April 17, 2012 : Empire Strikes Back, Meaning of Occupy Debated

April 17, 2012: No more sleep-overs as NYPD strikes back. Arrests at Stock Exchange and in the Bronx. More scooped from Fed Hall rally. DC feels the heat. Commentators parse the meaning of Occupy. Occupy Redding gives Verizon an Award.


Photo Courtesy of Daily News

The jig may be up for sidewalk sleep-overs as at least 5 demonstrators arrested by NYPD for blocking the New York Stock Exchange. Cops appeared on the scene at 6 AM rousing protesters and telling them anyone sitting or lying on a sidewalk “is eligible for arrest.” Protesters cite a 2000 ruling that claim it;s allowed. Others are picked out of a crowd by cops, cuffed, and led away.

As word of the arrests spreads, protesters gather at Federal Hall as night falls, chanting and shouting, and provoking an apparent “counter-rally” as some residents of the area shout back that they “can't sleep.” NY Times

As documented here, Occupy Buffalo has taken to attending planning meetings of the Erie County Industrial Development Agency, twice disrupting the meetings with shouts and unsolicited criticisms of the agency's tax breaks which they say are useless. Last night, a half dozen deputies showed up to preserve order and ensure the 50 or so occupiers didn't act up. County executives called the deputy presence overkill. Buffalonews.com

Occupy and its sub-committees have been doing their homework on the so-called Volcker Rule, and apparently the reverse is true as the former Fed honcho pens an opinion piece in politico suggesting that Occupy has it right in Occupying K street. Politico.com

With any movement the ideological struggles can run deep, and since everyman and woman has a printing press, opinions go viral the moment they're thought. Hence much chatter recently re: “the fight for the soul of Occupy” as the idea men and women battle it out in blogs and hashtags. Canadian Blogger and Film-maker and activist Velcrow Ripper jumps into the fray with #GrowOccupy, which he writes is a response to Adbusters #DefendOccupy rabble.ca

Along the same line, Brooklyn-based journalist and Occupy commentator Natasha Lennard goes deeper into reports of vandalism and the so-called “black bloc tactics” employed by OWS demonstrators who turned their rage against the corporate machine at an unlucky Starbucks location over the past weekend. Lennard, who was there, says Occupiers who distance the group from the action are missing the point Salon.com

A group of writers, artists, and activists from the Mission in San Francisco have formed a collective, the “99 Cent Print Committee,” with the intention of keeping the news flowing about Occupy. The group gathered over the weekend at El Rio's for a concert to raise funds. Missionlocal.org

Cities :

Occupy New Haven is back in court today for one last go at it before the city and cops complete their eviction.

Camp crack downs also for Occupy Lubbock, Occupy Nashville (the city's still pushing an anti-protester law nashvillescene.com), and oft-troubled Occupy Louisville, who go willingly and move into office space. Wave3.com

Occupy DC has been getting in on the sleep-over act in front of Bank of America and are now being rounded up by cops in what dcist.com terms a “morning routine.” Rev the legal engine, as protesters promise to fight charges of “blocking a sidewalk” in court.

More arrests in the Bronx as 14 OWSers focus on Bronx foreclosures, highest in the boroughs, by disrupting one proceeding, singing :

"Y'all are speculating off people's pain. With all due respect, you should be ashamed."

Santa Barbara County features Occupy Lompoc, who returned with a re-occupation of a 12 foot public easement. Authorities took no action and the group, who is there to protest the housing crisis they allege is caused by the Lompoc Housing Development Corporation, says they intend to stay. Examiner.com

Further south, Occupy Santa Ana wraps their seventh night sleeping on front of the county's civic center and now plan to address the city council about what they've learned by experiencing the plight of the homeless. The action was a joint effort between Occupy and 11 of the city's homeless population. Ocregister.com

This space recently mentioned how Occupy Madison has transitioned to a tent city for the homeless. Madison Mayor Paul Soglin now says he wants the encampment gone but he's facing some resistance from the city alders. Channel3000.com

Verizon is one of the biggest and most profitable companies on the planet and many Occupiers no doubt use their services. However, the company has drawn the ire of labor activists from both the CWA and IBEW who chafe at the idea they should pay more for health insurance when the company's big wigs take home millions of dollars a year in salary, stock ops, and other bonuses. Occupy Redding decided to visit one of the company's wireless stores to award the company a symbolic Tax Dodger of the Year Award. Record Searchlight

Finally, Occupy achieved world-wide fame and notoriety in the US in 2011, but a recent panel sponsored by non-profit group NACLA , connects OWS to the tactics and movements of landless peasants in Latin America through-out the decades. Full Audio of the conference, which featured a range of international media and advocates, is featured at towardfreedom.org