Occupy Fringe: Occupy Roundup (Week of 12/5)by Jeff Questad • 12.13.2011
(Each Tuesday during Occupy Fringe, Jeff Questad will bring us a roundup of the latest Occupy news.)
It’s time to end the tyranny of the old fashioned paradigm that tells us a week begins on Monday. This column publishes every Tuesday, meaning I have to wrap it up and the first day of the week, often right in the middle of big new Occupy actions and initiatives. If the 99% would change the world on Saturdays instead, this would be a lot easier.
– — This is another big week for the worldwide Occupy demonstrations. At press time, Occupy groups on every coast and on several continents are engaging in demonstrations, blocking trucks coming and going in an effort to disrupt business in major ports. There are actions in Seattle, Houston, Long Beach and waterside cities all over the world.
I’m landlocked myself, deep in the heart of Texas, but via Twitter, Facebook and just good old fashioned gossip I heard reports that ports were hindered all up and down the United States West Coast and temporarily shut down in many cities. Longview, Portland, Oakland, Vancouver, all shut down, according to reports. Anchorage is said to be shut down, although reports are slower coming in from up there. In Seattle, the port owned by Goldman-Sachs was said to be shut down. Los Angeles, Longview, partial shutdowns I am told.
Why? Here’s some background from Mother Jones.
The full impact of these actions isn’t known yet, so check back here next week to review the scorecard.
The media tells us that truck drivers are going to lose time and wages and don’t support the action. Fair enough. Let’s hear from the truck drivers:
“We are inspired that a non-violent democratic movement that insists on basic economic fairness is capturing the hearts and minds of so many working people. Thank you ‘99 Percenters’ for hearing our call for justice. We are humbled and overwhelmed by recent attention. Normally we are invisible.“
That is from a must-read open letter by America’s port truck drivers, published by the Coalition For Clean And Safe Ports. Please take a moment to read the whole thing. It’s quite moving, and explains even better than the demonstrators have why this action matters.
– — One last personal aside pertaining to the port demonstrations. Like many people, I saw streaming video from some of these events, including the one down the road from me in Houston. At that demonstration, there were police on duty who appeared to have their names and badges obscured by tape. I called the Houston Police Department.
The officer gave me a slightly paradoxical answer. Officers wear jackets that obscure their badges, but officers are also required to have their badges visible. But in the end, the extremely upbeat and gentlemanly police officer agreed with me it was something that needed to be investigated. He told me his office was already looking at pictures and will determine what happened there. He said he was aware the pictures were being seen all over the world on social media and they were already at work on it. He said if I had additional information other than what he already knew, he would like to hear it.
I tell the story not because I (necessarily) believe anything improper was going on, but because this is how we help them keep this in perspective and keep those at the demonstrations safe. The gentleman seemed to be leading with the idea that the photos he had seen could have been altered. When I said I had seen video that included the sound of several voices pointing out the cop with the duct tape on her jacket, he seemed to pause and then agree with me that would be a difficult thing to fake.
It’s important for the police to know what we know. It’s important that they know we are watching. It isn’t difficult today to find a phone number or email, and it only takes seconds. There was nothing to be afraid of, and in fact they never even asked my name. act is, they have trained professionals waiting for your call, and these people work for you. It’s their job to put the best foot forward for their department, but also to collect information. It was clear to me from the way my call was handled I was one of many people calling. If violence toward protestors has waned in recent weeks, it may be partly because police are getting a sense of how quickly information travels. Don’t hesitate to make that call saying you support the protestors or you are concerned about their treatment. When things get hot out there, the fact the world is watching helps keep it from boiling over.
Around the Occupied universe:
– — Could it be that the Occupation is the way we will end corporate personhood? This is one of the most interesting things being tackled by Occupation cities. Los Angeles is leading the way, with Occupiers and the city itself working on complementary fronts to advance this idea. Keep an eye on this. I will.
– — There’s been a wave of evictions from the Occupy parks and public spaces. A few of the demonstrations have been effectively removed from public view and they’re fighting it out in the courts. Wired has a rundown of some of the activity. That article also has embedded video of Melbourne’s “tent monsters.” Check it out. Even the police are laughing.
– — But this tent monster isn’t.
– — One of the cities that that took their eviction to court, Boston, was ruled against. Get a load of these lowlights from the court ruling.
– — Here we are again, going to foreign media to find out what’s happening in our own cities. Once again, it’s the Guardian, telling us how police spied on demonstrators in Los Angeles.
– — Not every city is being a hardass about this. Let’s give a big hand to Cleveland.
– — Patrick Meighan was arresting in LA for peacefully sitting. He’s a husband, father, a writer for Family Guy, a religious man; and he is pissed.
– — I know you read this column every week so you remember when I mentioned graphic novelist Frank Miller’s anti-Occupy views. Alan Moore, the artist behind V For Vendetta and Watchmen, has a different view. A sane view.
– — The New York Times Business pages sees the good side of Occupy Wall Street. Wait. Let me read that again. Sorry. They see a financial indicator, citing the groundbreaking use of video by protestors as the best evidence yet of the awesome commercial power of streaming video. I include the link because it says something interesting about how Occupy has taken over the web and technology.
– — Will Occupy put climate change on the agenda after the results of this study?
– — Occupy inspired toys! No, Santa isn’t bringing them down the chimneys of the good 99%. They were a one-night-only art exhibit by “toy prankster Sucklord,” who makes very clear he supports the movement and did it to create awareness. As much as I’d like to have 99% vs. 1% action figure battles at bath time, I pity the fool who someday comes out with cheap plastic commercial products trading on the Occupy name.
– — But here’s a hastily produced product I think we can get behind. Alternet has been doing some of the most comprehensive and nuanced coverage of the movement available, and now their editors have compiled a book. The 99%: How the Occupy Wall Street Movement Is Changing America is available by mail order direct from Alternet. My copy is on the way and I’ll give you a hint what’s inside once I see it.
– — It seems to have become almost tradition to end these weekly dispatches with a bit of celebrity support news. This week in London, an Occupy party many of us wish we could have been at. Tom Yorke of Radiohead, along with members of UNKLE and Massive Attack DJ’ed at a party held in an abandoned building currently under Occupation. The resulting album will be released on a pay-what-you-want basis.
The funds from that recording are going toward the movement. Of course, that means I will forced to listen to it and review it here in a future installment.