Tag Archives: occupy wall street

Strike Debt

One successful campaign that has emerged from the Occupy Wall Street movement has been Strike Debt, a group focused on debt education and debt refusal.

Strike Debt recently published and provided free copies of the Debt Resisters’ Manual, focused on housing, student loan, credit card and medical tent, as well as demonstrating that even those individuals not in personal debt are still affected by a financial system based on debt – whether that means paying increasingly large amounts for public transit, schools or other public services that are being paid for with debt. One way around this would be to tax the population and pay for public services directly, instead of borrowing the money from private financial entities, and then paying that debt (plus interest) back to those financial entities with taxes on the population.

Strike Debt explains that our debt manifests where public spending fails. We could have free education, but instead we have student debt. We could have universal healthcare, but instead we have medical debt. We could have jobs that pay living wages, but instead we have credit card debt. This type of financial system is a boon to those who make money from providing short-term funds to those without them in exchange for long-term debt and interest – what used to be known as “usury.”

Perhaps the most important part of the attack on debt is to question the legitimacy of it. While the huge financial institutions that we are indebted to have walked away from trillions of dollars in debt, individuals are expected to work as indentured servants for a lifetime to repay debt that was taken on to provide basic needs. Is it moral to collect interest on someone’s medical debt? Or student debt? Strike Debt takes the stance that not only is usury immoral; but that debtors are morally obligated to refuse to pay their debt – not only as a means of individual liberation, but as a means of creating democracy where currently there is none.

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Church of the Ascension Occupied for Sandy

Church of the Ascension on Java Street has been Occupied. The church, which began helping coordinate relief efforts (with Councilmember Steve Levin) for Hurricane Sandy survivors immediately after the storm, has just been more formally Occupied by Occupy Sandy, an off-shoot of Occupy Wall Street. The Greenpoint site is largely replacing the 520 Clinton Street location at the Church of St Luke and St Matthew in Clinton Hill, after a December 23rd two-alarm fire at that location which fire officials have called “suspicious” and Church Father Chris Ballard called “arson.”

The church, Occupy Sandy’s first Greenpoint location, will serve as an office hub for the various Occupy Sandy locales in the city and as a headquarters for “volunteer dispatch operations” to the Rockaways, Gerritsen Beach, Red Hook, Coney Island, Staten Island, and Sheepshead Bay, where survivors continue to struggle with little help aside from volunteers like Occupy Sandy and others.

Occupy Sandy will also use the locale to offer a regularly scheduled orientation for new volunteers interested in helping in the ongoing long-term relief effort. More information is available on the Occupy Sandy website.

Greenpoint’s response to Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath began immediately after the storm through City Councilmember Steve Levin, and both Church of the Ascension and Greenpoint Reformed Church.

As recently reported in the Greenpoint Star and DNAinfo, there are Greenpoint residents still suffering the affects the storm including moldy basements and problems getting insurance or government to help with necessary cleanup funds.

(originally published at greenpointers.com)

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Teach-in for Bradley Manning

A teach-in for Bradley Manning, Wikileaks and Julian Assange was held on Friday, October 22nd, in Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan. Independent journalist Alexa O’Brien, writer Chase Madar and others spoke to a crowd assembled in Bryant Park.

O’Brien is covering the trial “transcribing by hand,’ and has said, “There is no public docket for the trial. It is being conducted in de facto secrecy.”
Army Private First Class Bradley Manning has been in jail for over 900 days, allegedly for leaking the largest collection of documents ever leaked from the United States military, 92,000 of which were shared with the New York Times, The Guardian of the UK, and Der Speigel in Germany, all of whom wrote extensively about the leaked documents.

Manning’s defense is currently arguing a motion to have his charges dismissed with prejudice, due to a lack of a speedy trial. The law requires that no more than 120 days pass from arrest to trial, while Manning has spent almost two and a half years between his arrest in May 2010 and trial, which is scheduled to begin in February 2013.

Manning is being charged with aiding the enemy, wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the internet, theft of public records and transmitting defense information. Manning could be sentenced to life in prison, if convicted.

Rock and roll legend Graham Nash recently played a fundraiser with the proceeds to benefit the Bradley Manning’s Support Network. Over 14,000 people have donated money to Manning’s legal defense fund.

One member of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, has been holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, avoiding questioning in Sweden on sexual misconduct charges and, critics warn, eventual extradition to the United States for prosecution, like Manning’s.

An official protest against secrecy in Manning’s trial was lodged recently with the Court of Appeals of the Armed Forced by dozens of media outlets and organizations, including the New York Times, the Associated Press, Dow Jones, CNN, Reuters, the Washing Post and the New York Daily News.

Nevertheless, no major media outlet has a journalist at the ongoing proceedings at Fort Meade in Maryland.

Alexa O’Brien said in interview recently: “At the pre-trial hearing there was a smattering of mainstream media there. They left during this period. They’re not there now. All of the American networks were there for the first couple of days, but to be quite honest with you, they were looking at pictures of George Clooney and dropping for wedding shoes in the press pool while this trial was being conducted. That is a fact. I was there, and I saw them doing it.

“The AFP is there. I haven’t seen the AP…”

(originally aired in tv form at Occupy Public Access TV)

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Greenpoint Responds to Hurricane Sandy

The Greenpoint Reformed Church‘s volunteers prepared more than 1,000 bag lunches over the weekend, on top of thousands of meals prepared by the Church’s volunteers throughout the week as a relief effort for those affected by Hurricane Sandy.

The volunteers of the weekly Wednesday hot meal at the Church’s Soup Kitchen led the organizing of up to 60 simultaneous volunteers preparing lunches and hot meals. Bag lunches included peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, juice, chips, cookie or granola bar, and fruit. The lunches were provided to Greenpoint’s Church of the Ascension on Java Street, where Councilmember Steve Levin has been coordinating drop-off donations and deliveries to Red Hook, Coney Island and Gerritsen Beach.

Many of Brooklyn’s neighborhoods are reeling in the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy. The city itself, without having done door-to-door inquiries, admits 40,000 – 50,000 people will need shelter. (In addition to the already 30,000 people homeless in the city on any given night.) Reuters quoted Mayor Mike Bloomberg as stating that, “We don’t have a lot of empty housing in this city. It’s a problem to find housing.” This despite homeless advocacy group Picture the Homeless’ findings that there are enough vacant properties in the city to easily house over 200,000 people, and then some.

I, along with thousands of other North Brooklyn residents, treked into Queens today to grab the 7 train into Manhattan. Why? Because the city has decided, by opening the schools and demanding that city workers return to work, that all workers can return to work – putting pressure on all of us to commute any way we can, or risk losing our situation. If the city actually cared about the communities that have been devastated, they would encourage us all to volunteer and help out, instead of working our usual dayjobs as though nothing happened.

Elsewhere in the city, ad-hoc volunteerism leads the response, not the city government. One volunteer from West Harlem, Ely, reported of volunteering in Staten Island: “We got there and per the Occupy Sandy site, ended up in New Dorp High School to drop off all goods. Later we walked to New Dorp Beach where the damaged houses were. We helped (loading our carts with garbage) move garbage bags from small alleys to a larger street where garbage trucks were picking up garbage. They still need a lot of cleaning.”

As the Red Cross continues to draw criticism for its lax response to the crisis in Brooklyn and Staten Island, and the city continues its tepid response, it is only community groups, churches, Occupy Wall Street and thousands of individual volunteers that are responding to the needs of victims of Hurricane Sandy. While mainstream news continues to cover the Mayor’s carefully staged storm updates and delight in power returning to lower Manhattan, activists and volunteers are beginning to write and post about their experiences online, revealing a deeply disorganized city unable or unwilling to respond to a population in dire need.

Governor Cuomo tweeted Sunday night, “#sandy #safety: Shivering, confusion, memory loss & drowsiness may be symptoms of Hypothermia, #staysafe” with a link to a CDC info page on Hypothermia. As though anyone suffering these things would be on Twitter, checking tips from the Governor. The disconnect is astounding.

If people left homeless by Sandy held up an Occupy sign, would they get Bloomberg’s attention?

As tens-of-thousands of New Yorkers remain without shelter, food, warmth, water, or any sign that help is on the way, this becomes Bloomberg’s well-earned legacy: those he couldn’t stop and frisk, he let eat cake in the wake of Sandy.

originally published at greenpointers.com

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#S17 with Occupy Wall Street

We were at the Red Cube by 7:15am, joining hundreds of other Occupiers and supporters for the one-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Liberty Square itself was barricaded, a dozen or so people inside – I assumed Occupiers, since what neighborhood resident would be trying to enjoy their park this early on a Monday with so many barricades and police about?

The brutalization of random protesters was rampant throughout the day, apparently as another tactic by the NYPD to punish political dissent, and intimidate those not brutalized into leaving – and to intimidate those who were not there in the first place from ever coming to a subsequent protest or event.

The day began for my group (me, my girlfriend, and friend, who all trekked in from Brooklyn) similar to last year’s #N17 action. We left in a column from the Red Cube and marched down Broadway to Pine & Nassau. Some Occupiers sang parody lyrics to the tune of the Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated,” including lines like, “Hurry hurry hurry / Get me out of jail / I am an occupier / I can’t afford the bail / Oh no no no no / Ba ba ba / I was incarcerated.”

Police lined the streets facing protesters, who mostly stayed on the sidewalks. A saxophone-playing Occupier played The Star Spangled Banner. Protesters massed on all four corners of the intersection. As the song reached “the land of the free” climax, a glitter bomb was popped over Nassau Street. An arrest most of us couldn’t see occurred in the intersection. Chants of “Shame! Shame! Shame!” Then the saxophone played and we sang, “Which side are you on? Which side are you on?” Someone berated the police about how Bloomberg would be stealing their pensions and laying them off soon enough, and then they’d be on our side.

An occupier Mic Check’d saying, “If they block the streets here then go around!” But those of us who were attending and not wanting to be arrested didn’t know where to go around to – we were trying to be witness to those participating in the traffic-stopping sit-downs, as planned and announced on the S17 website.

The Amalgamated Bank (a Union-owned bank; and the bank I switched to from Chase last autumn) on Broadway greeted the day’s protesters with a large poster in their window: “Amalgamated Bank supports the UFT and the Occupy Wall Street Movement.”

By 8:15am we decided to go find the Labor protest contingent, slated to begin at 8:30, and started heading back up Broadway. But this proved difficult with police lining the sidewalk (on the street). Particularly so because the police themselves relentlessly insisted that we “Keep moving. If you don’t keep moving you will be arrested for obstructing pedestrian traffic” even as they themselves impeded more pedestrian (and vehicular) traffic than anyone else. (Many Occupiers were sure to let the police know about this with chants of “You are blocking pedestrian traffic! You are impeding pedestrian traffic!”) One female protester called out, “The NYPD shuts the city down for us. Great job, boys!” I was reminded of May Day 2012, when police were so concerned that protesters would shut down the Williamsburg Bridge that the police themselves shut down the Williamsburg Bridge. Obviously who shuts it down is more important than that it is shut down at all.

As we marched north on Broadway on the sidewalk, spirits were high. A band of horns and percussion had everyone clapping and feeling good; spoons were used on scaffolding to accompany the band. And right on time the police entered the sidewalk, waded into the crowd to randomly grab a protester, slam them to the ground, and arrest them. This split the march into two as people recoiled from the brutality. Several white-shirt police with macabre faces lunged at us, grabbing a protester next to me by his backpack and slamming him to the ground, and then a blue shirt cop jumped on him, then cuffed him. I had no doubt that he was grabbed instead of me because he was black, young and male – and I was let alone because I was a white male.

It was at this moment that I felt a peculiar failure as a protestor: I didn’t grab my fellow protestor from the police and try to pull him back to me. In the split second between being grabbed and being thrown to the ground, he looked at me and said “Help me out!” and I didn’t do a thing. Should I have grabbed him back and probably been arrested myself? I don’t know. I know I should have gotten his name and followed up with jail support, but in the chaos I lost him and did not. The money I was able to contribute later was a minor penance for this failure, which I partially blame the police for creating (he had done nothing to warrant the arrest, after all) but mostly just myself, for not knowing enough going into the action and not being confident enough to know what I should and would be willing to do at any given moment. I hated the police for having created this situation, but that is a futile waste of time and energy.

Wall Street itself was barricaded at Broadway, with police behind the barricades, in front of the barricades, and on the street. Protesters were attempting to move their way north, but the police suddenly cut the march in two, separating me and my friend from my girlfriend. Several people were brutally arrested. The police pushed us north onto the sidewalk, and then stopped. Then they came at us again and pushed us further and further north, until we were practically to Pine Street.

I began calling my girlfriend over and over waiting for her answer, fearing she’d been brutally arrested. Finally she answered the phone and we re-convened. She told me that the police had been pushing her from behind to move south, and she’d told them she wasn’t going to push the people in front of her just because she was being pushed by the police. She told them she wasn’t going to hurt someone else just because the police were pushing her. Then a protester near her was thrown to the ground and arrested. The police continued to push her, and she asked them if her moving south was more important than the brutal arrest going on right in front of them. The police told her, Yes, it is more important. She told them they had fucked up priorities. They told her to move.

Eventually we found our way to Bowling Green, where hundreds of protesters were gathering. An enormous Debt Bubble was pushed from hand-to-hand over the top of the crowd. We set out to peacefully march around the bull, which was at least triple barricaded by this time, as well as lined with police on foot and on scooter. We were pushed back almost immediately, and ended back where we started. The immense resources going to protect this bull are always astounding. Protecting the bull from what? An occupier straddling it? Graffiti? What other harm could befall it? It is as though the city fears that Occupiers “taking the bull” would mean the downfall of the whole establishment. Is there a secret self-destruct button on there?

Back at Bowling Green near the Museum of the Native American, some musicians playing guitar sang songs I didn’t know and some I did – including a rousing cover of Sublime’s “What I Got,” which rang true and pure over the OWS crowd: “Loving / Is what I got.” Signs in the crowd hailing the Love Generation, or Time For Love, were, like the Troggs song says, all around.

I felt transported in time, as though it were 1968 and 2012 at once. It was like I’d imagined the 60s generation, and I was no longer wishing it was the 60s – I was ecstatic to be alive today, to be alive to witness and participate in OWS.

At Bowling Green several people spoke using the People’s Mic, including Rev Billy, and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, who said that the world was “on a breaking point. It’s time to change the breaking point to a tipping point” for the movement. Helicopters overhead lowered as though to drown us out with their noise, and then elevated again.

Taking a break for a seat, some coffee and a salad in a nearby lunch counter, we overheard some exhausted-looking protesters needing ibuprofen. We provided some from our pockets, glad to be helping.

In the afternoon protesters swarmed into Liberty Park. I was surprised the police had allowed anyone in at all. And of course the population was diverse: young and old, whites and blacks and Latina/o and etc., LGBTQ, the disabled. I spotted again the French fellow who’d kept shouting over police brutality all day, “This is a peaceful protest, thank you!” I spotted at least three city councilmembers. And perhaps best of all, plenty of people who supported OWS even though they had serious problems with it. It is a place of solidarity, but also a place of disagreement and debate.

For about an hour, I stood in the midst of the drum circle (complimented with sax and trumpet; drummers banging on drums, staircase-handles, the ground, etc.) and joined Occupiers in the jubilee of celebration. As someone announced after calming the drummers into quiet, “The greatest thing we have done is meet each other.” The number of actions, groups, events and change that come from us having met each other can probably never be quantified – which means Wall St will never understand or respect it. But it is an amazing achievement.

I and a few other ebullient, celebratory souls led the chants over and over, familiar ones like, “Banks got bailed out / We got sold out!” and “An / Anti / Anti-capitaliste!” But mostly the one refrain: “All day / All week / Occupy Wall Street!” The refrain, repeated so many times, took on new and different meanings. For one, the initial meaning: Occupiers occupying Wall Street non-stop demanding change. But further, it also meant: We support the movement that is Occupy Wall Street, and we support it all day and all week. Or: There is a movement called Occupy Wall Street, and it exists all day and all week; it exists in me right now as I stand here in the midst of my fellow Occupiers; and it exists in me as I move through the world making decisions and taking actions; it exists in me as I try to learn about the world and better the world; it exists in me and changes me, and I change it. And in Liberty Square it exists within me and all around me, palpably.

A drummer, taking a momentary break, reminded the crowd via the People’s Mic: “All you need to solve all these problems is to love each other. And that’s the truth.”

originally published at occupiedstories.com

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Phony link murder to Occupy Wall Street action

NBC News New York reported earlier this week that the New York Police Department had linked evidence in the 2004 unsolved murder of Julliard student Sarah Fox to an Occupy Wall Street protester, reporting that the evidence “seemed to come out of nowhere.” Indeed.

Later that afternoon, the New York Times was already debunking its own article on the story – and the myriad of other media who picked it up – reporting that the link was most likely an error, with the DNA in question belonging to an NYPD lab technician who handled evidence from both cases.

Police had taken DNA evidence from a chain at the scene of a March 28th action that saw activists chain open the Beverly Road subway gates in East Brooklyn (among other stops), providing free admission to the subway for a number of commuters that morning. This action was not an Occupy Wall Street-sanctioned action, although it is believed that some OWS-affiliated activists acting independently of OWS, and with some wildcat MTA workers, were responsible for the action.

The DNA on the chain was said to have matched DNA found on Sarah Fox’s CD player, which was found near her body, in Inwood Park in 2004.

Although the scene of the MTA-action was not the scene of violence or murder, the NYPD looked for DNA there, and then used its vast database of DNA (of both criminal and non-criminal offenders) to look for a link between the MTA-action and any DNA matches in its database.

The story was picked up by numerous outlets, including the New York Post, the New York Times, the Village Voice, New York Magazine, Gawker and Gothamist; as well as CNBC, ABC News, and of course Fox News with the headline “Occupy Wall Street Murder Link.”

In its retraction, the New York Times wrote that, “The decision by investigators to search for DNA samples on the chain, which was used to hold open a subway entrance gate, illustrates how such collections have become a routine part of a wide range of criminal investigations.” This despite what many in criminal justice know about DNA: that while it can be a particularly powerful identification tool, it is still a piece of evidence and should be weighed with the context of the case in mind.

Dimitry Sheinman remains the “person of interest” in the case.

(originally aired in tv form at Occupy Public Access TV)

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GuitArmy march arrives in New York

On Saturday, July 5th, the Occupy GuitArmy left the National Gathering of the Occupy movement in Philadelphia, walking. The group’s 99 Mile March to Liberty Plaza in New York City was launched to commemorate Woody Guthrie’s 100th birthday (which was July 14th) and in celebration of the National Gathering of the Occupy movement.

The GuitArmy is a large group of occupiers, musicians, activists and allies who use their guitars, mandolins, ukuleles and other instruments to support Occupy Wall Street. The GuitArmy originally came into being for this year’s May Day, when the group, led by former Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, marched from Bryant Park to Union Square.

With over 60 participants along the way, the group’s march culminated on Wednesday, July 11th in New York when they arrived at Liberty Plaza, greeted by hundreds of supporters in a vibrant reminder what the park was like before the violent NYPD eviction of Occupy Wall Street on November 15th.

The police instigated a conflict shortly after the GuitArmy arrived in Liberty Plaza, with an officer arresting drummer, Brandon Hunt, when he did not exit the park as quickly as the officer wanted. The police also arrested a cameraman, seemingly for filming a public action.

One protester, Mary Hath Spokane, collapsed in the park. The FDNY later claimed she had fainted. Spokane is familiar to many Occupiers as the protester who walks around dressed like Lady Liberty.

Later, the police caused more conflict when they attempted to stop distribution of food in the park. Local residents and workers frequently eat in the park, often from food carts selling food on the south side of the park and across the street on Broadway. The police backed off when the food-servers resisted their order to stop serving, avoiding a larger conflict.

The GuitArmy left Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell on July 5th after singing a rendition of Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.” The group faced hassles from the beginning, including being denied access to water in the Quaker Compound they inhabited in Philladelphia. Occupied Stories reported that Trinity Church, in Princeton, NJ, who had originally agreed to house the Occupiers overnight during their sojourn, reneged the offer after the GutiArmy arrived because of complaints from neighbors and police visits to the property.

Four protestors were arrested during the action. Their names are Brendan Hunt (28, resisting arrest, trespassing, and disorderly conduct); Paul Talbot (30, obstruction of governmental administration); Jacob Roszak (23, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest); Gregory Adsulf (49, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest). Marsha Spencer, a NYC-resident who often knits in Zuccotti Park since the September occupation, was forced to leave the park by the NYPD, who were unable to explain to her why she was not allowed to have her folding chair in the park.

(originally aired in tv form at Occupy Public Access TV)

 

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Interview: with street artist BAMN

bamn_ManningOWS_blackwhite

In the summer of 2011, a large mural of Bradley Manning appeared in my neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY. Straddling the nexus between Williamsburg and Greenpoint, the image had “Hero” written above the smiling face of the world’s most famous whistleblower, who had supposedly leaked hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. documents to Julian Assange and Wikileaks.

Through a bit of research, I tracked down the artist of the mural, sort of. The artist chooses to be known as ‘bamn,’ and aside from street art, the only outreach is a flickr account and, finally, an email address.

Bamn agreed to an email interview, which took place over several emails and weeks.

JC: When did you paint the mural? How long did it take?
BAMN: I did this mural early June 2011 with a paint roller. It didn’t take more than thirty minutes. I had to work fast because I didn’t really have permission.

JC: Why did you choose that particular spot for the mural?
BAMN: There was a suggestion from a friend who works nearby that something should go on the wall. I didn’t ask for permission, but I figured that if I was questioned my friend could back-up my “story”. What amazes me is that the owners haven’t removed it.

JC: The mural is kind of shocking, given that Manning is the most public figure in a long time to possibly be tried for treason. I was very surprised the first time I saw it. Was this your intention?
BAMN: What’s shocking to me is that whistle-blowing is considered treason. I support Manning and Wikileaks wholeheartedly, but the mural was painted for the public. My only intention is to spark dialogue.

JC: What has been the reaction to the mural? How long until “Traitor” was written over it? I found this guy on the web who was not a fan.
BAMN: Reactions to the mural have been overwhelmingly positive. Every time I pass that wall I see people posing and taking pictures.

It took about a month for someone to build up the courage to write “traitor” across the mural. Then, according to my friend who works nearby, within an hour some random guy* put black tape over the word “traitor.” Then the next day my friend fixed the mural with paint. I expected dialogue, but never did I imagine it to be so immediate and literal.

As for that blogger, I don’t pay attention to people who can’t formulate an intelligent argument.

bamn_AloanOWS

JC: Your name, BAMN, is I assume from Malcolm X’s phrase “by any means necessary” (via Sartre). What are you hoping to accomplish that will be done by any means? Is the Manning mural one of those means?
BAMN: This world needs a makeover, and I intend to facilitate and encourage that change by any means necessary. I may not have the same power of speech that brother Malcolm did, but I do have an understanding of the visual language. This mural was accomplished with all means available at the time: done on a temporary construction wall, with a paint roller, leftover paint, and without a sketch or permission.

JC: BAMN, of course, includes more than freedom of speech issues. What are the most important issues you see in New York? In the U.S.?
BAMN: For NY: preservation of communities, end to police brutality & corruption, facilitation of local business.

For the US: withdrawal from all foreign conflicts, diversity of political parties, separation of business and politics

I always say, “follow the money.” All major issues are class issues.

JC: The Guardian (UK) recently released a reader’s poll for who should win the Nobel Peace Prize. The readers chose Bradley Manning. What do you think of that?
BAMN: I was not aware of the reader’s poll. I would hope that Bradley Manning gets the prize. I don’t think we would’ve known about Julian Assange or Wikileaks if it wasn’t for Manning.

Manning is a beacon of hope and has set the standard for courage. He had the odds stacked against him and everything to lose, but he still chose to go with what he felt was right.

JC: The rapidly gentrifying – or already gentrified – neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Greenpoint are considered to be very liberal and politically conscious. Do you think that this is so? Has this been your experience in these neighborhoods? Or in New York City as a whole?
BAMN: Liberal, yes. Politically conscious, not so much. I think this is the case with NYC as whole. A politically conscious person understands gentrification, and works against it. Most of the change that Liberals partake in revolves around consumerism and only effects them personally.

I think New Yorkers are more informed than most people in this country, but that isn’t saying much. Even with the internet there’s a huge disconnect with what’s going on around the world. However, I believe that’s changing. Just look at the Occupy movements. People are hungry for real change. [Editor: An “Occupy Wall St” tag was spray-painted next to the Manning mural sometime on October 20th.]

JC: Do you see yourself reflected in the popular culture of the country? If so, where? If not, where is the potential for that?

BAMN: Yes and no. Street art is popular right now, but the views I have aren’t as popular. I think people with similar sentiments are peppered throughout the world and congregate on the internet. Hijacking pop culture vehicles, like street art, is a good way to get not-so-popular messages across.

JC: How long have you been an artist? How long have you been doing street art?
BAMN: I’ve been arting around for about a decade now. The street art is a new thing. My first street work was with the Poster Boy movement about a year ago.

JC: Do you use a name like BAMN because you want to remain anonymous? If so, why? You don’t think the artist must be a public figure?
BAMN: Isn’t that the beauty of Graffiti? To hide in plain view.

* Some Guy, Andrew, confirmed, telling me he “saw the mural every day on my commute and was appalled when I saw the Traitor label. That night I started covering the white letters in ‘Traitor’ with black electric tape, which matched the pain color of the mural.”

Postscript:
On November 18th, the White House responded to the We the People: Your Voice in Government’s citizen-created “Free PFC Bradley Manning, the accused Wikileaks whistleblower” petition by saying “the White House declines to comment on the specific case raised in this petition.”

In response, the Bradley Manning Support Network noted that “supporters had surpassed the signature threshold required by the rules on the new White House online initiative” to receive a comment from the White House.

The White House has also not addressed the request from the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture for an unmonitored meeting with Manning.

tenting snoopytent

(originally published at greenpointers.com)

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#OccupyBroadway


Occupy Broadway began sometime after 6pm on Friday evening in the plaza near the TKTS booth in Times Square. A group of five people singing songs with guitars and percussion. A banner with ‘Occupy Broadway.’ People in makeup so that you can’t tell if they are going to perform later, or on break from whatever theater they work at; or both.

Someone says that there are performers on 50th street, but a trip up found nothing, until a group of drummers emerged from uptown walking south towards the plaza.

From 6:30-10:30 Pulse, a group of drummers with an occasional a vuvuzela, played while two fellows waved flags over them: one the US flag, the other a Revolution Generation blue flag.

Occasionally one severely underdressed drummer from Pulse (it was cold, he had only a tshirt) would lead the group of 50 to 100 people in a Mic Check, often instructing us on how the people’s mic worked, before excoriating everyone to have a good time and take the energy they created with us, wherever we went.

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#N17: Life in the Day

 

Morning
There were maybe two hundred people at Liberty Park when we arrived at 7, and several hundred amassing at the Red Cube across Broadway. We found a Starbucks to take care of business and returned to the Cube. Found our third friend in the crowd, which took some twenty minutes of shuffling in the dense crowd – a theme for the day.

A 7am Resist Austerity! march was scheduled from Zucotti to the NYSE. Two large contingents left, behind a black flag and a green flag. Black left first. The green coiled around the Cube and then we too left, down Cedar St.

At Pine and Nassau we sat down in the intersection until we realized that we were sitting in the intersection. Not wanting to be arrested we moved to the sidewalk. Some people stayed and were arrested.

The crowd is larger than we had anticipated. Lots of young people, but middle aged and older people, as well. Sidewalks are crowded. People trying to get to work are mostly understanding, though frustrated. One humorous woman says, “You guys are about freedom of speech, right? How about, Get the fuck out of the way!” A calm gentleman nearby kindly tells her, “There’s no work today.”

Chants of “All day! All week! Occupy Wall Street!” And “We are the 99%!”

We are filling the streets and sidewalks. Police line up behind the barricades, some holding their batons. We sing “Happy Anniversary” to Occupy Wall Street and some police laugh. We sing “The Star Spangled Banner.”

The Philadelphia cop, Ray Lewis, is arrested and everyone cheers him.

Of course there are cameras everywhere. Some people climb up to the ledges of the buildings for better views. I think about how school had tried to train everything going on here out of me. There are two helicopters high overhead. We wave. People watch the street from windows in the buildings above. One floor seems to be a gym, or else a very relaxed office. The calm gentlemen calls to them that “There’s no work today.” I imagine Alexander Hamilton inside the offices we are surrounding, cringing at the sound of the Great Beast.

Gothamist reports that Occupy Wall Street has closed four intersections around the NYSE.

A strange young man, stocky and with large headphones on, shoves his way through the crowded sidewalk seemingly intent on disrupting as many people as possible. He gets shoved back by one protester before a cop steps onto the sidewalk and grabs the boy’s shoulder, telling him to calm down. They let him leave the way he came. Someone reminds everyone that even if someone shoves you never to shove them back.

The police are allowing people to walk on the streets amidst them. There are many people on their way to work. Protesters often call out to clear the way for a pedestrian coming through.

To our backs is a large window looking into a very elegant restaurant. The juxtapositions on display are endless, so after the first joke is cracked no one bothers to make another.

The four corners of the intersection begin speaking with each other, Mic Check’ing. Attempts to get four rounds of Mic Check going seem impossible, but the failure is good natured and Mic Checks break out all over the place.

Eventually we march back to Zuccotti, where people mill around the park while others break off for who knows where. We decide to find Excedrin and food.

Afternoon
At Union Square there are thousands of students who are on strike for the day. Also lots of labor people. The OWS Library is on display, all 30 tattered books. It’s a good thing manuscripts don’t burn, as they say.

The Union Square group breaks off into several marches. We join one that heads south on Broadway and then west on 15th Street. Police allow the crowd to take the streets. The march continues along 15th. Lots of pedestrians cheering and joyful. Police on every street corner. At 6th Avenue the march heads north, which is confusing to us as we thought the aim was Foley Square, south.

As we walk south we meet other pedestrians along the way heading to Foley Square. Some you can tell are going, others ask for directions. Washington Square Park is mostly empty. Somewhere along Broadway, around Soho, we catch up with a march in-progress – or else just a bunch of us who were heading to Foley. In any case the police believe it is a march and try to direct it here and there.

Evening
At Foley there are thousands of people. We are trying to meet three other people there, but cannot find them. The rally at Foley and walk over the Brooklyn Bridge are permitted events. Cops are everywhere.

Music from the MCs on stage. Hip-hop songs. A capella songs from OWS groups. Some children pump the crowd as the march out of Foley begins.

The crowd is 32,000 (according to police) so of course it takes forever to get things going. Feet are cold to numbness and anxious to march.

The march along Broadway is early enough that there are still many people working as we pass. Bank employees record us with their phones. Some smiles. For the most part the crowd is full of good-natured people happy to be there, which is infectious.

At City Hall Park we wait to meet a fifth friend who is in the back half of the crowd. Someone rushes up to us and Mic Checks that the police have stopped the back half of the demonstration at Chambers St. People head over and shout “Let them through! Let them through!” They are let through. Huge cheering.

The march over the bridge is wonderful and freezing. Many car horns honking in solidarity. The crowd breaks into smaller groups on the cold trip across the bridge, various chants going. On the Brooklyn Side police are congratulated for not having on riot gear.

Groups returning from the Brooklyn side remind everyone, “We are unstoppable! Another world is possible!” Shining onto the hideous Verizon building: “Occupy earth.” “We are winning.”

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