Occupy Wall Street statement on Aaron Greene arrest

Morgan Gliedman and Aaron Greene were arrested in Manhattan over the weekend after police found a tiny amount of explosives and weapons in their apartment. He has been linked by unnamed sources to Occupy Wall Street.

From the Occupy Wall Street Press Relations Working Group

There is nothing in the news stories to support a link between OWS and the individual arrested; his name is unfamiliar to many OWS activists. A very large number of people came through Zuccotti Park, and there are countless Occupy-related groups nationwide, so it is very difficult to ascertain if one person participated in anything related to OWS.

This sounds like it was written by a lawyer. But if Greene was unknown to many OWS activists then it follows that he therefore was known by some. And saying there in no link between OWS and Greene in the original news stories is hardly a thundering denial.

OWS is amorphous and doesn’t keep membership logs. Thus, anyone can wander in and say they are an activist. Gliedman was being investigated for credit card fraud and Greene has had prior trouble with police, including assault and weapons charges. My guess, he was a fringe member with agendas other than politics and that they are both involved with drugs. She’s 27 and from a wealthy family, why would she need to do credit card fraud (which is what the investigation was originally about.)

Since its beginnings in September 2011, Occupy Wall Street has vigorously used its Constitutional rights to protest Wall Street greed, and is firmly committed to non-violence. Nonetheless, Occupy has been subjected to extensive surveillance and repression, and the NYPD takes every opportunity to link OWS to crime.

This is absolutely true. OWS could get in a difficult spot on this. They should stick to their ideals and not even give the impression of evading on this.

Rent Strike in Sunset Park, Queens

First published here.

My local Occupy group, Occupy/Ocupemos Sunset Park, has been immersed in a local struggle, a rent strike in a series of buildings on 46th street in this Brooklyn neighborhood. Here are some of the flyers we’ve been producing for the actions.

The strike has been receiving terrific media coverage and terrific support from the Occupy network. I will be back in the next few days with a post to detail what’s been happening and put the struggle in context.

The first action ended with an impromptu hour-long occupation of state assemblyman Felix Ortiz’s office, which was truly awesome. Tonight, see the last flyer below, we’re staging a sidewalk sleep-in and people’s inspection of the buildings.

The video below was taken at the first action; it sums up what was happening at the beginning. Yours truly is interviewed at length toward the end. Enjoy.

A terrific account of the strike with interviews with many of the rent strikers can be found here: “Brooklyn Women Make Their Building Theirs.”

Update from OccupyWallSt.org:

Support Rent Strikers: Don’t push the 99% out of NYC + #OWS Events 7/25-8/3

Posted 21 hours ago on July 25, 2012, 4:28 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt

Something big is happening in Sunset Park. Tenants are demanding liveable conditions and a response to the 400 documented housing violations in their building. For years residents in these three buildings have been living in fear of fires, electrical blackouts and disease-triggering agents like mold, cockroaches and rats. Despite numerous complaints made to city agencies and politicians’ offices, these violations continue to threaten the lives of dozens of residents.

All over New York City, landlords like Orazio Petito are trying to displace residents from their homes because they can gentrify the buildings and raise rent. Read more about how this courageous community is standing up to defend their home.

Occupy Sunset Park asks you to join them to show ongoing support for the rent strikers by stopping by for a nightly vigil from 6pm to 7pm on 46th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues. in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, near the R train at 45th St.

Occupy these Actions and Assemblies:

Friday, July 27th, 3:00pm
March on Wall Street
Liberty Plaza (Zuccotti Park) to Wall Street
Join us in meeting the bankers and brokers for the closing bell as we issue our grievances and stand in support of workers everywhere.

Friday, July 27th, 7:00pm
Sunset Park Food For Thought Film Series: Broken on All Sides
La Casita, 414 45th Street, Sunset Park
Next Friday’s Food For Thought FIlm Showing will be BROKEN ON ALL SIDES, a timely exploration of mass incarceration and the racist nature of the criminal justice system as explored in Michelle Alexander’s THE NEW JIM CROW Join us for film and discussion! Friday, July 27, at La Casita in Sunset Park. FREE.

Saturday, July 28th, 7:30am
Stop the Frack Attack. Rally in DC (bus leaving from NYC)
Liberty Plaza (Zuccotti Park)
OWS Environmental Solidarity joins other New Yorkers in the fight against Fracking. Now is the time to bring the stories of the people truly impacted by oil and gas development to the legislative and regulatory entities that can—and must be pushed to—make a difference in the way that the fossil fuel industry operates in this country and the energy options the nation pursues.

Saturday, July 28, 11:30am
Premiere of Occupy Brooklyn TV
Brooklyn cable TV & streaming
Occupy Public Access TV is launching a new OWS TV show this week. It will air on TW channel 35, Cablevision channel 68, and RCN channel 83 in Brooklyn, and on Verizon cable channel 43 throughout NYC. A special edition of the show, with extra footage, will be published on occupypublicaccesstv.com.

Saturday, July 28th, 1:00pm
Radical Walking Tours – Gowanus Canal & Brooklyn Transect
Union Street @ Gowanus Canal
Engage the city, your body, and others, by putting yourself in motion to engage the political, ecological, and your embodied urban environment – New York City.

Saturday, July 28th, 2:00pm
S17 Education Planning Assembly
Washington Square Park
September 17th, Occupy’s one-year anniversary, is just around the corner. This is a call for all groups planning education-related activities to come together and coordinate actions, resources, needs, etc. If you aren’t involved in a group, but want to help plan educational events for S17, this meeting is also for you.

Sunday, July 29th, 2:00pm
Strike Debt Strategy Session
33 W 14th St New York
Join us as we strategize about the next steps in this movement to transform, challenge and re-think debt. As Strike Debt gains momentum and as debt emerges as a key theme among many organizers, we gather to ask some major questions about debt and movement-building.

Tuesday, July 31st, 6:30pm
Occupy Astoria Movie Night – The New Jim Crow
Church of the Redeemer, 30-14 Crescent Street at 30th Avenue
Join Occupy Astoria for our ongoing Film Series. The New Jim Crow, litigator turned legal scholar Michelle Alexander’s recent book, challenges us to place mass incarceration at the heart of our struggles for racial justice in America.

Friday, August 3, 4:00pm
Wake Up Wall Street: Money Out, Voters In
The 3rd in a series of condemnations of CITIZENS UNITED. As long as our democracy is hijacked by big corporate money, there will be no business as usual.

Daily #OccupyUnionSq Info Table
Every day Occupy Union Square has an info table open and staffed, acting as a hub to promote the constant flurry of events and meetings occurring across OWS.

Report back on Occupy Town Square

Occupy Town Square was a huge hit. The day was filled with skill shares and teach-ins on a variety of topics as wide ranging as “How to protect yourself from a pepper spray attack” to “Protest songs” and “Seed bombs.” Stimulating conversations filled Washington Square Park. The People’s Kitchen treated us to an amazing chili cook off. And the People’s Library was in full effect offering people free access to their collection of books, magazines and zines. The drum circle gave the day a steady and energetic rythm as people danced away. We sang songs. We chanted. We hugged and laughed. It had that same energy as Liberty Square during the occupation minus the tents. There was street theatre and numerous performances on the “People’s Stage.” Here’s a little video I put together of the day’s events.

Occupy Town Square

Occupy Wall Street continues to grow and evolve. Despite the eviction from Liberty Square working groups and individuals within OWS continue to innovate and create amazing actions. But there’s no doubt that our lack of an actual occupation space has hindered the movement. It was that space that gave people a space to talk to each other and create the dialogue that helped the movement grow. What’s interesting is that various General Assemblies in New York are addressing this in their own way. The Williamsburg General Assembly and the New York City General Assembly came up with essentially similar ideas: Rolling, mobile occupations that recreate the spirit of Liberty Square. Yesterday there was an “Occupy Town Square” event at Washington Square Park:

Occupy Wall Street is four months old. We don’t live in a park anymore, but we’re still here, and we’re still fighting for economic justice. Now, OWS is coming to a neighborhood near you. Over the next few months, mobile, daytime occupations, called Occupy Town Squares, will be held in parks and other public spaces, indoor and outdoor, around New York City. For a few hours a week, these events will recreate the essence of the Zuccotti Park Occupation. There will be info tables, teach-ins, trainings, and political discussions.

Whether you consider yourself a supporter of the movement or not, we want to meet you: come share your ideas and stories, learn about the movement, argue with us, debate with us, collaborate with us. If you’re already active in OWS, this is a chance to exchange information, to coordinate between working groups, and to get to know our brothers and sisters in the movement.

This speaks volumes. Occupy Wall Street has realized that decision making isn’t everything. We’ve spent a lot of time over the past five months making decisions. But part of what made Occupy Wall Street so dynamic was that people actually had a space to have real dialogue. We’ve been doing more of that by reducing General Assembly and Spokes Council meetings and replacing them with different types of gatherings that aren’t so much about making decisions but about fostering dialogue.

I.W.W. Advice to Occupy Oakland

It’s quite an exercise in arrogance when the Little Union that Can’t (Industrial Workers of the World) wants to dole out advice to the most popular and dynamic social movement we’ve seen in decades. This article, written by John Reimann of the San Francisco Bay area general membership branch of the I.W.W. illustrates just how out of touch the Wobblies are. This is, after all, a union that after over a century of organizing has approximately 2,000 dues paying members. Reimann specifically complains about the lack of worker participation in the port shutdowns on the West Coast and the need to “make a drive into the work places,” something the Wobblies have been doing unsuccessfully for over a century. As questionable as all that is, what really got me was the list of demands:

  • A guaranteed job for everybody who wants one and a $15 per hour minimum wage.
  • A mass union organizing campaign to win union rights for all workers.
  • No concessions, no concessionary contracts; the unions must fight for their members with mass pickets, work place occupations, etc.
  • Socialized medical care.
  • No support, including union support, for any wing of the Democratic (or Republican) Party
  • Mass funding for clean, safe, renewable energy sources.
  • Stop all evictions and foreclosures through mass action.
  • A mass, publicly financed and run home building program – affordable housing for all.
  • Put the banks and finance capital under public ownership.
  • Link up the Occupy movement nationally and internationally.
  • For a society whose production is based on social need, not corporate profits.

From the union which claims to want to abolish the wage system we have the rather strange idea of a “guaranteed job” at a wage of $15 per hour. I suppose slaves had guaranteed jobs. But this entire laundry list of demands seems to illustrate just how out of touch the Wobblies are. Take the demand to finance and run a home building program, for instance. Why on earth would we do that in a country with nearly 18.5 million vacant homes and only about 3.5 million homeless? We don’t need to build more homes. We need to get people into the homes that have already been built and find uses for the rest of the millions of empty structures. The notion that we need to link up the Occupy movements is nonsense. The Occupy movements are linked up and working together all the time. In fact, the Port Shutdown was a great example of this where we had Occupies up and down the West Coast participating and lots of solidarity actions across the country including here in New York where we staged demonstrations against Goldman Sachs. No concessions sounds good, but you have to be able to exert real power in order for that to happen; and at this point our unions just don’t have that kind of strength. A mass union organizing campaign sounds great, but what would it matter in a nation where labor laws–and laws in general– are routinely ignored as a cost of doing business?

Lastly, Reimann really surprised by actually questioning the leaderless nature of this movement:

One other issue should be considered: Officially, Occupy Oakland has no leadership. We all know this is not really true….Either a leadership will be elected by Occupy Oakland and its role and policies defined, or it will be self-appointed and will tend to do what it wants.

We all know this is true? I certainly don’t know this; and I think thousands of folks who have participated in this movement can vouch for that; it’ is, in fact, the leaderless, horizontal structure that is so appealing to people. This from the little union that prides itself on having no leaders and striving toward a world with no bosses. And yet this really does illustrate just how broken the I.W.W. really is, because while they officially talk about abolishing the wage system and have a horizontal, leaderless union, the reality is much different with routine calls for various wage reform ideas spouted by leaders within the union. This article illustrates not only how out of touch the Wobblies are with the Occupy Movement as a whole, but how far they have strayed from the basic tenets of their own union.