'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Iranian Students Attack UK Embassy 

One of the students involved made this statement on al-Jazeera:

We are here to close the UK embassy forever as this place is like the US embassy a centre for spying and should be shut down.

Such as statement is overwhelmingly likely to be true, given that the US no longer has an official diplomatic presence in the country. Furthermore, there are interesting reports to the effect that students have seized documents of UK involvement in covert activities inside the country. For example, students are studying documents to determine if the UK was involved in the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Majid Shahriari.

It is tempting to consider the assault as an action instigated by the Iranian government, but the country's semi-official news agency has characterized the protesters as self-motivated. Plausible deniability, perhaps, but it is worth considering the alternative, that the students, motivated by increasingly aggressive efforts to economically punish Iran in an effort to force the country to abandon its nuclear research program, and, inspired by the confrontational protests in North Africa and the Middle East, most recently in Egypt, planned the assault on their own, independent of the government. The Egyptian assault upon the Israeli embassy in Cairo this summer serves as a model for what transpired today. Government security officers may have learned of it by monitoring social media, but allowed it to go forward, greenlighting it through passivity.

If so, the action is yet another example of how restive populations throughout the region are seizing the initiative, with young people in the forefront. Even the tried and true pronouncements of anti-imperialism by the Iranian regime carries within them the prospect of social unrest, as students insist upon carrying such pronouncements to their logical conclusion. Of course, there is an incessant din of diplomatic condemnations, but they will not drown out revelations of UK covert operations in Iran if the students find evidence of them. If they find UK complicity in the assassination of Shahriari or participation in other operations, such as involvement with Jundallah, an organization known for carrying out suicide bombings inside Iran, then the students will have done the world a great service.

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Egypt Erupts (Part 15) 

According to Jack Shenker of the Guardian:

Seven straight days of deadly violence can quickly reshape political realities, and Washington is not the only place where support for Scaf appears to be rapidly deteriorating. In the early afternoon, two officers appeared on a balcony overlooking Tahrir Square and led chants against Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Scaf's leader and their own commander-in-chief. They joined a small but expanding group of mid-ranking officers who have effectively defected in recent days and allied themselves with the protesters.

I want the people to know there are army officers who are with them, Major Tamer Samir Badr told the Guardian. My feelings came to a head last week when I saw people dying, and the army gave the orders for us to just stand and watch. I'm supposed to die for these people, not them die for me. Now I'm ready to die in the square, and I'm not afraid of anything.

Speaking next to an open window that looked out on to Tahrir and which Badr insisted was left open so that he could hear the crowds, the 37-year-old claimed that many other officers had been attending the protests secretly in civilian clothes. Scaf is composed of 19 generals and they are the ones who have power in this country. But those 19 are nothing compared to the thousands of people in the forces. I demand that the field marshal hand over power to a civilian government immediately, and that he just leave," he said.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

UC Davis Students Call for Strike on 11/28 

UPDATE 4: According to Richard Chang, a reporter for the California Aggie, UC Davis has announced that police from UC San Francisco, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz and Sacramento State have been called onto campus as a precaution. They are backup, and located at a staging area away from the Quad.

UPDATE 3: 60 to 70 tents on the Quad, with more going up, plus a geodesic dome under construction.

UPDATE 2: The UC Davis English Department calls for the resignation of Katehi and the disbanding of the UC Davis police department on its official UC Davis website:

The faculty of the UC Davis English Department supports the Board of the Davis Faculty Association in calling for Chancellor Katehi’s immediate resignation and for a policy that will end the practice of forcibly removing non-violent student, faculty, staff, and community protesters by police on the UC Davis campus. Further, given the demonstrable threat posed by the University of California Police Department and other law enforcement agencies to the safety of students, faculty, staff, and community members on our campus and others in the UC system, we propose that such a policy include the disbanding of the UCPD and the institution of an ordinance against the presence of police forces on the UC Davis campus, unless their presence is specifically requested by a member of the campus community. This will initiate a genuinely collective effort to determine how best to ensure the health and safety of the campus community at UC Davis.

UPDATE 1: Tents going up along the centennial walkway of the Quad. A subsequent proposal at today's general assembly calling for disbanding the UC Davis police department failed with only 60% support. 80% or 90% has been commonly required for approval of a proposal at an Occupy Together assembly. There will be another general assembly tomorrow morning at 11am to commence planning for the 11/28 strike.

INITIAL POST: After a large rally on the Quad today in response to the pepper spray assault last Friday, with an estimated crowd in excess of 5,000 people, the remaining students conducted a general assembly. Upon discussing a proposal for a campus wide strike on Monday, November 28th, the students approved it by a vote of 1,720 yes votes, 6 in opposition with 20 absentions, a margin of nearly 300 to 1.

Chancellor Katehi spoke at the rally, but the students conditioned her appearance upon submission to the rules applied to all other speakers, rules that required her to stand in line and limit her remarks to one minute. She apologized for the pepper spray incident and asserted that she had to earn their trust. Students ran after her as she walked to her car, with many of them yelling don't come back. Earlier in the day, she appeared on Good Morning America and refused to resign because the university needs me. I called the Chancellor's Office to express my displeasure with such narcissism, which I did as politely as possible, resulting in a warm thank you very much from the receptionist. Apparently, the students are not the only ones who have experienced Katehi's imperious manner.

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Egypt Erupts (Part 14) 

UPDATE: Protesters battle their way towards the Interior Ministry:

INITIAL POST: Street battles have erupted in central Cairo as protesters in opposition to the post-Mubarak military government engage in confrontations with the security forces. From the Guardian:

Thirty-three people are reported to have been killed in the violence over the past three days according to morgue officials. The ministry of health said more than 1,500 have been injured in the latest clashes in and around Tahrir Square - the worst bout of violence in Egypt since the revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak. Witnesses said protesters had been hit by rubber bullets and suffocated with aggressive tear gas. Video has been circulating of police apparently beating protesters, including some lying on the ground. The International Federation for Human Rights accused the policemen of using live ammunition on protesters. Reports indicated that demonstrators were responding by hurling stones and molotov cocktails.

Crowds in Tahrir Square have been growing and clashes continuing as night has fallen in the Egyptian capital. Riot police are continuing to fire teargas and casualties continue to be taken to the field hospital Chants have called for the trial or execution of Scaf head Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.

The Revolutionary Youth Movement has called for a one million man march in the capital and across the country tomorrow. Other groups have reportedly echoed the call.

According to Jack Shenker of the Guardian, more people are going out into the streets to battle the security forces and the revolt is spreading beyond Cairo:

Major unrest spread beyond Cairo to the large cities of Suez and Alexandria, where at least one leading activist was killed. Mass demonstrations and attacks on police stations were reported in several other towns throughout the Nile delta and southern Egypt.

His account of the street battles on Saturday is striking:

Throughout Saturday, protesters fought running battles with central security forces – a hated symbol of brutality under the Mubarak dictatorship.

Motorbikes ferried hundreds of wounded civilians to a makeshift field hospital on the edge of Tahrir Square, where a handful of doctors, helped by volunteers, struggled to deal with the influx.

We are seeing many patients suffering from severe gas inhalation and flesh wounds from different types of ammunition, Amr Wageeh, a 21-year-old medical student, said.

I've been here four hours and helped treat over 100 in that time – it's hard because the teargas that's being used is stronger than what we've dealt with in the past and appears resistant to [the normal remedies of] vinegar and soda.

An al-Jazeera report yesterday reflects the intensity of the street violence that has erupted in Cairo:

According to Hossam el-Hamalawy, a general strike will be necessary to topple the post-Mubarak military regime:

As el-Hamalawy explained in his al-Jazeera interview, the military has governed Egypt as an extension of Mubarak in order to preserve the economic privileges Mubarak awarded them. They have also labored to preserve the 1978 peace treaty with Egypt despite public opposition to it. Not surprisingly, the United States, as noted by As'ad Abukhalil, has been silent on the violence in Egypt:

In 3 days in Egypt, the government of Tantawi has managed to butcher 30 Egyptians and injure more than a 1000. Yet, there is no uproar in the Arab League or the UN. The US and EU--make no mistake about it--are complicit all in order to save your precious peace treaty with Israel.

Hence, the US sells the Egyptian military the tear gas that it uses against the protesters.

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Perp Walk of UC Davis Chancellor Katehi 

UPDATE 3: I received a very interesting e-mail this afternoon, with more background about this protest. Apparently, the students had the building surrounded during the press conference, and, after it was prematurely terminated, Katehi was fearful. Amazingly, a campus minister had to negotiate her departure. Students assured her that Katehi could exit without concern for safety, but they were insistent that Katehi face them. They were not going to allow to her leave without subjecting her to a withering public embarrassment. The account answers a couple of curious aspects of the protest. First, it explains how the students were able to position themselves along the route to Katehi's SUV. They were able to do it, because they dictated the route of her exit. Second, as Katehi walks along the line of students, someone asks her, are you still afraid of the students? One might initially believe that the question was prompted by the university's claim that the officers had to resort to the use of pepper spray to escape from a dangerous situation. But, instead, Katehi's fear of the noisy student protesters outside the media center provoked it.

UPDATE 2: I talked with one of my friends in Davis and obtained a little more information about this protest. Upon learning of Katehi's press conference, students went to the media center and disrupted it from outside with noisy chants, requiring her to cut it off early. She then, as noted by the Bee, waited inside the center for more than two hours in the forlorn expectation that she might be able to leave without confronting them.

UPDATE 1: The original YouTube video of the pepper spray incident posted here early Friday evening has been accessed over 745,000 times, with in excess of 15,000 comments. The one that I subsequently posted has been accessed over 55,000 times.


As reported by the Sacramento Bee, Katehi walked through the silent student gauntlet after waiting for two hours in a media room in the misguided hope that she could avoid the assembled students:

After an afternoon press conference, Katehi said she had no intention of resigning and holed up in a media room for more than two hours while hundreds of students gathered outside, some carrying signs calling for her to resign.

At 6:50 p.m. Katehi left the building, walking to an awaiting SUV through lines of students that stretched two to three blocks. There was no exchange of words between her and the students, and the scene got very quiet as she passed.

Upon her departure, the students celebrated:

One gets the impression that the protest was spontaneous, one spread almost entirely by word of mouth through social media. Someone on campus encountered the media presence, asked what was up, and upon learning that Katehi was going to have a press conference, spread the word. It is possible that someone inside the campus administration leaked the information. In any event, the protest was an extraordinary achievement, an inversion of the power relations of the campus, as Katehi slowly walked helplessly passed along a seemingly endless of line of students, with many of them videotaping her humiliation for posterity. Every step along the way must have been agonizing. But there is no question that she deserved it. She initially defended the actions of the UC Davis Police Department without reservation, and only changed course after an explosion of public outrage. Hopefully, she'll be gone in the next few days.

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

New Oakland Occupation Underway at 19th and Telegraph (5:19 PM PST) 

UPDATE 3 (November 20th, 10:09 AM PST): The Oakland Police Department removes the encampment without resistance, then closes off the park to the media as a crime scene. There is also an Occupy Oakland Twitter feed here. There is a report that the Snow Park encampment along Lake Merritt has been served with an eviction notice as well.

UPDATE 2 (6;05 PM PST): A live, long angle ustream here from ryanjarvinen. People are dancing to Sheila E. She don't need a man's touch. Without love, it ain't much. Whurring sounds of helicopters in the background. East Bay Express reporting over 500 people and 13 tents in the park.

UPDATE 1 (5:50 PM PST): Both tents and police helicopters are proliferating. Rumors of a police raid at Snow Park about a mile away on the shore of Lake Merritt.

INITIAL POST (5:19 PM PST): People have taken down the fences around the park at 19th and Telegraph and there are now about 2000 people inside the park. Loud new school soul is playing as part of the celebratory, dance party atmosphere. 3 Oakland police department helicopters are shining lights on the park. OakFoSho has a live ustream here. You can also keep track of events on Twitter here. Occupy Oakland brings MST style land seizures to the United States.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Police Pepper Spray Occupation at UC Davis 

UPDATE 5: From the Sacramento Bee:

Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi said she would address the campus on Monday.

After an afternoon press conference, Katehi said she had no intention of resigning and holed up in a media room for more than two hours while hundreds of students gathered outside, some carrying signs calling for her to resign.

At 6:50 p.m. Katehi left the building, walking to an awaiting SUV through lines of students that stretched two to three blocks. There was no exchange of words between her and the students, and the scene got very quiet as she passed.

Please go, please go now.

UPDATE 4: Don't Shoot Students! Don't Shoot Students . . . Close Your Eyes! Protect Your Eyes! Protect Yourself! Another YouTube video of the incident:

UPDATE 3: Just got off the phone with someone from the UC Davis police department after providing contact information earlier this morning for a criminal complaint, which will, of course, be disregarded. Having attended the university, I expressed my outrage as calmly as possible. I got a sense that the officer taking my call wasn't too pleased what happened, either, as we were both familiar with past UC Davis acceptance of occupations, such as the one during the anti-apartheid movement in the 1980s. Poor guy. He's spending all morning responding to belligerent calls, and said that I was one of the most polite people that he's spoken with. It is contemptible that the Chancellor Katehi and the UC Davis Chief of Police Spicuzza put their employees in this position, just another indication of how little people like the Chancellor and the Chief care about the 99%.

UPDATE 2: Loyal American Leftist readers will remember this post from April concerning the UC Davis Student Activism Team. Here's an excerpt from a California Aggie article about it:

The team provides a presence at campus actions, accompanies students as they move, monitors the situation and updates a team coordinator until the action ends, according to a document dated Nov. 1, 2010 detailing the team’s protocol. The team is not to stop student activism, stop police response, speak on behalf of the administration or make decisions about campus response. Documents also reveal correspondences between team members and the police about planned protests and unfolding campus action.

Of course, the purported purpose of the team is public safety, including the safety of protesters, But, as graduate student Eric Lee presciently observed when the existence of the team was revealed: . . [a] police presence only creates the opportunity for violence . . . the only time time protesters have been injured on campus was at the hands of police officers. One wonders, what was the team doing yesterday? Inquiring minds would like to know.

UPDATE 1: For additional video of the incident, go here. Amazingly, UC Davis is defending the actions of the officers by saying that they feared for their safety. Curiously, they didn't look very frightened as UC Davis police lieutenant John Pike calmly sprayed the students again and again. Indeed, Pike's spraying of the students actually inflamed the situation.


I arrived at UC Davis at 4:45pm shortly after today this afternoon for my public affairs program on KDVS 90.3 FM at 5. At that time, there were a couple of fire engines on the far side of the Quad, where a crowd of about 100 people had gathered, to provide medical assistance to the victims if necessary. Upon entering the station, I encountered a KDVS reporter who told me and a friend what had happened. We went on the air at 5, and she described the background of the UC Davis occupation and this pepper spray assault.

I just encountered this YouTube video of the incident online a few minutes ago, and decided to post it here. As I watched it, I was, in addition to the shockingly cavalier attitude of the officer who sprayed the students, surprised to see the officers become increasingly uncomfortable in their new role as riot cops as the crowd became angrier and angrier after the students were sprayed. UC Davis cops don't have experience with intimidating methods of crowd control like urban ones. They draw in closer and closer together, hunching down as they make their departure to hostile chants of you can go! you can go! Beyond this, It is important to recognize that, if they will do this at UC Davis, they will do it anywhere. Normally, campus authorities would have taken a mellow, understated approach to this situation. But, given the national importance of the movement, that's not possible anymore. Significantly, the video went up online within a couple of hours of the assault.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Over 3,900 Occupy Together Arrests in the US Since 9/24 

UPDATE 2: Another Democracy Now! gem:

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to bring Stephen Graham into the discussion right now. We started speaking to him yesterday. He wrote the book Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism. Just in from Britain, in Philadelphia. Can you talk about—as we were just speaking with the former police chief, Norm Stamper, of Seattle, and he oversaw the Battle of Seattle, how the police dealt with that—the militarization that we are seeing of police forces around our country?

STEPHEN GRAHAM: Yes, well, it’s a longstanding process that has its roots in policies against drug use. It has its roots in the development of SWAT teams, Special Weapons and Tactics teams, and it has its use in some of the responses to the 1960s disturbances across the West, as well. And really, the effects of this, as we see in New York and elsewhere, is an increasing use of full-on riot squads, increasing use of non-lethal weapons, including things like acoustic systems that make it impossible for people to remain in spaces, including the pepper spray, including the tasers. And we have to remember, this is a really big growth industry that military and security corporations are investing heavily in terms of new research and development.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And Stephen Graham, what’s the market? You’re talking about a growth industry. What are we talking about here in terms of investment of dollars by—because there are so many, obviously, municipalities in the United States with their own police forces?

STEPHEN GRAHAM: Well, I mean, globally speaking, the so-called homeland security market is a real—is in real boom town—boom time, excuse me. I mean, in a world where actual defense contracts are often being reduced, a lot of the big companies are moving into civilian applications. They’re moving into these non-lethal weapons, moving into all of the technologies of crowd control and civilian disturbance control. And that has to be added to, of course, the much bigger markets that are growing in terms of broader questions of surveillance and security for buildings, for cities, for special events, as we see these systems established more and more in terms of everyday spaces and everyday bits of cities. So, I haven’t got figures at hand, I’m afraid, but it’s multibillion-dollar markets that are projected to grow globally at very, very high rates over the next 15 years, according to some of the recent market research reports.

Graham addresses these subjects more thoroughly in his book mentioned by Goodman, Cities Under Siege. As he observes in this brief interview, surveillance and security are emerging as a major feature of capital accumulation, with the US, the UK and Israel in the forefront. The emergence and persistence of Occupy Wall Street is likely to induce even more concentrated investment in them. His scholarship is groundbreaking, providing an essential insight into contemporary social conditions, and, if you are interested, you can watch him speak on this topic and other related ones in a YouTube video.

UPDATE 1: Democracy Now! is providing extensive coverage of Occupy Wall Street, which I highly recommend. Here's a compelling example, an on the scene report of the brutality of the early morning raid of Zuccotti Park on Tuesday morning:

PROTESTERS: We are the 99 percent! You are the 99 percent!

AARON MATÉ: Tell us your name, if you want to, and then what happened.

ALEX HALL: My name is Alex Hall. And I basically heard a tip from reporters. They were outside the park about an hour before it happened. And we asked them, Hey, what’s going on? And they said that cops were planning on, you know, clearing the whole park out.

So, you know, an hour later, they basically surrounded the park, at least 100 to 200 cops, and with the shields on there across their faces. And they basically put up—they put up huge beams of light into the park, on every side. They had about three beams on every side of the park. Got super bright. And they came with a loudspeaker. There was a ton of them, at least 100 to 200. And they lined up in front of the park, on all sides of the park, where they lined up in the front, on Trinity Avenue. And they came with the loudspeaker. They said, Listen, we’re going to need you guys to clear the park. We’re going to take out the tents and get the sanitation team in here. And you can come back to the park without your tents. You won’t be able to have your tents in the park.

And they basically started pushing people. They started tearing down tents. They started to break them down, and without even checking if anybody was in the tents. But they started pushing everybody around. Every—

AARON MATÉ: Without checking if anybody was inside the tents, they started just breaking them down?

ALEX HALL: They basically started pulling them and stepping on them, yeah. And everybody started to leave the park. And this is where we are, basically. Everybody kind of rushed out. They started pepper-spraying people. I got—I have milk here. I actually was helping somebody get the spray out of their eyes. And this is where we are right now.

POLICE OFFICER 1: Please clear the street and the sidewalk!

AARON MATÉ: Where are we supposed to go? Where do we go?

POLICE OFFICER 2: Don’t block the street.

POLICE OFFICER 1: Keep the area closed so pedestrians and vehicles can go.

AARON MATÉ: There was a confrontation over here. So now we’re still on the sidewalk, and police are pushing these protesters back. They told us to get off the street, so people complied, and now we’re being pushed further and further away from Zuccotti Park, from Liberty Plaza, where just moments ago protesters were cleared.

Hey, Hero. What’s going on?

HERO VINCENT: We’re sitting here. They’re trying to block us. They’re pushing us to the wall. I got pepper-sprayed straight in the face. You see, I’m still looking. They can’t stop me. They can’t stop us. This is a sign. He pepper-sprayed me, straight like that. You see this? You see this? Twice. Twice I’m pepper-sprayed, and I’m still looking at you, [inaudible] and clear. Sure and clear, I’m still staring at you. That’s a sign that they can’t stop us, that we all see what’s really going on and that they can’t blind us. They can’t pull wool over our eyes. They can’t put nothing in our eyes that’s going to blind what’s going on here. And the same goes for all the people who are out there.

AARON MATÉ: Where were you when the police first moved in?

HERO VINCENT: I was two blocks away, two blocks away, didn’t know what was going on. And then I got a phone call. Where are you at? We’re being raided. So I had to run, to this, straight into this.

AARON MATÉ: And what do you tell people right now?

HERO VINCENT: What do I tell people? That this is ridiculous. Soon, soon, we’re coming back. They’re not leaving. That’s—get that straight right now. We’re not going nowhere. A lot of us is going to be here overnight. A lot of us will be here for the rest of the week. A lot of us will be here until the new year comes. A lot of us will be here ’til we see a new day, and that will—you can quote me on that.

AARON MATÉ: So tell me what happened.

PROTESTER 1: I was standing on the outside of the crowd. They started really beating up on this girl pretty badly with their riot shields. And while people tried to pull her out, they sprayed pepper sprayed like directly into this little clump of people. I was right on the side, but I’m OK.

AARON MATÉ: So what’s going on now is a familiar scene. We’re getting pushed farther and farther away from Zuccotti Park. At every block, police are saying to protesters, You have the choice to be arrested or move further and further away.

POLICE OFFICER 3: You’ve got to move right now, or you’re going to be arrested! If you don’t move out of here right now, you’re going to be arrested.

AARON MATÉ: Where do they move to? Where do they move to?

POLICE OFFICER 3: Let’s go! Let’s go! Push this out! Push this out!

AARON MATÉ: So, this commanding officer right here, telling everyone to push people further away. Now looks like everyone on the inside here is going to be—is going to be arrested. Look, somebody arrested right in front of me.

PROTESTERS: Shame on you! Shame on you! Shame on you!

AARON MATÉ: So now we’re back where we started off, a block from Zuccotti Park. When we got here, there were throngs of demonstrators, protesting the raiding of Zuccotti Park, Liberty Plaza. They were pushed further and further away. Activists that were on the sidewalk were told to keep moving down. And they were asking, Where should we go? And they were just told to move. What we witnessed was a very forceful interaction, with police even refusing to tolerate activists staying on the sidewalk. Obviously wanted to get people as far away from Zuccotti Park as possible. And so now we’re seeing these trucks behind us pulling away. They have arrested many people. And so, as we tried to come back here to this area, just a block from Zuccotti Park, we spoke to one of the activists that had been arrested.

Hey, tell me what happened.

ARRESTED PROTESTER: I was being pushed and shoved, and I had no way to move. And the lady firsthand singled me out and pinned me down and said, Her. Arrest her. Pushed me facedown into the sidewalk, and now I’m arrested.

PROTESTERS: New York, Cairo, Wisconsin! Push us down, we’ll rise again!

AARON MATÉ: So tell us what happened.

PROTESTER 2: It’s your typical break-up of any protest, some a bit more peaceful done than a little bit others. I mean, bottom line is, during the day, the officers started—ended up putting on their gear—kind of first inquiry that something might happen. Then all of the vendors that were around shut up and closed like any other given day, like they were all closing up, but they all did it at once. Something was going on. Next thing you know, we’re told to leave the park. Fliers are being handed out, tell us the reasons of which why and that the tents got to go, grab our belongings, vacate as quickly as possible. Then the bullhorn started coming on. People started—the announcements started coming. If you’re going to go, go ahead and go. If you’re going to stand and you’re going to hold our ground, they’re going to be in the kitchen area. So they all are in a soft lock arm right now.

AARON MATÉ: How many are in there right now?

PROTESTER 2: I’m going to say there’s roughly about, give or take, 250.

AARON MATÉ: Protesters. Then how many police?

PROTESTER 2: I’m going to say there’s maybe three police officers, at least, for every protester.

AARON MATÉ: And tell us what you saw with the tents. We were hearing that police had announced they were coming in to clear the tents.

PROTESTER 2: From my visual observations, from what I can tell, simply, they would push in a little bit—sorry—they would push in a little bit, and they would start ripping tents out.

PROTESTER 3: The NYPD has no idea what they’ve done. This is—this is the worst possible action they could have taken before the anniversary, because this is either going to sway in different—this is definitely going to sway in different people. And that’s what it boils down to. Everyone who is out there that saw this on TV and said it was no big deal and that we were just goofing around, do you think the NYPD would have destroyed our camp if we were just goofing around, if we weren’t some sort of threat to them? We are a health and safety risk? We have doctors and medics in there assessing the situation at all times. If there was any health or safety risk, we would have handled it. We had our own—we have our own fire department. We have our own security team. We have our own medic team—certified EMTs, doctors and nurses, ready to help. Sanitation crews, cleaning the park 24/7, they never stop. We were never a health or safety risk, nor were we a fire hazard. Every tent, almost every tent, had a fire extinguisher in them. So, don’t believe their lies.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to George, who’s locked down in the park right now. Can you tell us how many people are there? This is Amy from Democracy Now!, by the way. So, and just say then—tell us everything that is happening. We’re recording what you’re saying. Just one sec. Go ahead.

GEORGE: My name George [inaudible]. I’m in the park right now. I am in the kitchen right now. The cops have arrived in the kitchen. OK, there’s about maybe 150 to 200 surrounding us in the kitchen. Our chanting going on. They’ve cut down some trees [inaudible].

AMY GOODMAN: So, what’s happened with the tents, and have people locked arms?

GEORGE: Yes, people have locked arms around us in the kitchen. And then, [inaudible] behind the people locked [inaudible] and people locked around—lock their arms [inaudible] I think behind when the people locked arms [inaudible].

AARON MATÉ: All right, so now we’re right in front of these dump trucks that are taking away protesters’ belongings. They have dismantled the tents. And we’ve seen these lines of police just throwing away the belongings of protesters. And now, this one right here in front of us is full to the brim. It’s packed with protesters’ belongings.

MATT BALDWIN: The cops are beating people!

LIZ BALDWIN: They are beating people!

AARON MATÉ: What’s going on? What’s going on?

MATT BALDWIN: The police are beating the people with billy clubs now—

LIZ BALDWIN: The police are beating up. They are ripping them down.

MATT BALDWIN: —who are chain-linked. The people are chain-locked like this. The cops are beating them with billy clubs.

LIZ BALDWIN: They’re beating them with sticks! They’re dragging them!

MATT BALDWIN: And they’re coming in, and they’re jabbing them with poles and beating them with billy clubs.

LIZ BALDWIN: They’re not—they’re not giving up.

MATT BALDWIN: And they’re dangerous. They’re hitting women. They’re hitting children. They’re hitting everyone.

AARON MATÉ: Talk about what you saw. Talk about what you saw.

MATT BALDWIN: Talk about it? Yeah, it’s police—it’s police abuse. They’re abusing the people in there right now.

LIZ BALDWIN: They’re abusing!

MATT BALDWIN: They’re abusing their rights. They said, ,Oh, you’re subject to arrest. But he was subject to get your head smashed in? Are you subject to get killed? How far are they going to go?

LIZ BALDWIN: We know our rights. We know our rights.

MATT BALDWIN: How far are they going to take it?

AARON MATÉ: Are you a medic?

MATT BALDWIN: And everything I had was in my tent.

LIZ BALDWIN: We were going to stay, until they started beating people

As protesters chanted during the raid, New York, Cairo, Wisconsin! Push us down, we’ll rise again!

INITIAL POST: Nearly 800 of them have happened within the last four days. And, while most of the arrests have taken place in Manhattan in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area, there have been many others elsewhere, for example, earlier today, 24 in Philadelphia, 25 in Los Angeles, 25 in Portland, 12 in Houston, 17 in Dallas, 21 in Las Vegas, 11 in Minneapolis.

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Occupy Wall Street Day of Action 

UPDATE 7 (11:26 PM PST): Marchers in Greece in support of Occupy Wall Street:

Note the lines of police officers on the right side of the picture.

UPDATE 6 (4:27 PM PST): The NYPD estimates over 32,000 people in the process of entering the Brooklyn Bridge and crossing over it. Marchers extend from one end of the bridge to the other as they walk along the median passageway between traffic going in both directions. There is a Twitter feed here that appears to be most current, along with the one at the Adbusters site. You can follow the march on the Channel 1 and Channel 2 ustreams of The Other 99. Connectivity can be difficult at times.

UPDATE 5 (2:25 PM PST): Foley Square is packed with approximately ten thousand people, with feeder marches from Broadway and elsewhere still en route, along with others travelling by subway.

UPDATE 4 (1;34 PM PST): On his blog, Greg Mitchell of The Nation reports that there is a large march from Union Square to Foley Square, a situation that he describes as a Wild scene-- thousands marching on streets, police cannot control. On The Other 99 ustream, protesters march down Broadway, with a long line of police and motorcycle cops alongside in the street. 50 unmarked police vehicles crossing in front of the march. Over 27000 people watching the ustream. The Other 99 says that the police know all about us.

UPDATE 3 (1:18 PM PST): An example of what has transpired during the subway action:

On a train bound for Times Square roughly a dozen demonstrators shared stories with their fellow passengers. A young woman named Molly described her work in low-income communities where people lack access to healthy food options. She described the dearth of nutritious options in a country of extreme wealth as an outrage. Twenty five year-old John explained to the passengers how he had been forced to move back in with his parents because he couldn't find a job; a move he described as a disgrace.

Looks like there were no arrests in Liberty Square.

UPDATE 2 (12:23 PM PST): Tweets that mass arrests at Liberty Square are imminent.

UPDATE 1 (11:59 PM PST): Subway actions will be underway momentarily by Occupy Wall Street with a subsquent gathering at Foley Square at 5pm EST for a march to take back our bridges. The protests have not been called to shut down the subway system, but to flood the stations and engage in outreach to commuters. By the way, the Guardian has a good live blog as well.

INITIAL POST (11:39 AM PST): Today is the Occupy Wall Street Day of Action. Chaotic scenes across Manhattan, with over 200 people arrested during various actions, including an attempt this morning to prevent the opening of the New York Stock Exchange. For updates, go here. There is also a livestream here, and a ustream from The Other 99 here. Both The Other 99 ustream and the livestream have over 27000 viewers. For a Twitter feed, go here. Police have kettled and assaulted protesters at one protest site in Manhattan, Liberty Square with reports of multiple victims. In one instance, cops chased down a man who was kicking the barricades and beat him bloody prior to arrest. Not surprisingly, reporters have been prohibited from covering the assault. A large crowd in the park remains with a heavy riot police presence. Clearly, the police have a strategy of trying to instigate a violent response from the crowds. In a most impressive display of restraint and deliberation, the people in the park are conducting an impromptu assembly to decide their next course of action. Apparently, Liberty Square has now been reopened.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Occupation at Bank of America Building in San Francisco (5:07 PM PST) 

55 people have been arrested during an occupation which is ongoing at the Bank of America building in San Francisco. Most of the participants are from UC Santa Cruz, with others from the occupations in Oakland and San Francisco. ABC 7 in San Francisco has live video of the police arresting protesters inside the bank on the first floor, which is also a high rise office building. For a ustream of the rally outside in their support, go here.

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New York's Finest (Part 2) 

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tents Going Up in Sproul Plaza at UC Berkeley (8:39 PM PST) 

Apparently, Robert Reich is also about to speak to the crowd.

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Simultaneous General Assemblies in NYC and Berkeley (5:33PM PST) 

Ustreams of simultaneous general assemblies at Zuccotti Park in New York City and Sproul Plaza at UC Berkeley.

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UC Strike/Occupy Wall Street Raided 

UPDATE 7 (3:28 PM PST): #3OccupySF ustream of Occupy Oakland march to UC Berkeley in support of the systemwide strike call.The march is proceeding down Telegraph Avenue, about half a mile away from UC Berkeley. #occupyberkeley has a ustream from downtown Berkeley as well. Follow the Twitter feeds at Occupy Oakland and Occupy Berkeley for replacement ustreams as necessary throughout the rest of the day, as those currently providing video may lose battery power for transmission. Meanwhile, at UC Davis, 400 students are involved in a sit-in at the Mrak Hall administration building in response to the it:

UPDATE 6 (3:18 PM PST): The Other 99, live ustream from Zuccotti Park.

UPDATE 5 (1:59 PM PST): The trial court rules against Occupy Wall Street and refuses to permit people to camp in Zuccotti Park. A cautionary tale about relying upon the courts for redress.

UPDATE 4 (1:22 PM PST): Denver, Portland, Oakland, Eureka, New York City, and, according to the Adbusters Occupy Wall Street Twitter feed, police preparing for raids in Toronto, Sydney, Melbourne . . . the crackdown on Occupy Wall Street is global. Impossible to keep up with developments as tweets are overwhelming the page, and the Occupy Oakland march hasn't even started yet. In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg has openly violated a court order permitting the return of the protesters to the park all day. At least 7 reportes have been arrested by the NYPD.

UPDATE 3 (1:16 PM PST): We want our park now! Protesters encircle Zuccotti Park as they await a trial court ruling as to whether they can reenter:

Hundreds of Occupy Wall Street protesters have returned to the financial district plaza they've used as a base of operations for the last two months. Citing a court order issued this morning establishing their right to enter Zuccotti Park – which they describe as Liberty Square – the demonstrators marched on the plaza late this morning.

As they approached the square, police officers directed the marchers into a chute of barricades that led to a dead-end. With the pen full, protesters demanded the police let them free. Individuals steadily began to create spaces between barricades and within a short amount of time took the sidewalk surrounding the perimeter of the plaza.

We want our park now! the protesters chanted, as the police directed them to keep moving along the sidewalk. Many carried this morning's court order in their hands and often challenged police officers to respond to it. Protesters repeatedly told the NYPD they were breaking the law by barring them from the park.

There may not be a court ruling until 5pm EST.

UPDATE 2 (1:05 PM PST): Today, November 15, is also the day of the systemwide UC general strike, called last Thursday after police attacked protesters with batons at UC Berkeley. At my alma mater, UC Davis, there is a growing crowd of 2000 people on the Quad. At 2:30pm, there will be an Occupy Oakland march in support of the strike at UC Berkeley:

UPDATE 1 (10:30 PM PST) : Protesters and journalists arrested after gaining access to ground owned by Trinity Wall Street Church at Duarte Square.

INITIAL POST (8:45 PM PST): Livestream of police in riot gear in Zuccotti Park, with protesters marching outside along the street. The situation is predictably tense. Go here to watch it. The New York Police Department did not permit the media to cover the eviction. At least 70 people were arrested. Despite a court order allowing people back into the park, police are now refusing to permit entry. For the Twitter feed, go to the Adbusters Occupy Wall Street here site. For background and updates, you can also go to the other Occupy Wall Street website. Police are surrounding all entrances and refusing to communicate with anyone. There is a Guardian live blog where one can also monitor the situation as well. Over 7000 people are watching the global revolution livestream.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Ustreams of Occupy Oakland General Assembly at Frank Ogawa Plaza (6:26 PM) 

UPDATE (6:23 PM): Participants in Occupy Oakland plan to meet tomorrow at 2:30 PM at 14th and Broadway to march to UC Berkeley in support the UC strike tomorrow. According to OccupyMills, there will be another attempt to establish an occupation on campus. Meanwhile, the UC Regents cancelled their planned Wednesday meeting in San Francisco. Occupy Oakland reporting that 2000 people are participating in the general assembly.

INITIAL POST (5:28 PM): Live ustreams by OccupyMills and BellaEiko of the attempt by Occupy Oakland to recover Frank Ogawa Plaza. Approximately 700 people on the march. The mood is festive. People being allowed to gather in the park and the amphitheater, possibly consistent with an earlier Oakland Police Department announcement that people would only be confronted if they sought to set up tents again. A general assembly is now getting underway in the amphitheater with four police helicopters overhead shining lights on the crowd. Motorcycle cops are circling the plaza and there are about 40 cops, some in riot gear, at the back of the park. The amphitheater appears to be full, and there is a discussion about developing a plan for an upcoming action. Apparently, there will be a mass action on Saturday, November 19th, with a Sutter Health facility in Oakland as one of the targets. The San Francisco Chronicle is now reporting that there were 1000 people on the march, but, consistent with the policy of this blog, no link will be provided. For more information, you can also follow the Twitter feed at Occupy Oakland. I frankly didn't anticipate so many people will respond to the call. I guess I shouldn't underestimate those involved with Occupy Oakland.

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Occupy Oakland Raided 

Police cleared out the encampment at Frank Ogawa Square this morning, and, according to the Occupy Oakland Twitter feed, arrested 32 people. The morning sweep purportedly cost $300,000 to $500,000. Meanwhile, on the north coast, the Eureka police department arrested 31 people while closing Occupy Eureka. A conservative estimate of Occupy Together arrests within the US prior to the ones in Oakland and Eureka is 3,024, with a surge over the last week. Consistent with past practice, Occupy Oakland has called for people to gather at the Oakland Main Library at 14th and Madison for a 4pm rally and march.

Interestingly, an ancillary group, associated with another encampment at Snow Park by Lake Merritt, has called a meeting for tomorrow night, with the intention of organizing itself as OccupyOaklandPeacefully. After the shooting death on Thursday near the plaza, a number of campers left and joined others already occupying the Lake Merritt site about half a mile away. This shouldn't be surprising, seeing someone killed, as Davey D. observed, must be a pretty traumatic experience. So far, there is no indication that it has been raided.

Such seemingly individual decisions highlight a fundamental conundrum for Occupy Together across the country. As occupations have expanded, they have been transformed into social service providers, providers of food, shelter, clothing and even emergency medical assistance. In Oakland, this was true from the inception, while it has emerged over time at Occupy Wall Street. Of course, this is consistent with the prefigurative aspect of the movement, but there is an unavoidable tension between such an enterprise and violent confrontations with the police. Furthermore, it places a tremendous burden upon participants in terms of creating a safe and secure environment for all involved. A serious example has been the controversy surrounding sexual assaults at occupations and whether they should be reported to the police.

If people do not feel safe, they will not participate in the occupations. Precariousness is a part of everyday life for poor people and women, regardless of class, and, it will, as Shake Anderson said on my radio show on Friday, enter the occupations along with those who have been subjected to it. Hence, the occupations have faced the challenge of recognizing violent expressions of it and addressing them as effectively as possible. In some instances, it may necessitate turning people over to the criminal justice system, as distateful as this is for many involved in the movement.

Externally, the debate about non-violence versus a diversity of tactics is central. There has been much criticism of the Black Bloc and others who have engaged in property destruction and violent encounters with the police. While one can engage this subject ideologically, as many have, others have identified the practical, day to day dimension of it. Homeless people, poor people, undocumented people . . for that matter, most people generally, are afraid of the police. Last Monday, a woman appeared before the Occupy Oakland general assembly to request an endorsement of a march of poor, undocumented and indigenous people objecting to the evisceration of social services in their communities. Someone asked if there would be any violence, and she responded something like oh no, not at all . . . there will be undocumented people and people with families on the march and the last thing they need is to be arrested.

Occupy Together is a social movement that has excited some of the most vulnerable and exploited people in our society. They, along with many others, are implicitly challenging many of the capitalist values of our society. Despite their fear of the police, they are already putting themselves in harm's way when they participate in occupations. They know that they may be arrested, beaten and lose what little personal property they have, and yet they have joined the occupations. Others should not involuntarily push them into violent situations for which they are unprepared.

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Denver Raided, Imminent Raid in Portland, Rumored AM Raid in Oakland 

UPDATE 7 (November 13, 11:40 AM): Portland police dismantle Occupy Portland encampments at Chapman and Lownsdale Squares after a late night crowd in support of them goes home. In Oakland, some participants in Occupy Oakland forced their way back into Frank Ogawa Square and recovered it after being evicted and subjected to a police riot a couple of weeks ago. One wonders whether those involved in Occupy Portland will display the same resolve as it has been much less confrontational.

UPDATE 6 (November 13, 12:45 AM) : Police can't get through the crowd to reach the Occupy Portland encampment. Main Street is closed for three blocks out from it. Upon receiving the official announcement of the planned eviction, Occupy Portland treated it as a New Year's Eve invitation and invited everyone downtown. Interestingly, KGW News Channel 8 in Portland has placed the Occupy Portland livestream on its webpage. Bay Area news editors, especially ones that work for the San Francisco Chronicle, would rather eat rat poison than do something like that with Occupy Oakland. KGW also has its own livestream, where a police lieutenant, Robert King, is saying that the Portland Police Department anticipated a large crowd. Right. That's why the eviction notice was issued for midnight. Crowd continues to grow, while King says that the police plan to wait until the crowd dissipates. King and KGW keep emphasizing the good relationship with Occupy Portland. So why evict the encampment? Yes, the business community demanded it, just like in Oakland.

UPDATE 5 (11:56 PM): Occupy Portland eviction scheduled for four minutes away at midnight. An estimated 5000 to 6000 people awaiting police action. There is a livestream here, as well as a Facebook page and a Twitter feed on the Occupy Portland webpage:

The bike brigade has just arrived. Occupy Portland! #opdx

Mobile candlelight vigil encircling Occupy Portland. #opdx

Group on corner of Main & 4th have barricaded itself, chanting "We are non-violent. We are not leaving." #opdx

Mounted officers & riot cops on the ground, helicopters overhead, laughing overheard. #opdx

In this movement, it seems that the action doesn't get started until after 10:00pm. 6100 people watching the livestream.

UPDATE 4 (9:19 PM): Occupy Denver encampments dispersed by the police with 16 arrests confirmed and an undetermined number of additional ones. At one point, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets into a crowd of occupiers. Police followed protesters down side streets as they attempted to regroup. Rumors rampant that Occupy Oakland will be raided tonight, with video activists en route to the encampment to record it. The Oakland Police Department has warned journalists of potential risk to personal safety if they cover the assault.

UPDATE 3 (2:41 PM): Derrick Jensen speaking now on ustream at Occupy Oakland. He is exhorting the police to refuse to attack the encampment and join it instead. He is also, to his credit, confronting the failure of some occupations to report rapes to the police. He asserts that people involved in occupations should force the police to do their jobs by turning accused rapists over to them. He demands that the participants in Occupy Oakland express a zero tolerance towards rape, which the men in the crowd do. He says that a cop friend told him that cops protect us from sociopaths. He turns towards cops nearby and rhetorically asks why cops attack unionists and indigenous people instead of sociopathic capitalists He says, If they won't protect us, cops should have the common decency to get out of the way.

UPDATE 2 (2:18 PM): Police are massing and putting on riot gear in preparation for a raid at Occupy Denver. For updates, there is a livestream here, as well as the Occupy Denver Facebook page. Meanwhile, there is another one anticipated tonight at Occupy Portland. The Occupy Portland Facebook page is probably the best source of up to the minute information.

UPDATE 1 (2:07 PM): OakFoSho has a ustream from Occupy Oakland. A pleasant, sunny day. Veterans have apparently occupied a building in the area, and the police have informed them that it may be raided within a few hours.

INITIAL POST: The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland officials have approved another police assault upon Occupy Oakland, most likely in advance of the contentious UC Regents meeting in San Francisco next Wednesday, which will require a substantial, region wide police presence. Given that the Chronicle has been in the forefront of the hysteria to shut down Occupy Oakland, I am not providing a link to the article. For those of you interested in staying abreast of current developments, go to the Occupy Oakland website and follow the Twitter feed on the right side of the page. There is also a livestream here, and OakFoSho transmits live video from the encampment as well. They are likely to be your best sources of information in the event of another forcible eviction from Frank Ogawa Plaza.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Shooting Death Near Occupy Oakland 

UPDATE 5: (11:22 PM): An ABC 7 camera crew was attacked when it tried to take video of the critically wounded victim shortly after the shooting. Why did this happen? Perhaps, this may provide an insight:

The death of Hugh O'Connor occurred on September 20, 1967. O'Connor, a Canadian television journalist, was filming a coal miner at his rented house in Jeremiah, Letcher County, Kentucky when Hobart Ison, the property owner, arrived, told O'Connor and his crew to leave, then shot and killed O'Connor. Journalists and filmmakers had descended upon Appalachia in the late 1960s to document the living conditions there, in relation to the War on Poverty. This offended many local residents, who objected to the stereotyping and criticism by outsiders, as well as their tendency to show only the poor of Appalachia.

People can feel such resentments intensely:

Although many were shocked by the crime, local residents rallied to Ison's defense. About 100 residents attended his bond hearing to support and offer assistance in paying the bond. According to a 2001 book:

Locals defended Ison not because they approved of murder and not because of an innate, clannish suspiciousness of outsiders, but because they perceived the prying eyes of reporters to be an assault on manners, common decency, and the integrity of their communities.

Interestingly, the first trial of Ison resulted in an 11 to 1 hung jury, and, after subsequently entering a guilty plea for voluntary manslaughter, he was paroled after only serving one year in prison.

While the crowd should not have attacked the crew, and injured the reporter/cameraman, Randy Davis, the people in the crowd, in the heat of the moment, could have construed the crew as violent crime paparazzi.

UPDATE 4 (10:57 PM): Compelling series of tweets from Davey D.:

mrdaveyd Davey D
Lastly we have to come to grips that not all the violence we experience will come from cops.. Sadly sometimes it's 99% on 99% #occupyoakland
58 seconds ago

mrdaveyd Davey D
We need to comfort the young man's family.. We need to comfort those who saw this.. We need to comfort each other.. #occupyoakland
2 minutes ago

mrdaveyd Davey D
Now more than ever #occupyoakland must be revolutionary and the most revolutionary thing u can do is love, uplift, comfort & help heal!

mrdaveyd Davey D
Seeing a violent death is tragic-For some in Oakland it's all too familiar for others its traumatizing- I'm sure the family is devastated
16 seconds ago

mrdaveyd Davey D
#occupyoakland like any other community has to take bold, loving steps to heal.. I mean Really heal.. Lots of folks saw this man get killed
2 minutes ago

mrdaveyd Davey D
#occupyoakland like many other communities in Oakland & urban spaces around the country has to grapple w/ loss of life to violence
3 minutes ago

mrdaveyd Davey D
This young man was part of the 99%.. He was one of many who have lost their lives to violence..it hurts to say that.. Its painful
4 minutes ago

mrdaveyd Davey D
While one's initial reaction is to pt out the young mN who was shot was not part of the encampment, we can't separate him from our community

Quite a contrast to the cynical opportunism on display from Mayor Jean Quan and City Council member Ignacio De La Fuente, who can't resist exploiting Alex's death to achieve their political objective of ending the encampment.

UPDATE 3 (10:46 PM): OakFoSho has a livestream of the vigil for the victim, Alex, at Occupy Oakland.

UPDATE 2 (10:44 PM): According to Eyeslam: A shooting is a reason to call for the end of violence, to end the flood of guns in the streets; not for the end of #OccupyOakland.

UPDATE 1 (10:40 PM): Shockingly, there was a murder at the same location in April.

INITIAL POST: Tragic killing of a young black male near Occupy Oakland in front of Tully's Coffee at 14th and Broadway. Occupy Oakland medics were first responders. Others formed a circle around the victim to allow him to receive medical care and tried to apprehend the suspects. A media crew that attempted to gather video of the victim at the scene was attacked by angry people. So far, the Oakland Police Department states that neither the suspect nor the victim appear to have been associated with the encampment. Not surprisingly, that isn't preventing Mayor Jean Quan from saying that the encampment will be closed tonight, although she is also requesting that people leave voluntarily. Meanwhile, the mood in the plaza is understandably somber, and the people there are now holding a vigil. For updates, follow the Twitter feed at Occupy Oakland, which is a good source of information from numerous sources.

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Oakland Chamber of Commerce Demands Another Police Assault on Occupy Oakland 

UPDATE: This is why there is such urgency towards suppressing manifestations of Occupy Together like Occupy Oakland. Fred Shavies, the officer interviewed in this video, was, amazingly, one of the undercover Oakland Police Department officers exposed about a couple of weeks ago:

INITIAL POST: A press conference today by Oakland Chamber of Commerce President Joe Haraburda concluded about two hours ago:

susie_c Susie Cagle
"What if #OccupyOakland continues?" pres: "it better not... It better not."
17 minutes ago »

susie_c Susie Cagle
#occupyoakland "we believe the police acted appropriately..." pres just said Scott Olsen might've actually been injured by a baseball bat??
18 minutes ago »

susie_c Susie Cagle
#occupyoakland saying now the raid was "handled very professionally."
19 minutes ago »

susie_c Susie Cagle
#occupyoakland "our concentration at this point in time is ending the encampment." rising frustration in presidents voice.
20 minutes ago »

susie_c Susie Cagle
#occupyoakland "fights, fire hazards." "it's an illegal occupation -- that's OUR property." "end the occupation NOW."
21 minutes ago »

susie_c Susie Cagle
#occupyoakland now chamber pres complaining about Quan more. They met last week but "the mayor wasn't really listening."
22 minutes ago »

susie_c Susie Cagle
Chamber survey results: 76% agree with #ows goals but 49% disapprove of #OccupyOakland and only 33% agree w camping in plaza
23 minutes ago »

susie_c Susie Cagle
#occupyoakland tenants pulling out of leases. "we haven't heard anything that seems like Quan is moving forcefully in any direction"
27 minutes ago »

susie_c Susie Cagle
#occupyoakland Chamber of commerce releasing stats on local biz. 30-40% biz down @ restaurants. "the camp must go" "downward spiral"
29 minutes ago »

susie_c Susie Cagle
New perspective -- overhearing other press here making fun of #OccupyOakland
32 minutes ago »

susie_c Susie Cagle
@ @beingtherewith yep
34 minutes ago »

susie_c Susie Cagle
#occupyoakland At chamber of commerce press conference. Nearly didn't get in because I look too radical?
39 minutes ago »

Influential people within the Oakland political and economic establishment are not hiding their intentions. I don't recall a situation in recent years where publicly prominent people within a community like some members of the Oakland City Council yesterday and the Oakland Chamber of Commerce today have openly advocated the use of force against people that almost guarantees more incidents of police brutality, if not a violent eruption in downtown Oakland. Amazingly, even the Oakland Police Officer's Association recognizes it. It is a high risk approach, given that only 49% of chamber members surveyed disapprove of the encampment, with a surprisingly high number of 33% in support of it.

Of course, it is doubtful that the such an assault will help the businesses of downtown Oakland. Instead, it is likely to indelibly stain the area as the site of some of most intense police violence inflicted upon the populace in recent American history. It will be remembered as emblematic of the paramilitarization of the police in this country. Accordingly, it would accelerate a gentrification process that has taken place in fits and starts over the last 20 years, except that there is no capital to finance such a transformation, at least not now, so it will have the immediate effect to turning the area into even more of a social and economic desert, potentially, ironically enough, creating more opportunitites for alternative social organization like Occupy Oakland.

Haraburda is revealing when he emphasizes the loss of business for restaurants. His emphasis is probably duplicitous, as discretionary spending has declined precipitously since the late summer, so Occupy Oakland may be a convenient scapegoat. For example, the notion that someone is not going to go to an Oakland Chinatown restaurant 6 or 7 blocks to the south of the encampment is ludicrous. Consistent with this, many of these restaurants are a feature of upper middle class entertainment that characterizes American cities. Hence, the truly frightening aspect of Occupy Oakland is that it points towards a prefigurative alternative of urban life.

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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Mass Occupy Action at UC Berkeley 

UPDATE 6 (November 10, 12:34 PM): Ongoing discussions in Sproul Plaza in advance of a general assembly scheduled for 6pm.

UPDATE 5: Photo of general assembly at UC Berkeley:

UPDATE 4 (November 10, 1:10 AM): There are about 1500 people left in the plaza. About half of them participated in the vote on the strike proposal. It passed the 90% threshold with 95% support.

UPDATE 3 (November 10, 12:36 AM): UC police say that 200 more officers have arrived, but no one has seen them. Meanwhile, assembly discussion has concluded in regard to a proposal for a systemwide UC strike on Tuesday, November 15th. People are breaking out into small groups of 20 to vote on it. It is, of course, expected to be approved overwhelmingly.

UPDATE 2 (November 10, 12:15 AM): Proposals now being submitted for a possible systemwide UC action, with attendant calls for solidarity. Crowd remarkably focused given the large number of people involved in this impromptu assembly.

UPDATE 1: In regard to my post earlier this evening about the proposal concerning the Black Bloc at the Occupy Oakland general assembly, which apparently allowed for a diversity of tactics, meaning property destruction outside of mass actions, there has been a report that it failed miserably, garnering just over 15% of the vote in a modified consensus process that requires 90% approval. For a more detailed presentation about what transpired during the discussion of this subject, as well as others addressed during the assembly, go here.

INITIAL POST (November 9, 10:54 PM):

OakFoSho's livestream is here. You can also follow at Occupy Oakland as well. OakFoSho reports 2000 to 3000 people, with more arriving from Occupy Oakland on BART. Others from Occupy Oakland, as well as people from Occupy San Francisco and Occupy Berkeley, are already there in a show of support. Apparently, the crowd in Sproul Plaza grew much larger after the second police attack upon the occupiers in the early evening. 39 people were arrested as a result of efforts to occupy the plaza earlier in the day. Right now, some Oakland Police Department and Alameda County Sheriff's Department officers are at the scene in addition to the UC police, but there are only 50 to 70 cops total. Meanwhile, occupy participants are forming groups of marshals in an attempt to prevent violence. There were rumors that Occupy Oakland was going to be raided, but that fear has ebbed. An estimated 30,000 people are watching the livestream all over the world.

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Livestream Occupy Oakland General Assembly 

UPDATE: The proposal concerning the Black Bloc, which apparently provided for a diversity of tactics, meaning property destruction outside of mass actions, was defeated as it only garnered 15% of the vote in a modified consensus process that requires 90%. For a more detailed presentation of what transpired during a discussion of this subject, as well as others addressed during the assembly, go here.

INITIAL POST: Large crowd of 700-800 people in attendance tonight under threat of police assault as previously directed toward occupiers at Occupy Cal earlier today. Black Bloc proposal under discussion now at 8:15 PM. The proposal states that people employing Black Bloc tactics should desist from engaging in property destruction and violence during mass actions as they did during the November 2nd general strike, but recognizes their possible utility of such activity in other situations. It also emphasizes that the street violence during the late evening hours of November 2nd and the early morning hours of November 3rd damaged local businesses that support Occupy Oakland. It looks like it is going to be an emotional discussion, but the participants seem good natured.

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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Sacramento Police Arrest 73 Year Old Man for Sitting in the Park Past Curfew 

For more information about the arrest of Carlos, go here. It was probably around 40 degrees outside at the time. Of course, if you hadn't guessed, he was arrested for sitting in Cesar Chavez Park, the park occupied by Occupy Sacramento during the day.

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Monday, November 07, 2011

Don't Film the Oakland Police Department 

UPDATE 4: Arrests in Riverside, California, noteworthy for the anger of the crowd:

UPDATE 3: Occupy Atlanta takes action to try to stop a home foreclosure in nearby Snellville:

Occupy Atlanta has spent a month in downtown Atlanta, decrying corporate influence in U.S. politics and clashing with local authorities over their right to protest at a local park. Now the protesters are turning their attention to the suburbs, hoping to use a family of five in south Gwinnett to highlight the nation's foreclosure crisis.

This family is the perfect example of the fraud going on in the mortgage and banking industries, said Latron Price, one of Occupy Atlanta's organizers. We plan to shed light on the foreclosure issue and we look to make a stand here.

Nearly two dozen protesters assembled Monday afternoon at Tawanna Rorey's four-bedroom home in a neighborhood just south of Snellville, clogging the narrow, winding street that runs in front of the house with cars, vans and TV trucks. Many neighbors stopped to gawk at the spectacle and even honked their car horns in support of the crowd.

Occupy Atlanta shifted their focus to Gwinnett about 12 hours after five people were arrested near Woodruff Park in downtown Atlanta, a site that was the staging area for Wall Street protests similar to ones held in other U.S. cities.

Most members of the group showed up at the Rorey's home after the family's attorney told them the Gwinnett Sheriff's Department was prepared to evict them Monday afternoon.

This isn't the first time that this has happened. Michael Moore described a similar episode in Capitalism: A Love Story. But the fact that this is happening within the context of Occupy Together is significant.

UPDATE 2: I don't quote Chris Hedges much, because I figure that you find out what he says independent of me. He also has an excessively moralistic streak that I sometimes find sanctimonious, as if he is preaching from the mount. But this is important enough for me to post:

We seemed to have lost, at least until the advent of the Occupy Wall Street movement, not only all personal responsibility but all capacity for personal judgment. Corporate culture absolves all of responsibility. This is part of its appeal. It relieves all from moral choice. There is an unequivocal acceptance of ruling principles such as unregulated capitalism and globalization as a kind of natural law. The steady march of corporate capitalism requires a passive acceptance of new laws and demolished regulations, of bailouts in the trillions of dollars and the systematic looting of public funds, of lies and deceit. The corporate culture, epitomized by Goldman Sachs, has seeped into our classrooms, our newsrooms, our entertainment systems and our consciousness. This corporate culture has stripped us of the right to express ourselves outside of the narrowly accepted confines of the established political order. It has turned us into compliant consumers. We are forced to surrender our voice. These corporate machines, like fraternities and sororities, also haze new recruits in company rituals, force them to adopt an unrelenting cheerfulness, a childish optimism and obsequiousness to authority. These corporate rituals, bolstered by retreats and training seminars, by grueling days that sometimes end with initiates curled up under their desks to sleep, ensure that only the most morally supine remain. The strong and independent are weeded out early so only the unquestioning advance upward. Corporate culture serves a faceless system. It is, as Hannah Arendt writes, the rule of nobody and for this very reason perhaps the least human and most cruel form of rulership.

Our political class, and its courtiers on the airwaves, insists that if we refuse to comply, if we step outside of the Democratic Party, if we rebel, we will make things worse. This game of accepting the lesser evil enables the steady erosion of justice and corporate plundering. It enables corporations to harvest the nation and finally the global economy, reconfiguring the world into neofeudalism, one of masters and serfs. This game goes on until there is hardly any action carried out by the power elite that is not a crime. It goes on until corporate predators, who long ago decided the nation and the planet were not worth salvaging, seize the last drops of wealth. It goes on until moral acts, such as calling for those inside the corporate headquarters of Goldman Sachs to be tried, see you jailed, and the crimes of financial fraud and perjury are upheld as lawful and rewarded by the courts, the U.S. Treasury and the Congress. And all this is done so a handful of rapacious, immoral plutocrats like Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs who sucks down about $250,000 a day and who lied to the U.S. Congress as well as his investors and the public, can use their dirty money to retreat into their own Forbidden City or Versailles while their underlings, basking in the arrogance of power, snap amusing photos of the rabble outside their gates being hauled away by the police and company goons.

Hedges, in case you haven't heard, was arrested on Saturday during an OWS protest in front of Goldman Sachs.

UPDATE 1: But the police can film you:

On Nov 2nd over 100 people took to the streets of Asheville, NC in a fun, spirited and family friendly march to show support for Occupy Oakland and their general strike. People of all ages from toddlers to grandparents participated in the march carrying banners reading, We are all Scott Olsen and Asheville is Oakland, Oakland is Asheville. The march was the largest protest to take the streets in Asheville without a permit since the Iraq War started in 2003. By all accounts it was a well received and empowering event for those that participated in it. Unless that is you are the Asheville Police Department.

Though the APD did little to stop the march, they did bring out dozens of officers, including the forensics team and undercover officers to video and photograph Asheville residents expressing their First Amendment rights. The APD has done this sort of unconstitutional surveillance for years at all types of protests. However this time is different. Starting Saturday Nov 5 the APD began grabbing Occupy Asheville participants off the streets that they claim they identified from police footage of the march. So far 7 have been arrested, and the police say there are many more arrests on the way. They are being charged with resisting public officers, impeding traffic, unlawful assembly. One person has an additional charge of wearing a mask in public.

For those of you who are unaware, Asheville is a historic resort city near the Great Smoky Mountains. Thomas Wolfe grew up there just after the turn of the last century, and wrote autobiographical novels, such as Look Homeward, Angel and Of Time and the River, about about his experiences. At that time, Asheville was a destination for wealthy people seeking the purportively curative effects of the mineral baths. Today, it is a place where it is difficult to sell your house in the aftermath of the bursting of the housing bubble, which has been particularly brutal in places like Asheville which relied upon second home and retiree sales.


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Friday, November 04, 2011

A Misguided Action at Occupy Oakland? (Part 2) 

UPDATE 2: Rumors of a imminent shutdown of Occupy Wall Street, too.

UPDATE 1: A an open letter by a medic on indybay:

My concern was with the ill-conceived tactics used to occupy the building, in that it looked like an anarchist glamorshot instead of a committed and revolutionary act to actually acquire and hold that space. I am tired of direct actions being done in a way that turns them into photo-ops and nothing else. I am tired of watching barricades be built only to be abandoned the minute the cops open fire. In addition, the crowd on 16th around the occupied building was terrifying far before the cops ever showed up. As a woman and queer person I wanted to get the fuck out of there almost immediately as it felt wildly unsafe on multiple levels, and I feel like whoever orchestrated the take-over made choices that specifically facilitated the overall crazy atmosphere. There were fistfights, screaming matches, fires, and just a general vibe that people were out to fuck shit up, and absolutely no attempt on the part of anyone to shut that sort of in-group violence down.

The setting on fire of the barricades was totally unnecessary, and may make it necessary for the city to call for the camp to be cleared; the breaking of windows and vandalizing of businesses which supported the strike was utterly stupid and counterproductive; and watching black bloc-ers run from the cops and not protect the camp their actions had endangered, an action which ultimately left behind many mentally ill people, sick people, street kids, and homeless folks to defend themselves against the police onslaught was disturbing and disgusting in ways I can't even articulate because I am still so angry at the empty bravado and cowardice that I saw.

By the way, the possibility that the city of Oakland will shut down the occupation is very real.

INITIAL POST: A comment by Tatiana Makovkin on indybay (and, note, there are now 85 responses to this post linked here yesterday, almost all well worth your time):

Taking this building was a good idea, but the action was not planned or executed correctly. The public has no idea about the backstory of the building or the intentions behind Occupying the building.

If your goal is to occupy a building, why would you do it in the public spotlight? If people really wanted to put the building to use, they would quietly, secretly, break into the building, and fill it with people. They could have actually begun USING the building. Then, they could gain public support before an eviction attempt by educating the public about the history of the building and the good use to which an empty building had been turned.

Instead they made a public statement. That means that this was not a practical action. It was not a real attempt to use the building, it was symbolic. And a symbolic action is designed to send a message. But what was the message?

There was a banner hung on the building that said Occupy Everything I watched the TV live news report and the anchorwoman spoke the words on the banner as part of the report. At the time I thought it was cute. But now that I read the above description of what people were supposedly trying to accomplish, I see that the banner should have carried a specific message about this particular building and action, to educate people about the story that was unfolding.

As for the barricades, give me a break. I squatted in the Lower East Side in the early 90s. Evictions are not a game. The cops rolled a tank onto 13th street when they wanted the squatters out. A TANK.

Were these protestors actually intending to defend the building militarily? Did they think they had a chance? What is the point of barricades? What is the point of burning trash cans? Do you think that will make it possible for you to keep the building? Of course not. You know you can't win against their military might. We can only win against their limp morality, their shriveled integrity, and their flaccid principles. And we win by being morally strong, impeccable in our integrity and holding fast to wise and courageous principles of service and compassion. Service to the community. We win by expressing our morality, integrity and principles with clarity and grace.

The people who raged in the street last night were not motivated by an impulse to serve the community, that is clear. What did motivate them, really? Maybe they will do some introspection, look into themselves and ask of themselves what is true. Were they looking to have a good time? Craving excitement and adrenaline? Infatuated with their own egos and sense of identity? Were they swept up in the euphoric feeling that comes with being part of something, part of a group, a club?

This movement is not about being in a club. This is the 99%. This is for everyone. We show our faces. And when I say this movement is for everyone, I want to feel that this movement is for you too.

The people who were part of the drama that played out late last night need to look into their hearts. They need to ask themselves who they serve. If they are seeking to serve their own selfish needs, they don't hold a place of honor in this movement. They are the troublesome relation and we are all wondering how they will reconcile with the rest of the family. Maturity is expressed in a willingness to take responsibility. They should apologize. Publicly. They should work to mend the damage that they have caused to the spirit and reputation of this movement, a movement awash in beauty and humility. The people in this movement are so humble, none of them will claim to have the authority to lead or to speak for the other members. We represent ourselves, and we are all in leadership positions. Decentralized structure means that we are all responsible. You be responsible too, anarchists. Be responsible on a spiritual level. Be responsible on an emotional level to the good, trusting people in this movement whom you have hurt. Be responsible on an intellectual level by thinking carefully about your goals and strategy and acting for the good of the whole

Taking this building and starting a library and center of operations would have been an action that served the good of the whole. But that is not what you did. You didn't take a building. You just took a lot of attention and made the conversation center around yourselves. The people in the movement deserve better. The 99% deserve better. They deserve an apology.

Personally, I'm not that big into apologies. While sometimes warranted, a request for one often makes the recipient defensive, without signaling a change in perspective if they fulfill the request. And, that is what is so urgent here, a recognition by those involved in the Traveler's Aid Society seizure that it is essential to consider the implications of their actions within a broader social movement, and conduct themselves accordingly.

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Thursday, November 03, 2011

A Misguided Action at Occupy Oakland? (Part 1) 

UPDATE: Go here for a statement from some of the participants in the Traveler's Aid Society squat referenced below and an insightful array of responses to it. Many of those posting comments expressed the opinion that the seizure of the building was poorly planned in light of the predictable police response and put the occupation at risk.

INITIAL POST: In most instances, a direct action for the purpose of squatting an abandoned building, one in which services for the homeless had been provided, would be a good idea with an understandable social objective, the exposure of how the perpetuation of private property impoverishes people. But late last night and early this morning was not such a time. The police responded with force, and the anarchists and others who squatted the building, fought back. Not surprisingly, the police beat pretty much all the arrestees. Local businesses found themselves in the crossfire, and even if one discounts the bias of the San Francisco Chronicle, there remains the question as to how well anarchists will swim in the downtown Oakland sea in the aftermath of this incident. One does have to consider these things, including the reaction of the Occupy Oakland general assembly, when engaging in such actions as part of a broader social movement.

What was wrong with the squat? Was it because it might take the relatively non-violent sheen off a day of Occupy Oakland marches and the shutdown of the Port of Oakland? Not necessarily. While there are certainly a number of progressives who are always discomforted by efforts to seize abandoned properties and defend them, public acceptance of more confrontational forms of protest is on the rise, as proven by Occupy Together itself. The movement has grown because of synergy between progressive and liberal involvement and proponents of direct action. Was it because the squat and resulting confrontation would be manipulated by the media against the movement? Again, not necessarily. If you haven't noticed, much of the media remains hostile to Occupy Together and has no difficulty manufacturing reasons to malign it. Indeed, the squat resulted in the paradoxical media embrace of the marches and port shutdown as non-violent in contradistinction to the squat. So one can rather oddly argue that the squat actually pushed the media to portray the other aspects of the general strike more favorably.

Of course, it is possible that the squat and subsequent conflict will frighten people away from future participation, but this is dependent upon subsequent events, and not at all certain. But it does appear that the decision to proceed with the squat drained the energy away from the shutdown of the Port of Oakland. Thousands of people stopped traffic and blocked the gates at the port during the early evening hours, and there were plans to stop the early morning shifts from entering the port as well. Given that the unionized workers must come to work unless prevented from doing so by a sizeable community picket, it was essential that a substantial number of people turn out to block the gates again. Accordingly, upon the return of the protesters to the encampment, there should have been an emphasis upon ensuring such a turn out. Instead, there was a diversion of people into the squat, while media reports of conflict between anarchists and police in downtown Oakland deterred anyone who had departed after participating in the protest from returning to the encampment to continue the blockade of the port.

So, an opportunity was missed as the port reopened after a small number of people were sent out by Occupy Oakland to block the gates. By 8:45am, the community picket, such as it was, ended. Just a fraction of the number of people who participated in the protest the previous evening would have been sufficient to prevent the opening of the port. Admittedly, that might not have happened in any event. There is something ritualistic about shutdowns of the Port of Oakland, and having obtained the gratification of having achieved their objective, many of those who protested might have failed to return regardless of what happened during the early morning hours in downtown Oakland. It is even possible that the International Longshore and Warehouse Union had no interest in an extended shutdown, although there was a report, as noted here, that it wanted a 24 hour closure. If the union did come to such a decision because of the enormous, unanticipated size of the march to the port, then the violence that erupted as a consequence of the squat is all the more tragic. On the other side of the ledger, there is the fact that a sizeable number of people took to the streets to defend the squat, and that might be a harbinger of things to come.

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