Since the info for Occupy Wall Street is scattered all over the internet, I have created this page to centralize the information in regards to the protests.
There’s a lot of misinformation out there and quite frankly it seems that the critics of OWS are more clueless than the protesters themselves about what is going on. I don’t blame them though because our mainstream media is doing a horrible job with providing realistic news and as always, not keeping up with journalistic standards.
OWS is not something that could be understood in one or two sentences and so if you really want to understand you need to read more than just a status update. Our social media networks (and lack of attention span in general) have cultivated this tl;dr mentality. People rather read a sentence or headline and pretend they understand something rather than look in the details of it. So keep reading…
1. So tell me, what are these protests all about?
This is a democratic awakening, a raising of consciousness, so people can see what the problems are with a different lens. And this is a step by step process, it is a non violent process. This is what MLK would have called a revolution. A revolution isn’t an overthrowing of a government but a transfer of power back into the peoples hands.
Protests have grown not only coast to coast but internationally as well. This has happened before abroad but we are experiencing for ourselves a new model of mass unrest: actions coordinated on mobile devices, through the internet, and with national media replaced by social media, TV media replaced by live streams… America’s first true Internet-era movement.
The result is the first, honest grassroots protest movement in decades. There is no celebrity power. There are no stacks of pre-printed signs or banners. There is no sound stage, no sleek production value. Nobody is trying to sell you something. This movement doesn’t want your vote, they don’t want your money, they don’t want your Nielsen ratings.
If you are looking to contact one of the leaders, go to the nearest mirror and peer deeply into it. This is a decentralized, non-violent movement made in such a fashion, as to tout that we are the 99% that have been ignored and we have a voice that wants to be heard.
This is OUR country. This is YOUR country. This is all about reminding that every single one of you, have the right to assemble and say what it is you want to say.
You could call it a demonstration. They’re demonstrating action. They’re demonstrating how to be heard. They’re demonstrating that your civic duty is greater than voting for the lesser of two evils every four years.
They will demonstrate that if we want change, we have to do more than worship the altar of the wealthiest 1% and pray that they will deliver us from ruin. Because they never have. They never will. That’s the point behind this protest. Some people speak of it disparagingly, saying that “until they’ve got a unified message, it’s just a protest for the sake of protesting.” They don’t understand just how right they are. The absolute point of this movement is to raise awareness and revive the use of national protest and activism. Forums are being created, documents are being drafted, methods of communication are being sorted, mobilization is occurring right now. The process is organic and the format of the modern protest is being distributed nationwide. The goal is to reignite the fire of activism in the 99%.
You do not have to accept the bull shit from politicians, watch the bull shit news, fight the bull shit wars. You do not have to line the Wall Streets pockets with your savings, your hopes, your lives. You do not have to believe them when they tell you that the inequality will get better on its own. It will not. You are going to have to do something.
That is why people are protesting. It’s not to get demands met, yet. It might turn into that, but not yet.
Right now, the point is to remind you that you can do something.
2. “But they don’t even have a unified objective!”
First of all, stop thinking of the protesters as “they” and start thinking of them as normal people just like you and I. When they say this movement is for the 99%, they really mean it. Every single person who is occupying has their own personal reasons for why they are there. One thing that most people agree on though is that our politicians are oozing with corruption in the form of crony capitalism. It’s no secret that our politicians are SELL OUTS and campaign finance reform needs to occur so that we can have organic representatives. Getting money out of politics is the way to go! How we go about doing that is beyond me but at least we can help raise awareness on the issue that we won’t stand for it anymore.
3. What demands have they come up with so far?
Not having explicit demands is a double edged sword. When the Tea-Partiers started their protests, they weren’t centralized and there were no specific demands and the GOP and neoconservatives walked in and co-opted the movement. Read the next sections about political parties and unions to understand both sides of the coin on why it’s important NOT to have a specific agenda for now.
4. Aren’t they all just dirty hippies and unemployed 20-somethings?
The We are the 99% Tumblr helps bring humanity and realism to the idea that we are all together in this.
5. What political party is this associated with?
None. This isn’t about left or right, this is about NEITHER.
The main gripe most of these protesters have are that both the “spineless democrats” and “republican bigots” do not fairly represent us. They care more about saying the right words to appeal to the masses just to get the next election and get the funding from their politics than to help us. Our “representatives” are clearly sell outs who have to bow to the demands of corporate entities and people are quite fed up with it. When they say they are sick of choosing the lesser of two evils, they really mean it.
Fox definitely knows it’s not about political parties. They are attempting to fool viewers into thinking it is, to undermine the movement, since they are corporate-backed media. Labeling it a democratic movement will prevent republican or right-leaning folks from joining in as they don’t want to support the democrats or anything left-wing. A win-win situation for Fox.
5. What unions or organizations is this associated with?
None. The participants really want the focus to remain on the message that “we are the 99%” If a large political action group wants to try to co-opt the momentum it can be very toxic to that message. Polarizing this event as left vs. right would be a damn shame and it would miss the point.
The occupy movement is NOT affiliated or funded by unions, MoveOn.org, or ANY Democratic OR Republican organization OR with Adbusters. They are the American public.
A lot of unions have supported OWS… BUT PLEASE UNDERSTAND: Just because an organization announces that they are backing up Occupy Wall Street, doesn’t mean that anyone WANTS to be represented by them because they will run the risk of hijacking it!
For example, Moveon.org has come out to support OWS, but this is an organization backed by George Soros. The media has already tried to discredit OWS saying they have backing by George Soros because of this.
Unions that have supported: The Teamster’s union endorsed the protests, the IWW, the SEIU and the Transportation Union, a 200,000 member strong union (one of the most militant public sector unions in NYC, the only one who has had the guts to break the Taylor law (the anti-strike law) and strike, and suffered great penalties for it, has endorsed the OWS.)
Proof that MoveOn.org is Wall Street!
6. What is Obama’s stance on peaceful protesters?
7. How come I don’t see consistent coverage from the mainstream media?
This is a complicated matter so please read all the points here:
1) There was a media blackout on the protest for the first two weeks but the tide is shifting and if you just do a google news search for occupy wall street, the results are getting better. And for the record, foreign news networks are covering the occupy movement way better than any of the domestic channels. The only one I really like is NPR.
2) Mainstream media coverage skyrocketed only after the NYPD’s excessive use of pepper spray or brutality.
3) The TV media specifically has focused on only portraying the protests when there are involvements with police-mistreatment due to the media’s inherent interest in delivering “shocking news.” Plus, they have an inherent disinterest in propagating a movement that disparages their beneficiaries, and this police-focused media attention instills fear in the population and makes the protesters or police look violent.
4) Isn’t it weird how interviews never get too deep and answers are limited to 30 seconds or less, even though they are ironically on a 24 hour news network? The TV news isn’t meant to be a comprehensive news channel. It’s just a fucking circus. You can’t fit what the movement is all about in one sentence. Social media sites have conditioned a tl;dr mentality. When someone asks, “Can you tell me what Occupy Wall Street is about?” and if you can’t explain it in one sentence or headline, people reply with ridiculous statements like “Nothing, they don’t know what they are doing” And the media continues to propagate this!
An open letter to the media by someone on the Internet in early Sept 2011:
You’re still not getting it. Your reporters are lazy.
Traditionally, protests have been the culmination of a movement organized by a hierarchy of leaders who determined demands and then held public protests to promote those demands.
The old way: Injustice–> Organization–> Demands–> Protest.
But we aren’t a traditional protest.
For our way, the protest comes first and serves as its own organizational tool. The protestors determine their own demands. Messy but much more democratic.
The problem with the old way is the protest ends, the protestors go home, and the demands are ignored. Repeat.
Our protest never ends. That is why we call it an occupation.
The new way: Injustice–> Occupation–> Self organization–> Demands
What you reported as disorganized and rudderless was actually a movement still in the process of self-organizing. You were too blind to see it. You were looking for an end at the beginning.
In just 3 weeks we’ve grown to over 60 cities. We are over 10,000 strong today in New York alone. (Antranik’s note: As of November it’s over 260 cities wide)
We are occupying, organizing, growing. It is we who are too big to fail.
We are the People.
We hold this Truth to be self-evident: A government which represents the interests of banks, media conglomerates, corporations and the richest 1% is no longer democracy. It is oligarchy.
A new form of democracy has come to rescue the old: a democracy by, for, and of the People again.
On Sept 29, 2011, OWS announced that they will be publishing their own newspaper to better control their message and prevent mainstream media from defining the movement. They asked for $12k in 2 weeks and received 22k in less than 24 hours. The project funded with over 75k in donations. Link to “The Occupy Wall Street Journal” Kickstarter Project
8. How can I know what’s happening?
The revolution will definitely not be televised as this shit is way too real for people to deal with, so keep an eye out on the live streaming broadcasts. Also, the NYPD has ordered press helicopters, more than once, to clear the airspace above protests. This is a new era of citizen reporting that many people are doing just off their cell phones.
Here’s a global directory of #occupy live streams at http://www.occupystreams.org/
The original OWS stream is at http://www.livestream.com/globalrevolution
The marches on the live feed can be pretty dramatic. The first week had about 4,000 viewers. The second week had 7,000 viewers while the third weekend had over 20,000 viewers. There must be over 50,000 viewers at any one time between all those streams during the weekends.
And here is the subreddit link for OWS: http://www.reddit.com/r/occupywallstreet/
9. Why is the police presence so high and excessive force so common?
The poetry of non-violent protest:
The authorities typically respond heavy handed
and the cause strengthens in response… it is beauty.
You know, when this protest started, it was never about the people versus the police. I have a lot of respect for the police and think a lot of their actions are justified, but as time goes on and more footage comes out of peaceful protesters being beat to hell, I am sincerely frightened by all police officers. The police have responded quite militarily and heavy handed in a number of cities such as Oakland and NYC and Seattle. The LAPD (thank god) is doing surprisingly very well and treating Occupy LA as a community and not as a threat, and that’s because the last time they used tear gas and rubber bullets they had to pay millions in settlements (remember the May Day melee riots).
Time and time again they have proved that they can get away with pretty much anything and make the rules as they go along. With all that said, I still feel it is my responsibility to remind you that the cops are part of the 99%. They have a bunch of bad apples within their force but they are not all bad. They are like the henchman who have to follow orders. And where do those orders come from? The mayor. The mayor is the person running the show behind the scenes. There are rumors that the cops in NYC in blue are sympathetic to our cause, especially because their pensions are drying up. I can’t imagine how fast they’d join us when they realize they aren’t getting their retirement money.
Now, we know that the cops are in the banks’ pocket, but they are merely a metaphorical and literal shield. They try to distract us from our true goals, and we must recognize this and adjust.
The NYPD has discredited itself: ‘If you’re an ordinary citizen, and you get caught on video dousing people with noxious gas like Bologna did, you get summarily locked up. But when you’re an NYPD commanding officer…like Bologna was at the time of his attack, you get essentially a free pass.’
Occupy Oakland: Iraq war veteran Kayvan Sabehgi clearly caught on video being peaceful and beaten by police and went to jail for over 18 hours screaming from the pain of a lacerated spleen and was refused medical attention.
10. Why does a speaker say a few words and everyone repeats them out-loud?
This is what is known as the ‘People’s Mic’ and it’s one of the unique features of the ‘Occupy’ protests. Since the NYPD hasn’t allowed megaphones or amplification to be used, speakers say a few words at a time and the crowd repeats it back. This makes every statement communal and the message ripples through the crowd, literally. If the audience doesn’t approve of what’s being said, they simply stop repeating the message. If someone wants to say something they will yell out “Mic Check!” and everyone around him/her yells out “Mic Check!” so people shut up and listen to what they have to say. Protests in other cities do this as well even if amplification is allowed sometimes.
11. How can I help? How can I contribute or donate?
Well, other than joining the protest, you could donate money, order pizza for the protesters and even send packages to their PO Box. All the details to this are available at the the website for the NYC General Assembly: http://nycga.cc/donate/
For the record, they have gotten tons of international support as well.
12. Is there a protest happening in my city?
Most probably yes.
Some tips if you’re thinking of joining…
1. If anyone tries to incite violence, even if they say that they’re one of us or with us, tell them “No.”
Don’t do anything stupid to give cops reason to bash your heads in because they will if you give them reason to.
Now… with that said, be warned that the govt has a documented history of infiltrating movements with “provocateur agents” who are undercover agents that act like protesters who start violence on the inside to give police reason to move in and beat the shit out of people. This happened in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, happened in NYC in 2004, Denver in 2008, in the G20 summits and will surely happen again.
Nobody is kidding when they say infiltrations happen. More good reading on the subject: How to Identify an Agent Provocateur and COINTELPRO (a must read if you haven’t!) and a documentary about COINTELPRO.
Counter-intelligence programs have already begun: Some copy-cat group started a rumor that NYSE.com will be shut down in an operation called “Operation Invade Wall Street.” The operation is bull shit and a fake planted operation, possibly by law enforcement, in order to undermine the OWS movement.
2. If anyone tries to interview you and you’re not 100% sure of what you’re talking about or think you might look like a fool, tell them, “No thank you.”
Don’t speak with people who will twist your words. No comment is the best comment when it comes to those who will edit and splice your words into what they want. Have the presence of mind to talk like THIS guy if you get interviewed:
For the record, that video at this moment has 1.1 million views with 13,356 likes and only 196 dislikes.
3. Crush the big banks by removing your money and putting it into a credit union.
If you really want to stick it to the corporations, especially in light of BoA’s $5 monthly fee (now retracted) for using your debit card and the hiked up fees at Citibank, remove your money out of the major bank accounts. Close your BoA, Wellsfargo, Citi, Chase accounts. Move to a credit union. It’s a very good way to get the message across on how serious we are.
Here’s a helpful (if ugly) site that lists all the credit unions in your area: creditunionaccess.com
4. Why credit unions? I’m still sort of unclear about why I would choose a credit union over a big bank.
At a credit union, the customers are the shareholders, so the interests are more in line with each other and the fees are minimal. Also, a lot of them refund a certain amount of foreign ATM fees and most credit unions offer better interest rates to members. Also, they give out loans with greater ease and have online banking with free Bill Pay and all that standard stuff nowadays.
Credit unions are part of the Co-Op network, and you literally have access to the largest ATM network ever. All the ATM’s at 7-11’s, Walgreen’s, Costco’s for example, work with the co-op network.
5. Where do I go for updates?
Well, I would recommend going to the OWS subreddit but I will update this last section with things I feel are worthy.
Here is a video of Jeffrey Sachs, leading environmentalist and economist, and a respected Professor at Columbia University, speak out at the growing, inspiring Occupy Wall Street movement. Sachs is one of many professors, celebrities, community leaders, spiritual leaders and public figures who are speaking out in support of the OWS movement and what it stands for.
Surprisingly great article by the NYT: As Scorn for Vote Grows, Protests Surge Around Globe