Big Day Of Action Around The Country

A government that says corporate money is “speech” dispatches lines of police to stop actual human-being citizens from actually speaking out. It’s all right there in front of us: Wall Street got bailouts, the rich got tax cuts, corporations got to buy elections, people got job loss and home loss and pension loss and health care loss, protests got crackdowns.

Your call @NYPDnews on Twitpic

(All pics are from twitter streams, clickable for larger, hover over them for descriptions.)
This is a BIG day of action in cities and towns all across the country. Here is a mid-day roundup of just some — just some — of what is going on. Click here to see a map of the hundreds of planned actions across the country. The scope and scale of this is just amazing, and is not at all being conveyed in the media.
Wall Street: Chanting “You’re sexy, you’re cute, now take off those riot suits,” demonstrators marched on the New York Stock Exchange. Retired police captain Ray Lewis was arrested holding a sign that read “NYPD Don’t Be Wall Street Mercenaries.”

Nonviolent, peaceful American citizens being arrested at #Occ... on Twitpic

A tweet: @digby56digby
RT @OccupyWallSt: Some bankers are holding signs that say, “get a job.” Unemployment is at 10% and they’re smug in suits. #N17 #OWS

these counter-protesters say they're trying to get to wo... on Twitpic NYPD v. Goldman salary comparison #ows #n17 on Twitpic

At a Portland, Oregon bridge:

Peaceful arrests have begun in Portland on the Steel Bridge #n17 on Twitpic

Los Angeles: AP: LA protesters march in financial district,

Los Angeles police have begun to arrest about 20 people sitting in an intersection at a rally by Occupy Wall Street sympathizers in the downtown financial district.
Hundreds of people marched Thursday before the small group linked arms around several tents and awaited arrest.

#N17 #OLA She's 82 years old & getting arrested for ... on Twitpic

Iowa City:

#N17 in Iowa City: SEIU Local 199 members were joined by Occu... on Twitpic

Dallas: Reuters: Occupy Dallas protesters evicted, more than a dozen arrested,

More than a dozen people were arrested on Thursday morning in Dallas when police on horseback and in riot gear evicted Occupy Dallas protesters from a site near City Hall where they have been camping for the past six weeks.
There was no violence. Dallas city officials put the number of people arrested at 18, while Occupy Dallas officials said 17 were arrested.

Duluth:

Citizens in Duluth MN took to the #bridges for #N17 earlier t... on Twitpic

Binghamton:

Mayor Ryan speaking at the rally #occupytheforum #ows #occupy... on Twitpic

Detroit: Huffington Post: Occupy Detroit Joins Nov. 17 Day Of Action

Occupy Detroit protesters on Thursday were set to join nationwide protests on the two-month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement’s initial encampment in New York City.
… The group’s day of action comes the morning after Detroit Mayor Dave bing announced the need for significant austerity measures to avoid an even greater financial crisis in the city. In a Wednesday night address, the mayor called for a further 10 percent wage cut for city workers and an increase in worker contributions to health care coverage. Bing city police and firefighters should give the same concessions.

Albany: WGRZ: Occupy Buffalo Joins Demonstrations in Albany, NYC

About 250 protesters gathered Thursday at the Occupy Albany demonstration near the state Capitol, where activists planned to present their grievances to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.
Buses from Buffalo, Rochester and other Occupy Wall Street encampments from around the state delivered the protesters to downtown Lafayette Park. Members of public employee unions have joined the Occupy Albany protesters.

Onward to the Capitol #n17  on Twitpic People gathering in Lafayette Park for rally #n17 #OcccupyAlb... on Twitpic

A bridge in Montana:

#N17 This bridge is the number one bridge in the state of Mon... on Twitpic

Denver: ABC7: Occupy Denver Joins ‘Day Of Action’,

The first rally at noon will be at the Denver Municipal Building at 201 West Colfax Ave. The building is across the street from Civic Center Park where the Occupy Denver protesters have been camped out.
The second rally will be held at the Greek Amphitheatre at 6 p.m. in Civic Center Park.
Occupy Denver said the 6 p.m. rally will be a “General Assembly meeting” where they will discuss the Occupy movement as a whole and how the group feels they should progress over the coming months.

Houston: Houston occupiers join worldwide day of action,

“Occupy Houston stands in solidarity with those Occupy movements who have recently come under attack, including Occupy Oakland, Occupy Wall Street and now, Occupy Dallas,” spokesman Dustin Phipps said in a statement. “We continue to assert our right to occupy public space and conduct our first amendment right to peaceably assemble.”
One Occupy protester was arrested earlier this week during an argument with police over tarps the group placed over electronic equipment in Tranquility Park, an ongoing point of contention between the protesters and City Hall.

Columbia:

please RT @nikkihaley  #occupycolumbia being evicted illegall... on Twitpic

Boston:

I pray that they may experience God's love and open thei... on Twitpic

NY Daily News: Occupy Wall St. spreads across the United States has pictures from around the country (not necessarily today) including Minneapolis, Miami, Providence, New Orleans, Lincoln, Seattle, Anchorage, Montgomery, Cincinnati, Burlington, Salt Lake City, Little Rock, Jackson, Ashland, Richmond, Hartford, Casper, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Tulsa, St. Louis, Boise, Honolulu, Salem, Austin and others.
Don’t forget San Francisco, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Oakland/Berkeley, Philadelphia, Muncie, Davenport, Lexington, …
Around The World, Too
London, Sydney, Toronto, Rome and Tokyo … Is this pic really Tokyo?

@ows @occupywallst @occupywallstnyc Tokyo is the 99% #ows on Twitpic

Occupy Colleges
National Student Strike
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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Tomorrow’s Day Of Action – A Big Deal

Thursday’s National Day Of Action looks like it will be really big. People will be out doing things all over the country. There will be all kinds of events that say, “We are the 99%!” My favorite is people will be gathering in front of various decaying bridges, to demonstrate that our #1 need is jobs and our #1 place to put people to work is rebuilding our decaying infrastructure.
To find events near you see American Dream Day Of Action at http://november17.org/ and We Are One at http://we-r-1.org/
Isaiah Poole writes about the Day of Action in his post today, The Evictions Won’t Stand: Make Nov. 17 A Day Of National Occupation,

“You can’t evict an idea whose time has come.” That was the message posted on OccupyWallSt.org as early this morning, police began to storm the Occupy Wall Street protests in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan.
To prove it, supporters of the Occupy movement have vowed to pull out all the stops to make November 17 a day of national occupation. That day is the two-month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street protests that sparked a national and international movement. There were already 303 “We Are the 99%” protests scheduled for that day around the country, organized with the help of MoveOn.org. Now those gatherings have added urgency as a rebuke to the efforts to squelch the occupations and silence their voices. As the OccupyWallSt.org statement says, “This burgeoning movement is more than a protest, more than an occupation, and more than any tactic…This moment is nothing short of America rediscovering the strength we hold when we come together as citizens to take action to address crises that impact us all. Such a movement cannot be evicted.”

Bridges
Here are just some of the bridge events this Thursday, Nov. 17:

These demonstrations are part of a National Day of Action against policies that have enriched the 1% and impoverished the 99%. People nationwide will march and rally at structurally unsound bridges and other sites in need of repair to demand that America be put back to work now and that the economy work for the 99% once again.

  • New York, NY – 6 p.m. March on Brooklyn Bridge
  • Chicago, IL – 3:30pm, LaSalle Street Bridge
  • Washington, DC – 4:30 p.m. protest at Key Bridge
  • Los Angeles, CA – 7:00am, 3rd St. and Hope St. in downtown LA (to march and demonstrate at the structurally deficient 4th Street bridge)
  • Philadelphia, PA – 4 p.m., Market Street Bridge, near historic 30th Street Amtrak Station
  • Pittsburgh, PA – 3 p.m., Greenfield Bridge
  • Seattle, WA – 4:00pm, Montlake Bridge
  • Miami, FL – 40p.m., Brickell Drawbridge
  • Baltimore, MD – 4:30 p.m., Howard Street Bridge
  • Boston, MA – 4:30 p.m., Charlestown Bridge
  • Portland, OR – 8:00am, Steel Bridge (east side of bridge)
  • Houston, TX – 3:30pm, Travis Street Bridge
  • Detroit, MI – 3:00pm, 2nd Avenue/94 Bridge
  • Milwaukee, WI – 3:30pm, North Ave pass over I-43
  • Minneapolis, MN – 4:00pm, 10th Avenue Bridge

CWA / Verizon Worker March
The biggest labor action right now is Verizon’s workers who are trying to preserve middle-class jobs from a predatory giant corporation that is trying to send all the money to the 1%. Verizon workers have been marching from Albany to New York City and will arrive at Verizon HQ on Thursday.
I received this statement from the Communication Workers of America:

“The Communications Workers of America strongly condemns the decision by Mayor Bloomberg to forcibly remove protesters from Zuccotti park. In two short months, Occupy Wall Street has focused the world’s attention on the deep frustration felt by working people about an economy that no longer works for the middle class. The 99% have seen good jobs disappear while the rich get richer and the big banks make billions with impunity. Mayor Bloomberg may have cleared the park for now, but Occupy Wall Street’s message cannot be silenced. No one can evict an idea whose time has come.
“Now more than ever, CWA members will join the massive day of action on Thursday, November 17. Verizon workers who have been walking for over a week from Albany, NY — over 150 miles in total — will arrive at Verizon Headquarters at 140 West St in New York City on Thursday at 4 pm to join hundreds of their coworkers in a March to Foley Square. Their message is the same message we are hearing from Occupy Wall Street and beyond: The 99% are standing up against corporate greed and against a government that more and more puts the interests of the 1% ahead of the middle class.

See also from The Nation, Occupy Verizon, Occupy the Labor Movement,

Forty-five thousand union members at Verizon, no longer a majority at their company, are negotiating with a company set on imposing conditions more like those of their non-union co-workers: higher healthcare costs, job insecurity and raises left to management discretion. Workers (most from the Communications Workers of America) struck for two weeks when their contracts expired in August, then returned to work with an agreement to “restructure bargaining.” Since then, Verizon has relented on some insulting but comparatively low-cost concessions, like eliminating the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. But overall it maintains “pretty much the same position they had when we went on strike,” according to Bob Master, who coordinates CWA actions against Verizon in New York and seven other states.

Social Security
If you are in DC, there is a Wake Up Washington rally to stop the “supercommittee” from cutting Social Security, which would harm seniors and the economy. Here is info:
What: Rally with Sen. Bernie Sanders, other Champions in Congress, and hundreds of activists
Where: Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 608 (Corner of Constitution and First St., NE)
When: Thursday, November 17, 10am-11am
Repeat:
To find events near you see American Dream Day Of Action at http://november17.org/ and We Are One at http://we-r-1.org/
Also, if you follow Twitter, follow the #N17 hashtag for ongoing information, by clicking here.
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.

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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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Plutocratic Government Tries To Beat Down #Occupy

In Oakland peaceful #Occupy demonstrators were camping out in front of city hall. The city launched a police raid to clear out the camp, using tear gas, flash-bank grenades, rubber bullets and beating people with batons. An Iraq war vet was hit in the head by either a rubber bullet or tear gas canister and critically injured. These days this is the typical government response to non-Tea-Party “protesters.” Let’s look at how the Occupiers and protests would be treated if we were a functioning democracy — a government of by and for We, the People — instead of a dysfunctional plutocracy serving the biggest corporations and the billionaires behind them.
Citizens?
The first thing to understand about every single person involved in the #occupy movement is that they are citizens and human beings. Even the ones with beards. Alas, even the drummers. (What do you call a drummer who breaks up with his girlfriend? Homeless. What do you call a drummer with half a brain? Gifted.)
The people involved in the #occupy movement are upset that our country has abandoned democracy in favor of plutocracy. They are upset that every decision made in Washington is based on the wishes of the top 1%. They are upset that we do not have a reasonable health care system, no reasonable pension system, or child care system, or other benefits that people in democracies around the world receive. They are upset that most of the benefits of our economy instead go to a very few at the top. They are upset that a huge amount of our money goes to pay for a military machines that costs more than all other countries spend on military combined. They are upset that there is a “Super Committee” meeting in secret to decide how much money to take out of the economy to pay for the bailouts and other costs of the fiasco caused by Wall Street and the big banks.
So with their government ignoring their majority demands they have finally decided to voice their protests publicly. For doing this they have been met with smears, derision, and police attacks.
Police Ordered To Attack
Just as in countries like Syria, Egypt, Libya and Iran, the instinctive response of our plutocratic government and Wall Street-backed power structures has been to see those people who have shown up at these protests as somehow suspect, possibly even as an enemy, and to attack them. FOX News and the entire corporate/conservative media machine regularly attacks them. And the police are ordered to attack them.
This is not “protesters vs police.” People who work in law enforcement are part of the 99%, just like us. They have families to feed, bills to pay, and have to do what they’re told.

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And this is what they were ordered to do, to people who were exercising their legitimate rights:



American citizens were treated as criminals and attacked just for speaking out about the injustice of Wall Street getting a huge bailout after they caused this mess, and now the rest of us are told to sacrifice to pay for it.
John Stewart on The Daily Show reacts to the Oakland attack:

If We Were A Democracy Instead Of A Plutocracy
The occupy movement clashes with federal, state and local governments the way they currently work. We really have an opportunity here to come back to an understanding of democracy and the role of government, and who government should serve. Currently government is really set up to serve the top few, and facilitate bigger businesses, and understands the people in their communities as consumers and corporate employees, and not as citizens.
So imagine how it cold be different, if we had a government designed to serve the people rather than keep them in their place. In a country with a true democratic culture the local governments would be serving these people and honoring their right to dissent and protest. They would instinctively be showing up at protests like this and offering to help with any sanitation problems, etc, setting up public toilets, and other services. They would even be offering tents. If there are security problems in the occupy camps a city would be posting police in the encampment to help the people there, with a clear mission to serve them. They certainly would not be seeing them as the enemy, and attacking them.
Imagine Real Democracy and its Implications
The #occupy movement opens up the space to imagine what the country could be if we really did have a democracy with a first instinct of serving the people, instead of serving only the wealthy and their big corporations.
Imagine a government of, by and for the people and the things that regular people want and need. Imagine everyone entitled to a free education through college? Imagine a transportation system that helps us all get around — mass transit and high-speed rail systems instead of just roads and highways for those who can afford cars, with plutocratic pay lanes so those with more money can get around.
Imagine a people outraged at special passes through airport security for those with first-class tickets.
Imagine advertisers having to get people’s permission before they are allowed to interrupt their attention. Imagine the things we would have if We, the People were in charge.
Imagine a modern, maintained infrastructure, good schools, and a guarantee of a job working on those for any9one who needed work.
Imagine a government that enforced laws even when the top few violated them, enforced job discrimination laws, enforced anti-trust laws… or a government that protected citizens from corporate fraud, fees, scams, etc.
Occupiers Are People Too
These occupiers are “the people’ just as much as any other people in the community and government should exist to serve them just as much as any other group.
Alas, even the drummers.
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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