Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"Paranoia strikes deep...

"Into your life it will creep..."

More and more reports are surfacing of censorship and internet interference in Occupy Wall Street and related efforts in New York and around the country. I'm trying to assemble a list of incidents, and any that anyone can share with me would be appreciated.

At the Liberty Plaza (Park/Square) site in New York, there have been frequent reports of downed communications and WiFi hotspots going dead. Anyone who's tried to follow the events in New York on Livestream knows they've had a terrible time staying online, far worse it seems than the demonstrators in Egypt had during the height of the revolution in Cairo when the Mubarak government was actively jamming the internet.

"It starts when you're always afraid..."

The narrative of the Brooklyn Bridge Incident is now widely accepted among the demonstrators and their sympathizers as a matter of deliberate police entrapment (myself, I think it was more spur of the moment panic).

"You step out of line, the man come..."

Strange "notices" keep cropping up about rules and violations and demands; nobody really knows where they come from.

"...the man come, and take you away."

So far, I haven't seen any reports of "disappeared" activists, but with so many occupations going on in so many places, there will undoubtedly be missing people as this action continues.

One of the hot button issues that's got people all riled up right now is the planned "Occupation Art Exhibit" at the JPMorgan Building on Wall Street. Uh. Oh. Sell outs!!!!

All I would say is that the building has not housed JPMorgan for years, and it is operating now as a private art gallery. From what I can recall, this exhibit started planning early in the Occupation and has been announced at Working Group and GA meetings repeatedly.

Just a little from the Occupy Wall St. Facebook page about it:

Occupy Wall St.
Hey friends of the 99% we need our artists out in NYC in force for the upcoming event on the 8Th of October. We have access to the J.P. morgan building across from the exchange to do an art show! Anyone from the tagging or printing or any artistic background should contact Robert Grodt (https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1171303463) to try and secure a place in this historic show.... and who could really pick a better canvass than Wall St. for a bit of graffiti?.... repost as needed
Robert Grodt
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Monica Dyer ‎"Don't forget who you are as the illusions are thrown at you. Corporatists are masters of illusions. That's the most powerful weapon they have. That's how they sell products you don't need and convince you to justify accepting atrocities for the sake of products Don't fall for it. Otherwise, your cause will be lost. Be wary of large donations from special interest groups or non-profit corporations that were not involved this movement from the inception. Special interests groups are not your allies. Non-profit corporations are still corporations, and unfortunately, too many of them care more about donations than doing the right thing. Killing a movement with kindness is easy." http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.reddit.com%2Fr%2Foccupywallstreet%2Fcomments%2Fkyjo2%2Fan_open_letter_and_warning_from_a_former_tea%2F&h=OAQD8ErbvAQAPrMQmjUceux5yIgv41Ksbw-JiuzIVUK0A9g
3 hours ago · Like · 4 people
Monica Dyer in other words, DON'T TAKE CANDY FROM STRANGERS!
3 hours ago · Like · 4 people
Derek CrabLegs Baxter I have a solution, if you don't like where the show is being held DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT
3 hours ago · Like · 2 people
Jennifer Mcculloch my idea for a sign: a cop with a billy club, dragging a protester, in silhouette, with a red ring and slash thru it. Meaning no police beattings. And the words "If You Can't Beat 'em, Join 'em.
3 hours ago · Like · 1 person
Amanda Drewniak ‎@Kevin you are missing the point. That is the problem
in this country. We can't step left or right with out being coporately involved. We need to show these people we want small businesses! We want the truth and absolute freedom. Taking hand outs on a scale like this is a joke.
3 hours ago · Like · 3 people
Chris King This "we are the 99%" is annoying as hell. You people do not speak for myself and many other people who aren't necessarily rich, but also don't ascribe to the socialist principles that have become the "demands" of these protests.
3 hours ago · Like
Monica Dyer JP Morgan will use this. Please don't give them the opportunity. WHO NEEDS A GALLERY, ANYWAY! Street art belongs on the STREET!
3 hours ago · Like · 8 people
Derek CrabLegs Baxter Where the 99% but 30% of that are cynical assholes :(
3 hours ago · Like · 3 people
Braeden Vincent Kelley I've been doing graffiti for almost 5 years now! I will definitely be doing this!
3 hours ago · Like · 1 person
Jon Laing I have to agree that the use of JP Morgan's space seems kind of antithetical to the message of the movement. Not trying to tell you what to do, but wouldn't make more sense to hold a guerilla art show in public space, the people's space? Just sayin...
3 hours ago · Like · 10 people


One of the things I noticed watching some of the videos shot from within the crowd on the Brooklyn Bridge when the march was stopped and the police began to arrest the demonstrators was how passive they were. They didn't know what was going on, and they didn't panic. For the most part, they didn't do anything. When it came time for each one to be caught and taken away as it were, they went, quietly. And this behavior started making me very nervous. Many analogies come to mind...


  1. Indeed.

    The Times is going to promote the official line, no matter what, and I think everybody knows that by now. Their coverage isn't what is making a difference, though. It's not that nobody cares what they say, it's that there's a lot more to the "news" than what the Gray Lady chooses to print.

    The evolving story on just what happened at the Brooklyn Bridge is kind of fascinating -- as long as you don't look at it too long and hard.

    Eventually, I spent too much time with it and it gave me the willies.

  2. Right off the bat, it's crazy that they can't even amplify their voices with things like bullhorns. Apparently, they're forced to repeat the words of speakers (in unison) to collectively increase the decibel levels!!

    I soooo want to leave this reactionary, money-obsessed mess of a country. The land of the greedy and the home of the exploited.

  3. This movement needs to start shifting itself from Facebook over to Diaspora stat. To remain at the mercy of the Facebook corporation is begging for disaster.

  4. Cu-hool,

    Richard Wolff just addressed the crowd in Liberty Plaza -- of course the choppy Livestream was going in and out the way it does -- and he was offering all kinds of Marxist insight into what's going on in this country and had a very sharp analysis of what failed in the Soviet Union. What I could catch of it was really good.

    Yes, they had to use "The People's Mic" to communicate what he had to say. It seems like a ridiculous thing at first, but then it becomes the iconic image of the OWS movement. "Mic Check!" is the call to attention, and the repetition of the speaker's words helps to create the spirit of solidarity. It's really amazing to see it work. Even when you don't have to do it.

    Una Spenser testifies.

    But I've seen it myself. We've used it here; they used it in Denver, Seattle, and many other places where they didn't have to do it to be heard.

    This is a link to part of Wolff's talk at Liberty Plaza [Park/Square] (scroll to about 14:00 to get to the intro.)

  5. Anonymous,

    Personally, I hate Facebook on principle, and I wouldn't be using it at all if it weren't for the fact that so much of the routine OWS and related communication is on Facebook. Or Twitter. Or through Google.

    I think the vulnerability of these platforms is recognized, but habits die hard.

    Diaspora is one of several alternatives that have come up, but the minute they shift, most of the mass communication ability is lost -- at least until everyone shifts.

    So what do you do?

  6. Ché,

    Thanks for the links. Wolff is an important voice, and I'm very happy to hear he's at the occupation. I would truly love to see Marxian analysis take center stage literally in these protest gatherings. Let people really see how logical it all is. Let them see that there is no reason to fear it, or run from it, or accept its demonization.

    Anyway, will give the feed a good listen tonight.

    Am also liking the confluence of events with the big rally on the 6th in DC. It's starting to feel like it has real momentum.

    Take care.

  7. "So what do you do?"

    Probably the best thing would be to follow the example of illegal file sharing sites. (Sites that do media piracy, specifically.) There has been a strong desire on the part of the government to shut these sites down, but there hasn't been much success.

    On the other hand, they basically have to be public sites that reach a lot of people, otherwise there is no point.

    So, if you have a legal protest movement, you have the protection of the fact that what you are doing is legal on top of using the kinds of tricks the file sharing scene uses.

  8. pws,

    I guess what I am getting at is the question of how to communicate with the broadest cross section of people.

    Used to be you had to do it through the mainstream media if you wanted to reach a large audience -- or you had to be content with whatever (tiny) percentage you could reach on your own or through minimal subculture channels.

    Now there is a vast social media alternative to the mainstream, and it is through that means that every major rebellion, including this one, has been organized for some time now. The minute you step outside that framework, however, you lose the bulk of your audience.

    Sure there are much more secure and less commercial social media platforms out there, but getting people to use them -- instead of Facebook, for example -- is a whole other undertaking. At this point, that job is too big to take on while also occupying Wall Street and everywhere else.

    Everybody seems to be conscious of the growing problems with Google, Twitter and Facebook. But for now, they are the primary means of communication within the #occupyitall uprising. The answer at this point is to just make sure people know they are being spied on, that the cyber-movement is being cyber-harassed and censored -- and that at any time, it could be shut down.

    But we remember the Revolution really took hold in Egypt when the Mubarak regime foolishly shut off cell phone and internet access.

    So it's almost a dare, isn't it? Let them do it and see what happens. It's on both sides of the equation.

  9. Cu-hool,

    The confluence of actions and events is really intriguing to me, too. There is a plethora, shall we say, of goings on, throughout this month and onward.

    There was a suggestion to try to merge the #occupywallstreet action with the DC October2011 action, marching down to DC from New York, but that was before the Occupations had blossomed to the extent they have. Now there is an #occupyDC action going on simultaneously with the October2011 encampment. I don't see a problem with that, but some people do. They're afraid it complicates matters too much.

    Labor actions today, DC kicks off tomorrow along with a number of civic Occupations including my own, October 15 is a Global Revolution kick off, then there are all sorts of events in November, it just goes on and on. All of them are related, even if they aren't yet linked.

    It's the Zeitgeist.

    It's everywhere.

  10. Diaspora is one of several alternatives that have come up, but the minute they shift, most of the mass communication ability is lost -- at least until everyone shifts.

    So what do you do?

    Spread the word via one that you urgently need to switch to the other. It's not that hard. Joining an existing Diaspora pod is no harder than signing up for Facebook, but unlike Facebook Diaspora does not present a single point of failure. With pods distributed all over the world, shutting down communication would require either a extensive shutdown of the Internet or a colossal whack-a-mole game.

  11. Here's a start:


  12. Sure there are much more secure and less commercial social media platforms out there, but getting people to use them -- instead of Facebook, for example -- is a whole other undertaking. At this point, that job is too big to take on while also occupying Wall Street and everywhere else.

    If people are willing to brave the water cannons and tear gas I don't think a sign-up page is going to scare them off. Please, don't dismiss this so easily.

    Signing up is easy: