1. This land was made for you and me

    I recently listened to an interesting segment by On The Media about the etymology of the word, “occupy”. It brought to mind a thought that has been percolating awhile: Public spaces like parks and streets are not really ‘ours’. We, the people, pay for their creation and maintenance, but we don’t actually own these places in the sense that you or I might own a piece of land. Public property is public only in the sense that it’s owned by the state.

    On its face, this seems like a total ‘duh’ statement, but it’s actually kind of strange when you consider something like the Occupy Wall Street protests.

    What I find endlessly fascinating about the Occupy movement is that its main action so far has been claiming and occupying public sites like parks and municipal buildings. In a way, it might be more accurate to describe the Occupiers’ actions as reclaiming places that are supposedly open to all of us. The Oakland Occupiers were pointing out, by their very presence, that their City Hall wasn’t a place for everyone. Or at least, not for the unemployed, the homeless, the young, the dark, the marginalized, the poorly dressed, and the non-conforming. They were highlighting the fact that very few of us are actually welcome in our seats of government.

    That’s why I find the advice that Occupy protesters dress in business casual to be terribly misguided (and fishy, given some of the sources of this kind of advice). Of course well-dressed people with the appropriate licenses and permits, and the funds to buy these things, are welcome in public places. The lesson: you should look and behave exactly like the people who are oppressing you in order to be taken seriously. Of course.

    Besides deploring the fashion sense of protesters, pundits and public officials have expressed concerns about keeping public sites like Zucotti Park orderly, clean, and sanitary—that is, lawful

    The obsession with the aesthetics of the Occupy protests (in every respect) perhaps makes sense if you compare the (temporary) situation of protesters to homeless people. It’s a matter of course for the police to harass and evict homeless people who sleep or even just sit in parks, bus shelters, and sidewalks. Neither the Occupiers nor the homeless are using these public sites as, according to the law, they ought to be used. They are breaking the law simply by their presence. Parks are for approved recreational activities during sanctioned hours. Bus shelters are for travelers. Standing or sitting aimlessly on a sidewalk can get you a ticket for ‘loitering’. Living in any of these places is illegal.

    If one views these facts through a vaguely Marxist filter (as one does), then the pro-capitalist intention behind these ordinances against misappropriating public spaces becomes clearer. Being obviously unemployed in public places is illegal. Being obviously poor in public places is unlawful. One is reminded of the Anatole France quote:

    The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.

    Tweak this a bit and the absurdity of official and police actions against the Occupy protests is stark:

    The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep in parks in wintry conditions to protest pro-corporate government policies, and to be tear gassed and injured by the police while demonstrating against the undemocratic concentration of power in the economic elite.

    The Occupy movement chose its name wisely. The protesters are occupying spaces that are public in name only. Living in Zucotti Park and other spaces supposedly intended for the public’s use—when they are actually spaces reserved for the (visibly) employed and non-impoverished—is a means of reclaiming these spaces for all of the people…not just business men on their lunchbreaks. The continuing occupation of these public sites without official permission is a symbolic rebuke of inegalitarian government policies that favor the few at the expense of the many.

    Simply by being in places where they’re not supposed to be, the Occupy protesters are saying, “this land is our land”—a message that politicians, pundits, journalists, and the wealthy have forgotten. The United States of America is not their land; it’s our land.

     
  2. thefuror:

    yakotta:

    photos via Contra Costa Times

    “BART trains not stopping at Embarcadero as Occupy SF braces for police raid” (San Jose Mercury News)

    I was at Occupy Oakland tonight. Here’s what happened:

    All night facilitators were announcing that SF knew it was getting raided tonight and that they NEEDED more people. Occupiers from SF came to Oscar Grant Plaza talking about the way the Oakland and SF occupations have been supporting each other. After Oakland’s General Assembly passed a proposal establishing Nov 5. as a city-wide general strike (by a 96.9% consensus of over 1500 people!!!), a group of Occupy Oakland protesters made their way over the the 12th St. BART station to catch a train to Justin Herman Plaza in SF. I was on the floor above, waiting for the Richmond train to take me back to Berkeley. The SF-bound protesters had music playing (La Roux’s “Bulletproof”) and were urging protesters to stay off the yellow line at the edge of the platform. Protesters on all three levels of the station were screaming Oscar Grant’s name. Then an announcement came over the loudspeakers that the SF train would NOT be stopping at the 12th street station, and would instead simply be passing through. Unsurprisingly, the Occupy Oakland protesters were none to happy about this. Then about half an hour later, as I was exiting the Downton Berkeley BART station, I heard another announcement over the intercom that the Embarcadero BART station in San Francisco was closed due to a “disturbance” and that ALL trains would simply pass through the Embarcadero without stopping. This is of course all AFTER BART closed the entrance to the BART station that is actually in Oscar Grant Plaza. Plus, police were in the 12th street station when I arrived in Oakland around 5:30, and they were still there, scary-looking batons and all, when I left around 10:30.

    Occupy San Francisco is likely being raided by the police TONIGHT. They did NOT have the numbers to hold Justin Herman Plaza, so BART has colluded with SFPD to silence us. This is not the first time BART has moved to suppress the First Amenment rights of Bay Area citizens. 

    According to the Occupy SF livestream, Occupy Oaklanders are driving over to Justin Herman Plaza to stand in solidarity with SF.

    Signal boost! Get the word out and help each other car pool!

     
  3. infinitecosmia:thephrygiancap:

    Police State Brutality @OCCUPYOAKLAND

    OPD have been denying up and down that they didn’t use any rubber bullets or flash grenades, when clearly all the evidence is there. A year ago if people saw these photos, they wouldn’t believe this was on American soil. The media somehow has convinced people to ignore this and go about their day. Nothing wrong here citizens, move along.

     
  4. Oakland police will no longer indiscriminately use wooden or rubber bullets, Taser stun guns, pepper spray and motorcycles to break up crowds, under an agreement announced Friday.

    The changes followed criticism and lawsuits against police for their tactics at a large demonstration against the Iraq war outside the Port of Oakland on April 7, 2003.

    The new policy settles part of a federal class-action lawsuit filed by 52 people who claimed their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and assembly were violated as they targeted two shipping companies with contracts tied to the war in Iraq.

    "What we’ve done is create a comprehensive policy that really provides a much more sensible, reasoned approach to managing demonstrations and crowds," said Rachel Lederman of the National Lawyers Guild in San Francisco.

    Oh, really?

     
  5. Want to read about OWS? Check out international coverage

    By the way, all of my posts about corporate journalism apply to American media outlets only. I’ve found that there’s way better coverage of OWS outside the U.S. The Guardian's coverage, in particular, has been very good. Most recently, their news blog wrote an excellent piece about the Oakland police department to give some background for their deplorable actions towards the Occupy Oakland protest.

    It’s fucking sad that I have to turn to the foreign journalists to get decent coverage of events happening in my country.

     
  6. image: Download

    damekatharsis:pieceinthepuzzlehumanity:liberal-linguaphile:fearandwar:




Your liberal media at work.

Fuck. Nothing else.

Has it really come this far?

That would explain the dearth of converge everywhere, including the fucking internet.

SHAME!

    damekatharsis:pieceinthepuzzlehumanity:liberal-linguaphile:fearandwar:

    Your liberal media at work.

    Fuck. Nothing else.

    Has it really come this far?

    That would explain the dearth of converge everywhere, including the fucking internet.

    SHAME!

     
  7. image: Download

    I’m sure the residents of Oakland feel safer knowing that the top priority for the Oakland PD today was to disperse a peaceful protest on public land.

    I’m sure the residents of Oakland feel safer knowing that the top priority for the Oakland PD today was to disperse a peaceful protest on public land.

     
  8. image: Download

     
  9. image: Download

    evanfleischer:

A woman in a wheel chair caught in the tear gas at Occupy Oakland.via.

    evanfleischer:

    A woman in a wheel chair caught in the tear gas at Occupy Oakland.

    via.

    (Source: evanfleischer)

     
  10.