Tag Archives: Occupy Everywhere

Racial Fractures and the Occupy Movement

by Guest Contributor Bridget Todd

Occupy DC

People often tell me that I don’t look like your average Occupy protestor. I was initially drawn to the Occupy movement for several reasons. As an educator, anything that gets young people paying attention to the world around them is something that I feel the need to support. As an activist and organizer, I generally believe in the need for all citizens to engage in this kind of political discourse. As a black woman, I feel any conversation about economic inequality is incomplete if it doesn’t also address racial inequality as well. The various occupations across the country present spaces for such conversations to take place. I’ve found plenty of reasons to support the Occupy movement, but does the movement support me?

Much has already been said about race and the Occupy movement. Some have criticized the movement for its perceived lack of diversity and aggressive “whiteness.” Earlier this month, organizers took heat for refusing to allow state representative and civil rights legend John Lewis to address the crowd. A protester at Occupy Philly claimed volunteers called her a “nigger” while she waited to use a communal cell phone charging station. She responded to the incident by forming her own coalition within Occupy Philly: The People of Color Committee.

She isn’t the only protester working to bring race into the central message of the movement by mobilizing occupiers of color. Occupy Harlem’s first general assembly was largely black and Latino and included veteran black activists like Professor Cornell West and Nellie Hester Bailey.

After being confronted by the whiteness of the protesters, two friends from New York and Detroit started Occupy the Hood, a movement that works within Occupy Wall Street to mobilize people of color on issues of economic injustice. According to their Facebook page, “Occupy The Hood stands in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement… It is imperative that the voice of POC is heard at this moment! We must not be forgotten as the world progresses to the next economical stage. We can all agree that the voices in our communities are especially needed in this humanitarian struggle. We are our future and we possess the energy needed to push the Occupy movement to the next phase.”

These attempts to bring race into the conversations taking place at various occupations are integral, as racial injustice and economic injustice go hand in hand. Continue reading

A Day in the #OWS Movement: November 15th, 2011

by Guest Contributors Zoltán Glück and Manissa McCleave Maharawal

OWS Arrests

Scene 1: Manissa

The text came at 1:05am just as I was just getting out of the shower:

OccupyNYC:URGENT:Hundreds of police mobilizing around Zucotti. Eviction in progress.

I both could and could not believe it. But it didn’t matter right then, what mattered right then was that I get on my bike and get there as soon as I could. I threw on the first clothes I found and started texting everyone I knew. It wasn’t even a thought if I would or wouldn’t go: of course I was going. I somehow remembered to fill my water bottle.

Half an hour later with my friend David, I locked my bike a few blocks from Zucotti Park. We started up the street towards Broadway when, out of nowhere I was body checked by three cops in riot gear and thrown against the side of a van, pinned there by a baton. I looked over and David was surrounded and being shoved. I start to scream, threw my arms up and simple thoughts started going through my head: there is no one here to see this, what did I do, how do I get out of this safe? Suddenly it is all over and we are being pushed down the block, being told we can’t go this way. I’m shaking. I grab David’s hand. He holds it tightly and I start crying silently.

Scene 2: Zoltan

By the time I arrived at the scene it was 1:30am, a mere half hour after the emergency text message had gone out. Already the park was fenced in and we could only get within a one-block radius of the square. People were arriving from all over the city, our numbers were growing quickly, and the police decided to push us back before more supporters arrived. There was spontaneous solidarity: along side many faces I recognized from the long weeks of occupation and many that I did not, we linked arms, we tried to stand our ground, we chanted that this was a peaceful protest and we were met with wanton violence. The police had hardly started to move and already to my right three people were pepper-sprayed, a man to my left was being repeatedly gouged in the stomach with a police baton. A few minutes later we were penned in and the police were grabbing people at random from the crowd and arresting them. They made a small opening and now were throwing people violently through it. One man had fallen to the ground, and the cops did not step in to help him up, but rather kept throwing more people out towards him, tripping and stepping on him as he was down. When we tried to help him up we were met with batons, shoved and cursed at.

Scene 3: Many of us, Broadway

It is late and we are walking back towards Liberty Plaza down the sidewalk on Broadway. When 50 feet ahead of us a few cops jumped out of a police car and grabbed our friend N. She was an organizer at Occupy Wall Street and it seemed clear that she had been singled out for arrest. We ran up to the police car she had been roughly shuffled into and tried to yell to her through a slightly opened window: “Anyone we can call for you? Anyone we can call?” Suddenly 10 officers are surrounding the car pushing us back, yelling over her as she tries to answer. A man with a camera was shoved violently to the side and his press pass grabbed. “We’re just trying to ask her if she wants us to call her family,” we said. They continued to push us away from the car, telling us to keep moving or be arrested as we continued to call out to our friend. Through all the yelling a line from one of the officers is clear: “You can’t talk to her, she’s a prisoner. Move along or you’ll be arrested.” We shuffled away, N. in the car behind us surrounded by officers. One of us nearly starts to cry: “It’s her birthday, I just wanted to see if there was anyone she wanted us to call.” We all try and remember when it stopped being allowed to make sure our friends are okay as they are arrested for walking down the street. When we started being referred to as prisoners. Continue reading