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Occupy Movement

October 1, 2011

I’m not really up on the whole “Occupy Wall Street” non-violent protest, so I did some quick digging. Turns out there’s going to be a Portland edition on 6-October down at Tom McCall Waterfront Park. I’m in the middle of prepping for my thesis defense, but I’ll want to check this out.

What’s the movement about? In a nutshell: “the 99% take [non-violent] action against the greed and corruption of the 1%.”

Here are a few links to get you started:

There’s a site called Occupy Together that’s roughly equivalent to the headquarters for this movement. They’ve got an article called The Occupy Portland Model which looks at how such protests are organized. They’ve also got links to dozens (hundreds?) of cities participating in this movement, including the Occupy Together page on Portland, which has a link to the Occupy Portland official site.

Follow along with Occupy Wall Street on Twitter:
@OccupyWallStNYC / #occupyWallStreet

A collection of Occupy Portland Twitter feeds:
@occupyPortland / #occupyPortland
@occupyOregon / #occupyOregon
@occupyPdx / #occupyPdx


updated 2-Oct-2011 w/ the following:

From the Occupy Together FAQ I found the following two questions:

What is your agenda? Are you anarchists/democrats/republicans/independents/etc.?
We have no agenda other than to provide people with information about the events and actions happening in their area in solidarity and support of those that currently Occupy Wall St. Our political and social beliefs will remain neutral for this cause; this is not about us, this is about the movement. The only thing we will promote openly is peaceful demonstrations.

I am unaware of what the protests on Wall St. are all about, where can I get more info?
As more and more information becomes available (both good and bad), a good place to start would be at the source by visiting the Occupy Wall Street webpage. Other first steps to informing yourself include The New York General Assembly webpage and their official facebook page.

Here’s how the above mentioned New York General Assembly describes itself on their Who We Are page:

New York City General Assemblies are an open, participatory and horizontally organized process through which we are building the capacity to constitute ourselves in public as autonomous collective forces within and against the constant crises of our times

And it’s on the NYCGA website where we find the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City, reprinted here for convenience:

Declaration of the Occupation of New York City
Posted on September 30, 2011 by NYCGA
THIS DOCUMENT WAS ACCEPTED BY THE NYC GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON SEPTEMBER 29, 2011
As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.
They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press. They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.
They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.
They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad. They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts. *

To the people of the world,

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!

*These grievances are not all-inclusive.

Update 10/1/11 – Minor updates to some wording in the facts.

The Portland, Oregon version of this whole #occupyWallStreet movement has the following message on its Occupy Portland site:

ABOUT OCCUPY PORTLAND, OR
September 26th, 2011 · occupyportland · March Preparation 45 comments
Occupy Portland is a nonviolent movement for accountability in the United States government. At 12PM on October 6th, 2011 we will assemble at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, 1020 Southwest Naito Parkway in Portland, OR.

We will gather in solidarity with the ongoing protest in New York City, Occupy Wall Street, and the growing number of cities whose people will no longer sit back watching corporate and special interests run their government. We are citizens of the United States, and this country is ours. We will take it back.

It is no longer enough to vote and to participate in the political system because our political system has been altered drastically from its intended and proper function. Currently, we are allowed to pick from a few candidates whose campaigns are funded more and more by large organizations, corporations, and special interests. The success of their campaigns depends largely on how the corporate mass media presents them. When our elected officials enter office they then pander to the small groups responsible for their election. Even good men and women cannot make real improvements that benefit the American people.

We are one city in a growing national movement of people who no longer feel that their government works in their best interest. We will assemble on October 6th to demonstrate peaceful, substantive democracy and work for real change.

Our government is divided. We, the people, are united.

I’m not really sure what to make of all this, and I don’t mean that to come across in any way snarky or dismissive. I know about as well as anyone that the imbalance of wealth is an imbalance of power. I agree with George Carlin and with many of America’s patriotic critics. The system ain’t working. So what do we do? And what do we do after that? I’m interested in change, improvement. What I’m unclear on with this movement is the goal.

Perhaps it’s an oversimplification of the situation, but this line from the Declaration above catches my attention: We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

To let these facts be known. I guess it’s a place to start. Get the ball rolling with awareness and just sort of see where it goes from there. I hope it goes somewhere positive, like maybe a pattern of reformation supported by high voter turnout. But I gotta tell ya, it’s a hydra we’re fighting.

The Problems are many. There is no single authority or category or strata responsible for the Problems. But we should not be daunted by Problems. We should find a way to overcome them. And I believe that is what this Occupy movement is trying to achieve.

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