Tag: Occupy Wall Street

December 2, 2011 / / links
November 23, 2011 / / activism
Illustration by Gary Bedard

By Guest Contributor Chris Fan, cross-posted from Hyphen Magazine

Last Monday, Oakland’s mayor Jean Quan ordered the forcible eviction of the Occupy Wall Street movement’s Oakland encampment, which had been situated directly outside of her office at City Hall off and on for the past two months.

Wakened in the early morning by an army of police outfitted in riot gear, demonstrators remained peaceful as more than 100 tents were destroyed, and dozens of arrests were made. The action precipitated the resignation of two of Quan’s top staffers, bringing the total resignations in response to her handling of Occupy Oakland to three. It also deepened this writer’s disappointment and embarrassment over the actions of someone who, not too long ago, could have been described as embodying the best of the Asian American movement of the ’60s and ’70s.

As an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, Quan was intensely involved with the Third World Liberation Front’s (TWLF) radical efforts to create ethnic studies programs, ultimately spearheading the establishment of the Asian American Studies program there. After graduating, she continued her activism in New York’s Chinatown, and, much later, joined Oakland School Board, and City Council, where she fought for a variety of progressive causes. Last summer, when large-scale demonstrations broke out in protest of a lenient verdict handed down to BART police officer Johannes Mehserle — who was on trial for shooting Oscar Grant while the latter was face-down and restrained — it was hardly a surprise when Jean Quan joined in a human chain to protect demonstrators from riot police. She was just dusting off an old skill set.

Read the Post Jean Quan and the Death of Asian America

November 16, 2011 / / activism

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. Read the Post Racial Fractures and the Occupy Movement

November 16, 2011 / / activism

by Isang Bagsak, originally published at All People’s Revolutionary Front

Occupy San Diego

Dear Occupy San Diego,

We, the All Peoples Revolutionary Front, have been intrigued by the developments of Occupy Wall Street and the way this action has compelled many around the world to engage in public protest. While acknowledging the ways in which our struggles converge, we must articulate the ways in which our struggles diverge. We continue to observe brutality in the legacy of capitalism, a system that relied upon the enslavement of African and Caribbean peoples, the genocide and displacement of Indigenous peoples, and the violent seizure of lands for colonial profit. Economic exploitation of labor and resources is only one process of continuing colonization that disproportionately impacts communities of color and third world peoples. Our struggle for self-determination in the present moment contributes to the histories of resistance that began long before us.

APRFront is a collaboration of all abilities, generations, genders, gender non-conforming, sexual orientations, indigineity, race, ethnicities, cosmologies, faith and spiritual practices, and identities. We are a constellation of collectives involving students, activists, community organizers, artists, educators, justice advocates, and all those who engage critical knowledge to inform political struggle. APRFront identifies with a diverse range of practices, including Social Justice Education Pedagogy, anti-oppressive movement building, critical consciousness development, and privilege-checking strategies. We acknowledge all levels of education in our coalition, and welcome folks with a willingness to learn, teach, and engage in the different political ideologies of revolutionary liberation such as socialism-marxism-womyn of color feminism, intersectionality, anti-imperialism, anti-capitalism, and zapatismo. We realize these terms and ideologies may not be immediately accessible, but we will provide explanation to those who desire to learn and practice our methods. While we believe in education, we also believe that part of our self-determination is not having to fully disclose our identities and the practices we study in every public statement we make to “Occupy” movements.

We recognize the necessity and strategic importance of visible demonstrations which movements for social change rely upon, understanding that our struggle continues the legacy and knowledge of critical consciousness in direct action. We are concerned that Occupation is a romanticized and idealized form of activism, one that does not consider what must follow civil disobedience in the long-term. We envision the sustainability of organizing within our communities and collective contribution to accountable leadership, involving structured consensus-based decision making through the guiding power of the masses. Within this framework of self-determination, the colonizing language of Occupation does not translate. Because this land called “San Diego” has endured centuries of colonial conquest and domination at the expense of Indigenous Kumeyaay peoples, APRFront cannot support, endorse, or conscientiously mobilize in solidarity with the concept of Occupation. Our level of engagement with Occupy San Diego serves the purpose of claiming space for people of color and articulating the movement to decolonize on a local and global scale.

When we imagine decolonization, we do not make demands of those in power or those who are behind Occupy movements; we create power and frame the alternative. Read the Post Open Letter to Occupy San Diego

November 16, 2011 / / activism

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

November 7, 2011 / / activism
October 27, 2011 / / asian-american

By Guest Contributor Jen Wang, cross-posted from Disgrasian

The Chinese Progressive Association organizes low income and working class Chinese immigrants in San Francisco. Some of their youth members have come together to tell their stories in solidarity with the Occupy movement, and I keep seeing their photos shared on Facebook. Their stories are heartbreaking, enraging, depressing, and, at the same time, inspiring. These kids should be wallowing in despair but instead they’re still fighting for a better future for themselves and their families.

Read the Post We Are The 99%: Chinese American Youth Edition

October 25, 2011 / / media