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November, 2011 | Occupied Stories

Archive | November, 2011

Occupy LA: You Can’t Arrest an Idea

Los Angeles, CA–I arrived to Occupy Los Angeles at 5:20PM on November 28th. By 5:23PM, while taking in the scenery and wondering where to explore first, a guy stumbled over and was the first person to talk to me. “Hey, dude, is that a joint in your mouth? Do you have any pot?” After I informed him that it was a pen and that he shouldn’t smoke – especially in public – he told me to keep my opinions to myself. This, ironically, was funny, as he is part of the 99%; a movement in America that appears to be one of the most iconic forms of public expression and activism in recent years.

I laughed, grabbed my notepad and started to walk around. This man is the poster child for which is often portrayed to the general public by media outlets; a disheveled, inarticulate guy on a quest for drugs and alcohol. This is not the movement and sadly, this aspect of portrayal is what people eat up, which makes it easier for folks to brush these protests aside.

When I arrived, the occupation had been in occurrence for 58 days. Many hours before, at 12:00AM, an eviction order deadline was given by Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa. The reason for said eviction was: “It is time to close the park and repair the grounds so that we can restore public access to the park.” Restore public access? Although I am new to Los Angeles, it didn’t take an expert to understand this was probably the largest and widespread use of the park in the history of the city.

In all honestly, the park did smell like urine, pot, and body order – but any recent college graduate has probably smelled worse at an off campus house party. It does not matter what the park smelled like, or the type of people that were there, because at the root of it, beyond the shenanigans of the “tag-a-longers,” also known as, the people who are occupying for the hell of it, there is a core movement that was started well beyond the recent recession. And many people at Occupy Los Angeles believe so.

“The LAPD hate the mayor; they fucking hate him. Well, most of them,” he said. “They are part of the movement, every last one of them. They are underpaid, overworked, and at 3AM, when there are no camera crews around and it’s just us and them, we talk.” Among the people I spoke with, one of the best-versed, intelligent, and articulate was David Pierce, 33, a Santa Barbara native who was laid off from IMB, known as one of the most influential companies in the world, just six months earlier. He came to Los Angeles to use his college degree, past work experience, and determination in order to find another job. Instead, he found Occupy Los Angeles.

Pierce expanded and said he believes if the LAPD are given the order to make arrests in the future, most will lay down their badge and return home to spend time with their families. He added that, “just because they are not here with us, camped out in front of City Hall, does not mean they don’t agree with us.”

I told David Pierce about my website and the how it is catered to Generation Y. We spoke about how, quite possibly, our generation has the upper hand on a lot of things, particularly when it comes to social movements, activism, and freedom of expression.

“You are all hackers. Well, most of you,” he said. “And not hackers in the general sense. You guys know your way around things. If the cops are flashing lights in your eyes, you’re not only going to find a way to escape it, but to reflect it back onto them. If you can’t get in the front door or the window or even the sewer, you’ll find another way. Your generation, or more so, our generation, has that unique ability that many other generations don’t possess – and it’s going to be an awesome tool for activism and change.”

After our half hour talk, I realized that I probably picked the best person I could have at Occupy Los Angeles. Slightly older than the Generation Y demographic, he is one that is able to look upon are age group with hope and inspiration; David knows, and can see, the awesome tools that we take for granted.

“When it comes down to it,” said David, “they can arrest us tonight and we’ll be back tomorrow. They can arrest us the next day and we’ll be back and so on. I don’t think people realize that.”

As I left, I realized that the first step of any movement is standing your ground, even if you are knocked, dragged or pulled away. And quite honestly, the saying is true: you can arrest a person, but you can’t arrest an idea.

– Jeffrey Hartinger –

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What It Was Like To Be Locked Up – Arrested At Occupy St. Louis

ST. LOUIS, MO – As we approached the holding cell, we began to hear cheers from the approximately 30 people inside.  When we entered, we were asked if we were part of the protest that got broken up.  We told them we were, and to my surprise the appreciation for what we were doing began to pour out from a wide variety of people.  Some of them were in for minor violations, some for more serious crimes, but the consensus was clear. They seemed to have a fundamental understanding of what we were doing, and believed, as I do, that it should have happened a long time ago.
The condition of the jail was atrocious.  Some had been in for as many as seven days, and were 30 deep in a cell meant to hold about 10.  There was no tissue, blankets, pillows, mats, and there surely wasn’t room for everyone to sleep so people had to go in shifts.  The meals were not enough to sustain someone over long periods of time, and medication was being withheld from many.  They asked us if we could add to our cause the conditions of the corrections system.  It immediately made me think of the phrase “Innocent until proven guilty” that is often attributed to the 5th Amendment which states “No person shall be … deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law …”.
As I pondered this, questions started to arise amongst the group about the concepts of corporate greed and corrupt politicians, and how they play out in the lives of these particular men.  To my amazement, it didn’t take long for the natural progression of the “one voice”, and “equal time to share ideas” became part of this discussion.  Neither was stated, but they were implied.  As I listened, and occasionally chimed in, the ideas shared were almost word for word what we have been saying all along.  In short, this affirmed to me that this cause is not just for those at the Occupy encampments, or those politically active.  It is a plethora of common grievances by all Americans that transcends any boundary.

I thought the willingness to give up 13 hours of my freedom to make a point of my solidarity would be the boost I needed to continue on with this occupation; but I was proven wrong.  It was the voice of these 30 men, not involved in any way, and in only 20 minutes, coming to the same conclusions I have after much research and debate.  I have to ask myself, how asleep must I have been to not see this massive elephant in the middle of the room clear enough to get off my ass and take action long before now?


-Angelo J. Dower-
One among many

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A Revolution Song

Look how pretty it is coming
Look how pretty it comes by
It’s the people’s revolution
Which is not stepping back

Look how fast we are uniting
Look how strong the rich fall down
It’s the Wall Street revolution
That is not stepping back

If you pass around my hood
And you see my mom pass by
Please go tell her
To not wait for me tonight
Cause this new movement
Is not stepping back
Please go tell her
To not wait for me tonight
Cause this new movement
Is not stepping back


-Ali Irizarry-

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Two Arrests for the Resistance: Padding My Resume

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Ryan Rice’s blog.

Since Occupy Wall Street began, I have been arrested in both Oakland and in Los Angeles. Across this nation we have seen protesters being beaten, pepper-sprayed, tear-gassed, and shot with rubber bullets and bean-bag projectiles. As of Sunday morning, there are a total of 4,619 arrests across the country. You read that correctly. The United States of America has arrested nearly five thousand people made up of nonviolent students, citizens, seniors, activists, journalists, and legal observers. I hope my arrests may highlight the permeating cancer we’re fighting. I hope my arrests may illuminate the overt attempts by the oligarchs to inhibit freedom, incarcerate the dissenters, and further the continued destruction of this great experiment known as America.

Occupy Oakland

I was in Oakland for their November 2nd General Strike, and was part of the 103 arrests in the nighttime raid of Alameda County Sheriff’s department on Occupy Oakland. I spent 16 hours in a cold, dirty holding cell in Oakland with other comrades bent on the devilish desire of restoring democracy to this country. The police took every opportunity to intimidate us, letting us languish in the jails with tight zip-tied cuffs for hours as many of us suffered bruises and wounds from the attacks at Occupy Oakland.

Those arrested were the ones within an arbitrary “no-zone” around the tent city. We were the ones who came to investigate in the dead of night the hundreds of shock troops assembled around a community encampment. We were the ones that raised a peace sign and held our ground. Those that fled the state’s power were spared. They who submitted to the fears of the helicopters, guns, paddy wagons, and tear gas were out of danger. Yet the First Amendment was the only permit we needed! The occupy movement is a 24/7 protest on public space because of the immediate and dire need to change the course of this nation. But still the raised shotguns fired and flash-bang grenades exploded.

I hope you have all seen the video of Ranger veteran Kayvan Sabeghi being beaten mercilessly by shock troops for standing up against injustice. I witnessed first-hand as his internal injuries grew worse and he screamed from the floor of the jail hallway for medical assistance. I observed the smirks on the guards’ faces as they did nothing until hour fifteen.

I was treated personally with mostly dignity. They saw my white skin, they heard me speaking policy, politics, and law, and they saw me look them in the eyes with a righteous indignation that I would wager they do not often receive. The National Lawyers Guild assured us of our timely release and the legal action they would be taking in our defense, so it turned into a waiting game.

The worst feeling of the ordeal was the utter powerlessness I felt when trapped unjustly. Here I was, witnessing wrongs that I was incapable to stop. In all honesty, it made me very angry. For me, Oakland was a transition of sorts. As a white, educated, heterosexual male from suburbia, I had never experienced many of the problems I was now standing up against. Hell, I was pulled for speeding and the officer happened to be my lifeguard at the country club I attended. He told me to run along and slow it down. That’s it. Meanwhile, my brothers and sisters have their Fourth Amendment rights violated at every corner in lower socioeconomic neighborhoods.

So my transition was one from vicarious experience to truth. What was a sad or maddening article of injustice in the New York Times suddenly became a reality check. I was no longer discussing the problems of the prison-industrial complex in a campus coffee shop. I was talking about the War on Drugs with a disaffected young black man hauled in for possession with intent to sell as we sat chained to the wall.

Once out of jail, cited and released for “Remaining at the scene: riot, etc,” I strapped on my gas mask, tied up my boots, and made a beeline for the occupation. Along the way, we passed a local black-and-white that rolled down their windows in a surprisingly friendly manner.

“You guys headed back? Be good!” they exclaimed with hot coffees in hand and ready for their beat. My revolutionary brother raised his shirt and displayed the perpendicular 18” bruise along the middle of his back. The officers immediately expressed a kind of dumb-founded shock. These were not the black-clad thugs from the previous night.

“Who did that to you? That could not have been us; we’re not trained that way. You can paralyze someone with a hit like that,” said the driver, disregarding a green light to further gawk at the police brutality.

My comrade’s back was bruised when he was peacefully meditating between the state gangsters and the youth barricading them from the violence to come. Seated in the lotus position, the first blow directed at him was parried by a Real Life Superhero’s shield. After he was beaten unconscious, they turned back to the danger-to-society pacifist and cracked him across the back.

On our return to Occupy Oakland, we were greeted with cheers, hugs, slices of cold pizza and freedom. We were back home.

Occupy Los Angeles

I spent a further 14 hours in a cold, dirty holding cell in Los Angeles with forty-six other freedom fighters. Ranging from ninety-three to nineteen, the wide collection of protesters served to show the LAPD how diverse this group was. This was the first mass arrest for this haven of a city. Since Occupy Los Angeles’ inception, the LAPD, City Council, and Mayor have all worked to facilitate a nonviolent protest around City Hall.  This has also made Occupy LA toothless and my goal for November 17th was to raise awareness of the scope and seriousness of these protests.

We had several actions throughout the day that were unpermitted, which set the course for the LAPD to grudgingly show their truer colors. The beat cops in their blues disappeared and the riot cops in tactical gear and missing badge numbers took their place. What had been a relatively passive occupation on the lawns of City Hall was gaining steam. Members of the occupation wanted to toe the line of what this whole thing was about: money in politics.

So we marched to the plaza at Bank of America and set up a flash occupation on the grounds owned by Brookfield Properties – the same corporation that owns Zuccotti Park and a property that was smack dab in the middle of the hallowed halls of Los Angeles commerce.

I joined other comrades in a fast that day, in order to recognize that we are all responsible for the woes we were raising our fists against. I was not a part of Occupy LA in order to protest a specific rich CEO or attack a single corrupt politician. If I was in a position of power, I just may abuse it as our leaders have. So for me, a fast was a symbolic gesture that in absolving this system of oppression we must also absolve those selfish ideals within ourselves if we have any hope of succeeding.

Just like my personal transition in Oakland, Angelinos were feeling the reality of what the Occupy Movement is fighting as they witnessed hundreds of police assemble in riot gear around a tiny patch of symbolic grass. Deemed a ‘private persons arrest’ for trespassing by “Citizen Thompson,” the police moved in on 47 people at 4:30 pm that afternoon. They were blatantly taking orders from the 1% to move in and squash political action by the 99%. How threatening that rag-tag group of activists locking arms around a medical tent must have been.

As we were processed, I immediately saw a chasm between the treatments in LA versus Oakland. We were, as an officer told us, “being treated with kid gloves.” I did not thank her for that, as unfortunately some of my fellow arrestees did. Why should I thank an officer for doing her job and upholding the presumption of innocence and satisfactory levels of human decency?

Because of the kid gloves, I seethed from the injustice. Where were the dozens of detectives that were arresting and booking the white collar criminals that are destroying our planet? Where with the black-clad SWAT teams that were zip-tying the war-profiteers for making billions as millions of people died because of their purchased policies?

Just like in Oakland, my appearance, demeanor, and speech made room for officers to try the classic “divide and conquer” strategy. I was festooned with compliments and calls for me to “forget about the partiers and homeless just there to party.” I was advised by plainclothes detectives to get serious, leave the “South side” (of City Hall… where most of the divisive language about the “partiers” resides) to them, and work on getting into politics myself.

I met those suggestions with flat out rejection. I told several of the officers that strategy of throwing out the poor, wretched refuse is what helped fill their jails. Rejecting and discarding whatever he took a “partier” to mean was exactly what this movement was not. For one, I am wholly and totally against the wars on drugs and poverty that have imprisoned and oppressed millions. Why would I ever want to continue a policy that destroys lives?

Secondly, I have witnessed the disaffected and unserious become empowered and solemn about the issues that caused camps to spring up across the globe. How dare this elitist tool of the plutocrats work to divide a people’s movement. It is even silly to think that his tactics could work when I have seen social progress at occupations that is far and away more substantial than a strategy of throwing people who share a bottle of wine or smoke a joint together in the cold night under the bus.

The Future – More Arrests?

I do not know what the future holds. Two months ago, I could have never predicted that I would have had a shotgun in my face in Oakland, protested the President as he drove by in West Hollywood, helped galvanize Occupy Long Beach in the face of police psych-warfare and sleep deprivation, or been surrounded by goons in black protecting ATM machines as curious passersby looked on.

Here’s what I do know: Standing up is an action that a lot of Americans have forgotten or left in the dust out of disgust. For decades, dissent and empowerment has been attacked on all fronts. Provocateurs infiltrate, groups splinter, and our education system falls short of honest dialogue on political and economic systems. Voting rights are attacked, gerrymandering is pervasive, and money in politics ensures any progress for the people is undermined.

But I must resist. I am compelled to get on the frontlines and lock arms with Truth on my left and Justice on my right. Perhaps it is because of my youth that I have the nerve to imagine an alternative. However, that is who has always been the vanguard for change. Those that are naïve enough to think that people should be treated fairly are the ones that must Stand Up. Right now. See you out there.

– Ryan Rice –

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November 17th Brooklyn Bridge March

Like many people I was disgusted by the Zuccotti Park raid that took place Tuesday morning.  So when I heard about the Brooklyn Bridge march on Thursday night I felt compelled to act.  I was impressed by how many people came out to show their support at this critical point in the movement.  But what really caught my attention was the overwhelmingly positive reaction we received from the drivers on the Brooklyn Bridge.  In a spontaneous gesture of solidarity hundreds of drivers slowed down, honked their horns, waved their fist in the air and cheered us on.  I imagine the last thing many of them heard about Occupy Wall Street was the nationwide crackdown that culminated in the Zuccotti Park raid.  Many may have assumed that would be the end of the movement.  For those, I believe it was especially important and uplifting to see thousands of people from all walks of like marching in defiance of brutality and in support of social change for a better society.  And this all took place in view of an amazing guerrila light show on the Verizon building.  It was quite a galvanizing moment.

(((video from the bridge)))


-Tate Harmon-








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11/15 And Moving Forward

LIBERTY PLAZA, NEW YORK – First, I would like to tell you a little something about myself. My name is Sean, but that doesn’t really matter. I’ve been a part of Occupy Wall Street for 35 days, and that does. Most recently I have been a part of the Fire Safety team that was recently formed at Liberty Plaza to ensure that no generators were used unsafely in the park until we could put together a fire plan and electrical wiring plan for generator use in the plaza to be audited by the FDNY, to earn for the Occupation and the residents of Liberty Plaza the right to be warned of noncompliance in advance and given time to come into compliance with FDNY safety guidelines, but that point has become rather moot.

Today, Liberty Plaza was taken from us. For some, it was our homes. For all, it was a symbol: a symbol that free speech was still possible, for us in the park yes but not only for us, but for us as Americans in specific and as residents of the world in general.I would have us build a new ten times better than that which was taken from us.

I wish I could tell you that for my part I felt I had ideas that were too big to risk, last night; that I felt myself too important, too ‘unarrestable,’ to put my body on the line in defense of Liberty Plaza. I was at Canal Street and Broadway at midnight when we saw a mass of approximately three hundred police officers and 30 NYPD vans gathering on that street corner as a staging area for what we all too quickly learned was just the backup to the force gathering against the Occupation at Liberty Plaza, which saw fit to go up against unarmed protestors with riot gear and not just the threat but the reality of force. I and my friends drew on our arms the number for the National Lawyer’s Guild—212 679 6018— better safe than sorry. We returned down to Liberty Plaza though we knew what was assembled against us, and that we would not be able to get within the cordon to actually reach the park. I lost them quickly in the crowds, but stood with those I found, and stood by the side of a man who identified himself to police as the district representative for the district they were taking action in, an elected official with direct authority over the neighborhood in which we were standing. This man demanded, repeatedly and very clearly, to speak with their supervising officers about the actions they were taking. I saw that man pushed by an officer behind a riot shield, and I caught him before he could fall over a fire hydrant and seriously injure himself. I saw that man bent over a nearby car and arrested with zip ties, and then I saw a woman chanting in defense of the Occupation pepper sprayed in the face.

So much for free speech. In the face of that, I didn’t see anything I could do, so I took the easy exit down a subway hatch and waited to be taken home to the bed I meant to be in hours ago. I fielded calls to our Legal team to relay what I knew of our fire safety efforts in the week leading up to that night, how we were actively stopping any generator use within the park ourselves, how we were choking the Media working group down to only as much as they could accomplish off of battery-stored power recharged during the day. If you watch the Livestream channel for last night, you’ll see that even without anything more than battery power to work from, the Media team was still able to do rather a lot. I stumbled home half in a daze, wishing tears would come but finding somehow that I could not cry, and neither could I rest as I made it to the bed I convinced myself was where I actually wanted to be that night.

I have for the past several weeks been working on a proposal for Occupy Wall Street at Liberty Plaza, called simply ‘Winter Proposal: Event Tents’ on the forums. It’s still a work in progress – for example, I had been asked by our Legal department to defer any negotiations with Brookfield Properties until we received the results of a Freedom of Information request to determine the exact legal status of the park, before trampling all over the place setting precedents that the rest of the Occupation would have to honor and obey regardless of what that request determined as the current legal status of the park.

We thought at the time we had some time to burn; it wasn’t too cold yet, and save for a freak October snow the weather was mild. I let the information request go play itself out and readied my proposal for discussion with Brookfield to discuss its salient points. I met with the architecture firm Feingold and Gregory, Architects, to learn more about permits and what would be necessary for the project, before they could vet the project to New York Tent Co., the contractors I had chosen to bring the project to in order to design it in actuality using their expertise to build frames upon which to hang event tents all winter long over Liberty Plaza as a solution to all of our safety needs. It was hoped that these tents would enable us with the ability to access electrical power just by paying for it, rather than having to worry about the complexities and safety of a generator providing power to the park; the ability to have heat, common sleeping space again, and a roof over our heads all winter long without losing a single resident of the Occupation to an enemy so simpleminded and yet so implacable as the inconvenience known as snow.

It is clear we do not have time quite as I had hoped we might. I will be bringing an emergency proposal to the General Assembly tonight, to discuss the merits of waiting for the outcome of this Freedom of Information request versus moving forward on discussing this proposal with Brookfield Properties sooner rather than later, and will abide by the ruling of the General Assembly regardless of their decision. That’s the way this works. I will be advancing this proposal, then, at the timeframe they see fit: as early as tomorrow, if they so see fit, or perhaps in a week or so, after the five days required by law for a Freedom of Information request to be returned, plus the extra time it actually takes regardless of what the law says on paper, Legal tells me it’s more like two weeks, so we can expect another week on top of the five business days that expire this coming Thursday. If it’s to be discussed with Brookfield, I’m happy to advance that discussion; if it’s something we can do without Brookfield’s needing to be involved, I am prepared to pursue that as well given the information that shows this to be the case.

In the meantime, they say money is free speech, and if that is so, I would ask that if you support this proposal to rebuild the symbol that was taken from us all this morning anew, ten times better than it was before, support it with your hearts and with your words, but also with your pocketbooks. We do not believe that money is free speech, but money will be needed to make this project happen, and money is something that we can raise for this project to see if it is supported by the world that watches so intently upon us in our time of crisis. I am starting this on Kickstarter with two facts explicitly stated:

1. This will not be a tax-deductible contribution. 501(c)3 donations cannot go towards political speech or action, and this would be providing for the winter a forum for exactly that, as well as a symbol that would be the definition of such.

2. This project will not fire without the direct and expressed consent of the New York City General Assembly, and no matter how much is collected for it, nothing can happen without that prerequisite first being met.

If you wish to donate money in a tax-deductible way to Occupy Wall Street, we thank you, but we must point you here, to the website and its Donation link.

The proposal I bring forward for consideration is simply this: to raise over Liberty Plaza for the duration of winter three event tents, using New York Tent Co. for this purpose and their permit expediters Feingold and Gregory, Architects, to seek all permits for this proposal on our behalf. Exactly whom we must ask for permits or permission to do this, we do not yet know, but shall learn in exacting detail as we pursue this forward, in the manner deemed best by the New York City General Assembly that represents Occupy Wall Street of Liberty Plaza and in the manner required to accomplish this legally and with full permission, so that which we have raised cannot be taken from us as Liberty Plaza was today.

These tents will serve as clean, open, and inviting space to serve as a public forum during the day, for all who wish to visit the Occupation to come and join us in discourse and debate as we exchange ideas and opinions to the purpose of repairing our financial system, our political system, and the culture in which we find ourselves living. These tents will let the sun shine on all of our faces, as well as the plants and trees that called Liberty Plaza home before we of the Occupation came to join them, while keeping rain and snow off of us, and will enable us to safely heat Liberty Plaza by day and by night to provide a comfortable atmosphere to those who visit as well as to those who call it home.

By night, the tents will serve to host our General Assembly and Spokes Council, with power turned on in the park and built-in amplification for speakers and facilitators… to answer them back, I suspect we will still be happy to use The People’s Mic. And they will also serve as shelter and home to those of the Occupation who call Liberty Plaza home and are those who actually occupy Liberty Plaza, without whom we have an idea but not an Occupation, those who put their bodies in harm’s way this evening to make a better world for themselves but also for the rest of the world as well, the 99% as well as the 1%, for it is not a very good world at all that does not accommodate for 100% of the people. With these tents in place, sleeping bags and cots will be more than enough to keep us warm at night, and we can return to the communal sleeping arrangement that served us so well at the beginning of the Occupation.

These tents will house our Working Groups as they go about their work on our behalf, changing the world or just changing a trash can, no task too big or too small to be undertaken cheerfully and with purposeful drive. And they will serve as the symbol that says to the world: change is necessary, change is coming, change.

These tents will also be works of art – living installations in addition to living spaces.  We will be covering them with our words, our ideas, and the images that spring forth from our imagination as we seek to change the world into a better image.

-Sean McKeown-

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Report Back: Shut Down Wall Street

NEW YORK – This morning I woke up before dawn and rode the subway downtown. By 7:00 am there were hundreds gathered two blocks north of Wall Street, across from Liberty Plaza and every minute the crowd grew. There was a massive police presence and lines of helmeted officers blocked us from advancing south, so groups of a few hundred each started marching east. The police had frozen a large area around the stock exchange and set up checkpoints at each entrance, closing off public roads and sidewalks. If you had a political opinion, you could not enter.

We gathered at each chokepoint and we took the streets. People locked arms in long lines across the street and stopped the workers heading to Wall Street. Over the next few hours, as I wandered through the streets, every intersection toward Wall Street that I saw was jammed with people. The police would periodically push through and open a corridor, letting workers with badges pass, and we would periodically close it again. Some of the people passing through nodded their heads and smiled at us, others yelled and cursed, and a few brave ones stopped to talk. At one point, to clear the intersection, police held up metal barricades and charged into the crowd, knocking people to the ground, rushing past them, then arresting them.

At 11 am many people left the intersections downtown and gathered in Liberty Plaza, which was surrounded by police and metal barricades zip-tied together. They were only letting people in and out through one of two entrance’s and checking them as they went. Much of the crowd gathered outside, reluctant to enter the pen. Then a small group pulled the barricades apart at one section and a crowd flowed toward them to help. Within minutes an entire wall was down and the barricades were piled in the center of the park. It was amazing.

Back into the streets for me, there’s still a whole lot of action before this day ends.

John Dennehy

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Times Square Observation; Peace not violence

NEW YORK – Police prepared for the worst. Protesters hoped for the best. As police gripped their batons, protesters gripped their cardboard signs. Police held the brakes on their motorcycles while protesters hammered down the triggers of their cameras. The frenzy of clicking shutters buzzed through the air like a swarm of angry bees. A mere 10 hours after protesters were sipping warm coffee in a small lower-Manhattan park, tensions rose to a boiling point in Times Square.

Zuccotti Park, renamed Liberty Square by protesters, is a base station for participants. People at the park sleep, eat, receive medical attention and exchange information. Some volunteers even offer prayer services and massage therapy.

In the center of the park sits the comfort station, which provides protesters with toothpaste, toothbrushes, warm clothing, blankets, tape, tampons and anything else they might need to stay and protest for as long as they’re inclined.

Every day a general assembly meeting is held to make announcements and discuss ideas, policies, procedures and events such as marches.

Because amplification devices are not allowed, messages are relayed to the large groups of people through a method referred to as the “people’s mic” — someone shouts their message, and everyone who hears the message repeats it. For larger crowds, the message is repeated three or four times to ensure that everyone can hear it.

On Saturday, Oct. 15, protesters left their home base to march with people rallying in Washington Square Park. The march covered more than 50 police-lined blocks, picking up people and gathering passion along the way.

The protesters ended their march by meeting with hundreds of people already demonstrating and stayed to hear speeches from organizers, and fellow protesters.

Set in a “progressive stack,” speakers were asked to come and offer words of encouragement and insight through the people’s mic. People of minority groups pushed to the front of the line in order to encourage voices that are usually deafened by our society, to be heard louder and clearer than ever.

An announcement was made that a march to occupy Times Square would begin at 3:30 p.m. It wasn’t long before the protesters reclaimed the sidewalks and left in pursuit of the “center of the world.”

By 6 p.m., Times Square had filled with thousands of protesters. Within minutes, a truck carrying dozens of police barricades stormed down 7th Avenue against traffic. A policeman heaved welded steel gates onto the pavement below while officers on the street lined them three deep in places to keep people from blocking off traffic completely.

A few minutes later two dozen officers mounted on half-ton horses arrived. By 7:15 p.m., a formation of riot police stood in tight formation on West 46th Street. What was supposed to be a peaceful protest began looking more and more like a war zone.

Meanwhile, back in Zuccotti Park, Plattsburgh State sophomore Katylynn Gimma found herself recruited to help make food for protesters. A man approached her, asking if she wanted to help feed the movement and she joined the effort.

“Everybody had this mentality that they were feeding the troops,” Gimma said.

She spent hours with other volunteers preparing 3,500 servings of food, including bean dip, soup, and stir fried rice and vegetables in a soup kitchen called Liberty Café, which the owners lent to protest organizers to use when not in business.

When the cooking was done, they took a break from their hard work to each try a little of what they had just prepared, and reflect on the importance of their role as support for the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The man who organized the volunteers gave a small speech in which he expressed his appreciation for their help and how proud he was with the way the group of strangers had come together.

“None of the groups that had come to help him had gotten so close over such a short span of time,” Gimma said. “He said he had never seen a group of kids work so hard for something.”

To Gimma, time spent working the small Brooklyn soup kitchen was her way of helping, without the glory of cameras and the publicity that the protesters on Wall Street were gaining. To her, they were equally important parts of one central movement.

“These people had all come together to work really, really hard so the front lines could stay strong,” Gimma said. “They understood that not everybody could be there, or should be there.”

Meanwhile, back in Times Square, the scene grew hungry for conflict. Steam poured out of two tall construction tubes and played tricks on cameras’ auto focusing. The hot, humid air added an eerie tone as the scene transpired. Thousands watched from the street below, millions watched on television.

Chants in unison rung between glass and concrete buildings, while officers looked on.

“Let us cross,” the crowd began chanting. Protesters demanded the right to cross 7th Avenue and Broadway on West 46th Street. “It’s our right,” a woman yells. Police remained unconvinced.

The crowd began to surge and the horses were brought to the front lines. One officer kicked his heels into the side of his dark brown vehicle, sending it charging at the mass of people. A woman screamed and fell back into the crowd.

A few minutes later, a man yelled out at a line of officers, a steel barricade jerked up from the ground and into the air like a ship’s hull tearing through a stormy sea. Waves of people pushed and pulled before batons were finally raised. The sound of truncheons could be heard hitting metal, then metal, then flesh.

A man holding an American flag with a peace sign jumped in amidst the chaos. Without saying a word, he stood calmly between the masses. Those with uniforms and those without took deep breaths in unison. A few protesters were pulled away and arrested.

An officer asked through a loudspeaker six times for protesters to move back, trying to restrain his impatience. Protesters followed with their own demands.

“You move back,” the crowd roared.

To the protesters’ surprise, the police obliged this request, electrifying the crowd with raucous energy that spewed out in deafening cheers.

“We love you, we love you,” the protesters cheered.

“Police are the 99 percent,” another chant added.

After three hours of police bullhorn, and protesters using the people’s mic, the negotiations saw progress. After police asked protesters to stay on the sidewalk while they attempt to open lanes for traffic, protesters increased their demands to cross the street.

“If the streets are open, we deserve to cross,” a man yelled to police.

For all their patience, after hours of waiting, the protesters heard good news. They were told they could cross 46th Avenue and Broadway. The crowd erupted with joy.

“Thank you, thank you,” a final chant declared.

Once the protesters were allowed to cross the street, they willingly left Times Square for subway cars, taxi cabs and departed by foot. Some went back to Washington Square Park to celebrate their day, others back to Zuccotti Park to enjoy what was left of Gimma’s rations.

By the end of the showdown in Times Square, Gimma was already surrounded by thousands of other protesters. After finding she had left herself without a voice, she was given a drum and mallets to help lead the crowd.

“This one guy pulled me up onto the podium to have me do the chants, but by then my voice was completely gone, so I just wasn’t making any noise,” Gimma said. “The guy next to me put his hand on my shoulder to stop me, and then he took a drum off of his neck and put the strap around my neck.”

She said the fun time spent in Washington Square Park following the rally was important because it was a celebration of the day’s victories.

“The news said how dozens of people had been arrested, but they didn’t really mention as much the other thousands of people who tried their best to keep this a peaceful protest.” Gimma said. “People just felt accomplished. They’re trying to instill a whole new way of living. They kept it peaceful, and they were celebrating the fact that they were able to do that across thousands of people.”

She said she hopes that eventually through protests both well organized and peaceful, the rest of the world will see that the movement has a real purpose.

“It will, in the long run, have people take us more seriously,” she said. “Instead of just having it be a bunch of kids who are trying to be like, ‘f**k the man.'”


(()videos from the day)))“>Occupy Wall Street: As seen through the eyes of CP’s EIC, Kristofer Fiore



-Kristofer Fiore-

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 LONDON, ENGLAND – Our aim was only to faithfully cover the proceedings of a momentous day and, if possible, have a good time too. We are not against the police. We are against some of their tactics to deal with legitimate protests. When you read the word ‘police’ please remember it’s the government and the London Stock Exchange we are referring to.  But it was police enforcing government policies on that day.

London Stock Exchange occupation was organized by a number of activist groups as a peaceful protest. It started in the morning of Saturday, October 15, 2011. The initial aim was to occupy Paternoster Square, which is where the London Stock Exchange is located.

Earlier that day, Twitters had reported that owners of Paternoster Square had put up signs warning that the square was private and that nobody would be allowed in without a security pass.   This photo is by Twitter @KeirSimmonsITV which he tweeted at around 10am Saturday.  The photo received 4,105 views which gives an idea of the interest this occupation was getting among the public.

 12:43. Police strengthens cordon preventing entrance to Paternoster Square, target of the Occupation of London Stock Exchange activists – #occupyLSX on Twitter.

Contact with local owners of private land is a tactic usually used by police against protesters.  They count with the support of property owners to justify their presence in the area.  Sometimes they even pressure owners to allow the police to evict protesters. This will backfire on this occasion as we shall see. In this blog we will endeavor to be as objective as possible (bar a few digs).   We hope it will be forensically tested by readers to draw their own conclusions. Timeline is all true as each digital picture carries date and time information.


12:45. A protester disguised as City Financier carrying a regular Stock Exchange security pass (stash of dollars in briefcase) tries to enter Paternoster Square.  Police quickly concludes that he’s not in the same league as your regular City fraudster (not carrying big enough stash of dollars). Some police smile.

12:50. Police surveillance unit is already present at the scene occupying high ground. Later, the high ground will be occupied by protesters outside St Paul’s. The police video unit has the task of filming protesters for future prosecutions. They are a constant presence in every demonstration these days.  Police are pre-empting that all marches are intent on trouble-making.  This leads to attitudes and prejudices that affect relationship with the crowd from the start.

12:51. Keir Simmons from ITV was one of the first reporters at the scene. Behind him, some of the #occupyLSX future residents. Behind our photographer there were about 1,000 protesters stretching round the corner up to the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral. The protesters were forced to take over St Paul’s Courtyard as they would swell to a peak of 4,000 within a short period of time. The organizers said later that the crowd was between 4,000 and 5,000 at its peak.

12:54. Police reinforce entrance to Paternoster Square with horses. More behind, just in case.

12:58. All sorts of ‘celebrities’ appear at the entrance of Paternoster Square trying to get closer to the ‘London Stock Exchange of Lies’. Here is Methuselah trying his best to convince police to let him in. He failed.  Earlier, our bloggers think they saw an Ashton Kutcher lookalike being interviewed by Fox News. These stunts were some of the many salvos OccupyLSX activists had prepared for the day. It emphasizes the good humor of the demonstration.

This was totally lost on police commanders. Things were going to get nasty.

13:00. Meanwhile, round the corner, at St Paul’s Courtyard and the steps of the Cathedral, Occupy London Stock Exchange crowd had thickened considerably from only an hour before. At this stage about 2,000 sympathizers, protesters and activists of different denominations were milling around.

In the background, a Sightseeing Tour of London bus is caught up in the police blockade.  The protesters were now a tourist attraction that visitors to the city had not bargained for. To the right, a long line of buses are also caught up – at this stage, the occupiers were not stopping the traffic. It was the police operation doing that.

13:03.  Police vans arrive at the scene. Three in this picture but in a few minutes they will increase to 50 police vans all carrying around 6 to 10 policemen and women each. A crazy overreaction. They will soon surround the area. Just wait and see. In total between 300 to 500 police in a space of minutes. There was no reason for this. It included experts in street clashes like the Territorial Support Group with riot-helmets and heavy-duty batons. Unnecessary.

Following the misstep of closing down Paternoster Square with no alternative plan, Met Police commanders started compounding their mistakes at every decision-making junction. In our view, there was an initial attempt to dislodge protesters from St Paul’s Cathedral steps and courtyard that lead to some outrageous maneuvers in total disregard of the Cathedral itself -an icon of cultural and religious heritage in the country-  let alone the safety of a total peak of approximately 4,000 people.

The protesters didn’t want to be there. They were forced to occupy it by police closing Paternoster Square. But, as it happens, it turned out to be a better place to protest. They took over the steps which allowed them a sweeping view of the area. They were on the high ground.  A strategic vantage point which they are still holding today.

If you look carefully, there’s a pigeon in midflight to the right of the picture. For a moment we thought it was part of a stunt organized by activists to bombard the London Stock Exchange with biological warfare. But it flew away.


At about this time police begin their pressure on protesters.  A police kettle is in progress right now.  Its ultimate aim is to dislodge protesters and arrest them. From our vantage point and from reports from our bloggers in and around St Paul’s we could see the kettle in progress.

Police start covering all exits and entrances to St Paul’s Cathedral, an area comprising the size of a football field approx. Worshippers, tourists, passers-by, protesters, demonstrators, activists, diners, workers, shoppers are all going to be caught up. Observers saw women carrying children and babies in prams.

13:09.  Now about 3,500 people of the Occupy London Stock Exchange demonstration gather in the main church courtyard unaware there’s a kettle procedure in operation.  Many restaurants and shops still open in the area.  Marks & Spencer and Starbucks, for example.

The aims of the police unit is to dislodge. From our vantage point we could see that encroaching on so many demonstrators was a bad idea.  With so many people of various political & social denominations it is obvious that some were going to take offence at the police (read Government and Stock Exchange, don’t forget) openly encroaching on their civil liberties and right to protest. For many, the occupation was a peaceful demonstration. They were intent on making a peaceful point: the theft of billions of pounds, euros and dollars by financiers and bankers in and around the London Stock Exchange and thus enslaving millions in the wider economy.

13:10. The crowd is about to reach its peak of 4,000.  This is because many were round the corner trying to get into Paternoster Square, south side of St Paul’s Cathedral

13:12. Another view of the crowd gathering outside St Paul’s Cathedral just a couple of minutes later. It’s getting bigger by the minute.  Meanwhile, away from the cameras police keeps advancing.

13:13. Inexplicably, police press-on. Did they know how many people they were dealing with?

13:16. Police cordon reaches crowd and starts pushing.
This is dangerous. What’s the intention? Who’s monitoring this? It’s not a joke anymore.  A stampede could cause many injuries.

At this stage Met Police should have put their hands up and said: “That’s it. You got me. I tried my best to dislodge and discourage you but you’ve won!” Instead, they decided to press-on. There is more to come.

13:21.  Police are right up the noses of the peaceful protesters.
A spark could blow the whole thing into a mass enchilada, a mayhem of batons, crushed noses, pushing and shoving. The usual.

Many started wondering here: is this what the police is intending? Cause such mayhem that it will scatter, dislodge, arrest and terminate the protest?
Lots of evidence is pointing in that direction. Let’s have a look.

At this stage, it’s obvious Met Police Territorial Support Group soldiers have taken over the procedures from Bobbies-on-the-Beat. This is now a full-on eviction operation hiding behind a fig leaf. But the large crowd staying put.  There is no violence. Just astonishment towards the way events are unfolding. People keeps their nerve. Police press-on.

13:23. More Met Police Territorial Support Group soldiers take up positions around the stationery demonstration.  What’s the plan officer?  Do you really want to cause a catastrophe? Riot helmets, batons, boots, hand-cuffs and who knows what else is at the ready. The operation is in full swing. “But officer, there’s women and children inside the crowd”.  Just press-on.

13:23.  A detachment of Met Police Territorial Support Group dashes up the stairs of St Paul’s Cathedral intending to take control of the high ground. St Paul’s Cathedral! Is this really happening? They would stop at nothing? “Just press-on!” is the order from officers behind.

At this stage a man in his 50s climbs up on one of the side walls at the top of the stairs and shouts at police, which at this stage was climbing up the stairs: “I am practicing my religion!” and repeats louder moments later with more anger. The man is bundled by several police officers for no apparent reason. The situation is bizarre. There was no point in holding the man so after a few seconds they release him.  The man walks away into the Cathedral through the front door which at this stage was still open with worshipers and tourists inside.  Bizarre.

More bizarre events are to come.

Territorial Support Group soldiers mill around in the background trying to make sense of it all. They look perplexed about who exactly is issuing these mad orders. It’s an impossible operation. Meanwhile, behind them, tourists tuck into pizzas with the added entertainment of a police operation in progress.

Hey guys in blue! This is St Paul’s Cathedral. Show some respect!

13:24.  London Met Police Territorial Support Group has achieved the high ground. But what for?

Top left of the picture, the door of the Cathedral is still open and some foreigners leave the iconic tourist destination not understanding what on earth is going on.  A bit like the Territorials themselves. On the right, two children are starting to get worried.  What does this all mean? Behind them there is a three meter drop. It’s all starting to look like a scene for a forthcoming sequel of “Apocalyptic”.”OK, chief. We got the high ground. Now what?”  Await instructions.

13:35. All around the St Paul’s Cathedral area, police reinforcements block all exits. Exit to the East? “Covered, chief”.

Exit to the South? “Covered, chief”.

Exit to the West, “Covered, chief”

Exit to the North: “All covered, chief!

“Now what?”

What: there are more than 3,500 people inside the kettle at this stage, not counting tourists, pedestrians, workers and worshippers. If protesters were really intent on mischief, they would’ve stormed the Cathedral itself. But something else is occupying protesters minds: the occupation of the London Stock Exchange and the message to the world: “Things are changing in Britain”.

13:35. Meanwhile, at the opposite end of St Paul’s Kettle, things are not going to plan… “Errr… chief.  A group of protesters have broken through and are now dancing on the streets”.

Chief’s response: “~@!! 8>#!!  &+€!!!”  (unprintable). Translation: “You’re fired!”

13:40. Obviously the protesters were not causing too much trouble. This police officer displaying a big yawn probably would prefer to be at home watching the Liverpool-ManU match. We found many officers who disagreed with the orders “from above”. But they had to press-on.  A major review is required and the government will have to listen to protesters to avoid escalations.

13:53. The operation has unraveled. It’s a total, unmitigated failure. The crowd breaks free. It is impossible to kettle and evict a crowd of 3,000 to 4,000 intent on dancing on the streets and celebrating a fantastic day.

The first attempt by police to kettle and arrest thousands of people has failed. But they will come back for more later.

Met Police chooses the option of a dignified retreat. This doubles the size of the area where the demonstrators had assembled. It’s not a siege mentality anymore, which was frazzling nerves.

14:17. View from the Starbucks cafe, where many journos had to take refuge during the worst of the kittling.  A girl presses here placard “We are the 99%” against the window. In the evening the same window would be the backdrop of a serious hand to hand combat of 5 or 6 police against lone protester.

14:23. A commotion outside. People rush to the right of Starbucks. Our photographer rushes too. There’s melee and lots of cameras. What’s going on? Somebody says: “There’s rumor that it’s Julian Assange”. What? Julian Assange in the kettle? A new chapter in this crazy day just opened.

Our photographer saw Julian Assange with his very eyes but forgot to take a picture!
For the next three or four hours the demonstration continues with music, speeches and spontaneous assemblies. By now demonstration totals around 4,000.

14:28. The arrival of Julian Assange was electric. The entire demonstration got shoulder to shoulder against the steps of St Paul’s.  People hushed up and sat.  In one instant, the whole atmosphere changed

Some people will say the movement is not about one man and we agree. But humanity being humanity, at that very moment the sudden appearance of a ‘leader’ seemed to galvanize the hope of the people. We do not think Assange himself wants that ‘accolade’. Julian Assange is under the ‘T’ of the banner. He was happy to be there and spoke a few words.

14:36. As people rushed to see Julian Assange at the top of the stairs, police stayed behind with nobody to kettle. Here they are, in a deserted courtyard.

What next? There is more in store from the police and the protesters.  Don’t go away.  More pictures and videos coming. This is only the end of the beginning.


14:30-17:30.  It’s odd to see some sections of the protest having fun while at the other end some people are put under pressure by police.

Officers arrest a suspect in a ‘Snatch & Grab’ style operation. From now on the police will be execute guerrilla-style actions against the crowd with sporadic pressure and arrests. They can turn in a six pence against you. They have been ridiculed a few hours earlier so they were going to take no chances second time around. A column of protesters from the West joins the St Paul’s Kettle to swell the numbers.

16:11. Some people start to leave the kettle. Police loves this kind of control. Everything has to be on their terms. This exasperates people. Police say “we know some activists are inside the crowd”. But there are 3,000 there and they should not attack the crowd just because they want to snatch a couple they have identified as ‘trouble-makers’. Notice most vans are still on the side of the road further from the crowd.


16:30. Change of mood for the worse.  Police units start taking up forward positions. There would be ugly scenes at the pressurized edges of the kettle.

16:37.  Police takes a long time to move all the vans from one side of the street to the other side, tightening up the kettle.

16:58. The second offensive is under way.  Advance police units have positioned themselves around the monument.  Many in the crowd are surprised by this.  Crowd gets jittery.

Behind the monument, a cordon of police pushes the crowd into a tight kettle.

17:35. Crowd react against the new provocation. Police arrest a suspect in ‘Snatch & Grab’ style operation.  Other nervy situations develop.

This account of the way the day developed is important because much of the media will make you believe the police and the protesters got on famously well.  This is not true. Most of the time the protesters ignored the police but it was the police which constantly poked on the crowd to create animosity.

17:35. Protesters respond to police actions with the best way they can: humor.  A Jesus Christ impersonator arrives with a large placard. “I threw money lenders out for a reason”.  Later, divine intervention would save the camp for the protesters.

Meanwhile the police keeps planning and digging.

Police are overwhelmed. However, they wait for instructions for the final assault.  Crowd continues to ignore the police.

The purpose of the kettle is to pressurize protesters so they don’t enjoy what they are doing. The constant harassment and bad reputation of the kettle makes people that don’t want to get into trouble, leave the kettle. But on this occasion it did not happen and protesters stayed put all day.


18:32. Pressure keeps growing on kittled protesters at the foot of St Paul’s Cathedral.  All policemen in the photo have riot helmets at the ready hanging from their belts.

19:02. Protesters bravely stay put. Many had never protested before. People had come from all over London and UK.

Police have taken up positions at the top the stairs once again. According to them “to protect the Cathedral”.  We found that they use excuses all the time. This situation stays the same for a couple of hours.

20:56. The orange jackets among the crowd are ‘support observers’. They are official protesters themselves monitoring any ‘misunderstandings’ with the police.  First tents begin to appear to make the point of occupation.


21:56. We saw protesters scattered in nearby streets surrounded by police.  Some of them were arrested violently.

22:01 The man is taken away. Destination unknown

Police used dogs on a leash near the crowd to threaten protesters. Unused dogs were kept in vans barking for hours.

22:07. Meanwhile, back at the steps of St Paul’s, the kettle continues…


22:51. …and continues.

22:56. Police vans parked bumper to bumper surround the protesters. Total: 26 in line, with another 20 in the vicinity and side roads.

When we asked a policeman to speak to one of their sergeants they kept on pointing across the street to fob off requests. This was outrageous behavior. The cordon of 26 vans obscure the kettle eyesore from unsuspecting city traffic.

23:35. The moon is showing just above the Cathedral.


Despite the violence and the intimidation “The 300” heroes stay put at the foot of St Paul’s.
It was a big effort after so much intimidation and for so long.  Many have never been in a protest before. But this time they thought they had to.


Divine intervention. The word in the camp was that at some stage the bosses of St Paul’s Cathedral had enough with the police and asked them to leave. This was corroborated by the Guardian newspaper on Monday 17th.  The Rev Dr. Giles Fraser thanked police for their “protection” and told them the church will allow the protesters to stay. So the police left in big numbers, something that they should have done much earlier. Tempers among the crowd calmed down after this.

We visited the camp on Sunday 16th. It was still there. They had survived the night. This is an independent summary of the same events as above published on Monday October 17, 2011 by The Guardian. Move along please, canon tells police. 


We thought it was important to publish our findings early so people can judge the behavior of police in these kind of situations especially since it’s likely that more protests will take place in the coming months. It has taken a lot of work and some corrections had to be made after posting.

The aims of the police during the St Paul’s Kettle was to bring as much discomfort as possible to the peaceful protesters so as to scatter them and evict them, by use of force, if necessary. Misconceptions about protests and protesters among the police are huge. Our reporters spoke to some of them and we believe they are in urgent need of some understanding or clarification about modern protesting.  Police is obsessively against activists. They should not preempt arrests only because they think there are trouble-makers among the crowd.  If all activists and dissenters were put in prison democracy would die quickly.

It is customary for police to invoke the all-encompassing “breach of the peace”.  But many times, as in this case, the “breach” came from the police. Their mission was clear. Control, disrupt, scatter, evict and if required, arrest protesters. The so called ‘kettle’ (corralling under pressure) is their weapon of choice when it should be used only in extreme circumstances for a short period of time – if at all used.  All too often kittling maneuvers are being prepared for execution during a protest.

The kettle is designed to pressure on legitimate demonstrators. This is not democratic or legal. But illegality is difficult to prove when you are in the street being a victim of abuse of power. The situation never developed into a full violent repression operation as we have seen in some parts of Europe and the United States. We acknowledge that this was a credit for the UK police on this occasion.

Arbolioto Twitter and Arbolioto Blog  in association with Newsreel Democracy joined forces to produce a team of photographers, videographers and observers positioned at strategic locations in and around the London Stock Exchange occupation attempt and events surrounding the St Paul’s Kettle of Saturday October 15.  All photos by Arbolioto Blog.-


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99 Faces Of Occupy Wall Street


I have created a project with 99 Portraits of OSW participants with personal statements from each.


-August Bradley-

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