Occupy Wall Street
OWS NYC General Assembly
OWS Emails: September - November 2011
OWS December 2011 Bank Statement, Amalgamated Bank
2/17/2012 OWS Reform meeting minutes regarding December bank statement
Occupy World Map
Occupied Wall Street Journal
The 99% Spring
Occupy LA supports Chris Dorner
Global Change 15.10.2011
Occupy Los Angeles
Occupy San Francisco
List of Demands:
The OWS General Assembly has declared no official demands...
Basic demands sanctioned by OWS and OccupyWallStreet.org (10/19/2011):
*End the tyranny of the 1%
*End corrupt banking systems
*End US wars
*Break up the "too big to fail" financial companies
*End excessive wall street executive bonuses
"...tens of thousands of us marched into the times square, the neon heart of consumerism, demanding economic justice."
Specific demands supported by OWS (10/22/2011):
*End NYPD policy of Stop and Frisk
Proposed non-GA-sanctioned list of demands from OccupyWallStreet.org (9/25/2011):
Demand One: Restoration of the living wage. Raise the minimum wage to twenty dollars an hour. This demand can only be met by re-imposing trade tariffs on all imported goods.
Demand Two: Institute a universal single payer healthcare system. All private insurers must be banned from the healthcare market.
Demand Three: Guaranteed living wage income regardless of employment.
Demand Four: Free college education.
Demand Five: Bring the fossil fuel economy to an end.
Demand Six: One trillion dollars in infrastructure spending now.
Demand Seven: One trillion dollars in ecological restoration.
Demand Eight: Racial and gender equal rights amendment.
Demand Nine: Open all borders to migration.
Demand Ten: Bring American elections up to international standards.
Demand Eleven: Immediate across the board debt forgiveness for all.
Demand Twelve: Outlaw all credit reporting agencies.
Demand Thirteen: Allow all workers to have a union represent them in collective bargaining.
"These demands will create so many jobs it will be completely impossible to fill them without an open borders policy."
The 99 Percent Decleration (10/7/2011): (OWS claims no affiliation)
1. Ban on all private contributions of money and gifts, to all politicians in federal office to be replaced by the fair and equal public financing of all federal political campaigns.
2. Reversal of the "Citizens United" case by the Supreme Court, which equates the payment of money to politicians with free speech.
3. Prohibiting all federal public officials and their immediate family members from EVER being employed by any corporation they regulate while in office and/or holding any stock or shares in any corporation they regulate while in office until a full 5 years after their term is completed.
4. A complete lifetime ban on accepting all gifts, services, money, directly or indirectly, to any federal officials or their immediate family members, from any entity that the public official was charged to regulate while in office.
5. A complete reformation of the United States Tax Code to require ALL citizens to pay a fair share of a progressive, graduated income tax by eliminating loopholes, unfair tax breaks, exemptions and deductions, subsidies and ending all other methods of evading taxes.
6. Medicare for all American citizens or another single-payer healthcare system. The Medicaid program, will be eliminated except for the purpose of providing emergency room care to indigent non-citizens who will not be covered by the single-payer program.
7. Give the Environmental Protection Agency expanded powers to shut down any entities that damage the environment and/or criminally prosecute individuals who damage the environment.
8. Reduce the national debt to a sustainable percentage of GDP by 2020. Reduction of the national debt to be achieved by BOTH a cut in spending to corporations engaged in perpetual war for profit, the "healthcare" industry, the pharmaceutical industry and all other sectors that use the federal budget as their income stream AND a truly progressive income tax code that does not allow the wealthy and corporations to evade taxes through excessive deductions, subsidies and loopholes.
9. Passage of a comprehensive job act to employ our citizens in jobs that are available with specialized training and by putting People to work now by repairing America's crumbling infrastructure. We also recommend the establishment of an online international job exchange to match employers with skilled workers or employers willing to train workers in 21st century skills.
10. Student loan debt relief. Payment and interest on these debts should be deferred for periods of unemployment and the principal on these loans reduced using a corporate tax surcharge.
11. Immediate passage of the Dream Act and comprehensive immigration and border security reform.
12. Recalling all military personnel at all non-essential bases and limiting the large scale deployment of military forces to instances where Congressional approval has been granted to counter the Military Industrial Complex's goal of perpetual war for profit.
13. Mandating new educational goals to train the American public to perform jobs in a 21st Century economy, particularly in the areas of technology and green energy, taking into consideration the redundancy caused by technology and the inexpensive cost of labor in China, India and other countries and paying our teachers a competitive salary commensurate with the salaries of employees in the private sector with similar skills.
14. Offering tax incentives to businesses to remain in the United States and hire its citizens rather than outsource jobs and reconstruct the manufacturing capacity of the United States. Reinstitution of the Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps or a similar emergency governmental agency tasked with creating new public works projects to provide jobs to the 46 million People living in poverty, the 9.1% unemployed and 10% underemployed.
15. Immediate legislation to encourage China and our other trading partners to end currency manipulation and reduce the trade deficit.
16. Immediate reenactment of the Glass-Steagall Act and increased regulation of Wall Street and the commencement of a Justice Department criminal investigations into the Securities and Banking industries practices that led to the collapse of markets.
17. Adoption of a plan similar to President Clinton’s proposal to end the mortgage crisis and instead of the Federal Reserve continuing to lower interest rates for loans to banks who are refusing to loan to small businesses and consumers, the Federal Reserve shall buy all underwater or foreclosed mortgages and refinance these debts at 1% or less to be managed by the newly established Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
18. An immediate one year freeze on all foreclosures to be reviewed by an independent foreclosure task force appointed by Congress and the Executive Branch.
19. Require free air time and public campaign finances to all candidates who obtain sufficient petition signatures and/or votes to participate in the primaries and/or electoral process, to shorten the campaign season and to allow voting on weekends and holidays.
20. An immediate withdrawal of all troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and a substantial increase in the amount of funding needed for veteran job placement and the treatment of the physical and emotional injuries sustained by veterans in these wars. Our veterans are committing suicide at an unprecedented rate and we must help now.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that IF the PETITION OF GRIEVANCES approved by the 870 Delegates of the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY in consultation with the PEOPLE, is not acted upon by Congress, the President, and Supreme Court, to the satisfaction of the Delegates of the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY, said Delegates shall organize a THIRD, COMPLETELY NON-PARTISAN, INDEPENDENT POLITICAL PARTY to run candidates for every available Congressional seat in the mid-term election of 2014 and again in 2016 until all vestiges of the existing corrupt corporatocracy have been removed by the ballot box.
Intellectuals / Activists:
Deepak Chopra (worth $80 M)
Frances Fox Piven
George Soros (worth $22 B)
ACCE - Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment
AGJ - Alliance for Global Justice
AMP - American Muslims for Palestine
Arab-American Association of New York
Arab Muslim American Foundation
American Nazi Party
Center for American Progress
Communist Party USA
Campaign for America's Future
CAIR - Counsel on American Islamic Relations
Community Council for the Homeless
Connecticut Working Families Party
Democracy for America
Grassroots Global Justice Alliance
International Socialist Organization
Jobs with Justice
Marxist Student Union
National Peoples Action
NY Communities for Change (ACORN)
Open Society Foundation
PUSH - People United for Sustainable Housing
Rebuild the Dream
Revolutionary Communist Party
Socialist Party USA
Stop the Machine
Strong Economy for All
Veterans for Peace
Workers World Party
Working Families Party
AFL-CIO - American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations
AFSCME - American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
American Federation of Teachers
Berkeley Federation of Teachers
Chicago Teachers Union
CWA - Communications Workers of America
Industrial Workers of the World
International Longshore and Warehouse Union
Laborers' International Union of North America
LA Unified School District
National Domestic Workers Alliance
National Lawyers Guild
National Nurses United
New York Metro Area Postal Union
Oakland Teachers Union
Professional Staff Congress of CUNY
Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union
SEIU - Service Employees International Union
TWU - Transport Workers Union
UAW - United Auto Workers
United Electrical Workers Union
UFT - United Federation of Teachers
United Steel Workers International
Writers Guild of America, East
Linda Levy, CEO of the Lower East Side People's Federal Credit Union
Lisa Guido of Occupy Wall Street Screenprinting Lab ($8,564 Dec 2011)
Zak Solomon Miller, OWS "employee" ($7,400 Dec 13, 2011 )
Occupy Farms ($15,000 Dec 21, 2011)
Pete Dutro & Brad Spitzer
Friends of Liberty Park
Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union
Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream
Kathy Bates (worth $32 M)
Roseanne Barr (worth $80 M)
Alec Baldwin (worth $65 M)
Jane Fonda (worth $120 M)
Danny Glover (worth $20 M)
Whoopi Goldberg (worth $45 M)
Anne Hathaway (worth $15 M)
Michael Moore (worth $50 M)
Bill Maher (worth $23 M)
Yoko Ono (worth $495 M)
Keith Olbermann (worth $35 M)
Sean Penn (worth $120 M)
Tim Robbins (worth $45 M)
Mark Ruffalo (worth $10 M)
Susan Sarandon (worth $50 M)
Russell Simmons (worth $325 M)
Kevin Spacey (worth $50 M)
Bruce Springsteen (worth $200 M)
Kanye West (worth $70 M)
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis
former Labor Secretary Robert Reich
Obama’s chief political advisor David Plouffe
White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest
David Axelrod, chief campaign strategist for Obama 2012
ex-POTUS Jimmy Carter
ex-VP Al Gore (worth $100 M)
ex-Gov. Howard Dean (VT)
DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL)
Sen. Ben Cardin (MD)
Sen. Rosa DeLauro (CT)
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (MD)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT)
Sen. candidate Elizabeth Warren (MA)
ex-Sen. Russ Feingold (WI)
Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR)
Rep. Donna Edwards (MD)
Rep. Keith Ellison (MN)
Rep. Barney Frank (MA) (worth $1.9 M)
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (IL)
Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ)
Rep. Steve Israel (NY)
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (OH)
Rep. John Larson (CT)
Rep. Barbara Lee (CA)
Rep. John Lewis (GA)
Rep. George Miller (CA)
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (NY)
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (CA) (worth $36 M)
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CO)
Rep. Charlie Rangel (NY)
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL)
Rep. Louise Slaughter (NY)
Rep. Maxine Waters (CA) (worth $7 M)
Rep. Peter Welch (VT)
ex-Rep. Alan Grayson (FL) (worth $31 M)
DC Mayor Vincent C. Gray
Congressional Progressive Caucus
DNC - Democratic National Committee
DCCC - Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
Venezuela President Hugo Chavez
Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Chinese Foreign Minister Liu Weimin
Occupy Wall Street 1979; Clip from the film Early Warnings documenting the 1979 Wall Street sit-in:
Morgan Housel: Occupy Wall Street protesters and the global 1%:
No one's hardship should be belittled. Becoming unemployed or losing a home aren't just financial problems. They're social and emotional problems that strike at people's sense of being.
But things always need to be kept in perspective.
The recent Occupy Wall Street protests have aimed their message at the income disparity between the 1% richest Americans and the rest of the country. But what happens when you expand that and look at the 1% richest of the entire world? Some really interesting numbers emerge.
In America, the top 1% earn more than $380,000 per year. We are, however, among the richest nations on Earth. How much do you need to earn to be among the top 1% of the world?
That was the finding World Bank economist Branko Milanovic presented in his 2010 book The Haves and the Have-Nots. Going down the distribution ladder may be just as surprising. To be in the top half of the globe, you need to earn just $1,225 a year. For the top 20%, it's $5,000 per year. Enter the top 10% with $12,000 a year. To be included in the top 0.1% requires an annual income of $70,000.
Of course, goods and services cost different amounts in different countries. These numbers only apply to those living in the U.S. To adjust for purchasing power parity, those living in Western Europe should discount their dollar-denominated incomes by 10%-20%, Milanovic says. Those in China and Africa should increase their incomes by 2.5-fold. India, by threefold.
The global distribution figures may seem incomprehensibly low, but consider a couple of statistics you're likely familiar with: According to the U.N., "Nearly half the world's population, 2.8 billion people, earn less than $2 a day." According to the World Bank, 95% of those living in the developing world earn less than $10 a day.
Those numbers are so shocking that you might only think about them in the abstract. But when you consider them in the context of the entire globe, including yourself, the skewing effects they have on the distribution of income is simply massive. It means that Americans we consider poor are among some of the world's most well-off. As Milanovic notes, "the poorest [5%] of Americans are better off than more than two-thirds of the world population." Furthermore, "only about 3 percent of the Indian population have incomes higher than the bottom (the very poorest) U.S. percentile."
In short, most of those protesting in the Occupy Wall Street movement would be considered wealthy -- perhaps extraordinarily wealthy -- by much of the world. Many of those protesting the 1% are, ironically, the 1%.
As author Matt Ridley put it, "Today, of Americans officially designated as 'poor,' 99 percent have electricity, running water, flush toilets, and a refrigerator; 95 percent have a television, 88 percent a telephone, 71 percent a car and 70 percent air conditioning. Cornelius Vanderbilt had none of these." Nor does much of the world.
Morgan Housel: Occupy Wall Street, Bank Transfer Day, Credit Unions:
[Saturday 11/5/2011 was] Bank Transfer Day, when a group of unknown thousands plan on transferring their money from for-profit banks to local credit unions in one quick push.
One of the surprising things in the three years since the bank bailouts is that credit unions didn't clean up, as many expected they would. Total loans owned by credit unions have actually declined 4% since 2008.
If the goal is to right the economy so it can create jobs, I'm not sure an organized bank run is the answer. But in terms of the banking services most people need, more would probably be better off at local credit unions.
Yet the movement isn't just about ditching banks to avoid fees. Part of it seems to be about teaching them a lesson -- if you mistreat consumers, they will vote with their feet and take their money elsewhere.
Ironically, banks might be just fine with that. They may even want you to take your money elsewhere.
Ever since the financial crisis, and particularly over the past six months, banks have been inundated with deposits. Since 2010, checkable deposits at U.S. banks have surged 45%, and total deposits including savings accounts are now at an all-time high of nearly $10 trillion.
That deposit growth would normally be welcomed. Banks could lend the money out and earn a nice interest spread, increasing profits.
Today, it's a little different. The deposit surge has come at the same time loan demand has dropped (at least from creditworthy borrowers), and the net interest margin -- the difference between what banks pay out in interest costs and what they earn in interest charged on loans -- has shrunk. That's been accentuated over the past few months as the Federal Reserve lowered long-term interest rates in a campaign called Operation Twist. Banks have a growing flood of cash from deposits, but fewer options to profitably invest that cash.
Take Wells Fargo: The bank's net interest margin fell in the most recent quarter. Behind the drop, the bank said on a conference call:
"We ... generated exceptionally strong deposit growth with balances up $41.8 billion, driven by a flight to quality and new account growth. This strong deposit growth was the primary driver behind the decline in the [net interest margin] this quarter..."
As The New York Times explained, "Of the $41.8 billion of deposits that Wells Fargo collected in the third quarter, only about $8.2 billion was earmarked to finance new loans." In other words, deposits increased far faster than the bank could lend them out. Since it costs banks money to hold deposits -- even if they don't pay you interest, there are FDIC fees and other overhead costs -- the inability to make new loans chews into profits.
Wells isn't alone. This summer, Bank of New York Mellon actually started charging institutional clients fees on large deposit balances to discourage further growth. Deposits were flooding in at levels it simply couldn't keep up with as clients sought "a safe-haven in light of the global interest rate and credit environment," it said. JPMorgan Chase and US Bancorp are doing something similar, charging small-business customers a portion of FDIC fees to offset the cost of holding deposits. In a letter to shareholders, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon once described the large flood of money coming in during the financial crisis by stating, "We barely knew what to do with it."
Consider another quote from the Times:
"Even some community banks, vaunted for their little-guy orientation, no longer seem to mind if you take your money somewhere else."
At Hyde Park Savings Bank, management is actively shooing small customers away, dropping interest rates on CDs in an attempt to "encourage less-profitable customers to move on," according to the Times. "It's very hard for us to take deposits and make any meaningful spread," the bank's CEO said.
Even before interest rates plunged, more than half of all checking accounts were unprofitable, according to a report by Celent. Add in new regulations that restrict banks' ability to earn interchange fees and clamp down on overdraft charges, and banks may indeed be happy to see some retail customers go, especially now that Bank of America and others have decided to drop plans to charge monthly fees for debit card usage.
Now, combine all of this with the Bank Transfer Day's mission, and an interesting possibility emerges: Everyone might end up better off. Consumers might switch to credit unions where they get better service and lower fees, and for-profit banks might stem some of the rampant deposit growth and unprofitable customers that have been crimping profits. If only more protests could work this well.
Color Coded Liberalism; Occupy Wall Street:
Woe is Me
Blame the System
I am so lucky that I have been able to create art and music and fulfill my passions through my job for the past 11 years.
But I'm stupid enough to have put all my eggs in one basket. It is now the only thing I can do to make money.
I'm 33 years old and I can't make coffee. I don't know how to use Excel, or bartend, or wait tables, and I'm officially too old to join the police force. I've lost the confidence to go back to school and feel stressed out about impending debt when I think about further education for even one second.
I have several jobs within the music industry as of now: bands, DJing, remixing and even writing music for other artists.
I'm a workaholic and have my hands in a bunch of different places. But, all these jobs have unstable incomes.
I don't get a salary; I don't know how much money I will make next month, next year or five years from now. I don't have health insurance. And I live with the stress of not knowing, not planning and not understanding whether or not I will ever be able to reach my goals of having a family and feeling safe financially. When I say "safe," I mean safe. I mean basics. I mean health insurance that is good enough for me to take care of myself, not just if I need a $10,000-dollar, life-threatening procedure. I mean dental care. I mean saving money in a retirement fund so that I can take care of myself when I'm 80 years old. Clearly, there is a difference between survival and luxury.
Like so many teenagers, I believed in the "American Dream," that I could move to New York from the Midwest and become an artist. I would achieve both fame and success, and I would never have to think about money. The first half was true. I made art and lived activism, and I achieved amazing amounts of success that I feel incredibly proud of.
The second half, not so much. I have been able to live well, eat well, invest in my arts and make my own schedule, but I forgot to save money and think about my future.
This summer I tried to rent an apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The process sent me into an emotional crisis and awakened me into a whole new realization of our economy, the music industry at large and, more specifically, what it means to be a queer artist in 2011.
I spent days trolling around Williamsburg, looking at shitty apartments with cockroaches lining the doorways, fighting neighbors, rats in the ceiling, bedbugs infesting the linoleum floors, fifth-floor walk-ups and cat-pee-soaked carpets.
The rent was exorbitant, availability was scarce, and I was turned down by two different landlords for being "freelance."
To be honest, I don't blame them. Not only am I freelance, but I'm lesbian freelance. Double whammy.
What was the reason they turned me down? Because it was easier to rent to a rich, trust-fund, straight-guy banker who wants to live in the coolest borough in the world? Because when he met me he saw a tattooed gender outlaw who makes "queer electronic punk music" and isn't sure when the next check is going to come in? Yeah, I don't blame him. He doesn't give a shit about how kids email me all the time thanking me for keeping them from committing suicide. It's not part of his capitalist business practice.
I surround myself with amazing and talented people, people who have made it in every sense of those words. They buy apartments, invest in their futures successfully, have children, save money. How do they do it? How can I keep up with them?
So I have to ask myself: where did I go wrong? And I can only guess that the answer lies in a combinations of three things:
1) my family is not rich,
2) I am a queer woman
3) I am trying so desperately to keep up with my peers that I am living beyond my means.
And as I am a productive, workaholic, processing lesbian, I am the only one responsible for change and growth and my own future. So I consider:
1.My family will never be rich; in fact, as they get older, they will use up their supply, perhaps even leaving me with their debts. Now, don't get me wrong, I am so lucky to have the incredible health and support of every member of my family. I never forget how blessed I am to have such an incredible group of people in my life. In fact, our mutual understanding about how frustrating it can be to try to support yourself with your art is something we can all relate to as a family. And our own personal class struggles are not insular but truly a family affair. Now I understand why they supported my dreams but continually suggested having other interests or skills. My dad, a wood sculptor, turned sand and gravel miner. And my mother, a silversmith, turned elementary-school art teacher.
2.I will always be a queer woman, a woman who makes 77 cents to the man's dollar, and a queer who makes 23 percent less than the heterosexual. Does that mean that I make 54 cents to the straight male dollar? Wow.
3.OK, so here's the emotional part: I'm trying to keep up with artists who have had a similar amount of success as I have had, buying expensive meals, expensive jeans, expensive drinks, and trying my hardest to appear to be making the same amount of money as they are. I'm not them, for whatever above-mentioned reasons, but I just can't pretend anymore. This is my coming out. I'm done feeling bad about myself. I wish I could afford a personal meeting with Suze Orman. She's a lesbian. Maybe she could help me reestablish my financial security.
I'm so lucky to have gained so much from my life and my amazing career, but I'm ready to feel secure. I'm ready to build my future and save money so that I can have a family, so that I can enjoy making art and not trying to create a product out of it, so that I can spend more time being present and less time being a workaholic, frantically searching for the profitable answer. And if I need to, I'm ready to get a job, go to work in the morning, get a paycheck once a week, go to the dentist, get a check-up, bottom out to a boss and appreciate music without being worried that I can't keep up.
We live in a society where people equate success with money. They see me on the pages of Vogue. They see me playing to an adoring crowd. They see me flying to gigs all across the world. And I'm not sure what people imagine, but I'm struggling, too.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have realized how many other artists and musicians are in my position, people who are proud of their success but feel unable to continue, based on financial strain. Artists such as Spank Rock, Das Racist and the Drums have featured lyrics on their new records about struggling financially.My band MEN put out a record in February with similar tones.
I know the economy is failing, but I think it is important to remember that it is failing for everyone. Even the people you think might have money.
So here we go. Another reason to come together.
Another reason to occupy Wall Street.
Another reason for change.
-10/5/2011 Huffington Post article by JD Samson
Occupation Graduation, Rema Rahman, AP, College Graduates, Student Debt, Endowments, Tuition, Ben Cohen, Adam Nelson:
[Average Tuition & Fees for the five schools being protested by their students: $38,000 a year]
[Total Enowments for these schools: $4,299,000,000]
Traditionally, college graduation caps bear messages to Mom or shoutouts to professors and friends. But this year, some students are protesting their looming debt at commencement by using their hats to show the amount in loans they owe.
At the University of Colorado in Boulder [Endowment $665 M, Tuition $32 K] on Friday, Laila Amerman, who attended the ceremony and helped organize the protest on campus, said about 25 students also sported inflatable ball and chains in addition to the decorated caps. The effort is in part to bring attention to rising student loan debt, which recently surpassed credit card and auto loan debt with some estimates putting the total at $1 trillion.
Organizers — which include Ben & Jerry's co-founder Ben Cohen [Net Worth over $450 M] — say it's a way to silently protest the rising costs of education without interrupting the ceremony for others and their families.
The movement, dubbed Occupy Graduation, is shipping plastic ball and chains to at least six universities around the country including San Francisco State [Endowment $49 M, Tuition 36 K], Hunter College in New York City [Endowment $54 M, Tuition $22 K], George Washington University [Endowment $1.33 B, Tuition $59 K] and the University of North Carolina [Endowment $2.2 B, Tuition $41 K]. Of the 200 inflatable ball and chains that have been shipped so far, about 50 were sent to Colorado.
Cohen — who has offered support to the Occupy movement — said he was approached with the idea to offer inflatable ball and chains to college graduates about a month ago. It came from Adam Nelson [Married to founder and owner of Chocolate Bar], who works for a public relations firm that offered pro-bono public relations services in Occupy Wall Street's early days and who shared his own struggle with student loans.
Soon after, Cohen's assistant began looking on the Internet to order shipments of the ball and chain to send out to customers. When they didn't find enough of them to buy, Cohen's office began crafting their own.
The kits include black beach balls, inflatable chains and duct tape. A 10-pack sells for $25.
The effectiveness of the silent protest with regard to student loan debt has yet to be seen. Cohen believes "this message and this symbol is really gathering steam in terms of this issue."
Cohen, however, doesn't share the same personal struggle with paying back student debt.
"I dropped out of a few colleges," Cohen said.
5/11/12 AP article by Rema Rahman
#OWS Occupy Wall Street, Andrew Katz, Murphy & Zucker, Occupy Congress 2012:
"Am I really going to have to be the one to fucking do this?" Daniel Murphy asked. It was January 17 and the 25-year-old fringe member of Occupy Wall Street was seated in the House Visitor's Gallery on the third floor of the U.S. Capitol, gawking as hundreds of U.S. Representatives filed into the Chamber that evening to elect a new sergeant-at-arms. The day marked the opener of the second session of the 112th Congress and the four-month anniversary of the initial occupation of Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan. Murphy turned to the young woman seated next to him -- a protester from a college in New Jersey -- then looked over his shoulder to the three guys a few rows back. He knew none of them would have enough courage to do it.
A guard standing behind him had just scolded a young congressional page for carrying a packet of photos matching politicians with their names. What Murphy hoped to do was far more significant.
Hours earlier, he had grabbed two Gallery passes from the office of his former boss, Representative Pete Stark of California.
The rules for entry were clear: no reading, no writing, no electronic devices. Murphy didn't need any of it. He intended to interrupt the vote by shouting "mic check" -- the movement's trademark means for disruption -- and then sailing through an impassioned speech about how the country's widespread economic disparities are rooted in politically motivated corporate greed...
House Speaker John Boehner entered the Chamber, sauntered to the podium, and struck his gavel, calling the floor to order...
Murphy looked at Boehner as if he were everything that was wrong with America. If Boehner had looked up at Murphy, a young, white troublemaker dressed all in black, he might have thought the same...
Minutes later, Murphy and the young woman stood up and walked out... The new sergeant-at-arms was sworn in soon after and the politicians moved on without realizing that Murphy and the others had ever been there...
At 5:30 p.m. on January 16, Ben Zucker was in full planning mode. Zucker is a key organizer within Occupy DC in McPherson Square Park, which at that time was the movement's largest and longest-running encampment, and Occupy Congress was his baby. Organizers had put out the call for thousands of supporters to come greet their elected officials and raise the public's awareness of corporate influence in government...
this was a chance for a fractured Occupy Wall Street to win back mainstream America.
"We are protesting the influence of the 'one percent' on our society and no better way to do it than take it right to the doorsteps of power," Zucker said, wide-eyed and beaming...
At 23, Zucker has the organizing gene. He's a fresh graduate of Tulane University, where he
studied public health to get a foot in the door of social justice work,
and his family lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, just inside the Beltway. He once spent a semester running a health program in Senegal, and upon his return,
he got involved with a protest by dining services workers. Zucker was hooked after first swinging by McPherson in early October...
That's a sharp contrast with Murphy, a Long Beach native who earned his high school diploma in 2004 but never graduated. At 17, he was sentenced to more than two years in the California Youth Authority for stabbing three people at a coffee shop after his friend was punched.
Murphy was released in February 2006, then enrolled at a local college and found work with United Parcel Service. Two years later, after transferring to another university, he landed an internship through the
Panetta Institute for Public Policy in Representative Stark's congressional office.
It was a thankless position that allowed him to walk constituents through marble hallways during the day and then liven up with hotel parties at night...
[Murphy] first heard about Occupy Wall Street last fall when he was with his then-longtime girlfriend on Utila, the third-largest Bay Island off the coast of Honduras...
Murphy booked two tickets to New York and arrived on November 29.
His views had gradually become more extreme, and by the time Occupy Wall Street rolled around, he was like a live grenade with the trigger half-pulled, waiting to be set off.
The evening of January 16, Zucker and a small group walked down to the Washington Monument for a General Assembly, where more than 400 supporters from occupations around the country were crowding around a team of facilitators to discuss logistics for Occupy Congress. He had spent weeks coordinating with local authorities, planning activities, and arranging donated supplies for the newcomers. The crowd listened intently as he spoke, and seemed hopeful the next day would redefine the movement...
Murphy disagreed with the call for nonviolence...
Occupy Congress was pointless, he said, lighting a cigarette. By taking a pacifist approach, Occupy Wall Street would join past movements that lost influence after choosing speech over confrontation...
"I don't see any benefit from anything that's ever happened in the past. I think it's only served to just reaffirm the system." In Murphy's view, all systems are bound to fail; he'd rather scrap the economy and the government altogether and move back to primitivism.
He recognizes that Occupy Wall Street is itself a system, but says he joined because it was the first real sign that his vision could one day become reality...
Fewer than 200 supporters were on the West Lawn of the Capitol at 9 a.m. to kick off Occupy Congress...
Within minutes, there was a dispute with cops: The permit didn't include use of the pavement in front of the Capitol and a large swath of officers were attempting to clear it...
About 2,000 protesters of the anticipated 5,000 actually showed up -- a real drop in the bucket for Washington standards. Supporters lined the sides, with some standing on the cement barriers to clamor for a better view and shout
"Fuck the police!"
They watched as daredevils played "red rover" by dashing across to the other side and escaping the officers' grasp.
Murphy darted once and wanted to do it again. He was giddy, like a kid who had just gotten away with disobeying his parents.
"You think I can make it?" he asked. No chance. Fearing arrest, he stood down.
"I get really, really fucking jittery when it comes to doing illegal stuff,"
he'd said the night before. "Like, I can do it, but all I think about is going back to jail, and I really do not like being in jail."...
After spending four hours outside on what felt like the coldest day of the year, and after being forced to move by police and rain, the group had been whittled down to one facilitator, a minutes-taker, a few livestreamers, and a dozen supporters...
Poor attendance had become too routine and self-destructive...
[Two days later] as [Murphy] spoke, a man to his right, Tim, crossed his arms above his head, which signaled a "block," and passionately argued against the motion. A block is used when a protester is so ethically opposed to a proposal that he or she would consider leaving the movement if it is passed.
"We don't have a structure, nationally, that we can actually use direct democracy to make events like this happen yet," Tim told the crowd... Others raised their hands and wiggled their fingers upward, an indication of agreement... the block stood and it was voted down. Murphy smirked.
Tim wasn't wrong. Winter had cut attendance of the meetings to the point where a few dozen protesters were representing the interests of thousands...
Zucker and a small group from Occupy DC went into Longworth House Office Building, instead, to meet with their representatives.
At the first stop, the office of Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, two staffers met the protesters and told them the congressman was unavailable, but gladly listened to their concerns. Zucker brought up campaign contributions while another sat down to pen Hoyer a note. The group then went next door to Representative Chris Van Hollen's office, where they asked a college-aged man at the front desk to extend a "Thanks!" to the congressman for his "No" vote on the National Defense Authorization Act, which had passed anyway. The protesters then decided to find the Rayburn office of Representative Darrell Issa, a main instigator of the investigation into why Occupy DC was allowed to live on federal property for so long. (The National Park Service would finally evict the encampment on February 4.)
Each time they asked to speak with a representative, staffers told the group they were not aware of their boss' current locations. The protesters didn't seem to realize they were being avoided. On the way out, they found Representative Louie Gohmert's office, where an earlier group had been told he would not come out to acknowledge them. This delegation had something else in mind. They crowded into the tiny office with one purpose: a loud disruption that Gohmert would overhear. Seconds after shuffling in, a young, short woman with dyed orange hair and a purple bandanna around her neck screamed "mic check!" and demanded an explanation for his "Yes" vote on NDAA. One staffer politely asked the group to leave as another called for security. The protesters chanted "We. Are. The 99 Percent!" as they left and relished in their simple win...
Three days later, Murphy moved up to "Occupy Farms" in East Calais, Vermont, outside Montpelier, in search of a new scene and new people...
Just as millions of Americans banked on Obama's "Change You Can Believe In" rhetoric four years ago and thought he could erase eight years of damage overnight, some people thought Occupy Wall Street could create instant change...
The protesters' immediate impact is undeniable... But the movement's actions over the next month and a half are viewed as key for its survival ahead of the General Strike on May 1 and G-8 and NATO summits later that month...
A movement based on warm weather, overtaking privately owned public spaces, and battling police isn't sustainable; some have realized this. One method that supporters are trying out is more localized organizing...
Zucker is planning smaller efforts around Washington, too, and acknowledged that regaining the momentum Occupy Wall Street had in October will be crucial to its future...
Murphy has a different plan. In April, he's heading out to Oakland; protesters there know how to have a good time and aren't afraid of a little confrontation. But despite his frustrations, he thinks
Occupy Wall Street is perfect right now -- not too organized, not too destructive.
"It's above ground, it's legal, it's nonviolent.
It's the ideal front organization for a revolutionary movement,"
he said. "You can filter in money to this place, you can get volunteers, you can start vetting people to make sure they're not cops, all in a very above-ground manner."
He won't go into details, but he's brainstorming. Something along the lines of a group, conceivably within Occupy Wall Street, organizing itself for actual regime change and using the demonstrations as a disguise.
But should the movement sputter out, Murphy said he'd reluctantly find a college in New York and finish the last few credits of his political science degree, then get a job. He would again become part of the system that he intends to destroy. He would have no choice.
Nick Schulz: 3 Myths of Income Inequality as 3 Inconvenient Truths for Occupy Wall Street:
Occupy Wall Street supporters are claiming credit for at least one political accomplishment: elevating the issue of income inequality to the top of the national conversation.
The Occupiers are right about American incomes: They've definitely grown more unequal. But this fact presents three inconvenient truths for the Occupy Wall Street movement.
So why are earners at the top doing so well lately? Two forces — globalization and advanced technology — have combined to heap enormous rewards on the top of the income distribution.
Expanding global markets for financial services mean the rewards for those at the top of the Wall Street heap are much larger than they were a generation or two ago. The same goes for gigantic worldwide markets for technology products such as software and computers, and entertainment goods such as music and movies.
What makes this truth inconvenient is that the proposed remedy — tax these haves and redistribute that income to the have-nots — has an upper boundary. Indeed, blue states such as California and New York, where these superstar effects are most pronounced, are already trying to remedy inequality with some of the highest state income taxes in the country, and they have bumped up against the limits of economic reality.
It's telling that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been a staunch critic of new tax increases, including on the wealthy, saying recently that "you are kidding yourself if you think you can be one of the highest-taxed states in the nation, have a reputation for being anti-business — and have a rosy economic future."
What about at the lower end of the income distribution? Here too, some hard truths complicate matters for liberal supporters of the Occupy movement.
Consider immigration. There is little doubt that adding lots of unskilled immigrants to the labor pool depresses the wages of the native born at the low end of the income distribution.
Liberal supporters of Occupy Wall Street, many of whom have expressed solidarity with undocumented workers, must reconcile the fact that their embrace of large-scale immigration of unskilled workers is a driver of the inequality they denounce.
A third dynamic widening income disparities is in some ways the most inconvenient of all: the collapse of intact families. The explosion of out-of-wedlock births and of children living outside of two-parent households has widened economic disparities of all kinds, including income.
The reason is straightforward. The role that human and social capital plays in helping a person generate income in an advanced economy has increased over the last half a century. And over that same time, the primary institution for inculcating human and social capital has badly weakened.
Social scientists routinely find that individuals raised in intact families are generally better equipped to thrive in the economy. Today's 99% is teeming with tens of millions of Americans who were not raised in a stable home environment, and their earnings potential is compromised as a result.
The problem of family breakdown doesn't lend itself to easy fixes. And its cultural roots run quite deep at this point. But it's a safe bet that in the several months they occupied Zuccotti Park and other public spaces, not one new idea was raised by Occupiers that would help arrest this driver of increasing income inequality.
-excerpts from 11/30/2011 Los Angeles Times article
#OWS Occupy Wall Street & George Orwell's Animal Farm, Occupiers & Sheep, "Mic Check" & "Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad":
At the Meetings Snowball often won over the majority by his brilliant speeches, but Napoleon was better at canvassing support for himself in between times. He was especially successful with the sheep. Of late the sheep had taken to bleating "Four legs good, two legs bad" both in and out of season, and they often interrupted the Meeting with this. It was noticed that they were especially liable to break into "Four legs good, two legs bad" at crucial moments in Snowball's speeches.
When the animals had assembled in the big barn, Snowball stood up and, though occasionally interrupted by bleating from the sheep, set forth his reasons for advocating the building of the windmill. Then Napoleon stood up to reply. He said very quietly that the windmill was nonsense and that he advised nobody to vote for it, and promptly sat down again... At this Snowball sprang to his feet, and shouting down the sheep, who had begun bleating again, broke into a passionate appeal in favor of the windmill.
In spite of the shock that Snowball's expulsion had given them, the animals were dismayed... Four young porkers in the front row uttered shrill squeals of disapproval, and all four of them sprang to their feet and began speaking at once... Then the sheep broke out into a tremendous bleating of "Four legs good, two legs bad!" which went on for nearly a quarter of an hour and put an end to any chance of discussion.
The four young pigs who had protested when Napoleon abolished the Meetings raised their voices timidly, but they were promptly silenced by a tremendous growling from the dogs. Then, as usual, the sheep broke into "Four legs good, two legs bad!" and the momentary awkwardness was smoothed over. Finally Napoleon raised his trotter for silence.
By a special decree of Comrade Napoleon, Beasts of England had been abolished. From now onwards it was forbidden to sing it... Frightened though they were, some of the animals might possibly have protested, but at this moment the sheep set up their usual bleating of "Four legs good, two legs bad," which went on for several minutes and put an end to the discussion.
So Beasts of England was heard no more.
The sheep were the greatest devotees of the Spontaneous Demonstration, and if anyone complained (as a few animals sometimes did, when no pigs or dogs were near) that they waisted time and meant a lot of standing about in the cold, the sheep were sure to silence him with a tremendous bleating of "Four legs good, two legs bad!"
One day in early summer Squealer ordered the sheep follow him... He was, he said, teaching them to sing a new song, for which privacy was needed.
...It was just after the sheep returned, on a pleasant evening when the animals had finished work and were making their way back to the farm buildings, that the terrified neighing of a horse sounded in the yard... It was a pig walking on his hind legs... And a moment later, out from the door of the farmhouse came a long file of pigs, all walking on their hind legs... and out came Napoleon himself, majestically, upright, casting haughty glances from side to side, and with dogs gambolling round him.
He carried a whip in his trotter.
There was a deadly silence. Amazed, terrified, huddling together, the animals watched the long line of pigs march slowly round the yard. It was as if the world had turned upside-down. Then there came a moment when the first shock had worn off and when, in spite of everything - in spite of the terror of the dogs, and of the habit, developed through long years, of never complaining, never criticising, no matter what happened - they might have uttered some words of protest. But just at that moment, as though at a signal, all the sheep burst out into a tremendous bleating of -
"Four legs good, two legs better! Four legs good, two legs better! Four legs good, two legs better!"
It went on for five minutes without stopping. And by the time the sheep had quieted down, the chance to utter any protest had passed, for the pigs had marched back into the farmhouse.
Benjamin felt a nose nuzzling at his shoulder... It was Clover. Her eyes looked dimmer than ever... she led him round to the end of the big barn, where the Seven Commandments were written... "My sight is failing," she said finally... "Are the Seven Commandments the same as they used to be, Benjamin?" ...There was nothing there now except a single Commandment. It ran:
ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL
BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS
After that it did not seem strange when next day the pigs who were supervising the work of the farm all carried whips in their trotters.
Drudge's 'Dawn of the Dead' themed headline for planned 11/17/2011 Occupy Wall Street Day of Action: Dawn of the Zuccottis
#OWS Occupy Wall Street May Day General Strike Posters, Art, Grabapple, Leavitt, Black, Bellini:
Jest Video: How The Media Comes Up With Fresh Occupy Wall Street Headlines:
2011 Occupy Wall Street video chronology:
9/18/2011 (Zuccotti Park)
9/20/2011 (Zuccotti Park)
9/21/2011 (Zuccotti Park)
9/30/2011 (NYPD HQ)
10/1/2011 (entering Brooklyn Bridge)
10/1/2011 (Brooklyn Bridge)
10/11/2011 (Park Avenue)
10/15/2011 (Times Square)
10/15/2011 (Times Square crowd control)
11/15/2011 (early morning at Zuccotti Park)
11/17/2011 (Wall Street)
10/8/2011 (National Air & Space Museum)
11/5/2011 (DC Convention Center)
10/8/2011 (Liberty Plaza)
10/15/2011 Occupy Wall Street at Times Square; Aerial Images:
2011 Occupy Oakland, San Francisco videos:
11/2/2011 (Whole Foods store)
11/2/2011 (Travelers Aid building)
10/25/2011 (AP raw video)
10/25 & 26/2011 (CNN raw video)
10/22/2011 (Chase Bank branch)
Occupy San Francisco:
10/21/2011 Zuccotti, CEO Peter Schiff :
OWS Music Video: Occupy Wall Street photos set to Elaine Paige's "Memory"
#OWS Occupy Wall Street 2012 spring training:
Occupy Wall Street, #OWS, Zuccotti Park, St. Patrick's Day, M#17, 3/17/2012: