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People | Occupied Stories - Part 2

Tag Archive | "people"

“We Are All Mark Adams!”


New York, NY–Monday afternoon I refreshed my Facebook newsfeed to find some unsettling news: Mark Adams, one of the 8 occupiers on trial for trespassing on December 17 last year, had just been sentenced to 45 days on Rikers Island. Admittedly I hadn’t followed the trial as well as many others, nor do I personally know Mark, but I was familiar enough with the #D17 action and trial that Mark’s sentence, 15 days longer than what the DA had asked for, seemed excessive and that charges hadn’t been dropped by Trinity was ridiculous in the first place.

So I decided to halt things and run to Foley Square that evening to show my support for Mark with other protesters.

I got there early at 7pm, meeting with a small group of comrades sitting by the fountain near the southern part of the park. A live streamer was on hand, giving anyone who was there in support of Mark a chance to tell his audience their thoughts or feelings about the trial As we mulled about, a few made signs, many of which had drawings of thick beards to hold before one’s face, because “We are all Mark Adams.” I looked across Centre Street at the Supreme Court building, whose engraving read that “the true administration of justice is the firmest pillar of good government.” I didn’t know what to make of those words that evening, except for a feeling that as things continue, more and more can only wake up and see that the state is not working in their interests.

I had come out to support, unsure of what we would be up to tonight. I asked a few people but others were confused as I was. And just where was everyone? I overheard we would be marching and saw on Twitter that the Feminist GA was happening. The plan was to march to Reverend Cooper’s home in the village, where we would hold a vigil. By then, the Feminist GA would be done and would meet us there, after which we would discuss our feelings about Mark and what had happened to him.

We left Foley just around 8pm, chanting “Free Mark Adams and all political prisoners.” If there’s one thing you can count on our community doing, it’s making light of terrible situations, so another popular chant was “We want the sexy bearded man (and so do you!)” It was probably not the best chant for outreach, but it boosted morale in a situation that many were angered and deeply saddened by.  We eventually took the streets, mic-checking outside of opened-window restaurant fronts and tour buses to explain why we were out tonight.

One tour guide called the police, or threatened to, while we blocked her bus from moving, but we didn’t care; we’d established before leaving Foley Square that we would not be arrested, that if we saw the police we would simply rush to the sidewalk and comply with the rules. We didn’t want to be too controversial, because Mark would be upset if our rally to show solidarity with him ended up with more people being arrested. That isn’t to say there was no small drama: one man heckled us out his window, high above, and another threw an egg at us some blocks away. But we kept on.

Aside from passing a cop car that happened to be parked along a sidewalk we marched down, there was no police presence until we made it to Cooper’s home. We congratulated ourselves on marching through the streets with no conflicts with authority, and organized ourselves on the sidewalk, careful to keep it open for pedestrian traffic. Someone had brought small candles, which were passed out and lit.

A couple of police officers crossed the street to ask us what we were doing. There seemed to be nothing very accusatory about it, just asking what a random group of people congregating on a residential street planned to do there. We explained Mark’s story and that we were only here as bodies and to discuss what had happened. The police were cool about it and told us all was well so long as we kept the sidewalk open.

Eventually a white shirt came and interrupted us all to repeat to us that the sidewalk and stoop must be clear. The sidewalk and stoop were already clear, which made the whole thing redundant, and his tone lacked the courtesy that the previous two officers spoke with. He—and a couple new officers—spent the rest of the time occupying the stoop himself.

Someone who had spoken to the officers earlier said that Cooper was in fact home, that he’d called the police because he would not face us. Cooper was being cowardly and bringing in his own personal guards, courtesy of the NYPD. But still we complied with the police—we had no intent on blocking anyone from anything in the first place—and no issues arose. We watched out for each other, policing ourselves in regards to pedestrian traffic. We began our speak-out session, in which peoples words were carried down the line of us over different generations of mic-checks.

Where the march’s atmosphere was somewhere between celebratory and anger, this quiet moment was a mix between sadness and inspiration. Some talked about their hopes that Mark might organize from prison; others expressed that the best way we could support Mark would be through our actions and by looking at his enthusiasm and attitude as example. Someone pointed out that we kept talking about him in past-tense, that he was not dead and we would see him again. This comment got a few chuckles and brought the mood up a little bit.

I wondered what the police officers were thinking or feeling about all of these words. They understand sacrifice and must have understood that this trial was a moment in which we all realized that our sacrifices are in fact very real. But our group tonight was showing no signs of being discouraged, and I think the vigil presented a very human look at us that might sometimes be lost in the heat of an action. It’s consistently difficult to rank beautiful moments in the Occupy Wall Street community, but I think all of us coming together the night of June 18th is among one of the most poignant.

I went home carrying my cardboard Mark Adam beard. I didn’t want to throw it away or abandon it. So I put it on my desk, in the hopes that when I feel lazy or exasperated while working or question whether anything I do is worth it all, I can be reminded of Mark’s example and get shit done with a smile. So I’ll thank him for that when he returns, because he will.

– Joe Sutton –

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Photos: Silent March Against Stop & Frisk


New York, NY–On June 17th, an estimated 50,000 people silently marched down 5th Avenue in protest against the city’s Stop & Frisk policy.

The most impressive thing about the day was the silence. It spoke volumes as the marchers walked; you could hear the feet quietly shuffle and the birds chirp in the trees of the adjacent Central Park. The amount of people matching with the complete silence was awe inspiring. They came in seemingly endless lines and kept coming, block after block after block. People from all walks of life. People who are fed up with racial profiling, marching in complete silence… It was an amazing afternoon of peace, reflection and unity. Even the NYPD, whom they were protesting against, had to bow their heads in respect.

More of Tim Schreier’s photos, including photos of this event, may be found here.

– Tim Schrier –

Photographer’s note: These photos are “open source” and “public domain” with the condition that no product or service uses them for commercial purposes.

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Occupy Caravan, Day 6: Protest at Koch Industries


Editor’s note: This story is part of an on-going series documenting the Occupy Caravan’s journey from California to Philadelphia. This part was originally posted here.

Wichita, KS–Hey guys! So today was a really exciting day. First off, I got to sleep in until around 11am. It was the first time I have been able to sleep in, and it felt wonderful.

The big excitement for us today was the protest we did at Koch Industries. Granted, it was a Saturday, and there was nobody there other than a few security guards, but we did get some honks of support from vehicles that were passing by.

The building that houses Koch Industries, as you can see from the photo above, to me, seemed to be very monolithic. It was this huge, black glassed building, that to me, looked like it came directly from the belly of the beast. We were only on the property for about 10 minutes, before security came out and told us we had to leave and that we were trespassing.

There were 4 security officers that came out to confront us. They told us that we were on “private property,” and that if we refused to leave, they would call the police. Most of the folks who were there in protest stepped back from the property; however, there were a few of us, myself included, who refused to leave. When I asked for the security officer to show me a prominent sign posting that we were on “private property,” they were unable to do so.

Eventually, Wichita Police showed up, and also stated that we were trespassing on “Private Property.” According to Kansas Statute 21-3721 – Criminal Trespass, it states:

 (a) Criminal trespass is:

      (1)   Entering or remaining upon or in any land, nonnavigable body of water, structure, vehicle, aircraft or watercraft, other than railroad property as defined in K.S.A. 21-3761, and amendments thereto, or nuclear generating facility as defined in K.S.A. 2007 Supp. 66-2302, and amendments thereto, by a person who knows such person is not authorized or privileged to do so, and:
      (A)   Such person enters or remains therein in defiance of an order not to enter or to leave such premises or property personally communicated to such person by the owner thereof or other authorized person; or
      (B)   such premises or property are posted in a manner reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders, or are locked or fenced or otherwise enclosed, or shut or secured against passage or entry; or
      (C)   such person enters or remains therein in defiance of a restraining order issued pursuant to K.S.A. 60-1607, 60-3105, 60-3106, 60-3107, 60-31a05 or 60-31a06 or K.S.A. 2007 Supp. 38-2243, 38-2244 or 38-2255, and amendments thereto, and the restraining order has been personally served upon the person so restrained; or
      (2)   entering or remaining upon or in any public or private land or structure in a manner that interferes with access to or from any health care facility by a person who knows such person is not authorized or privileged to do so and such person enters or remains thereon or therein in defiance of an order not to enter or to leave such land or structure personally communicated to such person by the owner of the health care facility or other authorized person.
     
 (b)   As used in this section:
      (1)   “Health care facility” means any licensed medical care facility, certificated health maintenance organization, licensed mental health center, or mental health clinic, licensed psychiatric hospital or other facility or office where services of a health care provider are provided directly to patients.
      (2)   “Health care provider” means any person: (A) Licensed to practice a branch of the healing arts; (B) licensed to practice psychology; (C) licensed to practice professional or practical nursing; (D) licensed to practice dentistry; (E) licensed to practice optometry; (F) licensed to practice pharmacy; (G) registered to practice podiatry; (H) licensed as a social worker; or (I) registered to practice physical therapy.
      
  (c) (1)   Criminal trespass is a class B nonperson misdemeanor.
      (2)   Upon a conviction of a violation of subsection (a)(1)(C), a person shall be sentenced to not less than 48 consecutive hours of imprisonment which must be served either before or as a condition of any grant of probation or suspension, reduction of sentence or parole.
      (d)   This section shall not apply to a land surveyor, licensed pursuant to article 70 of chapter 74 of the Kansas Statutes Annotated, and amendments thereto, and such surveyor’s authorized agents and employees who enter upon lands, waters and other premises in the making of a survey.

I pointed out to the officers who showed up that according to section A, subsection B, that Koch Industries did not have a sign stating that it was private property. When confronted with this information, one of the officers arbitrarily determined what was to be considered the property line for Koch Industries, giving those of us that were protesting and area less than 2 feet from the side of the road.

I’m sorry, but it is getting very late here (1:12AM) and we are taking off early tomorrow. We will be heading to Oklahoma City, OK in the morning, and we are planning on leaving at 8am. I will continue with the recap of the Koch action tomorrow while we are on the road, as well as my regular updates as well.

Until then, I bid you goodnight.

– James Jennison –

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Occupy Caravan, Day 3: Touring Salt Lake City


Editor’s note: This piece was originally posted at Occupy Caravan Road Trip. Part one may be found here, and part two here.

Salt Lake City, UT–So, I apologize for not being able to finish my blog post from yesterday, but the place we camped out last night had absolutely no cell coverage at all.

So, I am doing today a little differently today as I am not riding in either of the caravan minivans. I’m actually riding with Roy today, primarily because I want to avoid the problems I had with Allred yesterday.

I had a nice, pleasant surprise yesterday when I got a call from my old roommate Mark. He happened to be on his way back from New York to San Francisco, and was traveling along I80 towards Elko. We met up with him, and he donated some sleeping bags and sleeping mats to us. This was good because we had a few people with us who had no sleeping bags or gear of any kind really.

The place we camped last night was beyond beautiful. The group photo that is attached with today’s blog post was taken right next to a beautiful flowing river. It was quite majestic. And the view of the sky last night was breathtaking! Stars as far as the eye could see. Never in by life have I seen so many stars. I wish I could have captured it on camera, but it was too dark.

So, our next stop is going to be in Salt Lake City, UT. I’m looking forward to being able to play tourist there for a little while. As a former Mormon, I have actually wanted to visit the Mormon Temple there. This is yet another place I want to visit before I’m 40 that I can mark off my list.

Okay, so I am going to sign off for right now. I will post more later after we arrive in Salt Lake City.


9:12pm
Wow, this has been an amazing day! I have seen so many beautiful sites and locations today, as depicted by the photos included in this post.

The first thing we saw getting close to Salt Lake City was the Great Salt Flats. It was totally awesome. I think a quarter of the U.S. salt supply might come from there.

The next beautiful site was the Great Salt Lake itself. Standing at the edge of the water looking out at the horizon felt like I was standing looking out from Ocean Beach…there was water as far as the eye could see.

When we got to Liberty Park, we were greeted by the folks from Occupy Salt Lake City, and the reception was very warm and welcoming.

One of the folks from Occupy SLC played tour guide for Roy and me, and took us to see the Mormon Temple, which for me was a really huge treat, as I was a practicing Mormon for many years. Even though I’m no longer a practicing Mormon, I do appreciate the history and architecture of something that was a huge part of my life for so many years.

We finally ended the day going up into the foothills where we were greeted by even more folks from Occupy SLC. They had a campfire blazing, and soon after we arrived we were cooking hot dogs and hamburgers, and roasting marshmallows over the open fire.

Well, that about sums up today’s leg of our journey. Stay tuned for more updates tomorrow, as we make our way to our next stop, which will be in Denver, CO.

– James Jennison –

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Occupy Caravan, Day 2: Conflicts Through Nevada


Editor’s note: This piece was originally posted at Occupy Caravan Road Trip. Part one may be found here, and part three here.

Elko, NV–It’s our second day on the road, and it’s looking to be a beautiful leg of our journey. I woke up around 6:30am to the wonderful sound of birds chirping, and a lovely sunny day.

Our beautiful hosts in Reno had scrambled eggs with cheese, homemade coffee cake, coffee, and orange juice ready for us, and it was so good and tasty.

We’ll be leaving for our next destination, which is Elko, NV in a few minutes, and I will be going live as soon as we leave. Remember, you can follow us live here.

Stay tuned for more updates soon.


2:30pm

Well, it’s been an interesting past couple of hours. I’m really having some doubts regarding one of the people in the van I am in. He is extremely confrontational, controlling, and, in my humble opinion, thinks way too highly of himself.

I don’t know what is going to come out of this with him. I’m definitely not comfortable with having him on this trip. I’m really wishing I had voiced my concerns about him before we left yesterday. Now I worry about how miserable I am going to be for most of this trip.

I have the option of switching to the other van when we reach Elko, however the van I am in is the only one with a power inverter, and I need to be able to charge the phone and battery pack to be able to stream.

This is going to be a very long trip…

– James Jennison –

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Occupy Caravan, Day 1: Leaving Oakland


Editor’s note: This piece was originally posted at Occupy Caravan Road Trip. Part two may be found here, and part three here.

Oakland, CA–So, I have to admit, I was extremely anxious about our departure this morning when I hot to 19th & Telegraph at 10am and saw nobody was there. My fears were soon relieved when I got a call from one of the organizers telling me that a second van was rented and that it would be there in about an hour.

My fears were also abated when I started seeing people start to show up. I don’t know how many people I was expecting to show up, but I have to admit, I was worried that we would not have enough room to bring everyone.

Fortunately, we left Oakland with 9 people. We have 4 people in each van, and one person traveling in his own vehicle. We have plenty of leg room, a power inverter, music, food and water…what more do we need?

Our first stop on our journey to the National Gathering will be Reno, NV, which we are scheduled to arrive around 6pm. I’ve been told that there will be a potluck and a march when we arrive. Looking forward to streaming that!

So, that’s my update for now. Keep checking back, and I will keep you updated as we progress along our trip.


5:05pm
Well, we just crossed into Nevada, and are about 20 miles outside of Reno. I have to say, the scenery out here is absolutely breathtaking.

We’re actually making really good time, with minimal delays…primarily restroom stops. We stopped in the town of Truckee for a couple of minutes, because of its history regarding the Donner party.

Incidentally, I forgot to mention earlier that I will periodically be live streaming the road trip to Philadelphia. If you want to tune in, you can click over to here. If you wanna follow my blog for the caravan, it’s here.

OK, that’s all for now. I will post more later after we have gotten settled in Reno. I’m looking forward to our reception there.


10:00pm
So, our reception in Reno has been nothing short of awesome. We met up with Occupy Reno at a cute little bar called Strega. It’s actually a house from 1912! We were met by Occupy Reno with a very beautiful potluck dinner followed by a short march.

We only had about 20 people on the march, but I was told that was due to the march being planned at the last minute. The interesting thing was that we marched on the sidewalk. Apparently, when folks were marching a couple of weeks ago, Reno Police surrounded them with rifles drawn. We don’t need that.

So, this is going to conclude my post and updates for today. Type to everyone tomorrow!

– James Jennison –

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Filming OWS Media for #WhileWeWatch


NEW YORK, NY–Showing up at Zuccotti looking for an angle to a story for a film was not easy. There was movement. Tension. Too many TV news and reporters jockeying. All I noticed were lenses. Press passes and mikes. News trucks and generators and satellite dishes.  Everyone seemed important. A lot of talk. Yelling, intensity, and of course a ton of politics. This was great–unless, like me, you are looking for a story to tell. There was too much politics to figure out how to begin. All the meeting s with the GA’s seemed too intense, and how do you film that? Stand there for a long time…

I noticed people running around near the main stream media–live streamers. I started asking questions: who are you? Why are you filming? Where does your work go? Lorenzo Serna explained that he was streaming. This grabbed my attention.  Then, Bill Boggs at the press tent handling PR was loaded with intensity. Then Hero Vincent was doing some kind if Skype chat. I started asking all of them questions. This led to meeting Justin Wedes and Priscilla Grim and Flux and Haywood Carey–and Tim Poole. Of course, Jesse Lagreca made a splash with the Fox News people. I knew this was the angle for my film: the media people. They had  a job to do. Help drive a story. Whether it was filming, editing, getting out a press release or a newspaper, this was new, exciting, living media happening from Zuccotti in the rain, snow. Anybody getting out a story to the world with this feverish energy was exciting, and to me, the first time in a long while in New York City that media wasn’t old, stale and redundant!

I made a 40 minute film that was almost live. I made some good friends and they shared with me some great video that I couldn’t film alone. I needed a team of 5  camera people 24/7 .

I made a film that mirrored the days and nights of Zuccotti. Raw, fast and real, I wanted the sound rough. The shaky camera from when I was shoved. Zuccotti was not a glossed-over filtered fantasy. I am a hard New Yorker, and this energy was real. The OWS media team is brilliant. From the Direct Action to the graphic artists to Sophia writing the Spanish paper, I tell  the story of many people. Personal, yet showing their commitment to OWS media, I filmed it.

This is new journalism. They don’t need press passes and insignias to get out a story. This is greatness in action. I’m happy they trusted me to tell the story. And, regardless of criticism, they know how to create a story, and they work hard.

It was a once in a lifetime event in New York. Finally people said “Enough with the bullshit. We are citizen journalists. This is what we do. We will tell our own story.”

I used my energy to capture it.

-Kevin Breslin-

Editor’s Note: You may view #WhileWeWatch in its entirety here at SnagFilms.

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A Dispatch from OWS Street Medics


Editor’s Note: In the run-up to what promises to be a May Day to remember, we are collecting stories from the people who are pouring their soul into making it happen. Are you involved in planning for May Day in your occupation? Have you been to any of the actions building toward the general strike? Tell us about it! You can find a collection of our May Day stories here.

NEW YORK, NY–Waiting for fellow Occupiers outside of the courthouse at 100 Centre Street in lower Manhattan, Justin Young explained the role of the OWS Street Medics, also known as the Red and Black Cross, and updated us on how they’re preparing for May Day.

Click PLAY to hear Caroline’s interview with OWS Street Medic Justin Young

-Caroline Lewis-

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Diane Emerson: Why I Occupy


Editor’s Note: A version of this story originally appeared at the Portland Occupier.

Seeking love and affection any way I could, I found myself pregnant at 15. Knowing I did not have the parenting skills necessary to raise a child, I gave her up for adoption. Then I went on a drive to prove to the world that I was a good human being. With no help from my family, I got myself through college, and, eventually, with the help of my husband, graduated with an MBA. My goal: to be vice president of a Fortune 500 company. Why? This was the ultimate measure of success for a woman in this country. I worked hard, stuffed my feelings far down into my soul, and started climbing the corporate ladder.

As I climbed, I noticed that the difference in pay between myself and the people reporting to me got bigger and bigger. This made no sense to me. These people were working just as hard as me, and had specialized skills I didn’t have. I couldn’t even DO some of their jobs! At one point I asked the human resources people if I could give some of my pay to my team. That suggestion was met with disbelief, and the response was that the HR department was working to increase the disparity, in order to provide people a greater incentive for for working their way up. I kept silent.

Eventually I reached the point where the VPs started inviting me to their homes on the weekends. I knew what that meant. They were seeing if I would fit into the tight social circle which exists at that level. I talked antiques and gardening with the wives, and golfing and global economics with their corporate husbands. I listened to them discuss their homes in Florida, their fishing and golfing trips, their travels to Europe and the Caribbean.

It became clear to me that they only socialized with others at their level within the corporation – tightly held in their carefully constructed bubble of safety and ignorance. I realized that if I actually reached my long-held and hard-fought goal, these people would be “my friends”, my social circle. It sickened me. I realized that if I actually reached my goal, I would be desperately unhappy, and would have to muzzle my voice and my life 24/7. I saw that the huge salaries were part of an ego game, to which everything was sacrificed. Nothing else mattered. I toyed with the idea of going along with the game, and changing the corporation from within. But I would have been alone in my efforts, and it would have been overwhelming.

So I quit. I quit the company, and ended up quitting my 20-year marriage and my country, and I moved to New Zealand to start a new life. I became an independent business consultant and focused on helping New Zealand entrepreneurs and small businesses succeed. Then 5 years ago, I moved into the gift economy – giving my time and skills to individuals and small nonprofits around the world who were dedicated to serving the poorest of the poor. I had no home, no car, and no worries. A year spent volunteering for people with disabilities in Kashmir, the most militarized place on earth, was the beginning of my activism.

Then, while volunteering for the Catholic Worker movement here in the US, Occupy was born. Now here was a cause that could handle everything I had to offer, and more. I had a plane ticket to take me back to Geneva in March 2012. I cancelled it. There is nowhere else on earth I can do the most good to help the world than right here in the U.S., in the heart of the beast. But this time I am not alone. I am surrounded with like-hearted people. Together, we will create the world we dream of. A world of acceptance, shared values, integrity, transparency, meaning, affection, love, and community. Everything I sought after since childhood is wrapped up in this package called Occupy.

-Diane Emerson-

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Occupy is Everywhere: A Small Town Occupy Shares Their Plans for Spring


Editor’s note: Last fall, in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, a group of concerned citizens in a rural town in Eastern Oregon began to organize to show their solidarity. The community sent us this inspiring video last month. Below, Occupy Halfway shares their plans for continuing their movement this spring.

HALFWAY, OR–We slowed down a bit in winter to retrench and discuss what we really felt was important to this community. We live in a mostly conservative ranching town. We wanted to find issues and a focus which would likely bring the people in town together. After a great deal of thoughtful conversation and research we have decided to focus our efforts on http://www.movetoamend.org and resolutionsweek.org. Both are addressing the SCOTUS decision that allowed corporations to flood our political system with un-transparent, unlimited money.

We’ve created a flier covering Citizen’s United, SuperPACs and the problem with corporate personhood. We plan on tabling and running discussions during the spring in hopes of creating common ground and building trust across the red/blue chasm. When we talk to people it’s not hard to find agreement about corporatism and crony capitalism. This is very important to us as we are a community that relies on each other. These bonds are important to us. How we get along is more important to many than politics. So we’ll be tabling and talking and hoping to translate occupy to folks here.

There are occupy groups popping up throughout Eastern Oregon. Many are discussing whether or not to call themselves occupy at all, as the imagery that most people see out here is very unflattering. It’s rather hard to compete with what people are exposed to—which is obviously a very distorted picture coming from the mainstream media. Hopefully, we can help show the diversity of the movement. It is important that people understand how wide and deep it is. I hope that people in occupy keep talking across those lines that divide with respect at the center of all we do.

We also have a community member who has arrived fresh from the fight in Wisconsin—so he is very fired up!

Most people in the group are over 50—so we are not going to be camping out. Old bones don’t like that. But we will be doing what we can!

Onward!

-Liz McLellan-

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