May 4, 2012 : Occupy Deals with Surveillance, PR Challenges


May Day fall out as media focuses on acts of violence in largely peaceful protests. Hannity beats up on Occupy organizer. Increased surveillance from cops.

Occupy Wall Street organizer Harrison Schultz goes toe-to-toe with the notorious Sean Hannity who takes the offensive from the get go, keeping Schultz off-balance the whole time with a rant on the advantages of the current system, cloaked as always as the “just get-a-job” spiel. Link to the interview is here

In Huffpost, Hindi teacher and spiritualist Chris Fici suggests that Occupy lay off demonizing the stereotypical “Evil Banker,” saying there are human beings who work on wall street, who themselves are “deeply affected by the transgressions that have happened.” Fici points to the example of the struggles of Christian monk Thomas Merton during his involvement in civil rights and anti-nuclear movement.

Occupy Cleveland needs to watch for the trouble-makers, says Cleveland City Councilor, highlighting the exposure of a bomb plot targeting a Cleveland bridge. A CBS News article details how Occupy Cleveland's permit will not be renewed after an undercover FBI informant provided several members a “dud bomb.” Occupy says the accused do not represent the group and has previously alleged that informants and trouble-makers are planted in their midst. Dailykos

This space noted earlier a CNN article that described tensions between bay area immigrant groups and Occupy Oakland takes it on the chin from SFGate columnist Chip Johnson who contrasts their approach with the March for Dignity, which apparently resisted calls from Occupy to join together for the area's May Day parade.

In addition to infiltration and ongoing surveillance, Occupy Oakland must also deal with fall out from the notorious “black bloc,” masked demonstrators committed to smashing storefront windows and wielding pipes. Fog City Journal has a summary of Bay Area May Day Activities, as well as numerous photos and interviews.

4 Occupy Des Moines protesters are arrested for protesting foreclosures at the at the Polk County River Place building.

Occupy Youngstown focuses on foreclosures as well, going to bat for popular local business owner Jim Villani, a fellow OY member facing foreclosure on his downtown business for unpaid back property taxes. A protest is taking place in front of his store, Pig Iron Press from 11AM-2PM today.

Obama buddy and JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon tells a University of Rochester gathering that Occupy Wall Street has “legitimate complaints” while adding that the industry of investment banking has a “bright future.” Predictably, Dimon argues the solution to the current crisis is less regulation for banks and financiers. Marketwatch

WNYC quotes legal experts who note that the NYPD practice of executing old warrants for non-criminal offenses solely for “political purposes” may be illegal and unconstitutional. The practice includes plucking OWS organizers off the street and questioning them on May Day activities, in addition to executing an old open container warrant on a roommate in order to corner and question another Occupier regarding May Day plans. Police Captain Ray Kelley calls the tactics a legitimate police function.”

The latest round of DHS reports and info declassified under's FOIA request shows that Chicago PD contacted the DHS for guidelines and info on how to deal with the Occupy protests as well as seeking information from other Police Departments. DHS officials nixed the request, however, saying it was outside the organization's purview since the Occupy protests were considered protected first amendment activity.

Increased buzz around the DNC non-union convention taking place in Charlotte. Protests are springing up, including one previously named “Coalition to Protest at the DNC” whose name is now changed to “Coalition to March on Wall Street South — Building People’s Power at the DNC.” The coalition, to which Occupy Durham and Occupy Raleigh have allegedly pledged support, is taking a beating from activists like Cindy Sheehan, who criticizes the name change. NY Times

Speaking of Occupy Charlotte the city has sent the group a notification that their use of the city's logo constitutes a copyright violation. Occupy says the city is insisting they go through various permit processes, both for their logo and the right to demonstrate outside the DNC convention in August. The group says it has no plans to change or edit the logo, saying, the city throws stuff at them to “see what sticks.” CL Charlotte

Finally, the UC Berkeley–Occupy the Farm dispute - covered previously in this space- over “Gill Tract” may be moving toward resolution, with both parties possibly sharing custody of at least part of the land.