It’s shaping up to be a busy spring for Occupy. The movement born last year in a New York City park has come roaring back to life this week after a period of hibernation. It promises to be even livelier in weeks and months to come.
On Monday, according to the Sacramento Bee, a crowd numbering in the thousands, including Occupy protesters, converged on California’s capital to denounce soaring college tuition costs. Chanting “You’ll hear us out, or we’ll vote you out,” they tried to occupy the capitol rotunda. Some succeeded. In what the Bee called “a massive show of force,” 100 California Highway Patrol officers arrested 68.
Occupy is taking credit for the White House’s recent decision to move a May meeting G-8 leaders from Chicago, where Occupy and other groups had threatened protests, to safer and more remote Camp David. “We scored a victory, forcing them to retreat to the back woods of Maryland,” Andy Thayer, Occupier and spokesperson for the Coalition Against NATO/G-8, tells ABC News.
Protests still will be mounted, he says, against NATO, which has chosen not to flee Chicago and will meet there as planned. “There’ll be a mass march on the NATO summit,” says Thayer, “not only a march, but any number of other activities. It’s unclear whether it will be on the 19th or 20th. We will decide in the next few days.”
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is urging his City Council to enact strict new restrictions on many forms of protest on Wednesday, January 18. Local advocates say the Council is distracted by a fierce redistricting battle and that the new ordinance is likely to pass unnoticed, unless there’s a huge outcry.
Occupy Rogers Park and Occupy South Side started an urgent petition on Change.org to tell Chicago’s aldermen to block these new restrictions on free speech in Chicago. Sign their petition now telling the Chicago City Council not to pass the Mayor’s new anti-protest legislation on Wednesday.
According to the Chicago Tribune and the Wall Street Journal, the proposed ordinance imposes impossible-to-meet requirements, confusing restrictions and sky-high fines on protest organizers and participants, including:
- A 2-hour time limit on all protests;
- An increase in minimum fines from $50 to $1000 for violations of “parade regulations”;
- A curfew in public spaces; and
- A requirement to pre-register “attention-getting devices”, including signs and megaphones, at least 1 week before the event.
Perhaps most startling is the provision that would allow the Mayor’s office to sign no-bid contracts with security companies — whose employees may lack suitable training and oversight to prevent gross abuses.
Occupy Rogers Park and Occupy South Side started the petition because they believe that “this ordinance is a direct attack on anyone in this city who might ever walk a picket line, attend a rally, or stand in solidarity with others in support of a cause.” They want to flood City Council’s inboxes with messages opposing Chicago’s proposed anti-protest legislation, and make sure this message is heard loud and clear before Wednesday’s vote.
Thanks for being a change-maker,
- Weldon and the Change.org team