Occupation Matters: News, Media, Opinions on ‘where we go from here’, and other Observations

by on November 23, 2011 · 2 comments

in Civil Rights, Economy, Organizing

Here’s a round-up of Occupation matters:

Police crackdowns on Occupy camps are the real threat

  By Linda Lye / SFGate /  November 23, 2011

Around California and all over the country, we have been told that Occupy encampments must come down because of “health and safety concerns.” But all around the country, we have seen the police take down these encampments with an overzealous use of pepper spray, tear gas and flash-bang grenades. The real “health threat” we should be concerned about is the threat to the health of our democracy when the government reacts to peaceful political expression with police violence.  Go here for the remainder of this article.

San Diego Police on UC Davis Pepper Spraying: ‘We don’t want that here.’

By Danya Bacchus and Sarah Grieco / NBC San Diego / Nov 21, 2011

What happened at UC Davis has local law enforcement talking. San Diego Police officers have said they’ve had the tough job of balancing the first amendment rights of Occupy San Diego protesters and enforcing the law.

 “I don’t want anything like that happening here,” said Assistant Police Chief Boyd Long.

 Long said his officers have had the job of balancing the first amendment rights of Occupy San Diego protesters and enforcing the law.  Long said the basic foundation of police work is to make sure the constitution is upheld. He said they now have to make sure protesters are able to peacefully assemble and that their protest do not infringe on anyone else’s rights.  For the remainder of this article, please go here.

CityBeat and Activists Review City Communications and Emails on Occupy San Diego

By Dave Maass / San Diego CityBeat / November 23, 2011

In the wake of the mass arrests at Occupy San Diego on Oct. 29, CityBeat filed a broad public-records request for all communications regarding the movement sent and received by San Diego City Council offices, the Mayor’s office and the City Attorney’s office.

This week, the city made most of the records available—more than 1,000 pages of emails, phone messages and handwritten submissions. We invited three young Occupy San Diego activists to review the documents with us. None had ever before filed or inspected public records under the California Public Records Act. The experience, they say, was simultaneously uplifting and off-putting.  For the rest of Dave’s article, please go here to SD CityBeat.

Local NBC Station Suggests Full Homeless Shelter Is Reason for Police to Remove Occupy San Diego Protesters

There was a strange article on NBC San Diego the other day.  It stated that since San Diego’s winter shelter for the homeless opened on Monday, November 21, and now this gives San Diego police  “more reason” to “remove Occupy San Diego protesters from the San Diego Civic Center.”  Even though the shelter filled up in three hours after opening. It holds 220 beds for the homeless, which is just a fraction of the thousands in downtown San Diego, but it is something.  Here’s the full quote:

But the increased number of beds provides more reason for police to remove Occupy San Diego protesters from the San Diego Civic Center. According to police, officers can remove the protesters if they fall asleep and there are open beds in shelters.   Police said they have been urging the demonstrators on a daily basis to sleep at the shelters instead of the Civic Center.

 “If they don’t have shelter, I hope they go out and seek that shelter. They’re welcome to come protest here, legally, anytime,” said Captain Mark Jones of the San Diego Police Department.

 The Occupy San Diego encampments have been one of the few places where homeless people felt welcomed.  Occupy activists had heard, however, that the police were advising homeless individuals to go over to the Civic Center “where there’s free food.” Later, police used the homeless as one of the excuses to evict the demonstrators, claiming that the last eviction of those sleeping on the grassy section next to the Plaza were “85% homeless” – which was not true.

 Occupy Mission Bay Has General Assembly

There is a “satellite” Occupy happening at Mission Bay. They’re meeting near the closed Visitors’ Center, near the Clairemont Drive bridge – where last week’s “occupation” occurred. They may be looking at a different site within Mission Bay, plus they have other issues, such as hoping not to appear as a “split-off” from Occupy San Diego, hours where the Park and parking lots are closed, police presence, etc. Here’s an account and opinion on a recent GA by OBDave.  Occupy Mission Bay Facebook Page

 Occupy LA Given Offer to “De-Camp” for Office Space and Garden

By Kate Linthicum /Los Angeles Times /  November 22, 2011

Los Angeles officials have offered Occupy L.A. protesters a package of incentives that includes downtown office space and farmland in an attempt to persuade them to abandon their camp outside of City Hall, according to several demonstrators who have been in negotiations with the city.

The details of the proposal were revealed Monday during the demonstration’s nightly general assembly meeting by Jim Lafferty, an attorney with the National Lawyers Guild who has been advocating on behalf of the protest since it began seven weeks ago.  For the rest of this LA Times article, go here.

Occupy SD benefit concert featuring Liquid Blue and others.

When: Wednesday, December 14 at 7:00pm

Location: The Ruby Room, 1271 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92103

Where Does Occupy Wall Street Go From Here?

 By Michael Moore / November 22nd, 2011 

This past weekend I participated in a four-hour meeting of Occupy Wall Street activists whose job it is to come up with the vision and goals of the movement. It was attended by 40+ people and the discussion was both inspiring and invigorating. Here is what we ended up proposing as the movement’s “vision statement” to the General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street:

 We Envision:

  • [1] a truly free, democratic, and just society;
  • [2] where we, the people, come together and solve our problems by consensus;
  • [3] where people are encouraged to take personal and collective responsibility and participate in decision making;
  • [4] where we learn to live in harmony and embrace principles of toleration and respect for diversity and the differing views of others;
  • [5] where we secure the civil and human rights of all from violation by tyrannical forces and unjust governments;
  • [6] where political and economic institutions work to benefit all, not just the privileged few;
  • [7] where we provide full and free education to everyone, not merely to get jobs but to grow and flourish as human beings;
  • [8] where we value human needs over monetary gain, to ensure decent standards of living without which effective democracy is impossible; [9] where we work together to protect the global environment to ensure that future generations will have safe and clean air, water and food supplies, and will be able to enjoy the beauty and bounty of nature that past generations have enjoyed.

The next step will be to develop a specific list of goals and demands. As one of the millions of people who are participating in the Occupy Wall Street movement, I would like to respectfully offer my suggestions of what we can all get behind now to wrestle the control of our country out of the hands of the 1% and place it squarely with the 99% majority.

Here – (see below) is what I will propose to the General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street -scroll down –

 What Comes Next for the Occupy Movement?

 By Jeoffry Gordon, MPH

Now the Occupy Movement is two months old. No doubt it has been an unqualified success. This primarily consists of totally breaching the stone wall of silence among politicians, in mainstream media, and in the public square about the previously hidden establishment of a corporatist governing oligarchy resulting in a massive maldistribution of our nation’s incomes, resources, with the massive destruction of personal and family security, now and for the future.

It has brought the agenda of economic and social justice in the context of America as one community to the fore. Its initial structure of nonviolent, open participation, and collective management is both positive and negative. Positive because it confronts power with non-violence, because it allows for open discussion and participation, because it nurtures spontaneous participation at many locations around the country without the need for structure which could impair or constrain growth or limit the social change agenda, positive because it allows participation in national protest actions such as the “move your money” day.

It is also negative because it has not created a mechanism for national coordination and integration; it has not defined a mechanism for actually impacting and changing the existing political system or the oppressive corporate financial, health services, manufacturing sectors; and except for generalities it has not defined targets for social change nor a mechanism for bring this about. It is also negative because in speaking to local activists I find there is no evolving leadership that can mobilize this energy to focus it on social change, nor is there functional communication or coordination with Occupy activists elsewhere. (The internet modalities seem to share current events news rather than strategy and tactics.)

My – our – experience in San Diego has probably been typical. There is a small group of very committed, mostly younger people, who are actually occupying and living in a public space. They have established a focal point for the part time participation of a small but wider demographic of citizens who have participated in education and strategic analysis. Here this group has been outnumbered by many homeless people seeking affinity, succor, and protection. Occupy San Diego has also, as everywhere else, attracted an astonishing large contingent of ominous, uniformed, well commanded police. This frankly has explicitly defined the movement as a real threat to the status quo – not a bad thing actually. Here we have been fortunate in that their strutting power has been used relatively sparingly to break up encampments and make arrests.

Elsewhere, as in Oakland and New York City, but with strategic wisdom not in Washington, D.C., local governments have used the most minor and absurd legal excuses, such as noise abatement, sanitation and public health, as well as protecting the public right of way, to mount forceful and violent confrontations with the free speech protesters. It is obvious that these actions are being well coordinated nationally among many local government entities, again without the apparent participation of the federal authorities. These attempts to constrain the protests bear striking resemblance to the early skirmishes of the civil rights, gay rights and antiwar movements of recent memory. They also, by and large, have little effect on the energy of the participants and serve only to invigorate the movement and keep it in the public eye.

But two months is a long time for an ad hoc event and the chill of winter is bearing down on the country. The winter holidays will be a cultural diversion. So now it is time to seriously contemplate next steps and future strategy. Based on my local observations, the Occupy Movement has attracted a smattering of local, if you will – middle class or mainstream support from progressive individuals who may be also active in the Democratic Party or in unions, or various social activist groups.

There has been little or no formal concrete participation by other natural constituencies such as churches and synagogues, the unemployed, the poor and minorities, people who have lost or will lose their homes, and participants in the local education system, including PTAs and university students.

In other locations union workers, a rare politician, students, a churchman or two, health care workers and so forth have been ongoing active participants, but this is relatively rare. Here in San Diego, even local communication, coordination, recruitment, and mobilization has been deficient and defective. For example, the other day about 350 occupiers participated in an excellent protest at a faulty bridge over a local freeway. Later that evening Activist San Diego sponsored a talk by world renown radical journalist Greg Palast who gave an inspirational outline of his investigation of energy “vultures” to a much smaller audience that did not seem to include anyone who had been on the bridge. Thus it is certainly time to consider the next phase.

I cannot believe the Occupy Movement’s fall back strategy is anarchy like the WTO protesters. There are several obvious possibilities:

  •  The Occupy Movement must clearly proclaim its foundation on a moral basis. This is not a movement for “progressive or efficient” government; this is not a movement to create or capture a mere political party; this is not a movement to merely revise laws and legal rulings or create new ones; this is not a movement to get a different board of directors for the Bank of America, General Electric, or United Health Care. This is a movement for what is right and virtuous in a democracy – a collective community commitment to support and empower all citizens. This is a moral fight for social and economic justice. This cannot be accomplished without a responsive government. A social agenda will win only when it has the passion of moral issues behind it.
  •  The Occupy Movement must gain strength and legitimacy in every locality by inviting and facilitating the active participation of the silent middle class as well as poor and minorities. Economic justice is a vital issue for all of them/us. This is probably best done by working through established civic institutions as well as creating new ones. Unions, religious institutions, United Ways, PTAs, student clubs, Universities, school boards must all be brought on board. The one per cent have gained ascendency because civic society has withered in the United States. Occupy can only win by reinventing an array of new civic social and economic justice organizations (think NAACP, LWV, SNVCC, ACT UP, NOW, VVAW.)
  •  The Occupy Movement must develop a national coordinating and leadership structure – something like a “CITIZENS’ COORDINATING COMMITTEE FOR ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL JUSTICE.” Without a focus to set priorities, targets, and actions we cannot change established institutions. We need to nurture and empower leadership to stand in the public arena beside Senators Sanders and Wellstone, Congressman Kucinich and future Senator Elizabeth Warren to support them and to direct and articulate the necessary changes as well as mobilize support. Without the opportunity to focus on specific personalities, the possibility for sending the message in the mainstream media will be lost.
  •  Given the total domination of the federal government – the President, the Supreme Court, and the Congress – by the 1% and the virtual complicity in all this by the previously progressive Democratic Party it may be time for the Occupy Movement to evolve into a formal third party – THE CITIZENS’ PARTY or THE SOCIAL JUSTICE PARTY or the ECONOMIC JUSTICE PARTY. The political electoral system is so out of balance that we need to stand outside it to articulate and fight for the many structural changes that are needed to recreate democracy in the United States. (Hey look, this is just what the Tea Party did for the regressive forces of corporatism. We have to create the same momentum without the benefit of fat cat money.)

These four suggestions encapsulate the parameters of a bright and successful future for the Occupy Movement. The question is: Will the movement be able to mature into them and are there individuals who can seize the moment to catalyze the next steps?

10 Things We Want : A Proposal for Occupy Wall Street

Submitted by Michael Moore

1. Eradicate the Bush tax cuts for the rich and institute new taxes on the wealthiest Americans and on corporations, including a tax on all trading on Wall Street (where they currently pay 0%).

2. Assess a penalty tax on any corporation that moves American jobs to other countries when that company is already making profits in America. Our jobs are the most important national treasure and they cannot be removed from the country simply because someone wants to make more money.

3. Require that all Americans pay the same Social Security tax on all of their earnings (normally, the middle class pays about 6% of their income to Social Security; someone making $1 million a year pays about 0.6% (or 90% less than the average person). This law would simply make the rich pay what everyone else pays.

4. Reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, placing serious regulations on how business is conducted by Wall Street and the banks.

5. Investigate the Crash of 2008, and bring to justice those who committed any crimes.

6. Reorder our nation’s spending priorities (including the ending of all foreign wars and their cost of over $2 billion a week). This will re-open libraries, reinstate band and art and civics classes in our schools, fix our roads and bridges and infrastructure, wire the entire country for 21st century internet, and support scientific research that improves our lives.

7. Join the rest of the free world and create a single-payer, free and universal health care system that covers all Americans all of the time.

8. Immediately reduce carbon emissions that are destroying the planet and discover ways to live without the oil that will be depleted and gone by the end of this century.

9. Require corporations with more than 10,000 employees to restructure their board of directors so that 50% of its members are elected by the company’s workers. We can never have a real democracy as long as most people have no say in what happens at the place they spend most of their time: their job. (For any U.S. businesspeople freaking out at this idea because you think workers can’t run a successful company: Germany has a law like this and it has helped to make Germany the world’s leading manufacturing exporter.)

10. We, the people, must pass three constitutional amendments that will go a long way toward fixing the core problems we now have. These include:

a) A constitutional amendment that fixes our broken electoral system by 1) completely removing campaign contributions from the political process; 2) requiring all elections to be publicly financed; 3) moving election day to the weekend to increase voter turnout; 4) making all Americans registered voters at the moment of their birth; 5) banning computerized voting and requiring that all elections take place on paper ballots.

b) A constitutional amendment declaring that corporations are not people and do not have the constitutional rights of citizens. This amendment should also state that the interests of the general public and society must always come before the interests of corporations.

c) A constitutional amendment that will act as a “second bill of rights” as proposed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt: that every American has a human right to employment, to health care, to a free and full education, to breathe clean air, drink clean water and eat safe food, and to be cared for with dignity and respect in their old age.

Let me know what you think. Occupy Wall Street enjoys the support of millions. It is a movement that cannot be stopped. Become part of it by sharing your thoughts with me or online (at OccupyWallSt.org). Get involved in (or start!) your own local Occupy movement. Make some noise. You don’t have to pitch a tent in lower Manhattan to be an Occupier. You are one just by saying you are. This movement has no singular leader or spokesperson; every participant is a leader in their neighborhood, their school, their place of work. Each of you is a spokesperson to those whom you encounter. There are no dues to pay, no permission to seek in order to create an action.

We are but ten weeks old, yet we have already changed the national conversation. This is our moment, the one we’ve been hoping for, waiting for. If it’s going to happen it has to happen now. Don’t sit this one out. This is the real deal. This is it.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar malcolm migacz November 23, 2011 at 6:50 pm

States can ask Congress to call for a constitutional convention. The convention proposes amendments instead of Congress, though they also have to be ratified by the states. So this way Congress will be by-passed , as they are all controlled by invested interest ( corruption) and are the single cause for the Wall Street failure, and therefore can never be part of the solution. The amendment you speak of will never occur for this reason. The Congress will never act in favor of the people when given the choice to back corporations. It bypasses the usual means of reform (Congress, presidential elections, etc.) which the lobbyists and other interested parties have learned so well to manipulate. And lastly, such a convention would be free to propose solutions that would otherwise be subject to be striken as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. So this is the best solution.

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avatar Lois November 24, 2011 at 5:30 pm

John Pike pepper sprays with precision.

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