Occupy Wall Street. The Great Meeting

In the 1850s the 1% convened a “Great Meeting” aimed at pushing forward their agenda. On April 4, 2012 in commoration of Dr. King’s assasination Occupy Wall Street convened a Great Meeting for the 99%. It was yet another experiment in Direct Democracy. We broke out into small groups and discussed three questions:

What is the world you see?
What is the world you would like to see?
How do we get there?

In the first video you get an inside look at the break out group I was involved with where we discuss the world we see now. It was a great group of people with Occupiers like David Graeber and Marissa who have been involved since August to people that are more new to Occupy Wall Street.

In the second video we discuss the world we would like to see:

Just another experiment in Direct Democracy.

Occupy Mutual Aid

Last night I was riding my bike to the launch party for Occupy.com and I got doored by a tourist getting out of her cab. I got a pretty big gash on my left arm and was understandably not very happy when I finally arrived at the party. And that’s when I was again reminded of what an amazing community we have created over the past six months.

One of the first people I see is my friend Mark Adams who also happens to be a street medic. But I’m not even thinking of that. I’m still a little dazed from the accident and trying to get my bearings. I mention in passing what just happened to me not really expecting anything. Mark immediately asks me if I want him to clean my wound.

I’m blown away. He immediately rolls back my sleeve and begins to take care of me. Within a few minutes he has his medic kit and bandages me up. He asks me a bunch of questions to see how I’m feeling and whether I need any additional help.

In the big scheme of things it was a small event; one of many that illustrates the better world we are creating right here and now; a world where we take care of each other and love each other; a world where mutual aid and solidarity are real, meaningful practices not just slogans or catchphrases.

My arm still hurts. But the bandages remind me of the better world we are building today.

Occupy Spring

I have a two hour break between Occupy Wall Street meetings (OWS) on what’s turned out to be yet another beautiful Spring day here in New York City, and I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts. I realize that from the outside it may not be clear what’s going on. Where are our demands? What are we doing? And people certainly aren’t going to get any positive information about this movement from the mainstream media, so it’s up to people like me to get our story out in that small but fragmented way, to remind people that this movement is alive and well.

We just had our fourth Occupy Town Square (OTS) on Sunday. It also marked the first time that OTS had made it’s way outside of the borough of Manhattan. It was held at the lovely Forte Greene Park in Brooklyn. We had a wide array of local organizations, like Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE) the Brooklyn Green Party, Health Care for the 99% and lots more. There were the usual array of teach-ins. C. T. Butler, co-founder of Food not Bombs, did a teach-in on Consensus. And the People’s Library was there with plenty of free books and literature for curious minds. Meanwhile the People’s Kitchen kept everybody fed. We even had a special appearance by the Rude Mechanical Orchestra. You can get a glimpse of OTS in the video I put together above. All in all it was a beautiful day with stimulating conversations, teach-ins, skill shares, and lots of singing and dancing.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Spring is here and there are a ton of amazing projects underway. It seems like just about everywhere I go now I end up stumbling upon some great group of people planning something amazing. I was actually coming to Union Square today for a meeting with the bike coalition and ended up stumbling upon some of my favorite media people cooking up ways to create some amazing videos.

It’s simply breathtaking how quickly new projects and ideas take form and come to life. The horizontal, directly democratic nature of OWS is at the heart of why this is such a dynamic movement, but you really can’t see that from the outside. But rest assured, the NYPD haven’t broken our spirits. Spring is here.

Join us on May Day when we show the 1% what a day without the 99% looks like.

NYPD attacks Occupy Wall Street

Saturday March 17th marked the six month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. It was a beautiful and joyous day despite a dozen or more arrests for crimes like laying down and dancing. Despite the heavy police presence spirits were. That evening we had a great General Assembly with hundreds present, using two waves of the People’s Mic to make sure everyone could hear what was being discussed. We reached consensus to sign a petition to urge the attorney general to investigate the NYPD’s spying on Muslims in New York City.

It was a beautiful evening with lots of smiles and laughter. The drum circle was doing it’s thing. There were lots of hugs and shouts of, “Happy anniversary.” We had some amazing break out groups regarding what we hope to see during May Day; what we hope to accomplish. It was a beautiful moment in a movement with lots of ups and downs over the past six months.

Around 10:00pm, Michael Moore showed up with a huge contingent of folks who had marched over from Left Forum. The numbers at the park probably surged over a thousand people. People chanted and sang. Banners were erected. Blankets were brought. The mood continued to be joyous and peaceful.

At some point past 11:00pm the NYPD claimed some of the ridiculous park rules Brookfield has made up were being broken. Rules, like, no laying down in a public park. Or even better: No setting you personal property down on the floor. Rules that any sane person would laugh at. And so this is the context given to set the NYPD loose upon unarmed, peaceful people. You can watch an interview I conducted by clicking here.

The NYPD reall seemed to ratchet up the violence, particularly against women. Cecily McMillan, a 23-year-old graduate student at the New School was savagely beaten unconscious by the NYPD and then denied medical care for nearly 20 minutes. When they finally took her to the hospital they wouldn’t let her family or her lawyer see her.

By Monday afternoon the everyone who had been arrested on M17 (March 17th) was released. Dozens of supporters stayed on jail support for hours on end to make sure that when those folks got out they would be greeted with hugs, food, and lots of love and attention. Some of the arresttees talked about how wonderful it was to hear people outside chanting, knowing they weren’t alone in this.

Everyone that came out of the Tombs had similar stories of violence and threats. Threats for not submitting to iris scans, which are voluntary. Threats that if you keep protesting we’re going to beat you worst next time. The NYPD only knows violence. And it’s evident that it can’t quite figure out why that’s not working, but rest assured it’s only making us stronger. And I’ll leave you with one of my favorite chants, one we chanted as folks were coming out of the Tombs today:

1. We are the People

2. We are united.

3. This Occupation is not leaving.