Perrierberet at Occupy Wall Street

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Archive for December 2011

O.W.S. Christmas Is Salute To Diversity

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 NEW YORK CITY–Like for many families, Christmas presented an opportunity to stress unity rather than focus on division. Spending time in the presence of others and enjoying fellowship at a symbolic place on a symbolic day only seemed appropriate.

Hundreds of Occupy Wall Street activists attended a 24-hour celebration Sunday at Zuccotti Park, the symbolic center of the fledgling movement for social and economic justice that began 100 days before. Organizers said “Occupy Christmas” aimed to unify activists across the religious spectrum while also upholding the charitable ideals of a holiday often overshadowed and sometimes seemingly defined by consumerism.

“I’m not a strict Christian but I do believe that there was a guy named Jesus and he came with a message similar to what we are talking about with his flipping over the [tables] of the money-changers,” said Brendan Hunt of Queens, who attended the event before attending a family celebration.

The event featured music, religious services and an afternoon feast. Occupy activists originally intended to stage an event on a larger scale that would have required park owner Brookfield Properties to relax restrictions on permitted items.

“The vigil will not include camping, erecting structures, lying on the ground, placing tarps and sleeping bags on the property, or anything else that unreasonably interferes with others’ ability to enjoy the park,” the New York City Civil Liberties Union said in a Dec. 19 statement that urged Brookfield to accommodate the event organizers.

But the effort did not receive a response and some items such as chairs were ultimately not allowed by park security, according to Sebastian, an event organizer and U.K. native who declined to give his last name.

When members of Judson Memorial Church did not arrive to facilitate a midnight mass, activists opted to commence shortly after midnight by reading Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Christmas Sermon on Peace.” King said in the sermon, “Means and ends must cohere because end is preexistent in the means” — a message which resonated with members of the O.W.S. movement seeking to empower individuals rather than promote a specific policy agenda.

While plans originally were for an event more religious in nature, a new niche presented itself as the holiday drew close, Sebastian said.

“It became obvious to us that we were the only [Occupy] event planned for Christmas Day [so] we started to try to interact with other people and make it wider,” he noted.

Only days before, the Christian overtones of the holiday and the approximately $7000 in funding proposed for the event prompted resistance among some activists who attended a Dec. 21 spokescouncil meeting of O.W.S. organizers.

A specific budget for “Occupy Christmas” never materialized. Individual working groups contributed through their own budgets in addition to volunteering their time to ensure the event could be held at a cost of about $2000, Sebastian said.

“Even inside the movement we have differences of opinion and a certain amount of antagonisms which develop like it would in any other type of relationship,” said Richard Devoe, a professional activist who was one of many non-Christians present Sunday. “All that stuff is set aside Christmas Day.”

Some occupiers experience tensions not only within the movement but also from families who do not necessarily support their activism. An online video advised occupiers on how to tactfully discuss the movement with family members at holiday festivities. Hunt said he strengthened his resolve Sunday morning to remain committed to the movement despite setbacks.

“My family doesn’t really agree with what I’m doing here,” said Hunt. “They say, ‘It’s nice you did your little thing but you have to work on your personal stuff.’”

Hunt replied, “I have to work on both at the same time.”

This article was published in the Dec. 28 edition of the Downtown Express

Written by Zach E.J. Williams

December 28, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Posted in Occupy Wall Street

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Dealing With Disruption

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CHINATOWN–When efforts to implement a governing structure within Occupy Wall Street faltered Wednesday night, organizers took matters into their own hands.

A proposed measure aimed at establishing guidelines to remove disruptive elements from the movement failed to garner support from opponents who said criteria defining improper behavior must be decided first. Despite the impasse on the issue, a man who aroused the ire of fellow occupiers through his display of a cardboard sign referencing “Aryan” pride which offended fellow occupiers resulting in his ejection from the meeting of the Occupy Wall Street Spokes Council.

Film maker Michael Moore, who was present, said it was an “ironic” development considering the proposal had met such strong resistance just minutes before.

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Written by Zach E.J. Williams

December 22, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Quick Thoughts On A Dull Meeting Becoming Eventful

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CHINATOWN–Meetings can be a dreary affair however necessary. This reporter has suffered through a great many.

However different organizations can be, their meetings often get reduced to a sluggish pace as much defined by disruption as adherence to the vaunted and omnipresent Robert’s Rules of Order.

The Occupy Wall Street Spokes Council meeting Wednesday night initially seemed to follow this rubric. The meeting began an hour late. For a council established to facilitate more efficient cooperation among the movement’s 100 plus working groups, it seemed to be missing the point.

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Written by Zach E.J. Williams

December 22, 2011 at 10:15 am

Posted in Occupy Wall Street

Two Videos For The Holidays

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Occupiers are preparing for the upcoming holiday. Post forthcoming on the upcoming occupation of Christmas. In the meantime, enjoy two videos with their own slant on the issue.

From our friends at Slate Magazine:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtQKcM48hnw

And the skinny on what to expect from your watward occupier relations around the dinner table:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLqVFDn5Jtg&feature=youtu.be&hd=1

They say you’ll love’em

 

Written by Zach E.J. Williams

December 20, 2011 at 10:56 pm

Posted in Occupy Wall Street

NYC Occupiers Look Beyond Long-Term Occupation

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NEW YORK CITY–Occupy Wall Street turned a corner last week as activists sought to expand their support base in the wake of recent setbacks to the fledgling movement for social and economic justice.

Labor unions, farmers, AIDS activists and others joined occupiers in actions throughout lower Manhattan last week as the movement seeks to reassert itself following police raids on “Occupy” encampments across the country. While occupiers have expanded their outreach beyond downtown, they face challenges in achieving a level of visibility comparable to three weeks ago when their encampment in Zuccotti Park was still intact.

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Written by Zach E.J. Williams

December 6, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Posted in Occupy Wall Street

Obama Administration Involved In Occupy Raids?

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BROOKLYN–The National Lawyers Guild filed a Freedom of Information Act request Nov. 16 seeking documents from the federal government which may shed light on the Obama Administration’s involvement in police crackdowns against Occupy encampments across the country.

The guild, known for the fluorescent green hats members wear while serving as legal observers at protests, has been one of the major legal forces in support of the ongoing movement for social and economic justice. Release of the documents may shed light on the role that the Department of Justice took in advising city mayors from across the country.

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Written by Zach E.J. Williams

December 3, 2011 at 12:33 am

The Beat Goes On

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ZUCCOTTI PARK–It is about 8 p.m. Dec. 2 and an Occupy Wall Street march which began at Herald Square has made its way to the symbolic home of the movement.

Those who might think that the Nov. 15 NYPD raid on the encampment meant the end of Occupy Wall Street would be mistaken. The movement continues much in the same form as before the raid. The working groups continue utilizing a space at 60 Wall St. for meetings. Regular marches continue to be held and confrontation with the police can erupt around any turn.

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Written by Zach E.J. Williams

December 2, 2011 at 10:51 pm

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