Monday, September 26, 2011

Spreading the Occupation -- This Could Be Good

The upshot from the weekend events in New York down at Union Square is that the New York Times finally deigned in its reserved majesty to report on the protests, including the macing or pepper spraying of those women in the "kettle" (isn't that an interesting term?) seen in videos that have gone viral.

As of Day 4, Keith Olbermann was pointing out that the NYT hadn't published a word about a major demonstration that was going on in its own backyard.

I remember the excuse my local newswipe's editor made for not covering the massive anti-Iraq war protests in October 2002 was that they "weren't familiar with the sponsors of the protest, and the New York Times wasn't covering it."

The New York Times has to cover something or it doesn't get covered anywhere else, almost like it isn't happening? Why?

Well, the Times did publish something about the protests over the weekend -- actually quite a bit. There was an op-ed denigrating the pathetic "left" -- including the protest. There was a blog post that mentioned the video and claimed that it "appeared to show" an officer spraying two women with something. Then there was a story online and in the dead tree edition that didn't beat around the bush but actually allowed as how the officer had sprayed the corralled women but offered the police spokesmouth's response as justification.

“Pepper spray was used once,” he added, “after individuals confronted officers and tried to prevent them from deploying a mesh barrier — something that was edited out or otherwise not captured in the video.”

Actually, there is a video that shows more of the incident, from a different angle, and it shows that the women in the "kettle" didn't try to prevent any such thing. They mouthed off. One was dragged violently to the ground and pulled out from under the mesh by police who were violently cuffing her. The others in the "kettle" were trying to convince the officers to let them out or were objecting to the arrest of the woman who had been violently pulled from the group by police.

The spraying occurred after most of the women in the "kettle" had managed to escape. An officer in a white shirt is seen approaching the corral; in his hand, there is a can of spray which he sprays on the women -- and on nearby police officers. The women go to their knees screaming; at least one officer objects saying "he just fucking maced us!" (at 1:30):

The Village Voice has a pretty good wrap up; the point being that the incident has been "covered" and it has been related to an ongoing protest of some sort. Several mainstream media outlets have now mentioned it.


Of a sort.

I have been following the events periodically on Livestream which gives an interesting if incomplete picture of what its going on from the ground level mostly more or less live, mostly without too much choppiness so common to Livestream. And always with a lot of fundraising appeals.

Watch live streaming video from globalrevolution at

"AIG, Goldman Sachs, Give Our Fucking Money Back!" "Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!" Among the many chants heard during the protests. One of the peculiarities of the events in the park (known as "Liberty Plaza") is that of the "Mic Check," wherein a participant arises to address the multitude. The person who is doing the "mic check" speaks in a kind of staccato shout. One sentence at a time. The multitude repeats each sentence. This goes on throughout the talk. People in the Livestream chatroom ask "WTF?" It is explained that the "Mic Check" is a form of addressing the crowd without a microphone as the authorities won't allow amplification in the park. By repeating each of the speaker's sentences, the crowd becomes the microphone and the amplifier so that everyone can hear. It's one of the many adaptations the crowd has made to the imposition of authority in New York. And it seems to work.

There are plenty of the typical complaints that the participants in the OccupyWallStreet movement are "the usual suspects," the anarchists and lay abouts who infest every "leftist" demonstration since dirt was new, the unwashed hippies Americans have been trying to ignore for generations. Unless they are dressed in suits and ties or pretty wash dresses and hand out flyers on street corners (ie: like Jehovah's Witnesses?) they don't deserve to be paid attention to.

Everybody's seen it and heard it before; nobody cares. Yawn.

Over at Digby's, David Atkins helpfully offers advice and counsel regarding media savvy, organization and message clarity. Talk about "nobody cares!"

The hope of the organizers is that this protest in New York will turn into a movement that will have a profound and lasting effect on the future of the country. It's very difficult for me to argue against that.

Already there are parallel actions in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Denver, and Chicago that I know of, and there are probably others as well. Of course the October occupation and rallies at Freedom Plaza are eagerly anticipated -- by some at any rate.

The movement hasn't coalesced around a manifesto or set of demands yet, and I think it is really too early for that. Sometime next year perhaps, but not yet. What I've seen suggests that the (mostly) young people involved in the movement are diligently working toward a set of principles and demands -- through very active participatory democracy -- and probably will have something together by late this year or early next.

The signs are promising. They're working out their own future, and that's really the only way that real progress can occur. That's why the Ruling Class is so spooked by them.

The situation calls for guarded optimism.

[Blogger was bloggered this morning, so about a third of this post was (poorly) re-created from the remnant notes of what was lost.]

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