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Occupation showdown

Written By: - Date published: 6:15 am, October 15th, 2011 - 17 comments
Categories: activism, class war, us politics - Tags:

By the time this post appears a showdown will have taken place in New York.  City police, allegedly at the instigation of the Park’s owners, are due to confront the Occupation at Liberty Plaza (Zuccotti Park) on Friday at 7am (US Eastern). Update: showdown cancelled.

I’ve seen various accounts of what is intended, here’s The Guardian:

The collection of sleeping bags, camping stoves and Macbook Airs that makes up the Occupy Wall Street stronghold in Lower Manhattan is about to be broken up. Four weeks after the first protesters took up residence at Zuccotti Park, what looks like a final showdown with the city authorities is looming.

The owners of the park, Brookfield Properties, appear to have had enough of their uninvited guests and have ordered a cleanup to begin at 7am on Friday.  On Thursday, representatives of the company distributed leaflets in the park saying that, following the clear-up, protesters will not be allowed to keep sleeping bags, tents, and other camping gear in the park. Nor will they be allowed to lie down on the benches or the ground. In effect, the camp is finished. …

Occupy Wall Street protesters called for supporters to gather at the park from 6am on Friday to defend it from what they said was an eviction attempt. Police say they will move in to enforce the clean-up from 7am. Some sort of confrontation appears inevitable.

OWS spokesman Tyler Combelic told the ThinkProgress website: “We have decided that at 7 o’clock tomorrow, we will not leave the park. We are not opposed to cleaning it ourselves.”

On Wednesday, protesters began cleaning up the park themselves.

The New York Police Department told the Guardian that the park would be cleaned in thirds on Friday, in an operation that was expected to last 12 hours. … Occupy Wall Street said the statement by the owners amounted to an “attempt to shut down #OWS for good”. …

Whatever happens, the protesters have made significant gains. They have forced the media to take notice of them, and they appear to have made inroads with public opinion.

A survey by Time magazine found that 54% of Americans have a favourable impression of the protests, with 23% reporting a negative impression. An NBC/Wall Street Journal survey, found 37% “tend to support” OWS, while 18% “tend to oppose” it. CBS News headlined a piece on its website: “Occupy Wall Street – more popular than you think”.

I’m not surprised that the Occupiers have decided to try and stay.  Let us all hope that no one is hurt, as the police will no doubt use force to clear the park.  Check out the morning media, there should be plenty of coverage of events as they unfold.

17 comments on “Occupation showdown”

  1. Carol 1

    Clean up has been postponed:

    http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2011/10/201110146148372343.html

    A planned clean-up of a New York park that has become the focal point for the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protests has been postponed, a brief statement from the office of the city’s mayor says.

    The statement on Friday morning came hours before the clean-up was due to start, prompting fears of a flashpoint between authorities and protesters, hundreds of whom remain in the park.

    A number of protesters were arrested during scuffles with police who attempted to enter the occupied Zuccotti Park.
    […]
    In the statement, the mayor’s office said Brookfield Office Properties, was working out an “arrangement with the protesters that will ensure the park remains clean … for public use”.

    It added that the park owner was “for the time being withdrawing their request from earlier in the week for police assistance during their cleaning operation”.

    It was inspiring to see a large crowd chanting, We are the99% on AlJazeera News on my TV a little while ago.

    • prism 1.1

      I noticed that the occupied Zuccotti Park is not a publicly owned park – it has a private owner,
      Brookfield Office Properties. But the public authorities are involved in talking to protesters and getting a postponement of a clean-up of it, with police involved as well. Arrangements are being made “with the protesters that will ensure the park remains clean…for public use”. The owners would be second-level businesses, not the elite, so would fit in the rough 20% division so the 80% public will eventually be denied space anywhere to demand to be heard.

      How long till the replay of the Russian St Petersburg massacre if this continues?
      Bloody Sunday (Russian: Кровавое воскресенье) was a massacre on January 22 [O.S. January 9] 1905 in St. Petersburg, Russia, where unarmed, peaceful demonstrators marching to present a petition to Tsar Nicholas II were gunned down by the Imperial Guard while approaching the city center and the Winter Palace from several gathering points. The shooting did not occur in the Palace Square. Bloody Sunday was an event with grave consequences for the Tsarist regime, as the disregard for ordinary people shown by the massacre undermined support for the state Wikipedia

      Usually parks are owned and maintained by the public authorities for the public. Apparently this land is privatised and the public allowed to use it, but the owners can withdraw that opportunity and call on police paid from the public purse, to evict the public who as it is not public land, have no rights to hold a protest there.

  2. ghostwhowalksnz 2

    But its not all sweetness and light
    volunteer legal observer for the National Lawyers Guild was injured by a police motorcycle; a video of the incident shows an officer leaving his motorcycle parked on the man’s leg as the man screams– NY Times

    No surprise there – London, New York the police have to be arseholes

  3. AAMC 3

    Footage of the moment the clean up was called off. , the unions arrived at around 6am to form human chain around park, was very inspiring to wacth it happen on the live stream this morning. s

    You’ve got Hip Hop magnate Russell Simmons live tweeting from Zuccotti park and calling in the peeps, stating “I am part of the 100% the people lack healthcare education and opportunity and they are my people therefore I lack those things”, “I’am part of the 100%. If the communities suffer I suffer”

    Salman Rushdie with almost 100k followers regularly tweeting his support, including for this petition of writers in support for #OWS

    http://occupywriters.com/

  4. r0b 4

    Interesting developments.  The support for the Occupation is growing fast!

  5. Afewknowthetruth 5

    The criminal gangs that control the US government (and most western governments), i.e. Goldman Sachs, Morgan, Warburg, Rockefeller, Rothschild etc. will demand that any serious movement to topple them is crushed. Whatever force that is required will be used.

    Most Americans are still well-fed (over-fed) and comfortable and will sit back and do nothing. (The same applies in NZ.)

    Round two will come some time next year, when the US economy has collapsed a bit more, ordinary people are suffering a bit more and a bit more wealth has been transferred upwards.

    All western nations are on the same track but some are a lot further down it than others.

  6. Colonial Viper 6

    “18% of people tend to oppose the occupation”.

    Which means that about 17% of the population are terminally ignorant or perhaps motivated to self harm.

    Who in the US still actually believes in the “American dream”? Tens of millions on food stamps, millions foreclosed on (fairly and fraudulently) with millions more homeless, and billions stolen by the very wealthy from workers’ pension funds by banks and investment banks.

    • You guys should actually live in America and talk and work with Americans before you comment on what life is like in America.

      Some of the comments here are not cemented in reality.

  7. Sanctuary 7

    “18% of people tend to oppose the occupation”.

    and the 1.8% of them who are retired and have a broadband connection post about it on Kiwiblog.

    • Afewknowthetruth 7.1

      18% is close to the 20 of the 80/20 rule.

      20% of the populace make a comfortable living off the efforts of the other 80% and, not surprisingly, defend their right to do so.

      Of course, in the case of the financial elites it’s closer to the 99/1 rule. 1% of the populace lives in extreme opulence at the expense of the other 99%. It’s been that way since the first empires were established in the Middle East around 8,000 years ago.

      • Colonial Viper 7.1.1

        This country’s financial and monetary system needs a complete rework. Basic banking should become a non-profit for public good utility. And government credit lines (providing NZ Government issued money) should be available to small businesses and entrepreneurs who employ, at interest rates of 1% pa or less.

        • Afewknowthetruth 7.1.1.1

          ‘This country’s financial and monetary system needs a complete rework.’

          Absolutely.

          However, those in control will not allow any change to the present system, which has served them so well for so many centuries, and will use dumbing-down [via rugby and other internationalised sport etc.], the law and whatever force is necessary to maintain present arrangements (changing the law as necessary to fend off any potential threats).

          ‘at interest rates of 1% pa or less.’

          I disagree. We need zero interest, as was church policy in the medieval period.. The charging of any interest is usary and establihes debt slavery and so-called inflation. Zero interest eliminates both debt slavery and inflation.

          This is all hypothetical of course because TPTB already have plans for morphing the covert fascism we currently live under into over overt fascism via stealth.; they are well on the way with emission trading schemes and the latest piece of nasty legislation to prevent people growing and trading naturally produced food, seeds etc.

          TPTB only need to bring in legislation that makes protesting without a permit a criminal act which attracts a long jail sentence to complete the stranglehold they have on western societies.

          The only flies in the oilment for the elites are the collapse of the environment, the collapse of employment and the collapse of the industrialised food system, which will eventually result in riots pretty well everywhere.

          As discussed on many occasions, the crunch point will be reached when ‘security’ forces are required to ‘shoot to kill’ large numbers of civilians or round them up into concentration camps….. a familiar pattern of human behaviour which has been witnesssed throughout history and throuhghout the world …the English Civil War, the American War of Independence, the French Revolution, the occupation of NZ, the Boer War, the Russian Revolution, the Spanish Civil War, Italy under Mussolini, the Hitler regime, USSR under Stalin, , Cambodia under Pol Pot, Uganda under Idi Amin, Nigeria under the generals, Chile, Argentina, Myanmar, Syria, Israel etc. etc.

          There is a great tendency for scum to rise to the top of any hierachical society, unfortunately.

          • Draco T Bastard 7.1.1.1.1

            There is a great tendency for scum to rise to the top of any hierachical society, unfortunately.

            And there be enough people to wield the guns for them because they believe in “leaders” and are happy to do as they’re told.

  8. johnm 8

    The End of growth Uprising by Richard Heinberg

    “It began in Tunisia and Egypt, then spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa. It spilled into Spain, Greece, and Ireland. It leapfrogged to Wall Street. And this past weekend it erupted in London, Rome, Paris, Tokyo, Taipei, and Sydney. In hundreds of towns and cities around the world the uprising’s refrain is similar: economic misery resulting from fizzling economic growth is leading protesters to question corruption both in governments and in financial institutions, and to demand an end to extreme economic inequality.

    As long as economies grew, inequality was tolerable. And if the rabble demanded perks, governments could simply borrow money to fund social programs. Corruption could fester unnoticed. But now the economic tide is no longer lifting all boats. Bursting financial bubbles have led economies to contract. That has in turn led to falling tax revenues, which have made existing government debts in several key countries unrepayable. Therefore government bonds held by banks as assets suddenly have little value. Which causes the economy to teeter further. The system is broken.

    The universal solution: austerity—a strategy of cutting government spending, government jobs, and government services to the poor and middle classes. Suddenly social safety nets are being withdrawn, and extreme economic inequality is no longer socially tolerable.

    The only thing that could stop the uprising is a return to growth—which would generate new jobs, higher tax revenues, and solvency in the financial industry. But instead the world economy seems poised on a precipice perhaps more dangerous than the one it faced in 2008. This means the protesters likely aren’t going home anytime soon. For governments, there are only two realistic responses: repression or major reform

    Brutal police and military repression of the protests could buy time for politicians, but it would solve nothing. The unrest would go underground and tear at the social fabric, leading eventually to revolution or societal breakdown.

    Reform, if it is to make a difference, must be fundamental. It must start by addressing issues of economic inequality, but then must eliminate the massive debt overhang that plagues not just governments but households and the entire financial sector. In essence, policy makers must cobble together a new economic model that meets human needs in the absence of economic growth.

    Politicians take note: Forces are being unleashed that cannot be tamed. So far, crisis has been dealt with by a combination of denial and delay. Those tactics no longer work. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.”

  9. johnm 9

    A Movement Too Big to Fail

    By Chris Hedges

    October 17, 2011 “Truthdig” – – There is no danger that the protesters who have occupied squares, parks and plazas across the nation in defiance of the corporate state will be co-opted by the Democratic Party or groups like MoveOn. The faux liberal reformers, whose abject failure to stand up for the rights of the poor and the working class, have signed on to this movement because they fear becoming irrelevant. Union leaders, who pull down salaries five times that of the rank and file as they bargain away rights and benefits, know the foundations are shaking. So do Democratic politicians from Barack Obama to Nancy Pelosi. So do the array of “liberal” groups and institutions, including the press, that have worked to funnel discontented voters back into the swamp of electoral politics and mocked those who called for profound structural reform.

    Resistance, real resistance, to the corporate state was displayed when a couple of thousand protesters, clutching mops and brooms, early Friday morning forced the owners of Zuccotti Park and the New York City police to back down from a proposed attempt to expel them in order to “clean” the premises. These protesters in that one glorious moment did what the traditional “liberal” establishment has steadily refused to do—fight back. And it was deeply moving to watch the corporate rats scamper back to their holes on Wall Street. It lent a whole new meaning to the phrase “too big to fail.”

    Tinkering with the corporate state will not work. We will either be plunged into neo-feudalism and environmental catastrophe or we will wrest power from corporate hands. This radical message, one that demands a reversal of the corporate coup, is one the power elite, including the liberal class, is desperately trying to thwart. But the liberal class has no credibility left. It collaborated with corporate lobbyists to neglect the rights of tens of millions of Americans, as well as the innocents in our imperial wars. The best that liberals can do is sheepishly pretend this is what they wanted all along. Groups such as MoveOn and organized labor will find themselves without a constituency unless they at least pay lip service to the protests. The Teamsters’ arrival Friday morning to help defend the park signaled an infusion of this new radicalism into moribund unions rather than a co-opting of the protest movement by the traditional liberal establishment. The union bosses, in short, had no choice.

    The Occupy Wall Street movement, like all radical movements, has obliterated the narrow political parameters. It proposes something new. It will not make concessions with corrupt systems of corporate power. It holds fast to moral imperatives regardless of the cost. It confronts authority out of a sense of responsibility. It is not interested in formal positions of power. It is not seeking office. It is not trying to get people to vote. It has no resources. It can’t carry suitcases of money to congressional offices or run millions of dollars of advertisements. All it can do is ask us to use our bodies and voices, often at personal risk, to fight back. It has no other way of defying the corporate state. This rebellion creates a real community instead of a managed or virtual one. It affirms our dignity. It permits us to become free and independent human beings.

    Martin Luther King was repeatedly betrayed by liberal supporters, especially when he began to challenge economic forms of discrimination, which demanded that liberals, rather than simply white Southern racists, begin to make sacrifices. King too was a radical. He would not compromise on nonviolence, racism or justice. He understood that movements—such as the Liberty Party, which fought slavery, the suffragists, who fought for women’s rights, the labor movement and the civil rights movement—have always been the true correctives in American democracy. None of those movements achieved formal political power. But by holding fast to moral imperatives they made the powerful fear them. King knew that racial equality was impossible without economic justice and an end to militarism. And he had no intention of ceding to the demands of the liberal establishment that called on him to be calm and patience. “For years, I labored with the idea of reforming the existing institutions in the South, a little change here, a little change there,” King said shortly before he was assassinated. “Now I feel quite differently. I think you’ve got to have a reconstruction of the entire system, a revolution of values.”

    King was killed in 1968 when he was in Memphis to support a strike by sanitation workers. By then he had begun to say that his dream, the one that the corporate state has frozen into a few safe clichés from his 1963 speech in Washington, had turned into a nightmare. King called at the end of his life for massive federal funds to rebuild inner cities, what he called “a radical redistribution of economic and political power,” a complete restructuring of “the architecture of American society.” He grasped that the inequities of capitalism had become the instrument by which the poor would always remain poor. “Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism,” King said, “but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all of God’s children.” On the eve of King’s murder he was preparing to organize a poor people’s march on Washington, D.C., designed to cause “major, massive dislocations,” a nonviolent demand by the poor, including the white underclass, for a system of economic equality. It would be 43 years before his vision was realized by an eclectic group of protesters who gathered before the gates of Wall Street.

    The truth of America is understood only when you listen to voices in our impoverished rural enclaves, prisons and the urban slums, when you hear the words of our unemployed, those who have lost their homes or cannot pay their medical bills, our elderly and our children, especially the quarter of the nation’s children who depend on food stamps to eat, and all who are marginalized. There is more reality expressed about the American experience by the debt-burdened young men and women protesting in the parks than by all the chatter of the well-paid pundits and experts that pollutes the airwaves.

    What kind of nation is it that spends far more to kill enemy combatants and Afghan and Iraqi civilians than it does to help its own citizens who live below the poverty line? What kind of nation is it that permits corporations to hold sick children hostage while their parents frantically bankrupt themselves to save their sons and daughters? What kind of nation is it that tosses its mentally ill onto urban heating grates? What kind of nation is it that abandons its unemployed while it loots its treasury on behalf of speculators? What kind of nation is it that ignores due process to torture and assassinate its own citizens? What kind of nation is it that refuses to halt the destruction of the ecosystem by the fossil fuel industry, dooming our children and our children’s children?

    “America,” Langston Hughes wrote, “never was America to me.”

    “The black vote mean [nothing],” the rapper Nas intones. “Who you gunna elect/ Satan or Satan? In the hood nothing is changing,/ We aint got no choices.”

    Or listen to hip-hop artist Talib Kweli: “Back in the ’60s, there was a big push for black … politicians, and now we have more than we ever had before, but our communities are so much worse. A lot of people died for us to vote, I’m aware of that history, but these politicians are not in touch with people at all. Politics is not the truth to me, it’s an illusion.”

    The liberal class functions in a traditional, capitalist democracy as a safety valve. It lets off enough steam to keep the system intact. It makes piecemeal and incremental reform possible. This is what happened during the Great Depression and the New Deal. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s greatest achievement was that he saved capitalism. Liberals in a functioning capitalist democracy are at the same time tasked with discrediting radicals, whether it is King, especially after he denounced the war in Vietnam, or later Noam Chomsky or Ralph Nader.

    The stupidity of the corporate state is that it thought it could dispense with the liberal class. It thought it could shut off that safety valve in order to loot and pillage with no impediments. Corporate power forgot that the liberal class, when it functions, gives legitimacy to the power elite. And the reduction of the liberal class to silly courtiers, who have nothing to offer but empty rhetoric, meant that the growing discontent found other mechanisms and outlets. Liberals were reduced to stick figures, part of an elaborate pantomime, as they acted in preordained roles to give legitimacy to meaningless and useless political theater. But that game is over.

    Human history has amply demonstrated that once those in positions of power become redundant and impotent, yet retain the trappings and privileges of power, they are brutally discarded. The liberal class, which insists on clinging to its positions of privilege while at the same time refusing to play its traditional role within the democratic state, has become a useless and despised appendage of corporate power. And as the engines of corporate power pollute and poison the ecosystem and propel us into a world where there will be only masters and serfs, the liberal class, which serves no purpose in the new configuration, is being abandoned and discarded by both the corporate state and radical dissidents. The best it can do is attach itself meekly to the new political configuration rising up to replace it.

    An ineffectual liberal class means there is no hope of a correction or a reversal through the formal mechanisms of power. It ensures that the frustration and anger among the working and the middle class will find expression now in these protests that lie outside the confines of democratic institutions and the civilities of a liberal democracy. By emasculating the liberal class, which once ensured that restive citizens could institute moderate reforms, the corporate state has created a closed system defined by polarization, gridlock and political charades. It has removed the veneer of virtue and goodness that the liberal class offered to the power elite.

    Liberal institutions, including the church, the press, the university, the Democratic Party, the arts and labor unions, set the parameters for limited self-criticism in a functioning democracy as well as small, incremental reforms. The liberal class is permitted to decry the worst excesses of power and champion basic human rights while at the same time endowing systems of power with a morality and virtue it does not possess. Liberals posit themselves as the conscience of the nation. They permit us, through their appeal to public virtues and the public good, to see ourselves and our state as fundamentally good.

    But the liberal class, by having refused to question the utopian promises of unfettered capitalism and globalization and by condemning those who did, severed itself from the roots of creative and bold thought, the only forces that could have prevented the liberal class from merging completely with the power elite. The liberal class, which at once was betrayed and betrayed itself, has no role left to play in the battle between us and corporate dominance. All hope lies now with those in the street.

    Liberals lack the vision and fortitude to challenge dominant free market ideologies. They have no ideological alternatives even as the Democratic Party openly betrays every principle the liberal class claims to espouse, from universal health care to an end to our permanent war economy to a demand for quality and affordable public education to a return of civil liberties to a demand for jobs and welfare of the working class. The corporate state forced the liberal class to join in the nation’s death march that began with the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Liberals such as Bill Clinton, for corporate money, accelerated the dismantling of our manufacturing base, the gutting of our regulatory agencies, the destruction of our social service programs and the empowerment of speculators who have trashed our economy. The liberal class, stripped of power, could only retreat into its atrophied institutions, where it busied itself with the boutique activism of political correctness and embraced positions it had previously condemned.

    Russell Jacoby writes: “The left once dismissed the market as exploitative; it now honors the market as rational and humane. The left once disdained mass culture as exploitative; now it celebrates it as rebellious. The left once honored independent intellectuals as courageous; now it sneers at them as elitist. The left once rejected pluralism as superficial; now it worships it as profound. We are witnessing not simply a defeat of the left, but its conversion and perhaps inversion.”

    Hope in this age of bankrupt capitalism comes with the return of the language of class conflict and rebellion, language that has been purged from the lexicon of the liberal class, language that defines this new movement. This does not mean we have to agree with Karl Marx, who advocated violence and whose worship of the state as a utopian mechanism led to another form of enslavement of the working class, but we have to learn again to speak in the vocabulary Marx employed. We have to grasp, as Marx and Adam Smith did, that corporations are not concerned with the common good. They exploit, pollute, impoverish, repress, kill and lie to make money. They throw poor families out of homes, let the uninsured die, wage useless wars to make profits, poison and pollute the ecosystem, slash social assistance programs, gut public education, trash the global economy, plunder the U.S. Treasury and crush all popular movements that seek justice for working men and women. They worship money and power. And, as Marx knew, unfettered capitalism is a revolutionary force that consumes greater and greater numbers of human lives until it finally consumes itself. The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is the perfect metaphor for the corporate state. It is part of the same nightmare experienced in postindustrial mill towns of New England and the abandoned steel mills of Ohio. It is a nightmare that Iraqis, Pakistanis and Afghans, living in terror and mourning their dead, endure daily.

    What took place early Friday morning in Zuccotti Park was the first salvo in a long struggle for justice. It signaled a step backward by the corporate state in the face of popular pressure. And it was carried out by ordinary men and women who sleep at night on concrete, get soaked in rainstorms, eat donated food and have nothing as weapons but their dignity, resilience and courage. It is they, and they alone, who hold out the possibility of salvation. And if we join them we might have a chance.

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