#occupywallstreet

VIDEO 3: In Belgium, a plainclothes police officer kicks an “indignant” protester associated with the Spanish movement full-on in the face during an occupation of a bank there. The police officer was later arrested. This is the difference between police brutality in the US and in the EU…

VIDEO 2: Bank of America REFUSES to let #OWSers close their accounts - suits and security guards keep a group of BofA ‘customers’ outside. (Saint Louis, MO - 12 October 2011)

VIDEO 1: Bank of America REFUSES to let a group of #OWSers close their accounts - locks them out of the building and complains to the police (Santa Cruz, CA - 7 October 2011)

Here are the highlights:

  • Of those who had an opinion on the occupation, 54% were favourable to the movement, with only 23% against (25% very favourable and 29% somewhat favourable, compared to 10% somewhat unfavourable and 13% very unfavourable)
  • 86% agree that Wall Street has too much influence in Washington.
  • 79% agree that the income gap in the United States is too large.
  • An amazing 71% agree that financial executives who had a hand in the 2008 crisis should be prosecuted!
  • 68% agree that the rich should pay more in taxes, and 73% agree that we should raise taxes on those who make $1 million or more a year. 74% agree that raising taxes on millionaires would NOT ‘hurt the economic recovery,’ contrary to the Republican panic.
  • Unfortunately, 56% believe that the protest will have little impact on the overall situation, but 30% believe it will have a positive impact.

While we should always be careful not to put too much stock in these polls, this one at least has some good news for those who support #OWS.

KEEP IT UP! People are listening!

Mayor Mike McGinn just issued the following statement about last night’s confused orders to Occupy Seattle protesters—police may arrest you, no they’re not going to arrest you, actually they’re going to play head games until they provoke protesters to do something rash—to say police were operating under his orders to warn arrests could happen:

The Parks Department and the Seattle Police were under instructions last night to inform people of the rules that apply to Westlake Park, but to not make arrests for camping at this time.

Got it, brilliant, police were simply under orders to threaten arrest. McGinn didn’t intend to follow through. So when Paul asked Lt. Nollette what they were doing, she was simply communicating that order:

"Everybody was advised twice that the park closes at 10:00 p.m. and that they could be subject to arrest.” Asked if the mayor knew about this, she said, “I have no idea.”

Very clever, Mike McGinn. You’re declaring support for the protesters and harassing them. The commanding officer on the scene was just telling protesters what could possibly, maybe, perhaps—who knows, really?—happen if they don’t leave. That jibes with this announcement that if protesters “don’t leave the area you can be subject to arrest for criminal trespass.”

But interesting that the cops didn’t know what the mayor’s office knew, the mayor’s office sent a staffer scrambling down to the scene to defuse the situation, and the police needed to make regular loudspeaker announcements (even though making noise was a ticketable offense a few nights ago because it would upset nearby residents). What will “Mayor” McGinn threaten next—and is he capable of following through?

Not surprisingly, Mr. Chavez expressed solidarity with American activists who have been staging rallies and marches against what they view as corporate greed by Wall Street.

The U.S. protests, which began last month in New York and have spread to Tampa, Florida, Seattle and other cities, have mostly been peaceful but sometimes resulted in confrontations. Dozens were arrested and police used pepper spray in New York earlier this week.

“This movement of popular outrage is expanding to 10 cities and the repression is horrible, I don’t know how many are in prison now,” Mr. Chavez said in comments at a political meeting in his Caracas presidential palace shown on state TV.

To the Mayor of Seattle and SPD: Stop Harassing the Occupiers!

So being a Seattle native, I still have a soft spot for my fellow rabble-rousers in the Northwest. Especially when I read that Occupy Portland had 3-5,000 people marching last weekend! The last thing Seattle needs is more of an inferiority complex about competing with Portland :) so I was glad to hear that Occupy Seattle is picking up some steam this week, slowly winning over the local unions and local media (The Stranger!) alike.

However, reading about how the Seattle Police Department and the Mayor’s Office have treated the occupiers is really disappointing. Over the past few days, they have been harassed by SPD and Park Police constantly, forbidding them from setting up tents, trying to drive them from the square, and generally being assholes. It’s gone so far that the Seattle Police have been ticketing drivers who drive by the occupation and honk in support. Can you believe that? Now, fast-forward to last night:

Mayor’s office spokesman Aaron Pickus said about an hour ago that cops wouldn’t bug protesters at Westlake Park tonight as long as they didn’t have a “structure.” But other than that, things were hunky-dorey.

Cut to right now.

Police are aggressively clearing people out of the park. Cops are telling people they can’t stand underneath the awnings, can’t wrap themselves in a tarp, and can’t even sit down with an umbrella. “You can’t have an umbrella open unless you’re standing and holding it,” a cop reportedly just told a few people who were sitting down next to their umbrellas. Paul Contant, intrepid reporter, just called to confirm that person’s account. And he added, “The cops are lined up under the awnings—I tried to get under an awning to type and and they told me I cannot be under the awning at all.” Police are also telling people they can’t lay under a tarp.

That’s right: you can now be arrested in Seattle’s Westlake Park for sitting down while holding an umbrella to protect yourself from the rain. All because the Mayor’s new ‘rules’ for the park, updated a couple days ago (conveniently), forbid erecting a structure in the park. And umbrellas apparently count as a structure to the police.

So, this is bullshit, right? I’ve already written the mayor to let him know that he can kiss my vote for his re-election goodbye if he doesn’t cut this out immediately. But we need as much help as we can get. If you can spare a couple minutes today, please let Mayor McGinn’s office know that you DO NOT approve of his strong-arm tactics to break up this demonstration!

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn’s Office: Phone (206) 684-4000 or email form: http://seattle.gov/mayor/citizen_response.htm

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes: Phone (206) 684-8200 and tell him to stick to his word and to not prosecute those who have been arrested!

Seattle Police Department: West Precinct (206) 684-8917. Tell them what you think of an ‘umbrella’ being classified as a structure!

Thanks for your time :)

- Jake

carton-rouge:

On October 7, 2011, representatives from Occupy Portland, the Portland Marathon, the Mayor’s office, and the City of Portland met to discuss plans for Chapman Park and Lownsdale Square.

After the conclusion of yesterday’s successful march, numerous people asked for permission to camp in the parks overnight. Those camping were told that the Portland Marathon has had a long-standing permit that began on October 7 at 9 a.m., to allow for preparations before Sunday’s Portland Marathon. This morning, Occupy Portland’s General Assembly held a press conference and stated that they were in support of the Portland Marathon and wanted to work collaboratively on an agreement that would suit the needs of both organizations.

The communication between all the parties has been marked by a desire to be collaborative. At this time, discussions are productive, but have not reached a final conclusion. We will release further updates as discussions progress.

The mood in the parks is relaxed, and people who are camping are otherwise following park rules. The Police Bureau will continuously monitor the camping situation, but are not expecting any large-scale issues.

Last night, one man and one juvenile were arrested by Central Precinct night shift officers after they were observed by a citizen “tagging” several locations in Downtown Portland, including a marked Portland Police Bureau patrol car. The Portland Police Bureau will make arrests as necessary, as we are committed to public safety. However, we believe there is a spirit of cooperation with Occupy Portland, and that participants are educating each other in an effort to deter further criminal activity.

Talk about setting a great example! NYPD, SFPD, Seattle PD, etc.: are you listening?

chasewhiteside:

I wanted to take a moment to respond to my various friends on various social networks who are linking to the above Ben & Jerry’s announcement that the brand supports the Occupy Wall Street protests.

It doesn’t really matter what Ben & Jerry’s board of directors supports as they are merely a division of consumer products conglomerate Unilever, the third largest food company behind Nestle and Kraft. Don’t be fooled by a shallow marketing ploy.

This is one of the problems with global corporations—they can have no obligation besides profit. The pleasant statements from a small brand within an enormous conglomerate do not reflect what your dollars support when you buy their products. Short of a Unilever announcement of support—followed by a fundamental restructuring of the company—we shouldn’t take the B&J statement seriously.

Ben & Jerry’s concerns don’t mesh with their parent company—you know, the people who pocket your money when you scarf down a pint of Schweddy Balls ice cream.

The B&J statement lists the following concerns they claim to share with the protestors:

  • The inequity that exists between classes in our country is simply immoral.
  • Many workers who have jobs have to work 2 or 3 of them just to scrape by.

When Unilever CEO Niall Fitzgerald left Unilever in 2004, he received more than $20-million in salary, bonus, and benefits. Current CEO Paul Polman has made it a priority to close factories, eliminate jobs, freeze wages, and raise the cost of their products. His starting pay package was around $4-million. By contrast, starting wages at Ben & Jerry’s are $8/hour. No wonder workers need 2 or 3 jobs just to scrape by.

  • We are in an unemployment crisis. Almost 14 million people are unemployed. Nearly 20% of African American men are unemployed. Over 25% of our nation’s youth are unemployed.

Unilever has laid off more than half its global workforce since 2000, despite increases in profits and productivity alongside rising executive pay packets. A 2010 report from FNV organization of unions found that Unilever has denied workers their legal rights, refused to recognize trade unions as representatives of the work-force, intimidated workers and replaced permanent workers with casual, temporary labourers who have fewer rights. It also estimated that around half of Unilever’s global workforce (approximately 150,000 people) is now outsourced. This means that all these people are not recognised as employees and Unilever does not pay them the wages and benefits that unions have successfully fought for and negotiated.

Unilever is concerned with racial inequality in employment. The company’s solution? Their very own skin-lightening cream.

Unilever’s proper concern for racial inequality in employment is ironic considering the company’s India division sells a skin-lightening cream (Fair & Lovely) that is promoted in commercials depicting depressed, dark-skinned women who are ignored by their employers until they use the cream, suddenly finding glamorous careers and happiness. Watch, it’s crazy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIUQ5hbRHXk 

And, why not, child labor, too:

The page goes on to list B&J’s myriad, mostly benign lobbying efforts, but this caught my eye:

  • Support for the Youth PROMISE Act, which funds proven youth violence prevention programs.

It’s good that they oppose child violence. But a report from Indian researcher Dr. D. Venkateswarlu for the Indian Committee of the Netherlands estimated that 25,000 children, mostly girls, work an average of ten to thirteen hours a day in cottonseed production for Hindustan Lever, a division of Unilever.

Okay, that’s all.

So, in case you’ve forgotten, it was a play in three acts.

In the first act, bankers took advantage of deregulation to run wild (and pay themselves princely sums), inflating huge bubbles through reckless lending. In the second act, the bubbles burst — but bankers were bailed out by taxpayers, with remarkably few strings attached, even as ordinary workers continued to suffer the consequences of the bankers’ sins. And, in the third act, bankers showed their gratitude by turning on the people who had saved them, throwing their support — and the wealth they still possessed thanks to the bailouts — behind politicians who promised to keep their taxes low and dismantle the mild regulations erected in the aftermath of the crisis.

Given this history, how can you not applaud the protesters for finally taking a stand?

Now, it’s true that some of the protesters are oddly dressed or have silly-sounding slogans, which is inevitable given the open character of the events. But so what? I, at least, am a lot more offended by the sight of exquisitely tailored plutocrats, who owe their continued wealth to government guarantees, whining that President Obama has said mean things about them than I am by the sight of ragtag young people denouncing consumerism.

Bear in mind, too, that experience has made it painfully clear that men in suits not only don’t have any monopoly on wisdom, they have very little wisdom to offer. When talking heads on, say, CNBC mock the protesters as unserious, remember how many serious people assured us that there was no housing bubble, that Alan Greenspan was an oracle and that budget deficits would send interest rates soaring.