Photography and Captions by Fidel Hernandez, BustersNYC
Retired Police Captain Raymond Lewis joins Occupy Wall Street
* Occupiers Occupied: The Hijacking of the First Amendment
by Robert Reich, Huffington Post
…First things first. The Supreme Court’s rulings that money is speech and corporations are people have now opened the floodgates to unlimited (and often secret) political contributions from millionaires and billionaires. Consider the Koch brothers (worth $25 billion each), who are bankrolling the Tea Party and already running millions of dollars worth of ads against Democrats.
Such millionaires and billionaires aren’t contributing their money out of sheer love of country. They have a more self-interested motive. Their political spending is analogous to their other investments. Mostly they want low tax rates and friendly regulations.
Wall Street is punishing Democrats for enacting the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation (weak as it is) by shifting its money to Republicans. The Koch brothers’ petrochemical empire has financed, among many other things, candidates who will vote against environmental protection.
This tsunami of big money into politics is the real public nuisance. It’s making it almost impossible for the voices of average Americans to be heard because most of us don’t have the dough to break through. By granting First Amendment rights to money and corporations, the First Amendment rights of the rest of us are being trampled on.
This is where the Occupiers come in. If there’s a core message to the Occupier movement it’s that the increasing concentration of income and wealth poses a grave danger to our democracy.
* What Do Democracy, Civil Disobedience and Police Brutality Look Like? A Photo Essay.
by jpmassar on DailyKos
…See if you can determine, from each set, which picture falls into which category.
READ and Photo Essay @ http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/11/16/1037156/-What-Do-Democracy,-Civil-Disobedience-and-Police-Brutality-Look-Like-A-Photo-Essay
* Robert Reichest: “The days of apathy are over”
by Peter Finocchiaro
… I urge you to to be patient with yourselves, because — with regard to every major social movement of the last half-century or more — it started with a sense of moral outrage. Things were wrong. And the actual coalescence of that moral outrage into specific demands, or specific changes, came later. The moral outrage was the beginning. The days of apathy are over, folks! Once this has begun, it cannot be stopped, and will not be stopped.
* Judge Temporarily Bars Eviction of Boston Protesters
by Jess Bidgood, New York Times
… Judge Frances A. McIntyre, citing the protesters’ right to free speech in her decision, said the city would need a court order in order to evict protesters, unless there are emergent circumstances like a fire, medical emergency or outbreak of violence.
“What the plaintiffs can point to is that abridgment of First Amendment rights is irreparable harm,” Judge McIntyre said.
While police officers have raided protest sites in cities like New York, Oakland, Calif., and Portland, Ore., law enforcement in Boston has been relatively tolerant of the original encampment, although an attempt last month to expand the camp there was met with more than 140 arrests. City officials say that, although they are monitoring the demonstration daily, they have no plans to move in on the camp in Dewey Square, which is a public park.
But after hearing of the New York Police Department’s raid on Occupy Wall Street on Tuesday morning, Howard Cooper, a lawyer working in cooperation with local chapters of the National Lawyers Guild and the American Civil Liberties Union, filed for a temporary restraining order and a more permanent injunction that could prevent a similar surprise raid.
“Looking around and seeing what’s going on around the country, we just worry that something might happen here in Boston,” Urszula Masny-Latos, executive director of the Massachusetts chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, said on Tuesday.
A lawyer for the city, William F. Sinnott, argued that it needed to be able to evict protesters without warning because officials did not want to give protesters a chance to mobilize.
* Exclusive Video: Inside Police Lines at the Occupy Wall Street Eviction
by Josh Harkinson, Mother Jones
… A few yards away, the last occupiers took turns waving a large American flag. Huddled inside the park’s makeshift kitchen, they seemed as diverse as Occupy Wall Street: There was a shaggy punk in a spiky leather jacket. A young girl in a red sweatshirt that read “Unity.” Clean-shaven guys wearing glasses. A shirtless occupier named Ted Hall, who has led an effort to hone the movement’s “visions and goals.” All of them surrounded a smaller group of occupiers who’d chained their necks to a pole.
A white-shirted officer moved in with a bullhorn. “If you don’t leave the park you are subject to arrest. Now is your opportunity to leave the park.”
Nobody budged. As a lone drum pounded, I climbed up on the wall to get a better view.
“Can I help you?” an burly officer asked me, his helpfulness belied by his scowl.
“I’m a reporter,” I told him.
“This is a frozen zone, all right?” he said, using a term I’d never heard before. “Just like them, you have to leave the area. If you do not, you will be subject to arrest.”
By then, riot police were moving in, indiscriminately dousing the peaceful protesters with what looked like pepper spray or some sort of gas. As people yelled and screamed and cried, I tried to stay calm.
“I promise to leave once the arrests are done,” I replied.
“No, you are going to leave now.”
He grabbed my arm and began dragging me off. My shoes skidded across the park’s slimy granite floor. All around me, zip-cuffed occupiers writhed on the ground beneath a fog of chemicals.
“I just want to witness what is going on here,” I yelped.
“You can witness it with the rest of the press,” he said. Which, of course, meant not witnessing it.
“Why are you excluding the press from observing this?” I asked.
“Because this is a frozen zone. It’s a police action going on. You could be injured.”
His meaning was clear. I let myself be hustled across the street to the press pen.
“What’s your name?”
His reply came as fast as he could turn away: “Watch your back.”
READ @ http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/11/occupy-wall-street-police-raid-eviction
* Surprise, Homeland Security Coordinates #OWS Crackdowns
by Wonkette Jr., Wonkette
… Rick Ellis of the Minneapolis edition of Examiner.com has this, based on a “background conversation” he had with a Justice Department official on Monday night:
Over the past ten days, more than a dozen cities have moved to evict “Occupy” protesters from city parks and other public spaces. As was the case in last night’s move in New York City, each of the police actions shares a number of characteristics. And according to one Justice official, each of those actions was coordinated with help from Homeland Security, the FBI and other federal police agencies.
According to this official, in several recent conference calls and briefings, local police agencies were advised to seek a legal reason to evict residents of tent cities, focusing on zoning laws and existing curfew rules. Agencies were also advised to demonstrate a massive show of police force, including large numbers in riot gear. In particular, the FBI reportedly advised on press relations, with one presentation suggesting that any moves to evict protesters be coordinated for a time when the press was the least likely to be present.
Well gosh, that’s exactly what happened. Good to know the FBI and DHS are “always there to help a brother out.” (This is their motto, in Latin.)
(And for those who are understandably doubtful about Examiner.com as a news source, here’s an AP story from a couple hours ago that verifies everything except the specific mention of DHS coordination.)
Meanwhile, according to the steady stream of insanity on the Twitter, the Seattle riot cops just “maced a pregnant woman, a kid, a priest, and a blind woman w/ a fucking cane!” We know a version of this with a rabbi and Batman and Jesus and a grasshopper ordering a Grasshopper at a bar, we think? But nothing about riot cops spraying a pregnant woman with mace.
First of all, thank you so much for making this occupation possible. I fully support this occupation and am grateful to all of you American heroes, who are on the front lines. The occupation is brilliant and has given me hope for the first time in over a decade.
And, thank you, for agreeing to be interviewed, Azzah. I am very interested in learning about the process of the General Assembly and the working groups. The more people understand what is taking place, the more advantageous to the occupation.
I hope you enjoy this interview. I look forward to your response.
Who are you?
My name is Azzah Marie
I am 26 years old.
Where are you from? Where do you live now?
I am from Marlton, NY. I live in Orlando, FL and a lot of my family is in Florida. I am a convert to Islam. My family background is Italian and Irish.
I have a B.A. in Political Science: International Relations and Comparative Politics. I am in graduate courses now in Secondary Education, as I want to teach. I am attending at my Alma Mater, The University of Central Florida. I also speak six languages.
I have been able to only obtain one full time job for two years since graduating in 2008, at the US Census Bureau as a Recruiting Office Supervisor and Enumerator.
When and why did you join the occupation?
I joined the Occupation since September 17, 2011 when we had the first GA at the popular public park in Downtown Orlando, FL. I have been following the Global Revolution/Arab Spring since the start of the year 2011 with Tunisia and then Egypt and all the way down the line.
Which working group do you belong to? How long has your working group been active? Please explain the issue your group is debating. What is your position and why is this working group’s issue important to you?
I am not in a specific working group.
We are Occupy Orlando. We have started the Occupation at Senator Beth Johnson Park on October 15, 2011. I participate in all the group efforts.
I canvass at the University and collect petition signatures. I promote the group by internet and word of mouth. We have been active since before September 2011. We have petitioned Mayor Buddy Dyer to keep the park open past curfew.We also attend City Council, Legislative State Representative meetings and many city events with denoted speakers, like the Mayor.
We are talking about a strike, maybe the toll roads. The park we occupy pays $1 rent a year. The Chamber of Commerce pays this rent for their building at the park. We want to offer to pay $2 for rent instead.
All the issues are important to me. I would like the park to be open as we had 22 arrests for staying in the park after 11pm. I would also like that the money/political lobbying in the city, state and federal levels to cease and desist. We are very aware of all the backroom deals these politicians and bankers are making and we find out more everyday.
What is the origin of the General Assembly?
Most people will never know this, but in Islam our holy Prophet Muhammad AS has an account of speaking at a mountain in Saudi Arabia called Mount Ghadir. Here he announced his successor Imam Ali AS. This was a meeting of the public who also participated in the “mic check” as they would repeat what the Prophet AS said. It was not like a nomination but like an appointment and the separation of the Islamic public began. Imam Ali AS was appointed religious successor by the Prophet as a revelation but the people wanted to nominate others for their desires. Essentially a consensus was not met and many left the group.
Can you please walk me through the process of the General Assembly / the working groups?
Call to order
Explanation of voting process: We vote by hand signals and we learn how to applaud without clapping to maintain order.
Old business: (Old Proposals) These are proposals that could not reach a consensus from the last meeting. (In our group, the person who blocks the proposal is like a veto. This blocker MUST work with the proposer and re-draft the original proposal, and take a re-vote.
A block is when a person is so strongly opposed to the pass of the proposal that they will leave the group altogether.
New Business: (All New Proposals) New proposals can be submitted before the GA or given to a coordinator, at least two at GA during the meeting. The coordinator will write and give the proposal to the Facilitator, who runs the meeting, the speaker. We share the roles and they are on a volunteer basis. We vote after the proposers explain their proposal.
Announcements: All current and upcoming events are announced here.
We have an Open Forum one hour before the GA, here one can discuss any topic. In the GA it is only for voting and clarification.
Generally, how many people participate in the General Assembly?
We usually have about 30-60 or more people in the GA.
How many working groups are there, in Orlando, and what issues are being debated? (A few examples or a link to a list)
Occupyorlando.org has a lot of info about what we do, forums, and GA minutes.
We have a lot of groups like peacekeepers, medics, supply keepers, food staff, organizers of information and material, media and internet moderators and much more.
What are the requirements for creating a working group?
A working group must be proposed and have consensus at the GA. A group is formed and if you wish to be a member than you can apply online at the above address or see that group member. The info desk at our occupation has all the info. The groups are called teams and are denoted by colors like white team, green team, red team etc..
Is there a limit to how many working groups you can belong to?
There is no limit to joining or working in groups as far as I know.
How can people participate in the GA or a working group online?
People can watch the GA live from our livestream @ http://www.livestream.com/occupy_orlando
GA times are on the OccupyOrlando.org website, the time is usually at 7pm but can happen at 8pm.
What are the strengths of the GA process?
The following of protocol/rules and their application in the GA is very important to keep order and progress. People respect the process, every individual opinion and we take it seriously. We are strong when we are like this because we will make progress like this.
What are the biggest challenges re: participating in the GA process and the process itself?
A big challenge is getting down to the point. We all have a lot of ideas but we can only discuss so much when we need to take action. Staying on point during the meeting is sometimes hard because people like to talk too long or tend to get off topic. We usually need to keep order stating a point is off topic and sometimes call to wrap it up. So far there is a solution to every challenge and that GA is improving in productivity and organization.
Where is this leading? I read about a Constitutional Convention planned for July 4, 2012, in Philadelphia. Would you elaborate on what will take place during that process and what needs to happen before the Constitutional Convention?
This is a global change and an umbrella for world issues. We know that the Central banking system is corrupt. We know that the economy will do better under the Glass-Steagall Act. We know that the IMF is profiting. The Constitution is clear on Constitutionality. The more deranged we are of our constitutional rights the more freedom we lose.
I don’t know what will be discussed at the Convention but it will focus on the return to the constitution and amending parts that are not constitutional or government factions that are not constitutionally legal. Of course, we need a majority but we consider OWS to be the majority. So before the convention we really need to be educated and educate the masses. If we are educated than we do not need to depend on others to do this for their own agenda and hope the will come through. We will all be leaders and have an agenda by consensus.
Will OWS formally redress Congress of our grievances? When and how will that take place?
It is too soon to tell about a formal redress to Congress. However, yes, I believe that OWS will eventually work up the echelon to formally take political action. We demand our first amendment right that states we the people have the right to petition the government. If and when it takes place, it is hard to tell. I think the movement is growing faster and stronger than imagined; so I also think the strikes are a large step. We will probably do these things like an official redress sooner than later.
Is there anything you would like to add? A question you wished I had asked?
We do not associate ourselves with a party or as a party, we are simply the 99%, world citizens. We do not officialize or discuss officially political parties, religion and candidates.
Anyone is free to say as they please as long as it does not dis-represent the OWS movement. We are strict with being peaceful, no derogatory language or statements and no intolerance for others’ First Amendment rights. Our Occupy Orlando group wants all to respect the police and recognize that they are the 99% too, even though they may not be respecting our rights.
I have more questions, but I don’t want to overwhelm you, as I am sure you are busy. I very much appreciate your taking the time to do this interview. If we can get people to understand the process, we will gain support.
Please ask me more questions; I am here for this movement and its success. I will give myself and my time as much as I can.