Published: Thursday 17 November 2011
“It suggested that perhaps the time has passed for the movement to be so focused on encampments, and that it might move on to bigger and better things instead.”

Liberty Plaza (or Park or Square) looks an awful lot like Zuccotti Park again—aside from the damaged flower beds and a broken plastic peace sign lying in the gutter. At 1 in the morning, hundreds of police in riot gear stormed the plaza, shining floodlights and tearing down tents. Sanitation workers loaded occupiers’ belongings into garbage trucks, including the books of the occupation’s library. LRAD sound cannons were on the scene, and as many as five police helicopters hovered high overhead, where airspace was closed to media aircraft. On the ground, police cornered reporters out of view from the plaza during the eviction of the protesters, some of whom locked arms around the kitchen area and nonviolently resisted removal. They faced pepper spray and batons for doing so.

When I arrived at around 2:20 a.m., riot police were preventing anyone from getting closer than a block away from the site. By the time I returned there just after sunrise, after hours following marches and spontaneous assemblies and affinity groups meeting in the streets, the place had been completely cleared and washed. It was blocked off with barricades, despite a court order that the occupiers should be allowed to return. Back in Duarte Square on Canal Street, though, where hundreds had temporarily gathered, it was surprising how positive the mood actually was.

So, then, what next? What does the Occupy movement do when its flagship occupation is, at least for now, gone?

It happens that just hours before, Adbusters magazine—which originally called for the occupation—promulgated "Tactical Briefing #18: Occupy the High Ground." It suggested that perhaps the time has passed for the movement to be ...

Published: Tuesday 25 October 2011
“I was traveling with family and sort of walked into OWS, agreed with it, and asked what needed to be done," Roth said. "They asked what my skill sets were and handed a bunch of potential jobs at me. It's very open and anyone can participate.”

The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement has withstood political pressure, bad weather, police violence, and over a thousand arrests, and is continuing to grow in New York City a month in.



It has spread to over 100 cities in the U.S. and many more worldwide, and is linking up with popular movements in Europe and the Arab World, and connecting itself to long-existing community organisations.



By now OWS has been featured on the news all around the world, and there is no shortage of analysis regarding its potential political impact. But the internal organisation, structure and functioning of the occupations are at least as noteworthy.
 


The story here is centred on the original Liberty Plaza, a.k.a. Zucotti Park, occupation, but there are many commonalities between this and other occupations, and most of them have similar structure. Still, each occupation is autonomous and run uniquely based on its own area, issues, demographics and situation.
 


OWS is open, both literally and figuratively, and voluntary. People come and stay either because they believe in the message - that the economic system of the U.S. is fundamentally flawed and in need of radical change - or because they are victims of that system who are less able to live elsewhere, but either way the sense of community felt at Liberty Plaza is palpable.

 

"The way OWS is structured is really open, anyone can come in and take part," Uruj Sheik, who has been organising with the occupation since its beginning, told IPS.

"The way you become part of the occupation is by showing up and taking on a role – you can join any committee or come up with an idea of ...

Published: Sunday 16 October 2011
“What was it like to be in Zuccotti Park in the hours before the owners' planned eviction of protesters?”

Editor's note: Click here to view NationofChange's original video coverage of this event.

There was a brightness in the pre-dawn air as thousands of us gathered in Liberty Plaza, (or Zuccotti Park, in its owners’ language) to prevent the group that had camped there since September 17th as part of the Occupy Wall Street protest from being evicted.

On Monday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg stated that demonstrators could remain in the park indefinitely, but late on Wednesday night he had stopped by the encampment to announce that Brookfield Financial Properties, the owners of Zuccotti Park, wanted the area cleared for cleaning at 7 a.m. on Friday, October 14. After the cleaning, protesters would be allowed back into the park—but without their tarps, sleeping bags, or personal belongings. That same night, a rather pointed notice appeared on the wall next to Brookfield’s contact information designating the park for “passive recreation” and prohibiting, among other things, “lying down on the ground, or lying down on benches, sitting areas or walkways when it unreasonably interferes with the use of benches, sitting areas, or walkways to others.” It was clearly an attempt to end the occupation.

Occupiers responded with a community effort to make the park so ...

Published: Tuesday 11 October 2011
“The occupation of Wall Street has formed an alternative community that defies the profit-driven hierarchical structures of corporate capitalism.”

Ketchup, a petite 22-year-old from Chicago with wavy red hair and glasses with bright red frames, arrived in Zuccotti Park in New York on Sept. 17. She had a tent, a rolling suitcase, 40 dollars’ worth of food, the graphic version of Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” and a sleeping bag. She had no return ticket, no idea what she was undertaking, and no acquaintances among the stragglers who joined her that afternoon to begin the Wall Street occupation. She decided to go to New York after reading the Canadian magazine Adbusters, which called for the occupation, although she noted that when she got to the park Adbusters had no discernable presence. 

The lords of finance in the looming towers surrounding the park, who toy with money and lives, who make the political class, the press and the judiciary jump at their demands, who destroy the ecosystem for profit and drain the U.S. Treasury to gamble and speculate, took little notice of Ketchup or any of the other scruffy activists on the street below them. The elites consider everyone outside their sphere marginal or invisible. And what significance could an artist who paid her bills by working as a waitress have for the powerful? What could she and the others in Zuccotti Park do to them? What threat can the weak pose to the strong? Those who worship money believe their buckets of cash, like the $4.6 million JPMorgan Chase gave* to the New York City Police Foundation, can buy them perpetual power and security. Masters all, kneeling before the idols of the ...

Published: Saturday 8 October 2011
On October 1, The New York General Assembly—the “official” spokesgroup of #OccupyWallStreet—released a document, “Declaration of the Occupation of New York City,” naming its reasons for the occupation.

“I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence”

To be radical—stemming from the Latin radix meaning root—suggests that it is about getting at the heart of a matter. Dr. King cut right through to the source of injustice and over forty-five years later, are we witnessing the rebirth of a radical revolution of values that Dr. King prophesied? Is #OccupyWallStreet and its comrades nationwide “on the right side of the world revolution?” In that bold speech Dr. King gave a year before his death, publicly breaking from the civil rights movement’s acquiescence to the status quo support of American involvement in Vietnam, King warned that “a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense that on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” Has the United States, by spending upwards of $3 trillion-dollars on wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Libya and maintaining over 1,000 overseas military bases in more than 50 countries, reached a moral, economic, political and spiritual tipping point?

#OccupyWallStreet is well into its third week of camping out at Liberty Plaza. On October 1, The New York General Assembly—the “official” spokesgroup of #OccupyWallStreet—released a document, 

Published: Sunday 2 October 2011
“This is a democratic awakening,” Cornel West, a prominent activist and Princeton professor, told journalists prior to speaking before nearly 2,000 protestors at Occupy Wall Street's General Assembly on Tuesday.

Since Sep. 17, hundreds of demonstrators in the Occupy Wall Street movement have transformed the quiet Zucotti Park in lower Manhattan from a place where Wall Street traders once relaxed during lunch breaks into a demonstration camp.

Participants from all over the United States have joined the movement that criticizes the injustices of the capitalist system and calls for greater democracy and individual freedom.

Their base is right in front of the aptly named Liberty Plaza, former headquarters of NASDAQ and current office of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

"This is a democratic awakening," Cornel West, a prominent activist and Princeton professor, told journalists prior to speaking before nearly 2,000 protestors at Occupy Wall Street's General Assembly on Tuesday.

The protest was first called up in July 2011 by Adbusters and Anonymous, two groups of social activists, artists and hackers.

"We are trying to build the community and the culture we would like to see in the world," explained Isham Christie, film theory and philosophy student at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Centre and an organizer of the protest, calling it a "fight for a (fairer) world".

"People who feel alienated from the consumer society or don't have jobs or are homeless… can come here and be supported," Christie told IPS. "We are trying to build an alternative institution to what we see as the exploitative, oppressive capitalistic society that we live in."

"If only the war on poverty was a real war. Then we would actually be putting ...

Published: Sunday 2 October 2011
Mainstream media are usually a part of a movement’s opponent, and they certainly are in this case.

Among those part of and concerned with the Occupy Wall Street movement, it’s very common to hear complaints about the lack of mainstream media coverage. There’s even a sign at the occupation’s media center that says, “Welcome to the media blackout.” To a large extent, the blackout is real. The New York Times and other local papers didn’t give the movement headlines until almost a week in, with the exception of a cover story in Metro that first Wednesday. And, while several local TV stations were at Liberty Plaza during the first week, their reports weren’t being picked up by national affiliates. Only recently has this begun to change.

Online, there have been accusations of outright censorship. Yahoo has admitted to “not intentional” blocking of emails with links to occupywallst.org, blaming their spam filter. (This excuse is not widely believed, but plausible—I’ve seen the site trigger non-Yahoo spam filters as well.) Twitter has similarly blocked #occupywallstreet from being listed as a trending topic. (This may be because it keeps being throttled by Anonymous bots—or, more conspiratorially, because a considerable stake in the company is owned by JPMorgan Chase, which also just donated $4.5 million to the NYPD.)

Really, though, what do you expect? Resistance movements should not count on coverage by establishment news outlets, much less favorable coverage. Mainstream media are usually a part of a movement’s ...

Published: Saturday 1 October 2011
They were predicted to be a flash in the pan. So why are the anti-Wall Street occupations growing?

#OccupyWallStreet protests are now well into their second week, and they are increasingly capturing the public spotlight. This is because, whatever limitations their occupation has, the protesters have done many things right.

I will admit that I was skeptical about the #OccupyWallStreet effort when it was getting started. My main concerns were the limited number of participants and the lack of coalition building. One of the things that was most exciting about the protests in Madison—and the global justice protests of old such as Seattle and A16—was that they brought together a wide range of constituencies, suggesting what a broad, inclusive progressive movement might look like. You had student activists and unaffiliated anarchists, sure; but you also had major institutional constituencies including the labor movement, environmentalists, faith-based organizations, and community groups. The solidarity was powerful. And, in the context of a broader coalition, the militancy, creativity, and artistic contributions of the autonomist factions made up for their lack of an organized membership base.

With #OccupyWallStreet, the protest did not draw in any of the major institutional players on the left. Participants have come independently—mostly from anarchist and student activist circles—and turnout has been limited. Some of the higher estimates for the first day’s gathering suggest that a thousand people might have been there, and only a few hundred have been camping out.

That said, this relatively small group has been holding strong. As their message has gained traction—first in the alternative media, and then in mainstream news sources—they have drawn wider interest. On Tuesday night, Cornel West visited the occupied Zuccotti Park and spoke to an audience estimated at 2,000. Rallies planned for later in the week will likely attract larger crowds. People will come because the occupation is now a hot ...

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