large subset of it that’s been empowered to speak for the whole) confronts the troublemaker directly. The object is not to shame or blame. Instead, it’s like an intervention. You simply point out what you have seen and how it affects you. The person is given a clear choice: make some very specific changes in their behavior, or else leave.
    This requires some pre-organization. You need three to five spokespeople to moderate the session (usually as a tag team) and do most of the talking. Everybody else simply stands in a circle around the offender, watching silently, looking strong and determined. The spokespeople make factual “we” statements that reflect the observations of the group. “We have seen you using drugs inside Occupied space. We are concerned that this hurts our movement. We are asking you to either stop, or leave.”
    When the person tries to make excuses (and one of the most annoying attributes of chronic assholes is they’re usually skilled excuse-makers as well), then other members of the group can speak up — always with “I” messages. “I saw you smoking a joint with X and Y under tree Z this morning. We’re all worried about the cops here, and we think you’re putting our movement in danger. We are asking you to leave.” Every statement needs to end with that demand — “We are asking you to either stop, or else leave and not come back.” No matter what the troublemaker says, the response must always be brought back to this bottom line.
    These interventions can go on for a LONG time. You have to be committed to stay in the process, possibly for a few hours until the offender needs a pee break or gets hungry. But eventually, if everybody stays put, the person will have no option but to accept that a very large group of people do not want him or her there. Even truly committed assholes will get the message that they’ve crossed the line into unacceptable behavior when they’re faced with several dozen determined people confronting them all at once.
    Given the time this takes, it’s tempting to cut corners by confronting several people all at once. Don’t do it. Confronting more than two people at a time creates a diffusion-of-responsibility effect: the troublemakers tell themselves that they just got caught up in a dragnet; the problem is those other people, not me. The one who talks the most will get most of the heat; the others will tend to slip by (though the experience may cause them to reconsider their behavior or leave as well).
    This process also leaves open the hope that the person will really, truly get that their behavior is Not OK, and agree to change it. When this happens, be sure to negotiate specific changes, boundaries, rules, and consequences (“if we see you using drugs here again, we will call the police. There will be no second warning”), and then reach a consensus agreement that allows them to stay. On the other hand: if the person turns violent and gets out of control, then the question is settled, and their choice is made. You now have a legitimate reason to call the cops to haul them away. And the cops will likely respect you more for maintaining law and order.
    Clearing out a huge number of these folks can be a massive time suck, at least for the few days it will take to weed out the worst ones and get good at it. It might make sense to create a large committee whose job it is to gather information, build cases against offenders, and conduct these meetings.
    And finally:
    5. It is not wrong for you to set boundaries this way. You will get shit for this. “But…but…it looks a whole lot like a Maoist purge unit!” No. There is nothing totalitarian about asking people who join your revolution to act in ways that support the goals of that revolution. And the Constitution guarantees your right of free association — which includes the right to exclude people who aren’t on the bus, and who are wasting the group’s limited time and energy rather than maximizing it. After all: you’re not sending these people to re-education camps, or doing anything else that damages them. You’re just getting them out of the park, and out of your hair. You’re eliminating distractions, which in turn effectively amplifies the voices and efforts of everyone else around you. And, in the process, you’re also modeling a new kind of justice that sanctions people’s behavior without sanctioning their being — while also carving out safe space in which the true potential of Occupy can flourish.

    Oakland Occupied — Will Washington Listen At Last?

    It was an amazing thing to be part of, an entire city downtown occupied, then a huge march that shut down a major port. Oakland was #occupied! This was a game changer, a turning point. What happened in Oakland was a very big deal. On the same Wednesday there were big, big #occupy events in several other cities. But will Washington pay attention?
    Occupy Oakland
    I arrived at Oscar Grant Plaza in Oakland yesterday about 11:30am. The streets were blocked off by police (a single police car keeping traffic out) a block or three out in all four directions, and a large crowd was gathered. The Plaza itself was surrounded by occupier tents, the surrounding street had several booths, and there was a bit of a festival atmosphere.
    At the corner of 14th and Broadway there was a stage set up with speakers throughout the day. Hundreds of people milled about, many with signs saying everything from “We Are The 99%” to “Banks Got Bailed Out, We Got Sold Out,” “Tax The Rich,” “Stand With The 99%,” “We Get Cut, They Get Rich,” etc…
    There was a harmonious energy with people of all ethnicities, ages, cultures and from all over the area. People were friendly, helpful, welcoming, and overall supportive of each other. It was a very pleasant event on a very pleasant day.
    The main action of the day began at 4PM as the first of two marches left for the Port of Oakland. A number of buses filled up first, sending people to set up early picket lines. They would be joined and reinforced as marchers arrived. The picket lines and first marchers were effective as the workers honored the lines. Seeing the very large number of people heading for the port authorities decided to close operations and send workers home. But still thousands upon thousands of people marched, with many thousands more joining the 5pm march.
    The scene at the port was just astonishing. People were just everywhere, as far as I could walk, passing more and more crowds of people, each time thinking this must be the “main mass.” Then walk a bit further and there would be an even bigger mass of people. Drummers, dancers, people sitting on trucks. And of course lots of people wondering what was going on and what would happen next…
    Finally people started tricking out, heading back to the occupy center at Oscar Grant Plaza.
    And, of course, later a number of anarchists started a bonfire and had to be cleared out with tear gas.
    Josh Holland at AlterNet has a good writeup of the days events, in OWS Oakland Takes Over City, Shutting Down One of the Biggest Ports in the Country…But Nightfall Brings More Chaos and Teargas

    As many as 15,000 people participated in actions across Oakland yesterday, with small marches peeling off to protest in front of banks or “occupy” foreclosed homes. There were probably eight to ten times the number of people in the streets of Oakland today as I’d seen during past OWS actions. Police maintained a minimal presence throughout the day.
    … A day of scattered actions across the city culminated in a massive “occupation” that shut down the Port of Oakland, the fifth busiest container port in the country. When it was announced that operations had been suspended for the night, thousands of people partied around trucks halted in their tracks, celebrating a victory in their struggle with authorities that began with the violent eviction of Occupy Oakland last week. The Oakland police, and Mayor Jean Quan, stung by negative press stemming from the clashes, essentially gave the port to the movement.

    No Police At All?
    The role of police in communities in a democracy is to be part of the community and to protect the community from the troublemakers, predators, criminals, etc. That includes communities of people expressing their dissatisfaction with plutocracy, just like crowds at football games, etc.
    At a football game you see the police mixing with the crowds, spotting trouble, etc. They aren’t lined up in full combat gear to intimidate the crowd and make people think they are doing something that is prohibited. They aren’t under orders to treat the crowd at a football game or rock concert as an enemy.
    In a plutocracy the police are under orders to do just that. And that is what the police have been doing in cities like Oakland.
    So because of previous trouble when police were ordered to attack peaceful protesters the police had to be simply absent in Oakland yesterday in the face of such a large crowd. A self-organized mass like Occupy, in its early stages (this was only the 7th week!) hasn’t learned how to deal with these things on their own and they shouldn’t have to. They shouldn’t need to set up their own government, etc., they are part of the larger community. It is not illegal to protest, or to have a beard, etc. People should not be mocked, humiliated, attacked, or have the police set on them because they oppose the greed of the giant corporations and big banks and Wall Street speculators. They are citizens.
    This is not the fault of the police force. They are people with families and mortgages and car payments just like most of us. They have to do what they are told to do when they show up for work. The problems start when they show up for work and are told to attack peaceful protesters.
    They should have been there assisting the citizens, from the start, just like a crowd at a festival, concert, or sporting event. And that would have prevented the troublemakers from breaking windows, starting bonfires, etc.
    Major Labor Presence
    There was a very big labor presence at the events in Oakland. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) had a strong presence. Their workers are engaged in a battle with Verizon, a giant and highly profitable company that is trying nonetheless to cut worker pay, benefits, safety standards and generally fight to push them out of the middle class.

    Representatives of any, many other labor organizations were present, supporting the goals of the Occupy movement.
    Pics
    Here is a slideshow of pics and videos taken with my phone: (in some browsers you need to hit refresh to see this)

    I also reported quite a bit of moment-to-moment action and posted many more pics on my twitter feed.
    Spreading And Growing
    The Occupy movement is in its 7th week, and continues to spread and grow. It has spread to cities around the country and world, and the numbers at each location continue to grow.
    A quick scan of the news shows events in cities across the country including but not in any way limited to Omaha, Nashville, Rochester, Asheville, Albuquerque, Milwaukee, Denver, Washington, Philadelphia, Tulsa, Detroit, Chicago, Fort Myers, Austin, Boise, Atlanta, Sacramento, Portland, and of course New York.
    Washington Reaction
    In Washington this week the reaction to the national #occupy protests has been immediate and unrestrained. Reacting to the national attention and concern about Wall Street and corporate greed and the effect on the 99% of Americans facing tremendous work and financial pressures, the House of Representatives debated a bill to affirm “In God We Trust” as the nation’s motto. And in the Senate, Republicans filibustered another effort to provide jobs from maintaining the country’s crumbling infrastructure.
    Also, in reaction to the national call for efforts to fight corporate greed and provide jobs the “super committee” debated how much money to take out of the economy, cutting Medicare and Social Security for the elderly, essential government services for the 99% of us who don’t own big chunks of large corporations, all while seeking ways to further lower top and corporate tax rates. Never mind looking for ways to cut the overwhelming, bloated, huge, enormous, extravagant, inflated, out-of-control, budget-busting military budget!!!
    At the same time others in Congress are discussing allowing giant multinational corporations to bring back the profits made from sending jobs and factories out of the country without having to pay taxes on that money.
    A Warning Shot At Washington’s Increasing Irrelevance
    As I said, this public protest is spreading and growing. People have had enough and are taking to the streets in increasing numbers. But Washington continues to ignore the public, debating a national motto, as Repubicans block jobs and an elitist “super committee” debates cutting the things government does for the 99%.
    Poll after poll shows the public overwhelmingly supports increasing taxes on the wealthy, bringing corporations under control, and reigning in trade agreements that suck our jobs, factories, companies and industries out of the country. People do not want Medicare, Social Security and other essential government programs cut, they want the rich and corporations and Wall Street to start paying their share.
    The public wants something done about these problems. They want jobsm, they want something done about the incresing
    If Congress continues to ignore the people of the country it will not be long before the situation is like Mubarak pretending he is still in charge of Egypt, while the people of the country are in the streets planning how they will run the country without him and his cronies.
    Water On Gremlins
    Lee Camp said that pepper spraying #occupiers is like throwing water on gremlins, you just get 10 times as many.

    “Good God don’t you get it, greed is no longer good.”
    This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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    Why You Should Attend An Occupy Meeting

    Please forward this to friends, relatives, “centrists” and conservatives you know. You may have heard about the “Occupy” protests that are occurring in cities around the country. They aren’t what you are hearing. Please come to one and see for yourself. If you are young, old, white, black, brown, poor, rich, left, right, centrist, even Tea Party you will find people just like you. You might agree, you might disagree, you might love it, you might hate it, but you owe it to yourself to come and see for yourself.
    A lot of people feel frustration with the huge and increasing gap between the rich and the poor and the effect this is having on our country, culture, politics and the way we relate to each other as Americans. It seems like everything in the country is now geared toward the top 1%, and the rest of us are divided and supposed to keep quiet and accept this. Somehow the Occupy movement started at just the right time, when just the right number of people were fed up with the way things are going and the lack of solutions coming from our political leaders. It grew quickly, because people were tired of keeping quiet while our government seems to operate only for the benefit of the top few and expects the rest of us to sacrifice to pay for that.
    This all brings us a chance to restore democracy not just in our communities, but within ourselves. By attending and participating, we are exercising the “muscles” of democracy, of speaking up and being part of something. The thing is, you won’t just see it, you’ll feel it. You’ll feel what it is like to have so many people around you who agree with you. You’ll feel what it is like to be part of something important.
    How To Find One Near You
    The “Occupy” movement has now been going on for just over six weeks, and has spread to hundreds of towns across the country. You can probably find one near you. Start at Occupy Together which is at http://www.occupytogether.org/. Take a look at the page where they show you what is happening in your area, using a map. Also, try typing ‘Occupy’ and the name of your town into Google just to see what pops up.
    Also see them on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/occupyeverywhere, and http://www.facebook.com/Gilded.Age . Also visit the Rebuild the Dream movement, and, of course, MoveOn.org.
    So now that you know where one is, come on down, and see for yourself. If you need a ride ask your niece or your aunt. If your aunt needs a ride, give her a ride.
    What To Expect
    Warning, there might be some people with beards, and God forbid, drum circles.
    People are out there speaking for themselves, and learning how to be citizens again, instead of just consumers. This will have a lot of interesting outcomes, most of them good, some of them won’t work out. But it will be people who want to be involved again.
    Depending on your community, there will likely be a turnout of some people with signs and leaflets, maybe some people set up with tables to do things like register people to vote, organizations with literature, groups that know each other, people who don’t know each other standing around, etc. There will be a diversity people people.
    These events are self-organizing, no one is “running” these events, but volunteers will be helping to organize them. The character of the event completely depends on who shows up, who volunteers to help run it, and how much the people speak up. So it’s up to you to do your part.
    See the website How To Occupy and the Field Manual wiki.
    Occupy events have a “General Assembly” meeting once or twice every day. In New York the meeting is at 7pm. At the recent Redwood City, CA Occupy event it was at about 6pm. As I said above, volunteers run things, which means that after you get to know the ropes you might want to volunteer.
    From the Occupy Wall Street website:

    The occupations around the world are being organized using a non-binding consensus based collective decision making tool known as a “people’s assembly”. To learn more about how to use this process to organize your local community to fight back against social injustice, please read this quick guide on group dynamics in people’s assemblies.

    These meetings are the heart of the movement. Please come attend one, even if it is just to watch. You’ll feel what it is like to be say what is on your mind. (And you’ll feel what it is like to sit there while so many other people say what is on their minds. ;-) Don’t worry, it works, and people keep comments short.) This is what democracy looks like.
    Occupy Redwood City
    Friday I attended Occupy Redwood City (California), and took some pictures. It was the first Redwood City event, maybe 50 people showed up, and the General Assembly lasted a couple of hours. They’ll meet again next Friday, and probably should expect a lot more people now that it is up and in operation and people are telling each other about it. If 50 people doesn’t seem like a lot, this is not a huge city, and there are more than a hundred events like it going on, some with thousands of people turning out.

    Scary, no? Especially the guy (me) with the little white dog. Was that a beard? Of, that first one is a short video, click here in case it doesn’t work in this post.
    Don’t Let Them Scare You Away
    Speaking of being scary: There will not be violence. This is a non-violent movement. The media outlets, talk show hosts, columnists, etc. that tell you there is violence are trying to keep you from showing up. They are trying to scare you. When they send large numbers of police to shoot tear gas into these events, it is an attempt to intimidate people, not just there but people who are thinking of showing up.
    Another way they are trying to keep people from showing up is with humiliation. This is a remarkably effective technique. Make people ashamed to show up, tell them they will be laughed at, or shunned, and people will stay away. They tell you the “protesters” are “dirty,” even “urine-soaked.” They tell you they are “hippies” and thinkthis will make you ashamed to show up and speak your mind.
    This is about what speech is “permissible” and what is not. The corporate-conservatives on the Supreme Court say that corporations are people who “speak” and can use all of their money to swamp our elections. But when people show up to complain about the 1% running everything, they are met with force. The big banks can crash the economy and commit crimes and are offered modest “settlements,” but when people show up to complain they are beaten, maced, tear-gassed and arrested.
    Don’t let them make you feel scared or ashamed to stand up for your rights.
    Show Up & See For Yourself
    If you want democracy you have to fight for democracy. You have to stand up for your rights or they will go away. Please visit at least on Occupy event in your area, and see for yourself.
    This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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    The People Have Figured It Out

    Over at CAF I write about jobs, in Jobs – Still The #1 National Emergency:

    While the mainstream corporate news sources refuse to inform the people just who is blocking the solutions, the people have figured it out. Wall Street and its billionaires have purchased the government and are blocking progress. People are fed up with the lack of response from our government and are angry. What started weeks ago with a small group of fed-up people “occupying” Wall Street has now turned into a national – and international – wide-scale protest against the lack of action on jobs and against governments captured by the greedy top 1%.