Category Archives: Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street activist guilty verdict reveals mass acceptance of police brutality

By Molly Knefel, May 5, 2014. Source: The Guardian

The violence against Occupy protestors was widespread and well-photographed. So why is one non-violent protestor now convicted of police brutality? Photo: Ramin Talaie / EPA

The violence against Occupy protestors was widespread and well-photographed. So why is one non-violent protestor now convicted of police brutality? Photo: Ramin Talaie / EPA

The verdict in the biggest Occupy related criminal case in New York City, that of Cecily McMillan, came down Monday afternoon. As disturbing as it is that she was found guilty of felony assault against Officer Grantley Bovell, the circumstances of her trial reflect an even more disturbing reality – that of normalized police violence, disproportionately punitive sentences (McMillan faces seven years in prison), and a criminal penal system based on anything but justice. While this is nothing new for the over-policed communities of New York City, what happened to McMillan reveals just how powerful and unrestrained a massive police force can be in fighting back against the very people with whom it is charged to protect.

McMillan was one of roughly 70 protesters arrested on March 17, 2012. She and hundreds of other activists, along with journalists like me, had gathered in Zuccotti Park to mark the six-month anniversary of the start of Occupy Wall Street. It was four months after the New York Police Department had evicted the Occupy encampment from the park in a mass of violent arrests.

When the police moved in to the park that night, in formation and with batons, to arrest a massive number of nonviolent protesters, the chaos was terrifying. Bovell claimed that McMillan elbowed him in the face as he attempted to arrest her, and McMillan and her defense team claim that Bovell grabbed her right breast from behind, causing her to instinctively react.

But the jury didn’t hear anything about the police violence that took place in Zuccotti Park that night. They didn’t hear about what happened there on November 15, 2011, when the park was first cleared. The violence experienced by Occupy protesters throughout its entirety was excluded from the courtroom. The narrative that the jury did hear was tightly controlled by what the judge allowed – and Judge Ronald Zweibel consistently ruled that any larger context of what was happening around McMillan at the time of the arrest (let alone Bovell’s own history of violence) was irrelevant to the scope of the trial.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Occupy Wall Street, Political Repression

Confessions of a climate change denier

By Yotam Marom, July 30, 2013. Source: Waging Nonviolence

Mural by the artist Bansky along Regent’s Canal in London. Photo: Flickr/Matt Brown

Mural by the artist Bansky along Regent’s Canal in London. Photo: Flickr/Matt Brown

I suppose it wasn’t really until I was standing on the west side of Hoboken, N.J., in water and oil up to my thigh, that climate change really made sense. And it wasn’t until I was out organizing on New York City’s outer beaches after Hurricane Sandy that I understood my sluggishness on climate justice was nothing short of climate change denial.

It seems like everywhere we turn, we’re being fed the same old climate Armageddon story. You’ve heard it, I’m sure: If we continue to be dependent on fossil fuels, hundreds of gigatons of CO2 will continue to pour into the atmosphere, the temperature will rise above 2 degrees Celsius, and we’re done. There will be a biblical cocktail of hurricanes, floods, famines, wars. It will be terrifying, awful, epic and, yes, as far as any reputable scientist is concerned, those projections are for real.I call this narrative the Armageddon Complex, and my own denial was a product of it. I spun all sorts of stories to keep the climate crisis out of my life, ranging anywhere from “it can’t be that bad” to “if it is that bad, there’s nothing I can do about it,” and “it’s not my role. That’s for climate activists; I’m a different kind of activist.”
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Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Occupy Wall Street, Oil, Politics, Solutions

I pledge allegiance, to resist the pipeline

Note: The below article has some important lessons regarding the differences between strategies and tactics used by “inside,” beltway lobbying organizations (read: Big Green NGOs) and the rebellious, grassroots, frontline earth defenders.  While so-called “dignified” civil disobedience is important, it is equally important that the Big Greens don’t claim all the credit for making the ultimate sacrifice, while grassroots movements around the country are taking serious, not-so-dignified (but effective) direct action.

-The GJEP Team

By George Lakey, March 12, 2013. Source: Waging Nonviolence 

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One of the hardest things in the world is, if I may borrow a biblical phrase, to read the signs of the times.

A new call to action has been issued by leaders of 350.org, Rainforest Action Network, the Hip Hop Caucus and others, to stop President Barack Obama’s possible approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. Signers promise, if necessary, “to engage in serious, dignified, peaceful civil disobedience that could get you arrested.” The call has already attracted over 50,000 signers to a pledge to engage in arrestable actions if the president says yes. I’m a signer. But I wonder whether we could be called to a higher level of action than the current pledge promises and therefore have a greater deterrent effect.

This kind of tactic has been used before. A previous pledge of resistance in the 1980s attracted tens of thousands of signers and probably prevented then-President Ronald Reagan from sending U.S. troops into Nicaragua to overthrow the democratically-elected government there. Preparations were underway in neighboring Honduras to launch a U.S. invasion. The CIA was already implicated in the killing and torturing of Nicaraguans through the Contras, and the U.S. had already broken international law by laying mines in the harbor of Managua. President Reagan wanted all Latin American countries to understand that only governments approved by the U.S. empire would be allowed to stand.

A mass outcry arose in the United States around the pledge organized by my fellowWNV columnist Ken Butigan, Sojourners editor Jim Wallis, American Friends Service Committee staffer David Hartsough and others. It promised major civil disobedience in Senate offices and elsewhere around the country should the commander-in-chief give the invasion order. The 1 percent was aware that their dream of 1,000 nuclear power plants in the U.S. had been foiled by mass direct action at plant sites in the 1970s, only a decade before. Reagan found it prudent not to give the order. (These campaigns can be found in the Global Nonviolent Action Database and provide inspiring reading: search in the title line for “pledge” and “nuclear.”)

The failure of timidity
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Justice, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Occupy Wall Street, Tar Sands

BREAKING NEWS: Federal Reserve hacked by Anonymous

Reuters, February 6, 2013.  Source: The Guardian

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty

The US Federal Reserve bank has confirmed one of its internal websites was broken into by hackers after the hacktivist group Anonymous was claimed to have stolen details of more than 4,000 bank executives.

“The Federal Reserve system is aware that information was obtained by exploiting a temporary vulnerability in a website vendor product,” a spokeswoman for the US central bank said.

“Exposure was fixed shortly after discovery and is no longer an issue. This incident did not affect critical operations of the Federal Reserve system,” the spokeswoman said, adding that all individuals affected by the breach had been contacted.

The admission follows a claim that hackers linked to Anonymous struck the bank on Sunday. The technology news site ZDNet separately reported that Anonymous appeared to have published information said to containing the login information, credentials, internet protocol addresses and contact information of more than 4,000 US bankers.
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The day after Hurricane Sandy: the ongoing human toll

By Nicholas Powers, Nov 18, 2012.  Source: The Indypendent


It was beautiful, the hurricane. On the website, it was a white spiral as if someone unplugged a drain in the sky and the clouds swirled down. It spun over the Caribbean, leaving a trail of dark battered islands in its wake. I watched the tally of the dead rise; in Jamaica, one dead; in Haiti, 54 dead and Cuba, 11 dead.

And yet, I didn’t take it seriously. It’ll peter out. The window-shaking wind seemed like fun. I laughed with Mom over the phone as the sky darkened and rain scraped the street like a Brillo pad. She was going to the evacuation center but had to waterproof things in her apartment first. And then her phone cut off.

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Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, Natural Disasters, Occupy Wall Street, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration

Is Occupy Wall Street Outperforming the Red Cross in Hurricane Relief?

By , Nov. 4, 2012.  Source: Slate.com

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Volunteers inside St. Jacobis Church working with Occupy Sandy’s relief efforts.

In Sunset Park, a predominantly Mexican and Chinese neighborhood in South Brooklyn, St. Jacobi’s Church was one of the go-to hubs for people who wanted to donate food, clothing, and warm blankets or volunteer help other New Yorkers who were still suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.  On Saturday, Ethan Murphy, one of the people heading the kitchen operation, estimated they would prepare and send out 10,000 meals to people in need. Thousands and thousands of pounds of clothes were being sorted, labeled, and distributed, and valuable supplies like heaters and generators were being loaded up in cars to be taken out to the Rockaways, Staten Island and other places in need.  However, this well-oiled operation wasn’t organized by the Red Cross, New York Cares, or some other well-established volunteer group. This massive effort was the handiwork of none other than Occupy Wall Street—the effort is known as Occupy Sandy.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Natural Disasters, Occupy Wall Street, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Solutions

Monsanto’s Roundup is the most used herbicide in NYC

By Anna Lenzer, September 17, 2012.  Source: Mother Jones

Photo: ZeroOne, Lee J. Haywood, AlishaV, Flickr

On Monday morning, a group plans to assemble in New York City’s Times Square to protest Monsanto, one of the largest suppliers of herbicides in the world. New York City might seem like an unlikely place to rail against a company that deals mostly with agriculture. But the protesters don’t have to look much farther than the surrounding streets and parks for their connection to the company.

According to the Department of Health’s report on city pesticide use in 2011, Roundup, the weed-killing key to Monsanto’s agribusiness empire, is the city’s most heavily used liquid herbicide. Roundup is Monsanto’s signature blend of glyphosate—a compound that works by disrupting an enzyme key to plant growth—and other ingredients to destroy weeds.

Monsanto’s Roundup brand alone was applied by the city nearly 500 times last year—about a dozen bathtubs’ worth in undiluted form, according to DOH’s annual pesticide figures—mostly via the Roundup Ultra formulation, a more concentrated version of the original. The Parks Department, responsible for most of the city’s Roundup use, declined to answer my request for a description of where it uses Roundup and how much, though did confirm its use in iconic locations like Central, Prospect, and Riverside parks. Roundup applications are done “at various locations throughout the city system under careful supervision and in very limited quantities,” was the extent of Parks’ disclosure on the subject.

Parks also declined my request for a sample of the warning sign or safety protocols that it posts around areas where Roundup is sprayed, though signs from previous years noted that Roundup applications, at sites like Central Park’s Turtle Pond and Metropolitan Museum grounds, were done at 4 a.m. Parks didn’t answer my question about how long it warns passers-by away from sprayed areas.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Industrial agriculture, Occupy Wall Street

Breaking News: Bangkok, UN Climate negotiations move towards burning the planet

September 18, 2012.  Source: La Via Campesina

La Via Campesina and Asian social movements call for an end to financial speculation on food and climate as UN Climate negotiations move towards burning the planet.

(JAKARTA) Earlier this month in Bangkok, Thailand, a round of climate talks concluded under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC declared it a success and hailed concrete progress on the road to the 18th Conference of Parties (COP) in Doha, Qatar this December 2012. The progress they boast of is moving towards an agreement that will replace the Kyoto Protocol and will come into effect by 2020. La Via Campesina, an international movement of peasants, small- and medium-sized producers, landless, women farmers, indigenous people, rural youth migrants and agricultural workers, believes that this proposed agreement will not only be too late, it will also be too little as it has severely insufficient emission reduction targets and uses market mechanisms that aim to cheat nature not help it.

Official estimates from the UN itself show that even if all countries delivered on their pledges and did not use offset mechanisms and loopholes, this would still lead to a temperature increase of between 2.5 to 5 degrees Celsius before the end of the century. And science has indicated that in order to avoid climate chaos, a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius should not be breachedwhile movements have called for a maximum of 1 degree
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Filed under BREAKING NEWS, Climate Change, Climate Justice, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Green Economy, Indigenous Peoples, Occupy Wall Street, REDD