Issue 35, Final Fringe

Occupy Fringe: Occupy Roundup (Week of 11/7)

by Jeff Questad 11.15.2011

First Amendment

(Each Tuesday during Occupy Fringe, Jeff Questad will bring us a roundup of Occupy news from the prior week.)

– Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.

But local governments may enforce minor regulations until they nickel-and-dime free speech to death. Whether it’s closing a park in Portland over hygiene concerns or prohibiting food after 10 p.m. in Austin, the big force aligned against Occupy groups may not be capitalist sabotage or the iron fist of zealous law enforcement, but a thousand little cuts from discretionary local ordinances. Local Occupy groups are going to get quite a legal education in the coming months against curfews, noise ordinances and health code violations.

– Daily KOS is using crowdsourcing to compile a definitive list of Occupy group Facebook pages. It’s impressive to see. Is your city there?

– At Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi explains “How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the OWS Protests.” Taibbi has directed his lucid rage and insightful reporting at financial matters for RS for years. His take on OWS is essential:

If there is such a thing as going on strike from one’s own culture, this is it. And by being so broad in scope and so elemental in its motivation, it’s flown over the heads of many on both the right and the left.

Occupy is winning, says Ben Smith. The numbers show it.  He’s talking about the increasing number of times income inequality is mentioned in the news and he’s done the math.

Scott Olsen left the hospital this weekend. Olsen is the software engineer and former Marine whose skull was fractured by a teargas shell to the head in Oakland on October 25.

– But serious head injuries are so October. If you haven’t seen this video of Berkeley police clubbing protestors in an extreme Get Off The Grass attack, you must. Then there’s this incredible footage of Oakland cops shooting videographer Scott Campbell as he films himself talking calmly with police. It’s the must-see of all the must-sees this week.

– Garfunkel And Oates’ “Save The Rich” is such a jaunty little pop tune, they almost make sticking up for the 1% sound like a good cause. Almost. Let’s start a pool now: How many days before some television pundit cites this song in support of  the super rich “in their penthouse of despair” without realizing it’s a parody?

– Hawaiian guitarist Makana performed at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation gala wearing a shirt that read “Occupy With Aloha.” The song he played, “We Are the Many,” is inspired by the Occupy movement. President Obama and the other world leaders in attendance probably didn’t expect the night’s entertainment to be Occupy-ed.

– Movements make music. Check out this clip of David Crosby and Graham Nash talking about Occupy after they lit up Wall Street with a performance of their own. Other musicians who have visited Wall Street and performed include Jeff Magnum of Neutral Milk Hotel, Talib Kweli, Michael Franti, Immortal Technique, Rufus Wainright, Sean Lennon, Anti-Flag, and Tom Morello. Pete Seeger, 92 years old, walked with a cane down to the heart of Wall Street to sing protest songs with Occupiers in October. Like just about everything else related to Occupy, YouTube is full of videos of music from Wall Street. It’s not just bongo drums any more.

– And as goes Brad Pitt, so goes America. I can’t believe I just linked to E! Online. This time the revolution will be covered by entertainment news.

– In Oakland and elsewhere, internal toxins. The biggest threat to the 99% movement may come from within. Black Bloc agitators, running in packs with peaceful protestors, provoke violence with the cops and with OWS protestors.

Violence at Occupy, even when provoked by the police or anarchist pyromaniacs just wanting to break things, just gives detractors fuel for the fire. Frank Miller calls protestors “louts, thieves, and rapists” in an unhinged blog rant. Shrug this one off. The comic book author isn’t a big influence on national policy. His rant has been largely dismissed, even by his colleagues. For what it’s worth, Frank, I really liked 99% of Sin City. But that other 1%…

– There’s a happy ending to this column, and one less tent on Wall Street.  Two Occupiers who met while protesting were married Sunday morning while friends from the Zuccotti Park demonstrations witnessed. Congratulations to the happy couple. They don’t seem likely to hold their peace.

Update 11/15/2011

In the early hours this morning, the City Of New York sent police in riot gear to clear Zuccotti Park.  The city imposed a media blackout, ending in a number of reporters being arrested for covering a public police action on a public street. Here’s Mother Jones reporter Josh Harkson posting to Twitter that police violently shoved him as he tried to photograph an injured person being put into an ambulance.  Does Mayor Bloomberg have no one in his office to remind him arresting and beating up reporters is a bad PR move?

Before most New Yorkers had finished their morning coffee, a court had already ruled the protestors could return to the park. Naturally, there is video.

This is breaking news, and we’ll have more on it. Stay tuned, same Occupied space, same Occupied channel.

(Editor’s note: For as long as it takes, Fringe is giving over its blog to original work inspired by the Occupy protests. Send your essays, poetry, short stories, artwork, photography and whatever else you’ve got, including questions, to FringeTheMagazine@gmail.com. See guidelines here, and catch up with previous posts.)

Jeff Questad

Jeff Questad

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Jeff Questad is a writer and Black Sabbath enthusiast in Austin, Texas. Follow him on Twitter @JeffQuestad to keep up with Occupy news and to share your own Occupy news and tips (which might end up on Occupy Roundup).

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