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Direct Action | Occupied Stories - Part 2

Tag Archive | "direct action"

Manifencours: Solidarity Throughout the Maple Spring


What is #Manifencours? This video provides some great background.

Below is a list of first-person accounts from the manifencours/casseroles actions in Quebec, and protests held in solidarity elsewhere. This page will be updated as we receive new stories, so check back often. Don’t let the corporate media speak for you; if you are in Quebec or working in solidarity, tell us what you’re seeing. Submit your story.

Montreal, QC — Fragility & Heartbreak, Montreal, Night 115 Within hours, the students went from having the offensive to letting the government’s scare tactics gain the upper hand again.

 

 

 

 

Montreal, QC — “In the Street for Social Strike,” Night 110 In Mile End, a three-hour-long mini social strike springs up to mobilize for August 13.

 

 

 

 

Montreal, QC — A Sticky “Maple Spring,” Night 103 At an assembly, Cindy meets a longtime organizer, and the two discuss language and branding for the strike.

 

 

 

 

Montreal, QC — Popular Power: “Fuck the Elections,” Night 101 The casseroles gain momentum again after the 100th night, and one demonstration is met with violence not by the police, but a rogue civilian.

 

 

 

 

Montreal, QC — 100 Red Nights / 100 Victories, Night 100 A gift of one love letter per night, for each of the one hundred nights that so many tens of thousands shared the streets of Montreal together.

 

 

 

 

Montreal, QC — Revving up for August, Night 94 As August draws quickly near, people in Montreal assemble to strategize the probable re-openings of schools.

 

 

 

 

Montreal, QC — Pieces from Orchestrole 4, Night 93 The fourth orchestrole march in Montreal takes the streets and passes through an upscale row of restaurants to meet the dining crowd.

 

 

 

 

Montreal, QC — A Small Red-Square Story, Night 87 After 3 weeks of the Mile-End Orchestrole, Cindy hands out red squares as outreach to a very receptive crowd.

 

 

 

 

Montreal, QC — Exile & Austerity, Night 86 Cindy Milstein discusses home, community, and exile in the context of the Maple Spring.

 

 

 

 

Montreal, QC — Lost (& Found) in Translation: Social Solidarity, Night 82 Cindy considers different acts and moments of solidarity personally experienced so far during the Maple Spring.

 

 

 

 

Montreal, QC — Making Our Own Revolutionary Dates, Montreal, Nights 75 & 78As August approaches, Montreal’s demos wane in participation but not in pace as the new term approaches.

 

 

 

 

 

Montreal, QC — Listen, You Can Hear the Sound of Direct Democracy, or Orchestroles, Night 72 One of the incredible things about the Maple Spring has been it’s ability to evolve tactics quickly and effectively.

 

 

 

Montreal, QC — Manifest Your Dreams, Prelude to Night 73 (in C minor) The student-and-social strikes are self-generative via the doing of imagination—as opposed to passive consumption of “imagination.”

 

 

 

 

Montreal, QC — “No School[,] But Learning,” Night 68: In a time of transformation everywhere, Cindy realizes the need to think critically in all matters.

 

 

 

 

 

Montreal, QC — The (Street) Art of Stirring Things Up, Night 66: In the midst of protests in Montreal, anti-authoritarian street art crops up and provokes its audience.

 

 

 

 

 

Montreal, QC — Even Rebels Need to Rest, Night 65: After a smaller than usual demo, Cindy Milstein reflects on the arc of the movement sweeping Montreal and the importance of reflection and rest.

 

 

 

Montreal, QC — Lost in Translation: Maple Spring, Night 63: ” I’m on a journey of discovery here — as an “American” anarchist in a Francophone-driven social movement in Quebec Province”

 

 

 

 

 

Montreal, QC — Casseroles & Anticapitalism, Montreal, Night 61: The casseroles march pauses for a brief direct action, but keeps on the move ahead of police.

Montreal, QC — “Queer & Feminista! Anticapitalista!” Montreal, Nights 53 & 60: The queer pink bloc march exhibits a fierce defiance against the police in Montreal.

Montreal, QC — A Little Bit of Direct Democracy (for Now): Montreal, Day 55: The CLASSE Congress demonstrates a great example of direct democracy that puts others to shame.

Montreal, QC — Photos: June 10, Metro Profiling at the Grand Prix: Protesters are profiled entering the Grand Prix, causing many pre-emptive arrests without explanation.

Montreal, QC — Photos: June 9th, Anti-Sexism and Nighttime Mayhem: Scenes from an anti-sexism protest that unravels into police action and arrests.

 

 

Read more stories from Quebec and around the world >>

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Casseroles & Anticapitalism, Montreal, Night 61


Editor’s Note: This story is part of our ongoing first-person coverage of protests in Quebec against student debt, tuition hikes and Law 78, as well as actions elseware in solidarity to those causes. This post originally appeared at Outside the Circle.

Montreal, QC–Ah, after about 5 days of me having to miss the nightly demos in Montreal — because I had to catch up on my freelance wage work –  what a lovely way to return!

1. Five hours in the streets, always illegally, starting with a tiny casseroles in Mile End, my temporary home for a couple weeks. It was just one part of  “the Casseroles Are Going Downtown!” neighborhoods & neighborhood assemblies, with their pots & spoons (& hopefully a newly formed “people’s orchestra” springing from the first Mile End Neighborhood Assembly two days ago), decided to march, make noise, and illegally wind their way to Gamelin Park to join up with the equally illegal night (61) demonstration–for more marching & more noise in another defiant display that maple summer is alive & well. Some of the convergence points this evening were: 6:30 pm at the corner of Jarry & St-Denis, 7 pm at Beaubien & St-Denis, 7:15 pm at St. Viateur & Waverly (where I joined in), and 7:45 pm at Laurier & St-Denis.

2. So yes indeed, walking to converge here & there with other casseroles, we headed downtown, growing in noise and numbers, increasingly (like all casseroles) drawing people out on to their balconies, out their doors, looking up from cafes, etc., to wave, bang pots in solidarity, and otherwise show their support.

3. Unlike any other of the casseroles, though, this one unexpectedly stopped for a short direct-action swarm of casserolers to rush into a Renaud-Bray, which describes itself as “the Largest Network of Francophone bookstores in North America,” because apparently its commitment to, again in its own words, “friendly meetings, discussions, and discovery” doesn’t apply to its employees if they wear a red square.

4. Onward from there, we continued walking as we wished against traffic, in the streets, to Gamelin Park next to Berri-UQAM Metro stop for the 8:30 pm nocturnal manif. Finding many more comrades awaiting us at the night demo 61 now-usual meeting spot, we quickly retook the streets in even larger numbers, not even giving the police time to drive their van up for the now-usual loudspeaker announcement that we’re illegal, they are here for our protection, we shouldn’t do this, that, and the other. Humorously, they tried amplifying that same message while following us from behind–almost visual acknowledgment of how the people are leading, and the police can’t figure out how to catch up or gain control.

5. As with other June Saturday night demos, this one had included a call for an anticapitalist/anarchist bloc (sporting this new CLAC banner), which also meant–happily–so many good conversations with various antiauthoritarian radicals & friends (old & new) about the history, meaning, and translatability (or not) of this movement to elsewhere. When we were finally down to about 100, mostly anticapitalists at around 11 p.m., and the police issued yet another of dispersement warning, people got on the sidewalks and headed off for poutine w/friends, etc., and I decided to start on the long walk to my temporary home, running into two great new student-radicals for more conversation. One of them asked about the dispersal (since they’d been part of our march earlier in the evening), kind of looked disappointed, and said, “People should have told the cops to disperse.” Then they quickly perked up and added, “But we’re just pacing ourselves. After all, this has been every night on the streets, and sometimes three times a day during the early part of the strike, for months, and it will likely be going on a lot longer.”

– Cindy Milstein –

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D17: Whose Army?


Editors note: We revisit the occupation of Duarte Square on D17 today as activist Mark Adams prepares to serve forty-five days in jail after a judge handed down a guilty verdict this week stemming from his arrest in Duarte Square. We will have more coverage from solidarity actions happening right now later today. This story was originally published on We’ll Die When We’re Dead.

New York, NY – This past Saturday, December 17th, was the three-month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Back in September, people began sleeping in a privately-owned public space a few blocks away from Wall Street in protest of the gross economic malfeasance the investors on Wall Street, the higher-ups at big banks, and the United States government has perpetrated against the American people, and people throughout the world. Whether or not you agree with OWS’s tactics and all of its beliefs, you can’t help but read the paper, watch the news, or look at your bank account and realize that, to quote the signage of one protester, “Shit is fucked up and bullshit.”

While I’m an adamant supporter of Occupy Wall Street, as anyone who has read this blog will likely know, I’ll admit that I was conflicted about the plans for D17, the anniversary celebration. OWS was going to take over a space that was not public, was fenced off, a space whose owners made it very clear that they did not want to be occupied. The owners of Duarte Square, Trinity Wall Street, have helped out OWS in the past, providing shelter and office space, food and some verbal support. This further complicated things in my mind, OWS was not quite biting the hand that feeds it, but close.

Do churches owe a movement that is committed to social equality anything? Trinity Wall Street is an Episcopal church that also happens to own about a third of the land south of Canal Street in Manhattan. They are equal parts church and corporation, like so many other mega-churches throughout the United States. A Christian church, you would think, would be committed to little more than the words of Christ himself, words like “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” or “My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of thieves” or “sell what you possess and give to the poor.” And while Trinity doesn’t owe anybody anything, you’d at least think that following Jesus’s words would be important to them.

OWS weren’t asking for money, or shelter, or anything, really. They wanted to set up tents on a piece of concrete that no one uses and is fenced off from the public. An actual presence is important to the movement, a place to meet and gather and discuss and call home. It doesn’t seem unreasonable that a church, supposedly devoted to spreading God’s message of helping the poor etc., would give up a scrap of land, of which they own billions of dollars worth, to create a home base for a movement they supposedly ideologically agree with. But that was too much to ask.

Not much happened between noon and 3pm on D17. Me and the handful of friends I was with hung out in the cold, talking, milling, and eventually Eric and I were asked to hold a sign on the side of the road, “Tune in to 99.5 FM/Follow the revolution.” 99.5 WBAI worked in conjunction with OWS, broadcasting a series of performers, including Lou Reed, from their studio. Protesters were encouraged to bring radios so that everyone could have a party in the park. This worked and didn’t, but it was done in good spirit.

At about 3pm, we headed to a Starbucks to warm up and use the bathroom. I was wearing an OWS button on my coat that someone had handed to me weeks earlier at another event. The cashier saw it, clapped her hands with glee, smiled, and didn’t charge me for my coffee. We waited nearly an hour in the immense bathroom line and when we made it back to the park, nearly everyone was gone. We thought the police had cleared them out.

From a ways down Varick Street we heard a loud but muffled “WE. ARE. THE 99%!” The protesters had gone a-marchin’. When the march returned, they took the square.

Banners held by protesters concealed two small sets of staircases. The staircases were put up against the fence, and the first to climb them was retired Episcopal Bishop George Packard, followed by dozens more. I chose not to occupy the space, I didn’t want to get arrested and knew that those who did go in, would be.

But that didn’t spare me from getting roughed up by the police. As the crowd chanted “BLOOMBERG’S ARMY!” and “FROM NEW YORK TO GREECE, FUCK THE POLICE!” you could see the anger in the police growing. No one wants to feel like they’re anyone’s lackey, and it surely didn’t make them feel good to know that Bloomberg himself claimed the NYPD were his army recently. As police attempted to clear the sidewalk on Grand Street where the stairs were going up, I was pushed multiple times by an officer, a nightstick held by both his hands and pressed across my chest. Behind me was a police van that I was repeatedly pushed into. “There’s a fucking van behind me! Where am I supposed to go?” was what I had to yell, over and over, before he let me go. And minutes later, on the park side of Duarte Square, I came across a man being hassled by riot-geared cops who wouldn’t let him near the fence to the Square. “What law am I breaking?” he kept asking them. He showed identification and was an assistant to the NYC Attorney General. A whiteshirt refused to give the man a straight answer and turned his back. The man tapped the whiteshirt on the shoulder and a swarm of riot-geared foot soldiers grabbed the man and threw him, multiple times, into me. I was pushed in the process, too. A stream of obscenities flew from my mouth and a friend held me back, thank God. Not that I’d ever touch a cop, because they are untouchable as this whole scene proved, but if a cop decided that I was out of line, all of my rights would’ve dissolved with the crack of a baton.

I didn’t shoot this video of George Packard being taken to jail, because I wasn’t arrested that day, but he points out that Trinity doesn’t want to help OWS because the people who can afford to lease land that Trinity owns won’t do business with Trinity if they help OWS. It’s disgusting to know that a church even worries about doing business with anyone. I’m no Christian, so what churches do in general I find odd and strange, but in my mind, the last thing a church should ever worry about is pissing off its business partners, or even having business partners in the first place. A church shouldn’t have business partners. A church should be there to a) worship their god and b) serve the community. Why else are they given tax-exempt status, if not for being a charitable organization?

It’s really too bad that Bloomberg’s Army has also become Trinity’s army, as well as the army of all those who oppose the common man and the struggle for financial and social equality. Though I’m not a Christian, I’m reminded of the Centurions in the Bible. While the Pharisees, the Jewish religious leaders of the time, the ones who believed in strictly following Rabbinical law but also loved making a buck, called for the execution of Jesus, it was the Centurions, Rome’s army, who carried out the orders, who dragged Jesus through the streets, who tortured him, who hung him on a cross to die and then gambled for his clothes. But it was also a Centurion, Cornelius, who was the first Gentile to convert to Christianity. I wonder who the first convert from the NYPD will be? Because they’re with OWS, they’re part of the 99%, whether they like it or not. It’s only a matter of time.

Duarte Square wasn’t taken that day, and OWS still does not have a physical base that’s open and transparent and welcoming. But that’s ok, for now. The few thousand who showed up on Saturday despite the cold have shown that the movement is still alive, even though corporations, church corporations, and their minions have tried to crush it.

-Matthew Stewart-

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#D17 – Sitting on the Group W Bench – Arrested for Committing Journalism


Editors note: We revisit the occupation of Duarte Square on D17 today as activist Mark Adams prepares to serve forty-five days in jail after a judge handed down a guilty verdict this week stemming from his arrest in Duarte Square. We will have more coverage from solidarity actions happening right now later today. This story is via SuicideGirls and TheMudflats.net

New York, NY–My wrist hurts.

Really more that it possibly should. This is not good. I’m a writer, a photographer, I like to shake people’s hands. I need my wrist functioning.

And I’m not even arrested yet.

It’s 12 o’ clock and there’s maybe 100 people here…and that’s including the press. #D17 is not looking to be all it was cracked up to be, like an ‘N Sync reunion when Justin doesn’t show up. (It was intended to be a celebration of the 3 month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement and its encampment at Zuccotti Park, and was supposed to be marked by a reoccupation in New York at the nearby Duarte Square, a vacant plot of land owned by Trinity Wall Street, a parish of the Episcopal Diocese of NYC.)

It’s freezing, well, maybe not that bad, but I’m underdressed for the occasion, wearing a light jacket and no gloves or a hat. An hour and a half into standing around at Duarte Park in Lower Manhattan – I thought I’d be running after occupiers and dodging kettling nets.

I get the standard shots – the wide above the head shot (for crowd count), the protesters children (cute sells!), the old school occupiers (who knows AARP might run a piece on #OWS), the funny signs (always good for Internet reach), and then the pretty portraits (30mm f1.4 Sigma, wide open, manual focus – shallow depth of field).

Photo credit: Zach Roberts

Photo credit: Zach Roberts

Ok. So now it’s 1:30 PM. Our sources inside the OWS movement tell us that since the organizers were pre-arrested** – one of which is some guy named Zach – they’re not sure anything is actually going down during the day, maybe not until 7 PM.

Fuck.

CS (still photog), Andrew (still photog), Brian (still photog), Rosie (Village Voice writer) and I (SuicideGirls photog) huddle in a group, trying to decide what to do. I hate to admit it, I’m the first one to say fuck it, let’s go home – warm up and recharge for the night.

Brian, a shooter says he’s staying, has to and recommends that we all stay. Even if he didn’t have to, we all know he would anyway. He’s done Egypt and Greece already, so we kind of look to him for guidance. He’s known within his agency to be the one that will go for days without sleep just to get the shot. During the cleansing of Zuccotti he went for about 2 days without sleep, going from assignment to assignment carrying other people’s shifts. Our motley crew decide to take Brian’s advice and stick around until 3:30, and if nothing happens run home and file.

3:30 PM EST.

CS and I are chatting, talking about brunch, warm coffee, French toast…suddenly Brian runs by – we immediately follow blindly.

The crowd suddenly starts to move. Where? We haven’t a f’n clue – but like the lemmings that photojournalists are – we follow (well, actually we run to the front of the crowd and walk briskly backwards while taking photos).

Photo credit: Zach Roberts

Photo credit: Zach Roberts

Immediately I get that something else is going on. The crowd isn’t going anywhere in particular and the turns it’s taking seem to be just to throw off the police that are on scooters.

And then I go around a corner to get a wide shot of the march and almost run straight into a man in purple robes. Oh, it’s a diversion. Bishops only move diagonally though. Where’s the rook?

I quietly say to myself, “I see what you did there.” Realizing that something is afoot with all these religious figures randomly hanging out watching a protest go by, I stay back for a moment allowing the protest to go by.

Like a ADD kid that hasn’t had his Ritalin, I very quickly get impatient and see a scuffle with a cop and a protester, I take one last look at the Holy figures I’m standing next to and run off chasing the pretty pictures.

Did I say fuck before? Because you see this time I really mean it. Like a crap Chess player going up against Bobby Fischer, I immediately lose the Bishop. Chasing after pretty pictures, ones I have hard drives filled with – I lose what will very quickly become the whole point of this charade.

Fuck it, I follow the protesters back toward Duarte Square, I know I screwed up, but maybe I didn’t waste the whole day.

Photo credit: Zach Roberts

Photo credit: Zach Roberts

Slowly we turn the corner to Grand Street and to my surprise (and quiet anger) I see several hundred protesters already there – some setting up a step ladder up against the fence that surrounds the other half of Duarte Square. A purple flash of cloth begins to ascend the wooden ladder that the protesters have propped against the fence, as if playing out some medieval storming of the castle. Except the castle is a park and the battlements are a standard wire fence.

The Bishop doesn’t wait for the other half of the stepladder – like a boss he runs to the top and then lets himself down the other side slowly. People quickly follow behind him, nearly falling on top of him. I’m stuck in the crowd about 20 feet away from the ladder – I look to the fence and judge correctly that there’s no way in hell I can scale it myself and then push toward the ladder – a path opens up and suddenly as I tell OWS organizers that I’m going over they’re all smiles and hands helping me and my gear over. Climbing over and taking blind shots from the top, I suddenly realize what a bad idea this is – fuck it, I’m over and now officially in “criminal trespass” territory.

Photo credit: Zach Roberts

About 75 people are over – including CS and about 5 other journos that I can point out as pros. The occupiers start pulling at the fence bringing it upward so that the rest of the crowd can rush in – there are very few takers. This very clearly worries the people on my side of the fence – and worries me – any moment now the police will be here and numbers are the only thing protecting us from batons, plastic cuffs and a night in the clink. I give up on waiting for the shot of the protesters going all Steve McQueen under the fence and start grabbing every possible angle of the scene I can think of. Through the fence, the wide shot, the closeup…Then suddenly there’s a very large officer from the NYPD in my face yelling “GET THE FUCK OUT NOW!”

Photo credit: Zach Roberts

Photo credit: Zach Roberts

Photojournalists understand that as “YOU HAVE ONLY FIVE MORE SHOTS TO TAKE AND YOU NEED TO START MOVING TOWARDS THE EXIT.”

Photo credit: Zach Roberts

Photo credit: Zach Roberts

CS flies by me yelling at me “TIME TO GO, NOW!” For once he’s being the careful one.

I begin to comply and start moving towards the stepladder, the only “exit” I know of from this fenced-in park. I, of course, continue taking shots though moving towards my non-arrest, then I make it to the place where the stepladder used to be.

Oh, shit!

It’s not there.

Well, to be exact, it’s on its side.

Again, oh shit!

Also, on the other side of the fence, where just moments before the protesters and other journos were pushing forward, now the police are pushing them back. I looked around and couldn’t place CS, Brian or any of the rest of my crew. I also noted, with growing dread, that I was the only person that wasn’t a member of the New York Police Department who wasn’t handcuffed face down in the gravel.

“SIT DOWN, NOW”

Shit.

“I’m press! I’m a freelance photojournalist.”

“DO YOU HAVE CREDENTIALS?”

By this, he doesn’t mean from my agency or from my paper, he means the official New York City Press Credentials issued by the New York City Police Department.

Yes, the NYPD, the boys in blue that are currently in the process of arresting me are the ones that decide whether I am a recognized member of the media. They will not of course take in account my years of work for The Guardian, the dozen or so pieces I’ve produced for BBC TV, or any number of other works of journalism that I have done.

I don’t have NYC NYPD Press credentials.

Shit.

Photo credit: Zach Roberts

Photo credit: Zach Roberts

So, I sat the fuck down. The officers went on to deal with other people – so, I continued to take photos, from my seated position. Once I had taken everything I could from this angle I called my boss (day job) Greg Palast.

Me: “Greg, I think I’m arrested, they told me to sit down, but they haven’t cuffed me yet. I won’t be making it into work later today.”

Greg: [Chuckles] “Ok Zach, we’ll get the word out. Keep me updated.”

Photo of Zach, credit CS Muncy

Realizing that this whole arrest and day would be for naught if something happened to my memory cards – I (slyly as I could) removed the card from my camera and shoved it in my wrist brace.

Blanking on anything else that could be done I just sat there for a moment somewhat dazed as an old Phil Ochs song starts to run through my head…

There’s nothing as cold as the freeze in your soul
At the moment when you are arrested.
There’s nothing as real as the iron and steel
On the handcuffs when you protested.

The zip cuffs weren’t that cold, and certainly weren’t made of out steel, just heavy duty plastic that would need to be cut using utility shears. The officer that put on my cuffs was nice enough to ask about my wrist brace and put them somewhat loosely around that wrist, but made up for it on the other. I got off easy. The kid sitting next to me didn’t; very quickly his cuffs started cutting off the circulation to his hands and the cold didn’t help much either. After being helped up from the ground by the police he begged for his hat and sunglasses that had been knocked off in his takedown by the officer. Sunglasses and snowcap pulled over his head he looked like a reject from a Cheech and Chong audition. His banner and prop mannequin arm was to be left behind (I didn’t ask).

Lining us up by the exit of the park, we were taken off in threes to our respective wagons. I was with Cheech and a bearded protester from Canada who had a sad looking guitar case – he later confided with me that it wasn’t a guitar, but an axe (again, I didn’t ask).

It was now our turn to make the perp walk from the gated confines of the park to the paddy wagon.

Surrounded by about 40 police officers holding back protesters and photographers on both sides of us, we quickly walked to the awaiting wagon. I heard my name being yelled from both sides, on one Brian and on the other CS. Trying to give them both good shots I turned to one, held the look for a moment and then to the other doing the same. I tried to look serious, but not angry – honestly I was just dazed and somewhat confused – still convinced at some point the police would wise up and release me, allowing me to get back to my job as a photographer.

That didn’t happen of course.

Have I ever told you the one where the Bishop, the pastor and the photographer get into a paddy wagon together?

Yeah, I think not.

Bishop Packard is a tall man; dressed in purple robes, he commands attention just by his presence. Sitting beside him is a pastor, across him, luckily enough, is someone who worked out of her cuffs. Which is why we have this video. In it the Bishop breaks down why the Occupiers decided to take Duarte Square.

Even churches have a 1% and a 99%. The good Bishop is in the 99% – Trinity Church…well, I think you got it.

The ride to One Police Plaza is a long one and seemingly the bumpiest ride in all of Manhattan. But we’ve got the time – based on John Knefel’s reporting we have a long night ahead of us. The only problem is with each bump all of our cuffs get tighter and tighter. Cheech sitting next to me is in excruciating pain – the Bishop tries to see what we can do, but none of us can reach his cuffs to try to help.

When we finally make it to “The Yard,” as the police call it, it takes them another 40 minutes to process us and remove the cuffs. Paul Bunyan, the guy with the axe and beard, seems to have it the worst – the officers can’t find a place to get the scissors between the cuffs and his skin.

Moving from the yard, finally inside I realize that they never took my cell phone – so I quickly tweet out a couple of photos before they notice.

Photo credit: Zach Roberts

Inside the cell I noticed that I’m one of the first in my wagon to be processed – though there is a priest, a minister of some kind, and about 12 other occupiers.

I decide to make an entrance by announcing loudly, “My goodness is that a Priest on the Group W bench!?!?!” (doing my best Arlo Guthrie voice). Everyone over 30 in the holding cell starts laughing. Then one of the younger priests starts…

And I, I walked over to the, to the bench there, and there is, Group W’s where they put you if you may not be moral enough to join the army after committing your special crime, and there was all kinds of mean nasty ugly looking people on the bench there.

Then with gusto – anyone who got the original joke starts singing…

You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant,
You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant,
Walk right in it’s around the back,
Just a half a mile from the railroad track,
You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant.

I think Arlo would be proud. We went on to have a good old time swapping war stories. The Bishop joined us 20 minutes later and we all cheered. About a dozen other guys followed over the next couple of hours as we learned about the night’s continued actions. We held stack, talked about the future of the movement – I held a small working group trying to explain how to get better media coverage, and prep people for questions and so on.

I wouldn’t say the time flew by, but it moved. My arresting officer processed me out in about 8 hours – no iris scan – just fingerprints. I was lucky – some of the protesters coming in had some battle wounds. One 19-year-old kid had a shiner from what he said was getting punched in the face by a cop. Another, a main OWS organizer of #D17, was talking to us, reporting on the night’s activities and blood started streaming from under his winter hat. He calmly patted it with toilet paper and continued his report.

It’s surreal – 11 years I’ve been doing this shit. Years of anti-war protests, hanging with black bloc, shooting in Wasilla, Bed Stuy, and the reservations of the Southwest – and jumping over a ladder is the thing that gets me busted.

As I stepped out into the cold, a free man, the dry cheese sandwiches that they gave us to eat still festering in my stomach – I thought back to something that the Bishop had said. “There’s a reason we’re all here in this cell together; this is a moment and we need to keep it going.” I agree.

Fuck, this is beginning to sound like some odd redemption story – there’s no magical black man who can “acquire things” for me, and I’m not standing in the rain, covered in shit finally free…just the realization that none of us are safe – press, protester or priest.

Welcome to Bloomberg’s New York.

**Yes, pre-arrested – we’re talking Minority Report shit here. The police arrested an #OWS organizer for crimes that they assumed that he was going to commit later in the day.

-Zach Roberts-

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Occupy Memphis Still Standing


Memphis, TN – June 15-2012 marked the 8 month anniversary of the Occupy Memphis camp & occupation. What began as a tweet from one lone voice way back in Sept. 2011 bloomed into Occupy Memphis, with the help of Mid South Peace and Justice Center and hundreds of concerned citizens from all walks of life, we began holding meetings off site organizing working groups and doing research. We chose and voted on the location we are based at due to its proximity to the many government buildings, Since October 15-2011, Occupy Memphis camp has been located directly across from the Memphis City Hall and is surrounded by the Federal, State & Shelby County Buildings; we call it “The Hill”, even though we are located on the flat HOT concrete of Civic Center Plaza. They have to walk past us daily and when they look out of their windows they see us.. still there.


Being here has given us many opportunities to converse with various members from each  of these buildings along with Memphians and the many tourist from all over the world. We use this platform to inform and educate the public of the injustices being done by our government.


The City views the camp as a legal lawful assembly and can remain as long as we are peaceful and law abiding, we do NOT have a permit.

We have had one Shelby County Commissioner Steve Mulroy bring his tent and spend the night with us, and another Commissioner has attended several of our G.A.’s. We regularly attend City Council & County Commission meetings, and have been instrumental in changing several decisions voted on at these meetings.

We are most proud of:

  • Our Occupy camp is, by itself, an ongoing direct action.
  • Several groups that have developed out of Occupy Memphis, H.O.P.E. = Homeless Organizing for Power and Equality, which was instrumental in the award of almost half a million dollars from Shelby County to house the Homeless. Sparkle fingers!!!
  • The M.B.R.U. = Memphis Bus Riders Union was formed thanks to the help of our Transportation Task Force (TTF). The Union members are addressing the city’s bus services that are being cut yet fares have been raised.
  • We presented both City & County Mayors a “Redress of Grievances” regarding the City’s lawsuit against Wells Fargo, City Mayor Wharton did reply back but sadly on 5-31-12 settled with Wells Fargo for far less than the people deserved. More to follow.


Other Direct Actions we are proud of:

  • David Rovics played for us 10-21-11
  • Three of our members went to Nashville & were arrested when they were getting shut down 10-29-11

 

Camp Life:
Several of our Full time campers have jobs that they go to during the day, but the majority of our Full time campers are on site to meet and greet the public on a daily basis. Living outside has its challenges….

  • We have NO electricity, we use 2 Marine Deep Cycle batteries to charge phones and our laptop, which are taken home by our cook to be re-charged.
  • Water is obtained from the drinking fountain on the plaza.
  • Most of the cooking is done off site by our one and only cook from her home and delivered nightly. We have an arched, plastic covered structure we call the kitchen, (built by a supportive Occupier) with plastic bins for storage, a cooler, a Coleman propane cook stove ,for making coffee as well as some light cooking, and a small propane grill for hotdogs and hamburgers. We wash all of our cookware, plastic plates, cups, forks, spoons and utensils to reuse as much as possible… GO GREEN!
  • We have regular Fire Dept. inspections.
  • We used to Live Stream, and are attempting to re-establish connectivity again. We need a hotspot card, since the Wi-Fi from city hall is sketchy.
  • We have 19 tents, 13 Full Time Occupy Campers & 8 Part Time Occupy Campers, we regularly host visitors from other Occupies as well as Travelers. We have devoted Occupiers as well as many Occupiers that come and go.
  • We have an Information table , a 3 ring binder with sheet protected bulletins and a large roofed bulletin board (built by a supportive Occupier) which is updated daily with current issues by another supportive Occupier.
  • We have recycle bins.
  • We have our covered garbage can which we use for food scraps and the city’s cans for all other waste, which we empty for them on the days they pick up trash.
  • One of our supportive Occupiers built for us an arched, tarp covered tunnel for getting out of the cold / heat & rain.
  • We have a shopping cart which we use to haul batteries, food, blankets, etc. to our cooks car.
  • Many of us are transported by our cook to her home to shower and wash clothes, others have friends or family that do the same.
  • We utilize the local Welcome center and various other local businesses for restroom facilities.
  • We have a good rapport with the Downtown Safety Patrol as well as the Memphis Police Department. They have been very supportive and vital to our safety.
  • We depend on donations and each other for food & supplies. We have a donation box we sometimes put out and an online link maintained by Mid South Peace & Justice Center.


List of needs:

  • We need ICE, it’s HOT in Memphis, Tn.
  • $ for food
  • Gatorade, tea, Kool Aid
  • Mosquito repellant & candles
  • Bug spray, Fly & Wasp traps
  • Garbage bags 55 gallon
  • Dinnerware ie; plates, forks, spoons & cups (reusable plasticware prefered)
  • Coffee, sugar & creamer
  • plastic page protectors for bulletins
  • staple gun & staples (ours got stolen)
  • cleaning supplies ie; Dish detergent, Laundry detergent, rags, Comet, Bleach
  • Baby wipes, deodorant, Soap, Shampoo, Sunblock
  • tobacco & rolling papers


List of wants:

  • Support of our fellow Memphians
  • Occupiers from closed camps across the nation to join us, bring your ideas, energy, tents & supplies

 

Please visit our websites:
http://www.occupymemphis.org/

http://www.facebook.com/OccupyMemphis

Although we may not have been as active or vocal as , or other Occupations nor raised many eyebrows….. We view Our camp as an ongoing DIRECT action….

“Of course, activism that appears ineffectual at the time can succeed in a great many ways, including by influencing others, even young children, who go on to become effective activists — or by influencing firm opponents who begin to change their minds and eventually switch sides.
The beautiful thing about nonviolent activism is that, while risking no harm, it has the potential to do good in ways small and large that ripple out from it in directions we cannot track or measure.”

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/9404-why-even-failed-activism-succeeds

Yes, our government was more responsive to public opinion in the 1960s than now, but part of the reason is that more people were active then.  And another reason is that government officials are doing a better job now of hiding any responsiveness to public sentiment, which helps convince the public it has no impact, which reduces activism further….
WAKE UP SHEEPLE….

When someone tells you to stop imagining that you’re having an impact, ask them to please redirect their energy into getting 10 friends to join you in doing what needs to be done.  If it has no impact, you’ll have gone down trying.  If it has an impact, nobody will tell you for many years. :)


Keep on Keepin on….OCCUPY….
Solidarity from Memphis, TN.

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Photos: June 10, Metro Profiling at the Grand Prix


Editor’s Note: This story is part of our ongoing first-person coverage of protests in Quebec against student debt, tuition hikes and Law 78, as well as actions elseware in solidarity to those causes.

Montreal, QC–The Grand Prix racing event kicked off Sunday morning. I entered the metro around 10:15am with Nicolas Quiazua, editor of McGill University’s Le Délit newspaper. Our bags were searched, and we were told that no media was allowed to go onto the metro that day — so we entered as civilians. When I asked allowed “Is that even legal?” someone behind us responded, “Everything is legal under law 78!”

At the entrance to the event, the profiling was significantly more intense. Anyone with a red square (sign of solidarity with the student movement), or anyone suspicious looking (young) was searched and many were told to leave.

– Zachary Bell –

More photography by Zach at ReCovered

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Photos: June 9th, Anti-Sexism and Nighttime Mayhem


Editor’s Note: This story is part of our ongoing first-person coverage of protests in Quebec against student debt, tuition hikes and Law 78, as well as actions elseware in solidarity to those causes.

Montreal, QC–At 5pm, activists gathered at Phillips Square for the anti-sexism demonstration. The manifestation was controversial among Montreal protesters because it explicitly advocated the abolition of sex work — prompting the moderator of the anti-capitalist CLAC (labor union association) listserv to issue an apology for disseminating information for the event.

The march stopped at various places to deliver speeches against Formula One’s chauvinist culture, like one at the Delta Centreville hotel, which condemned the business as a well-known spot for prostitutes to go with clients.

– Zachary Bell –

More photography by Zach at ReCovered

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Photos: June 8th, Bahrain Solidarity and Grand Prix Clashes


Editor’s Note: This story is part of our ongoing first-person coverage of protests in Quebec against student debt, tuition hikes and Law 78, as well as actions elseware in solidarity to those causes.

Montreal, QC–Around 6:30pm, the demonstrations began with a (noticeably) small protest at Dorchester Square aimed to show solidarity with the people of Bahrain.

The petite march ignored a call by the police to clear the streets, but complied when the troops moved to enforce it. Still in good spirits, the protesters sang a French chant meaning “on the sidewalk, until victory.”

– Zachary Bell –

More photography by Zach at ReCovered

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Photos: June 7th Nude-In


Editor’s Note: This story is part of our ongoing first-person coverage of protests in Quebec against student debt, tuition hikes and Law 78, as well as actions elseware in solidarity to those causes.

Montreal, QC–At 5pm, there was a demonstration at the corner of Notre Dame and des Seigneurs, which began with a megaphone announcement condemning the Grand Prix for its elitism and sexism. The protest was kettled as soon as it began, forcing a standstill.

By 5:45pm, police began selectively arresting individuals and pulling them back behind the police line. It was unclear whether this was for violating Law 78 (for example, by wearing masks), or for some other reason. Many protesters resisted, and some were successfully “de-arrested” — prevented from being pulled across the police line.

– Zachary Bell –

More photography by Zach at ReCovered

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Thoughts on Chicago, Part 2: Cracking Skulls


Editor’s note: This story is part of our coverage of the #noNATO protests in Chicago.

Chicago, IL–There were so many actions taking place during our time in Chicago that it would be too lengthy to recount them all.  Occupiers were constantly on the streets, making their presence known.  When they protested outside Rahm Emanuel’s house some of his neighbors provided refreshments.  One anecdote worth sharing is when my wife and I were trying to catch up with a jail solidarity march. The occupiers moved too fast, constantly changing direction, and we couldn’t catch up.  Finally, my wife and I jumped in a taxi, an odd way to get to a protest, and tried to find the march.  We got close enough to see the marchers several blocks away, but the streets were blocked by police.  The cabdriver caught on to what we were doing and began weaving through the streets to find a way around the barricades.  Telling us it was like a movie he saw a couple days before, he was clearly enjoying this serendipitous  adventure and expressed support for the movement.  With some deft maneuvering, he got us within a block.  Of course we tipped him well.

May 20th was the day of the Anti-NATO rally and march.  Numbers have been estimated at 20,000.  A number of anti-war groups, CANG8, occupiers, and concerned citizens took part.  There were more protestors present than during the 1968 Democratic National Convention.  Unlike that historic action, this one had a permit.  Also, while there was a massive police presence, law enforcement acted with more restraint–at least at first.  The march went down Michigan Street as hundreds of people watched from the sidewalks and windows above.  There were many acclamations of support, though a few called us dirty hippies and yelled, “Get a job.” Actually, most of us were pretty clean and many of us have jobs.  Critiques about employment ought to be mitigated by the fact that we are in an economic crisis and unemployment is most certainly higher than government statistics claim.

The march ended at the permitted spot at Michigan and Cermak.  There was a moving ceremony as veterans spoke against war, then threw their medals in the direction of McCormick Place, where NATO was meeting, but the actual site was blocks from where we were. Unfortunately, the majority of marchers were backed up down the street and could not really see the event.  As the veterans spoke the crowd began to thin (with some encouragement from the police) and near the end there was only a small group left.  There was an eerie moment when I looked around and realized we were surrounded by police, who now outnumbered us.

They closed in slowly, ordering people to leave.  Many people did. Others simply got on the sidewalk and continued protesting.  Cameras recorded from all around, even on some roof tops. There was a police film crew as well.  I could not see over the crowd that had remained in the street, but it was clear that things were becoming volatile.  Cops came out of the crowd dragging people in handcuffs, some of them were bleeding.  The protestors became angry and started shouting. Two cops grabbed me by the shirt and threw me up onto the sidewalk.  I would have fallen, but, instead, stumbled against the people packed on the sidewalk.  One cop stuck a nightstick in my face and told me I’d be arrested if I stepped into the street.  At that moment, I was more worried about the nightstick than getting arrested.

The police cordon tightened around the remaining crowd.  I looked around for my wife. She was surrounded by police, and I could only see her hands held up high, giving the peace sign.  My daughter was somewhere further in the crowd and, because of what I saw, I was frightened for her.  Then the cops started driving us back, demanding that we leave the area.  They pushed us with their nightsticks and there was a discernible threat of violence in their demeanor.

At the same time worse things were happening in the remaining cluster of protestors, who were trying to stand their ground.  The police basically beat and pummeled people until they were driven away or arrested.  I won’t say that every single occupier was behaving peacefully, but, as a CNN reporter said later that evening, they did not deserve what was done to them.

My wife made it out and we began to search for my daughter.  We found a “wellness center” run by a church about a half mile away.  My daughter was there, clearly traumatized.  She had been pushed around and thrown, and had seen and video recorded worse.  The Wellness Center seemed more like triage after a battle.  There were people lying around with injuries and/or just trying to recover from the shock.  I saw several people with serious wounds on their heads.  The liquid running down their faces was not red paint.  Some were taken to the hospital.  As one was put in the ambulance, I saw a group of cops across the street jeering him.

– Stuart Leonard –

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