June 12, 2012 : Oakland Roils, Does Occupy Need to Get Back?

What is Occupy and what is not? Tens of thousands of protesters gather in the middle of Moscow to protest Putin's iron-fisted rule and for a more democratic society. For activists, attending demonstrations carries risks – more than being pepper-sprayed. The Kremlin denounces rising radicalism and says $9,000 fines for any one attending rallies that “cause harm to people or property.” A stiff fine given the average Russian yearly salary amounts to less. Several leading activists called before an Investigative Committee on an alleged criminal case, an attempt to deprive the event of its headline speakers. NY Times

While questions abound about the relevance of the “Occupy brand” these days, the PR firm that did unsolicited (?) pro-bono work for the demonstrators in the early days of Occupy Wall Street has garnered a “Silver Anvil” from the Public Relations Society of America. It seems that Workhouse Publicity, an elite agency, took it upon itself to go down to Zuccotti Park and develop a campaign to shift attention from the demonstrators to their issues. Washington Post

True to form, Occupy Wall Street, who never engaged the firm officially, is less than impressed. “ “Our success shouldn’t rely on a company that works with the one percent,” according to press spokesperson Dana Balicki.

Speaking of PR, it may be a boon or a bust but actress and former sex symbol Jane Fonda comes out for Occupy in a recent interview calling it a “wonderful, important movement.” Fonda rose to prominence in the 60s and 70s causing controversy with her public opposition to the war in Vietnam, huffpost

While the “fate of Occupy” is discussed and debated, Occupy Comics rolls on, adding Maus creator Art Spiegelman to its roster of artists, who are using the forum to address the various socio-economic factors that gave rise to the movement. The comics are availble in physical and electronic format from the Black Mask Online Store with the profits going to fund the movement.

The spate of pessimistic articles is to be expected on the heels of the Scott Walker recall victory in Wisconsin. Another past-time of commentators, closely connected to ongoing occupy speculation is predicting the demise of the labor movement in the United States. Andy Kroll at tomdispatch.com writes lends some sanity to the proceedings, writing on “How the Wisconsin Movement Got Hijacked

File under : and this is news? If Occupy feels the need to “get back” (video above), and broaden its appeal to the 99%, it need look no further than consumer frustration with being “nickel and dimed to death” by high bank fees and the arcane language that governs use of checking accounts. According to a recent “Pew Safe Checking in the Electronic Age” Study :

"Consumers are expected to wade through long, confusing documents and may be subject to steep, unexpected fees to access their own checking accounts, the cornerstone of household financial management," said project director Susan Weinstock. cnnmoney

Cities :

Occupy Oakland keeps the heat on city councilor Pat Kernighan, sponsor of the ordinance that broadly prohibits potential weapons at Occupy Oakland demonstrations. Occupy demonstrators march to the councilor's house (with a 6 car police escort) and stage a mini-rally, ringing her door bell and chanting slogans, as well as bringing a plethora of items they say could be misconstrued as weapons, such as a fairy wand, a baguette, a piece of chicken, an umbrella and a yoga mat. Insidebayarea.com

Oakland remains a tinderbox of community and police tensions, with many shootings taking place already in 2012 The city has tried to deal with rising crime and violence by implementing a so-called “100 blocks plan”, which takes aim, at times literally, at areas (and residents) said to be the highest concentration of crime. A new study finds the plan failing. Oaklandlocal.com

Police there are now said to be outsourcing their internal affairs investigation of their own misconduct during the city's fall occupy rallies at which former Marine now icon Scott Olsen was injured by a police projectile fired at demonstrators. The cost of hiring outside law firms and private investigators is said to be $750,000, or the annual cost of 4 police officers. Contracostatimes.com

The outsourcing of community police functions has been widely mentioned. Municipal departments face budget cuts, which reduce and threaten public safety, as certain “non-violent” calls, such as burglaries, are no longer responded to. However, notes thecrimereport.org, the cuts have “opened the doors for private companies to move in.”

As elsewhere, charges brought by police are often trumped up and later dismissed by the courts. Witness the case brought against Occupy activist Chris Morland, who has been protesting the police shooting of teen-ager Alan Blueford, allegedly unarmed. Morland took on the police chief Howard Jordan in a public forum at the Acts Full Gospel Church, where community complaints about the shooting and OPD misconduct and brutality were aired. The cops waited until he got to BART (pls pass the word to Robert Pattinson), then swarmed him, charging him with felony assault with a deadly weapon (a bullhorn). A judge later reduced the charge to Disturbing the Peace. Supporters rallied on Morland's behalf the day he was scheduled to be released indybay.org

On the same side of the bay, a judge tosses the charges of trespassing against the two remaining Occupy the Farm protesters. The protesters had occupied a UC-Berkeley piece of farm land slated for private development and a Whole Foods to protect it for local, community farming. The Daily Californian

Ditto in Philly, where 7 Occupiers are acquitted on trespassing charges. The occupiers had staged a sit in at the Comcast Center in Center City Philly.com

The DC Encampment is officially history. It's unclear what happened exactly, but after some discussion the tents came down and the area has been cleared. Washington Post

Today's Volvo Ocean Race Update highlights the Lisbon in-port race, which sees Groupama attempting to become the first french team to win since 1985 even as Telefonica takes the leg 8 lead. Blogs.sun-sentinel.com