Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi — he who coined the immortal phrase about Goldman Sachs being a “bloodsucking vampire” — spoke at an Occupy Wall Street rally today. Via Taibbi’s blog:Occupy Wall Street is kicking off a new series of actions today, and as part of the campaign, I’m going to be speaking at Bryant Park at 11 a.m., through about noon, when a march will begin.
The topic is Too-Big-To-Fail banks, and Bank of America in particular.
The Twitters were abuzz with reports from his speech. We’re going to post a few of Taibbi’s thoughts about Bank of America via Twitter.
Occupy SF Broke Up With Bank of America This Valentines Day. Activists Ellen and David perform ‘relationship drama’ street theater educating BoA customers about the bank’s financing of dirty coal and hydro-fracking companies.
Successful movements have understood that it’s absolutely essential not to fall into the trap set out by the authorities and spend one’s time condemning and attempting to police other activists. One makes one’s own principles clear. One expresses what solidarity one can with others who share the same struggle, and if one cannot, tries one’s best to ignore or avoid them, but above all, one keeps the focus on the actual source of violence, without doing or saying anything that might seem to justify that violence because of tactical disagreements you have with fellow activists.
I remember my surprise and amusement, the first time I met activists from the April 6 Youth Movement from Egypt, when the issue of non-violence came up. “Of course we were non-violent,” said one of the original organizers, a young man of liberal politics who actually worked at a bank. “No one ever used firearms, or anything like that. We never did anything more militant than throwing rocks!”Here was a man who understood what it takes to win a non-violent revolution! He knew that if the police start aiming tear-gas canisters directly at people’s heads, beating them with truncheons, arresting and torturing people, and you have thousands of protesters, then some of them will fight back. There’s no way to absolutely prevent this. The appropriate response is to keep reminding everyone of the violence of the state authorities, and never, ever, start writing long denunciations of fellow activists, claiming they are part of an insane fanatic malevolent cabal…
Gandhi and his movement were regularly denounced in the media, just as non-violent anarchists are also always denounced in the media… as a mere front for more violent, terroristic elements, with whom he was said to be secretly collaborating. He was regularly challenged to prove his non-violent credentials by assisting the authorities in suppressing such elements. Here Gandhi remained resolute. It is always morally superior, he insisted, to oppose injustice through non-violent means than through violent means. However, to oppose injustice through violent means is still morally superior to not doing anything to oppose injustice at all.
And Gandhi was talking about people who were blowing up trains, or assassinating government officials. Not damaging windows or spray-painting rude things about the police.
Yesterday, Occupy Oakland moved to convert a vacant building into a community center to provide education, medical, and housing services for the 99%. Police responded with tear gas, rubber bullets, beanbag rounds and mass arrests. The state has compounded its policy of callous indifference with a ruthless display of violent repression. The Occupy movement will respond, as we have always reponded: with an overwhelming show of collective resistance. Today, we take to the streets. Across the country, we will demonstrate our resolve to overcome repression and continue to build a better world grounded in love and solidarity for one another. All eyes on all Occupies.
SOLIDARITY SUNDAY, 7pm EST, Sunday, January 29. Check your local Occupation for convergence points.
Washington Square Park 7PM
Photos from the ongoing police-protester standoff in Oakland right now. All of the photos were taken by Intifada Tent, a Twitter user currently live-tweeting from Oakland. The tear gas canister pictured above is, according to @IntifadaTent, the same brand used by the Israeli military.
Today was the Occupy Wall Street West day of action against the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision that gave corporations the same free speech rights as people. (Jan 21 is the decision’s 2-year anniversary.) Rainforest Action Network and The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment joined with Occupy Wall St. West to conduct a “man” hunt for Mr. Bank O. America, a corporate “person” who is considered an extreme menace to society.
Wanted: Mr. Bank O. America, Menace To Society
This morning, we conducted a manhunt in San Francisco. Or, I should say, a “man” hunt.
If corporations are people, then this Mr. Bank O. America fellow is a clear and present danger to society, and he must be brought to justice. So we teamed up with The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, rounded up a posse, and searched the streets of San Francisco for this fugitive from justice.
We went to several of his known hangouts (otherwise known as Bank of America branches) with a citizen’s arrest warrant in hand. But the perp had flown the coop before we got to each location.
Just to make sure Mr. Bank O. America’s crime spree is brought to an end as soon as possible, we pasted the arrest warrant all over town. If he exists — which I’m beginning to doubt — we’ll catch him.
Just what are Mr. Bank O. America’s crimes? It’s a long list. He’s a tax cheat who made off with BILLIONS in taxpayer dollars, even while he was putting thousands of Americans out of work by helping crash our economy. He’s a notorious bankroller of the dirtiest energy source — coal — and is thus responsible for poisoning countless communities across the States. And he has outright stolen more of America’s homes than any other bank-person-thing (sorry, the metaphor kinda broke down there — see how ridiculous the idea of corporate personhood is?).
Over time, the wave of mobilizations that first hit the shores of the Mediterranean and extended outwards over the course of 2011 has overcome its initial, expressive phase. This phase managed to substitute the dominant narrative with our own. We now know that the problem is not some mysterious technical failure we call a crisis, but the intentional crimes of a cleptocracy.
This distinction is crucial: while the first suggests a management dilemma that opposes left- and right-wing approaches to the crisis, the second draws a line between the 1 percent who abuse power in order to steal from the people and those who refuse to consent and choose to resist in the name of the other 99 percent.
Having reached this point, the obvious question becomes, “Now what?” Of course we should continue to protest together, especially if we choose to do so intermittently and massively, favouring a general critique of the system over particular causes. And at the smaller scale, that those specific struggles continue to take the streets is also desirable.
However, it is fundamentally important that these struggles are not overly disconnected from one another or the more general movement; that they unfold beyond their own spaces (hospitals, schools, factories, offices and so on) and into the broader metropolitan spaces of cleptocratic dominance. These processes serve to keep the questions that guide the movement alive and, therefore, adapting to the always changing situations in which they operate. Yet the question of what alternatives we can provide remains.
Five deaths have been reported in today’s Occupy Nigeria protests. (Three in Lagos, two in Kano.) Nigerians are calling for the removal of President Goodluck Jonathan. Their anger is in part a response to the removal of fuel subsidies, and in part an outright rejection of rampant government corruption. Many Nigerians live on less than $2 a day.