Posts tagged ‘occupy wall street’

February 16, 2012

February 20th Day of Action Against Mass Incarceration

This coming Monday, February 20th is a national day of action in support of prisoners organized by Occupy 4 Prisoners.  Here in New York City, the Prisoner Solidarity Working Group, which originally formed as a subcommittee of the People of Color Working Group, is planning a march and action in Harlem at the Lincoln Correctional Facility.  What follows is information from the Prisoner Solidarity Working Group. 

For those outside of NYC, find an action in your area here.

MASS ACTION AGAINST THE PRISON INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX

Monday February 20th, 2pm
Lincoln Correctional Facility
31 W. 110th Street, NYC

The Prisoner Support Working Group of Occupy Wall Street answers Occupy Oakland’s call to action and march in solidarity with the California Pelican Bay hunger strike, with brothers and sisters who are dispossessed by the criminal INJUSTICE system, and with political prisoners everywhere.

The Prison Industrial Complex = Capitalism on Steroids.

Mass incarceration is the new Jim Crow. Between 1970 and 1995, the incarceration of African Americans increased seven-fold. African Americans make up 12 % of the population in the U.S. and 53% of the nation’s prison population. There are more African Americans enslaved under correctional control today—in prison or jail, on probation or parole—than there were in 1850.

For more information visit occupy4prisoners.org or contact F20action@gmail.com.

February 6, 2012

Participatory Democracy and the Occupy Movement

By Katie Meta

1. Intro and motivation

The Occupy movement began in New York City’s Zucotti Park in September 2011, as a protest against economic inequality and specifically against the banks of Wall Street. Occupy quickly spread, and around the world camps were set up in public spaces, protesting against economic inequality, and organising themselves non-hierarchically, with decisions made in leaderless General Assemblies. The occupations are notable for their lack of a platform or list of demands, as shown in this statement from Occupy Oakland:

To the Politicians and the 1%: This occupation is its own demand. Since we don’t need permission to claim what is already ours, we do not have a list of demands to give you. There is no specific thing you can do in order to make us “go away”. And the last thing we want is for you to preserve your power, to reinforce your role as the ruling classes in our society.

What does it mean to say that “This occupation is its own demand”? I would argue that this expresses a desire for Participatory Democracy; a political system characterised by a lack of hierarchy, in which people participate directly in making decisions that affect them. This is in contrast to Representative Democracy, in which people vote for their rulers once every four or five years but apart from that have few opportunities to participate in decision-making. At least for some participants, the purpose of Occupy is not to influence government, but to replace it.

However the form of participatory democracy practised within the Occupy movement is far from perfect, and despite the best of intentions what happens in General Assemblies falls short of full and equal democratic participation for all. Many people are drawn into this movement by the promise of openness and equal participation, and so when these promises are not realised, people drift away.

In this article I’m going to look at how participatory democracy is practised within Occupy and related movements, show some of the problems that often come up, and suggest some improvements. I’m also going to talk more generally about how Participatory Democracy can be used in other types of organisations. Finally I’ll argue that Participatory Democracy isn’t just something that just happens in meetings, and that is requires a cultural shift in the way we think and related to each-other. This shift requires hard work, but in my opinion it’s definitely achievable.

I’m not involved in the Occupy movement. However I was involved for several years in the UK Camp for Climate Action, which had a similar organisational structure. I’m going to start by describing this organisational structure in a somewhat simplified and idealised way – every group is different so this won’t perfectly match any particular group.

January 31, 2012

Survivor Support and Accountability Processes: Interview with Support New York

By Martyna Starosta

My participation in various OWS working groups taught me that safer spaces don’t simply exist. It actually takes a lot of critical analysis, effort, and patience to create those.

My comrades and I had a lot of heated discussions about the surprisingly persistent figure of the “male anarchist hero” and the often outraging paradox of patriarchal behavior in anti-oppression working groups.

I recently interviewed the Brooklyn-based collective Support New York about this question. In this conversation, the volunteers Kat and Milo analyzed harmful patterns of behavior in radical communities and talked about their methods to transform these patterns.

Support New York is dedicated to heal the effects of sexual assault and abuse within the radical community.The collective focuses on meeting the needs of the survivor, and holding accountable those who have perpetrated harm. The volunteers also strive for a larger dialog within the community about consent, mutual aid, and challenging the society’s narrow definition of abuse.
Even though Support New York operates within a narrow local radius, it can serve as an inspiring case study of community empowerment and transformative justice.
More Projects by Martyna Starosta alias The Film Detective: thefilmdetective.org
January 25, 2012

From Building Tents to Building Movements: Reflections from Occupy DC

By Vasudha Desikan and Drew Franklin

WELCOME TO D.C.

“Occupy is not a panacea, but an opening. It will help us clear the way to a more mature political landscape. It has begun to breathe in the many currents of dissatisfaction and breathe out a new radical imagination.” Vijay Prashad

The question of what the “Occupy” movement is has concerned us ever since it spread to Washington D.C. in October of last year. After witnessing Occupy Wall Street’s tremendous growth in New York, we were inspired to see for ourselves the potential for radical mobilization in our city, where the corporate and state arms of global capital meet. The seat of power in the United States, D.C. has a long history as a center for protest, frequently drawing in activists from all over the country. It is also home to 600,000 legislatively and electorally disenfranchised residents, who have been engaged in their own unique struggles. Occupy D.C. had (and in some respects still has) exciting potential to work in solidarity with these community struggles and catalyze radical growth here and around the country.

From day one, we spent considerable time at Occupy D.C.’s chosen encampment, McPherson Square, a quiet park situated two blocks from the White House on K St. (this location was strategic and symbolic, as downtown K St. is recognized for its concentration of corporate headquarters and lobbying firms.) As anarchists committed to direct democracy, we helped build up the Facilitation committee and worked to implement consensus building processes at general assemblies, spokescouncils, and working groups. We watched the occupation grow quickly from a small group of no more than fifty people making and holding signs, to a “tent city” practicing mutual aid, with free medical care, a free kitchen, and its own library, among other things. Marches grew from ten or twenty people with poorly coordinated chants to hundreds of marchers taking the streets, blocking traffic, and barricading or taking over targeted buildings.

Occupy represented an exciting, transformative moment that saw rage and disillusion fuse with direct action tactics in a strike against oppressive institutions. It brought together hundreds of strangers who might have never worked together, deeply inspired and reinvigorated many burned-out activists, and fostered the development of leadership among a new generation of young radicals—all while helping change the national discourse around inequality. But the movement also has flaws, some quite serious, and they merit further examination.

It was many of these shortcomings that resulted in our very intentional abstention from Occupy D.C. Having stepped back from McPherson, we want to critically reflect on these past few months. 2012 will be a crucial year for popular uprising, as revolutions continue around the world, and as the U.S. gears up for the most expensive presidential election in history. We can learn a lot from the Occupy movement—its successes and failures—and use that experience to keep building momentum and guide popular discontent toward revolutionary struggle.

"DC activists lead an anti-oppression workshop at McPherson Square in October." Photo credit: Rooj Alwazir

January 23, 2012

Defending the People’s Mic

By Pham Binh

The People’s Mic.  Created by occupiers in Liberty Park after the New York Police Department (NYPD) prevented us from using bullhorns, used on Republican Governor Scott Walker and Democratic President Barack Obama, it’s one of the most effective means we’ve devised to give voice to the 99%.

We don’t own media empires or have expensive sound systems, but we will be heard!

However, the powerful people’s mic is not invincible, especially at smaller rallies, protests, flashmobs, and speakouts.

On January 3, the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority’s police force (yes, they have one of their own) arrested two people leading the people’s mic.

Lauren DiGioia (seen above), the hard-working member of the sanitation group and one of the womensexually assaulted at the Liberty encampment, was mobbed by cops, dragged away, and issued a summons as she spoke out against the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that allows the government to detain accused terrorists indefinitely without trial. Obama signed NDAA into law, giving Bush’s attacks on civil liberties after 9/11 the “change we can believe in” seal of approval.

This type of action by the cops is going to become common as we continue to make our voices heard. They are adapting their tactics in response to us adapting our tactics. It’s a continual battle between us and them and now it’s our move.