Occupy Wall Street
Occupy Los Angeles
Roast-master general Jeffrey Ross takes some timely humor to the people of Occupy Los Angeles.
Roast-master general Jeffrey Ross takes some timely humor to the people of Occupy Los Angeles.
I love what this guy says here.
Via Glen E. Friedman
This warms the cockles of my Trotskyite heart: Wednesday night in New York City, schools Chancellor Dennis Wallcott and the members of the Panel for Education Policy (or PEP, the body which enacts policy for the New York City DOE), got more than they bargained for when annoyed parents took a page from Occupy Wall Street and commandeered the meeting with the “people’s mic.” Unsurprisingly, rather than attempt to engage the parents and find out what they wanted, the panel just fucked off.
Nice work, folks, keep the pressure on these clowns.
There is a revolution going on that will touch every aspect of American life. Anyone who think this genie is going back in the bottle is dreaming.
Thank you Glenn E. Friedman of New York City!
This is a pretty incredible bit of “you were there” style video. The camera was quite near the epicenter of what was happening at Occupy Oakland on Tuesday.
You can see Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen just moments before, and after, he was felled by a projectile.
Video by Raleigh Latham.
Via Business Insider
Look familiar? After the horrifying events Tuesday night at Occupy Oakland that saw Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen, 24, severely injured in a clash with police, this short documentary clip about 1932’s fabled “March of the Bonus Army” seems like particularly timely viewing.
Slavoj Žižek at Cooper Union in NYC, 2009
Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek poses some interesting questions in a new essay titled “The Violent Silence of a New Beginning,” which was prepared from the remarks he made at Occupy Wall Street on October 10th (video of that below).
This except from the full essay, which you can read at In These Times, discusses answering conservative’s hollow critiques of the OWS movement:
The direct conservative attacks are easy to answer.
Are the protests un-American? When conservative fundamentalists claim that America is a Christian nation, one should remember what Christianity is: the Holy Spirit, the free egalitarian community of believers united by love. It is the protesters who are the Holy Spirit, while on Wall Street pagans worship false idols.
Are the protesters violent? True, their very language may appear violent (occupation, and so on), but they are violent in the sense in which Mahatma Gandhi was violent. They are violent because they want to put a stop to the way things are done — –but what is this violence compared to the violence needed to sustain the smooth functioning of the global capitalist system?
The protesters are called “losers” — but the true losers are on Wall Street, bailed out by hundreds of billions of our money.
They are called socialists. But in the United States, there already is socialism for the rich.
They are accused of not respecting private property — but the Wall Street speculations that led to the crash of 2008 erased more hard-earned private property than if the protesters were to be destroying it night and day. Think of the tens of thousands of homes foreclosed.
They are not communists, if communism means the system that deservedly collapsed in 1990. The communists who are still in power run the world’s most ruthless capitalist system (China). The success of Chinese Communist-run capitalism is a sign that the marriage between capitalism and democracy is approaching a divorce.
The only sense in which the protesters are communists is that they care for the commons—the commons of nature, of knowledge—that are threatened by the system.
The protesters are dismissed as dreamers, but the true dreamers are those who think that things can go on indefinitely the way they are, just with some cosmetic changes.
The protesters are the awakening from a dream that is turning into a nightmare. They are not destroying anything. They are reacting to a system that is gradually destroying itself.
We all know the classic scene from cartoons: The cat reaches a precipice, but it goes on walking, ignoring the fact that there is no ground under its feet; it starts to fall only when it looks down and notices the abyss. What the protesters are doing is reminding those in power to look down.
Read more of “The Violent Silence of a New Beginning” by Slavoj Žižek at In These Times
Part 2 after the jump…
“To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.”—Abraham Lincoln
At this point, it’s probably too early to report this without recomemmnding the rhetorical “grain of salt,” but according to several tweets from Mother Jones, Occupy Oakland and elsewhere, last night at Occupy Oakland, the General Assembly passed a resolution calling for a nationwide general strike on November 2nd, with 1184 votes of approval. I can’t wait to hear what happens in NYC this evening and if Occupy Wall Street will also vote to approve a General Strike in their assembly. Via Washington’s Blog:
I say bring it the fuck on! It’s about TIME for a general strike in this country!
We’ll be watching this space closely, hoping this isn’t another “Radiohead rumor.” Stay tuned…
Fantastic. I still haven’t seen her name posted anywhere, but I salute her efforts to educate these clowns. Bravo!
Via Huffington Post:
A protester brought the message of Occupy Wall Street to the deficit-slashing super committee on Wednesday, even as Democrats on the committee sounded like they want to ring up even bigger cuts than required by law.
With Democrats and Republicans sparring over the underlying issue of whether the committee should hike taxes, and whether various parts of the nation’s spending are out of whack compared to historic trends, a woman dressed in black interrupted to try to make it simple.
“The American people want to tax the rich and end the wars,” said a woman who stepped forward as committee member Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) wound down. “That’s how we fix the deficit. And all this obfuscation with percentages of GDP, this is just trying to confuse the issue.”
“We would have enough money for housing and health care and everything that we want if we stopped spending our money [on the] military machine,” she added before Capitol police escorted her away. “It’s very obvious. I speak for the 99 percent: End the wars and tax the rich.”
Well, perhaps not quite everything, but enough that were you to personally experience the demonstration and look around with your own eyes, you’d likely come to regard the mainstream media reports about Occupy Wall Street (especially the lamebrain stuff printed in The New York Post or heard on Fox News) more like loose gossip, bullshit or random fiction, than actual journalism or considered opinion.
I had the extreme privilege of visiting Zuccotti Park on three of the five days I recently spent in NYC and I’m here to tell you that I am much more excited about Occupy Wall Street—and prospects for real progressive change in this country—now than I ever could have been admiring it from afar. It was a life-affirming and quite moving thing to personally experience and hopefully I can get some of those good feelings across here.
On Wednesday, I was picked up at JFK by my old friend (and frequent Dangerous Minds Radio Hour DJ) Nate Cimmino. I checked into my hotel and since I hadn’t been to NYC for a few years, we decided to just walk from Houston Street to the OWS site. It was raining, not exactly a heavy downpour, but the rain had been steady for most of the day. When we arrived at Zuccotti Park around 4pm, it was starting to get dark and it was pretty much locked down with everyone trying to keep dry. Plastic covered everything and people huddled under makeshift tarps just trying to keep their shit together. It resembled a water-logged shanty town and hardly anything was going on. The lines for the brightly-lit food carts on the southern side of the park were the most noticeable thing at that time (these guys must be making bank, especially the falafel vendors). CNN had a mobile video van with a crane and a “crow’s nest” for getting aerial shots of the park. Dozens of NYPD officers in rain gear ringed the park, many of them female officers.
The medical area of Occupy Wall Street.
This wasn’t the right moment to get much of a feel for what’s been going on there, obviously, so I resolved to return on the weekend. Some initial observations though: Zuccotti Park isn’t much of a park at all. It’s more like a concrete plaza and it’s not very big. Keep in mind when you hear people scoffing at the size of the demonstration, that about a thousand people (give or take) is all this area would hold. If many more people tried to join in the demonstration, it would not be possible to move about. It’s already densely packed as it is.
It’s also right across the street from Ground Zero. In my mind, it was in a different (southeastern) part of lower Manhattan, so when we walked down Broadway, the sound of the drumming got louder and then all of a sudden there it was, that came as a surprise.
Greg Barris and me mugging for the camera on one of the OWS live video feeds.
On Saturday I returned to OWS with my friend Greg Barris, a stand-up comedian and restaurateur. Greg’s been taking pizza from his restaurant to Zuccotti Park since the demonstrations began. The festive carnival atmosphere that morning was a striking contrast to Wednesday’s wash-out. Colorful flags, costumed characters and people of all ages, races, creeds and personality types circulated around the square. You could see people who were arriving alone with a look of apprehension in their eyes, but soon afterward, that same person would be seen joining right in.
Several people distributed free copies of The Occupy Wall Street Journal and a lefty books lending library operated efficiently (there were even a few books that I had published). Everyone was smiling at one another and a feeling of fun and solidarity was palpable. I saw no overtly negative signs and I saw no placards whatsoever for either of the major political parties (I’d put the number of Republicans at Zuccotti Park at slightly north of “zero,” but still I saw not a single pro-Democrat or pro-Obama item anywhere, either). There’s a medical area where minor things can be tended to by volunteer nurses and medics and a food area manned by park residents. Greg pointed out one earnest-looking California blond skater-type and told me he’s seen that same guy dishing out plates of free food since the earliest days of the demonstration. The park was notably clean, not at all the unsanitary mess Fox News viewers have been repeatedly told about.
A woman who identified herself as “The Knitting Granny” sat knitting sweaters and scarfs to give to the occupiers. Children in face-paint or costumes carried signs marching with their parents. An elderly gentleman using a walker who must’ve been in his nineties told some of us that he’d been an engineer working with dams and waterways his entire career and what he knew about the “fracking” that’s planned for locations upstate less than ten miles away from New York’s main water supply scared him to death. He came to share his expertise, he told me, and to see OWS with his own eyes.
Several “super heroes” circulated around. A man in his early 30s, who came to OWS alone from Delaware, brought along a solar electrical generator and set it up so people could charge their cell phones. One fellow, who we later saw on the subway, was dressed in a barrel. He must’ve been cold. Another guy carried a “Ross Perot for President” sign and wore a Ross Perot t-shirt and badges.over his coat. He might’ve been the weirdest guy I saw there.
When you hear dismissive asses braying about how it’s “all white people”—that’s a bunch of utter nonsense. You’ll encounter as diversified a group at OWS as you would if you were in a New York City DMV office and that’s really saying something, so these sorts of haters and naysayers, can go jump in the lake. All white? Maybe in the first few days, but now, that’s simply not even in the slightest bit true.
There are TONS of attractive people at OWS and the mood is so festive and jovial that making conversation with members of the opposite sex is very easy to do. I may get shit for saying this, but it’s true: If more guys knew how many super hot women were milling around OWS, there’d immediately be a massive increase in attendance and foot traffic in the area around Zuccotti Park.
Gay? Fret not, there is a “Queer Camp,” too (look for the feather boas on the northeast side of the park). We even saw someone who identified herself as a “T-girl pornstar” make herself hoarse shouting anti-capitalism things and the very wonderful Reverend Billy is a frequent visitor. The age range is all over the place, as well. In fact, it’s hard to generalize anything at all about the people you meet there except to say that they’ve got their eyes wide open about the problems of advanced capitalism and American democracy. That’s the bottom line. THAT was the commonality amongst all of us.
Greg Barris and his sign.
Most people, it would seem, sleep at their homes but come downtown whenever they can. I got the feeling that there was a small percentage of the occupiers who were the ones who were sleeping there. When you walk around in the interior of the plaza, it becomes somewhat apparent that the folks who the media are derisively describing as “hippies,” “punks” and “homeless people” are in fact, quite often hippies, punks and homeless people. They form the more hardcore inner group that performs the very important task of holding down the park. Without their presence, Mayor Bloomberg would have put fences around Zuccotti Park in two seconds flat, so remember that when you’re there and drop a few bucks in their cans. They’re not merely scruffy panhandlers, they’re there in YOUR place if you support the aims of OWS.
Aside from the resident demonstrators and the day-trippers getting their protest on, there are also thousands of tourists milling about taking pictures. The photos they take are then uploaded to Facebook, Flickr and their blogs. The stories they bring back home and to the water-cooler at work and to their online lives will continue to spread the word about what’s going on in Zuccotti Park.
Sunday afternoon at Occupy Wall Street, I met up with Em, the “undercover banker” who sometimes writes incendiary essays for DM, Nate Cimmino, his wife Nicole and my pal, noted photographer Glen E. Friedman. It was another gorgeous, glorious day like the one before it, with intelligent and engaged people joining together for a higher purpose. (I’ve already mentioned about all of the beautiful woman down there, but I’m going to mention it once more so it really sinks in, okay?).
My favorite moment—or moments, I should say—of my three visits to Occupy Wall Street was watching the open-air Big Apple double-decker tour buses drive past, full of tourists with their fists in the air! That was an amazing thing to see. Witnessing that sight, repeatedly, I might add, was as sure a confirmation as anyone should require that a little over a month after its improbably beginnings, OWS is becoming a mainstream phenomenon. When is the last time the mainstream media took up a progressive cause? The Civil Rights movement? The Vietnam War? This is a real thing, not a flash in the pan. The fist-pumping seniors on the tour buses are but one of the signposts of the shift that’s happening in this country. Is there anyone out there stupid enough to still ask “What is their endgame?” Even someone who only watches Fox News has probably figured THAT out by now!
The only disharmonious incident I witnessed in my three visits was when a dopey-looking born again Christian crew (I’m talking total Ned Flanders-types) started telling the people assembled there, but especially the ones sleeping in Zuccotti Park, that they were possessed by demons and bound for Hell. As you might imagine that message went over like a lead zeppelin. A late 40-something gutterpunk guy and a hilariously confrontational black kid got right up in their faces with such intensity (and volume) that they quickly left. When they fucked off, deflated, everyone cheered.
Having said that, the overall scene at Occupy Wall Street does feel, in some respects, almost biblical, with one thousand iPhone carrying Joshuas shouting down the walls of a very high tech Jericho. Let there be no doubts, dear reader, I, and everyone around me there knew that we were witnessing and participating in history. It’s not going to be an overnight change, but anyone who thinks that things can or will continue on indefinitely the way they have been are going to be in for a very rude awakening.
Obama and the Democrats are going to have to move quite far to the left to satisfy their base as we move into 2012 and from what I saw, I reckon that OWS is pretty much 100% bad news for the Republicans, who are going to get the free market and tax cuts for the 1% shoved right up their goddamned asses on election day (I’m looking at you, Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan). I mean, shit, once the election season kicks fully into high gear next year, I expect to see some completely hilarious stuff happen, don’t you? It’s going to be the best election ever! Or the funniest, at least.
As the drumbeat for change in the way we “do business” in America gets louder and louder and louder, the elites will have no choice but to respond. 99% vs. 1%? Who’d be dumb enough to bet against odds like that? The changes that are destined to take place in the next decade of American life are going to make people of a conservative political disposition very uncomfortable indeed. The rest of us are going to be thrilled, though, so fuck ‘em.
From my point of view as an “old school” New Yorker parachuting into Manhattan after a few years away, Occupy Wall Street is functioning like a sun that is radiating its heat throughout all of New York City, and then via the media, to the rest of the planet. It’s extremely inspiring. As someone who lived in the city for the better part of three decades, NOW is the best I have seen NYC since the early 1980s. The energy in the streets is near an all-time high. New York is just killin’ it. Something is really happening at the moment and it’s an exciting time to be there. If you live in Philly, CT, New Jersey… go down there and check out Occupy Wall Street for yourself. If you live in the NY metro area and you haven’t been downtown, shame on you for watching it on tee-vee…
Trust me when I tell you that it pained me, absolutely pained me to be the old fart saying “New York used to be better back when I was young”... but I’ll never be tempted to say that again anyway, not after what I saw last week.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
The Original Occupy Wall Street: Stop the City, 1984
Lemony Snicket is the author of A Series of Unfortunate Events. This was posted at Occupy Writers, but that website is currently down.
“Thirteen Observations made by Lemony Snicket while watching Occupy Wall Street from a Discreet Distance.”
1. If you work hard, and become successful, it does not necessarily mean you are successful because you worked hard, just as if you are tall with long hair it doesn’t mean you would be a midget if you were bald.
2. “Fortune” is a word for having a lot of money and for having a lot of luck, but that does not mean the word has two definitions.
3. Money is like a child—rarely unaccompanied. When it disappears, look to those who were supposed to be keeping an eye on it while you were at the grocery store. You might also look for someone who has a lot of extra children sitting around, with long, suspicious explanations for how they got there.
4. People who say money doesn’t matter are like people who say cake doesn’t matter—it’s probably because they’ve already had a few slices.
5. There may not be a reason to share your cake. It is, after all, yours. You probably baked it yourself, in an oven of your own construction with ingredients you harvested yourself. It may be possible to keep your entire cake while explaining to any nearby hungry people just how reasonable you are.
6. Nobody wants to fall into a safety net, because it means the structure in which they’ve been living is in a state of collapse and they have no choice but to tumble downwards. However, it beats the alternative.
7. Someone feeling wronged is like someone feeling thirsty. Don’t tell them they aren’t. Sit with them and have a drink.
8. Don’t ask yourself if something is fair. Ask someone else—a stranger in the street, for example.
9. People gathering in the streets feeling wronged tend to be loud, as it is difficult to make oneself heard on the other side of an impressive edifice.
10. It is not always the job of people shouting outside impressive buildings to solve problems. It is often the job of the people inside, who have paper, pens, desks, and an impressive view.
11. Historically, a story about people inside impressive buildings ignoring or even taunting people standing outside shouting at them turns out to be a story with an unhappy ending.
12. If you have a large crowd shouting outside your building, there might not be room for a safety net if you’re the one tumbling down when it collapses.
13. 99 percent is a very large percentage. For instance, easily 99 percent of people want a roof over their heads, food on their tables, and the occasional slice of cake for dessert. Surely an arrangement can be made with that niggling 1 percent who disagree.
Those last three are particularly good aren’t they?
The other day, whilst looking for something else in the garage, I happened across some old photographs taken by me in 1984 during a major demonstration that I participated in, in London, called “Stop The City.” The idea, for what was described as a “Carnival Against War, Oppression and Destruction,” was to put enough bodies in the way to effectively cut off the routes whereby the bankers and stock brokers would get to work, block the entrances to the office buildings themselves and stop business activity in “The City” (as London’s financial district is known) for a day.
The 1984 demo that I was at was the second such “Stop the City” event. The first had taken place six months before, but the second demonstration was a lot bigger. I don’t know exactly who was behind it, or organized it, but certainly the vast majority of the young people taking part could have been described as “Crass punks” or anarchists. I heard of it via my friend Ron, who was at one point in a punk band either called “The Living Legends” or “The Apostles” with Ian Bone of Class War infamy. Class War, as well as London Greenpeace, were certainly involved in getting out the troops. There were many anti-nuclear protesters and an anti-vivisection contingent which formed a significant subset of the demo. An item on the excellent Kill Your Pet Puppy blog posted by editor Al Puppy reads:
What I can add is that the idea for Stop the City came from Dave Morris – of McLibel trial fame, longest trial in English legal history – and London Greenpeace. It was organised from a house on Ickburgh Road, Upper Clapton, Hackney. Dave and others (including my future wife Pinki) had been given the house by the GLC so they could organise an anti-nuclear march from Faslane in Scotland to Greenham in Wiltshire.
The tactic to “occupy” London’s financial district was inspired by the heroic anti-nuclear weapons blockade of the RAF Greenham Common by the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp.
Protesters met at 6am outside one of the underground stations. I got there five minutes early (I am nothing, if not punctual, even for a riot). At first it looked like nobody was going to show up. Then it went from almost no one there, to hundreds and hundreds of people streaming into the area within a matter of just minutes. In France they call uprisings of this nature “manifestations” and that’s what it felt like was happening that morning as the numbers of spiky-haired anarcho-punks and squatter-types arriving in the area grew very, very suddenly. It was an absolutely magical moment to partake in as people seemed to “materialize” in the light London rain that morning. It’s worth pointing out to the (ahem) younger generation that this was long before cell phones, Facebook and Twitter. Most of the people at this demo, I’d wager, didn’t even have land-line telephones because they lived in squats (as I did then). This was basically a word of mouth thing.
For a long time it was just a bunch of young punks milling about, trying to be threatening to stock brokers and bankers and yelling stuff at them. The cops had already partially prepared the area and there were crowd control fences everywhere, but they’d underestimated the size of the crowd. The metropolitan police were badly out-numbered for the first few hours of the protest as the lobbies of several office buildings were occupied and a general “mild” ruckus was caused.
It got pretty nuts pretty fast when a hot-headed stockbroker-type actually decided to try to run some of the protesters over with his car, which was then upended by furious onlookers. That’s what ignited the next phase of what happened when a small faction started tossing smoke bombs and balloons filled with paint. A friend of mine chucked a trash can through a bank window. I spray-painted “Smash Capitalism” on the side of a building. Good times!
At a certain point, hundreds of police reinforcements, including some on horseback, arrived and surrounded the epicenter of the activity and started squeezing about 3000 of us into a pedestrian area near the Stock Exchange. Several military trucks blocked the streets completely. I got stuck in that maneuver and had to stay there for several hours. The tactic the cops used to neutralize and disperse the rioters was pretty clever, or at least it worked: The street grid made it easy for them to herd perhaps as many as 25% of the protesters into this cordoned-off area which they surrounded with metal fences and a line of Old Bill standing shoulder to shoulder staring defiantly into the protester’s eyes as they moved them tighter and tighter together. Several people on my side of the barricades covered the police officers and their horses with “Silly String.” (There was a LOT of “Silly String” around that day). After five or six hours, everyone who had been squeezed into that spot really had to pee.
After they were able to disperse much of the crowd outside of this area, they started to let people out a few at a time. A long line of London bobbies brandishing truncheons made sure everyone kept moving along a narrow path cut via the crowd control barricades. Gagging for a piss, I, like my wilted anarchist comrades, was only too happy to wuss out without much of a fight to seek out the nearest pub for a slash.
Revolutionary fervor has its limits when nature has been calling for hours on end and keeps getting a busy signal…
Stop the City was one of those mythical events that if you weren’t there it’s almost as if it never happened. I saw little major coverage in the London newspapers the next day. Only The Evening Standard, The Times and Sounds really covered it, if memory serves and it simply disappeared into the mists of history. There’s hardly anything on the Internet about it, but when you do see it referred to—and I stress that this is rare—it’s usually in the context of how the “Stop The City” demos were, historically speaking, the very first major anti-globalism/anti-capitalism demonstrations, and the precursor to the Poll Tax Riots of 1990, the Battle in Seattle demonstrations of 1999 and the London Carnival Against Capitalism that same year. As those events, in turn, are referred to as being the precursors to Occupy Wall Street, then Stop The City would be the granddaddy of them all. Still, it doesn’t even have a proper Wikipedia entry, just a couple of Flickr slide shows.
I can’t recall how many people were there over twenty-five years-ago, but I do recall that a pregnant friend of mine who did not attend STC told me that BBC radio reported all day long that there were approximately 12,000 demonstrators in the City, but then late in the afternoon they changed their tune and said there were but 3000 protesters. I think it was certainly closer to the original, higher number as there were close to 3000 of us trapped like sardines in the cordoned-off area alone.
The idea of the “Stop The City” (STC) demonstrations was hatched by three London anarchists at a party in the early eighties. At around the same time people in Australia and America had had the same brainwave. The plan was to bring together the radical end of the peace - ecology - “third world” - and anarchist movements to attack the root cause of all their problems - Capital - by attacking the heart of finance. It took a lot of work to promote the idea of STC and then hold together an uneasy alliance of radical liberals and anarchists. The main problem was the issue of “violence” - many pacifists were worried that people might defend themselves against police attacks/arrests and buildings could be damaged by “violence (sic) against property”. Pat Arrowsmith, veteran CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) labourite did her best to successfully sabotage CND involvement.
The police were freaked out by the idea of an organised demo which wouldn’t consult/inform them - very rare in modern Britain. They repeatedly tried to contact the organisers and on one occasion two plain clothed senior cops turned up to a London anarchist meeting pleading to meet with people only to be met by an angry silence and sent away.
On the day of the first STC the phone of one of the main organisers was ‘mysteriously‘ cut off, and on the night before a large number of riot cops stormed the ‘peace centre’ near the Angel in Islington (a large anarcho-pacifist squat where many of the demonstrators were crashing, searching for weapons - none were found).
Several Stop The Cities were held in London and caused a lot of disruption in the square mile - the first caused and estimated £100 million losses. A number of ‘Stop Business as usual’ demos also occurred Numbers involved ranged from 3,000 in the first STC, dwindling to 500 odd at the last one as energy and enthusiasm were sapped by arrests, greater police sus, etc.
A repressive Public Order Act was passed in response to STC and the activities of hunt saboteurs, etc. Close to 1,000 arrests were also made over an 18 month period.
Comedian David Baddiel was apparently in the same penned-off pedestrian area with me. He told The Mirror on April 9th, 1997:
“I used to joke: ‘At least when you’re being beaten up by skinheads, you can pray that the police turn up. But when you’re being beaten up by police, there’s no point thinking some skinheads will save you’.””
David, then a 19-year-old student with a radically big haircut, had travelled to the City of London to join a Stop The City demonstration run by a fringe anarchist group called Class War.
What followed was an eight-hour encounter with the strong-arm of the law that saw him hurled around a police van and thrown into a crowded cell.
“There were quite a few of those demonstrations in the Eighties,” says David, 32, who was studying English Literature at Kings College, Cambridge.
“There were no proper political motives. The intention was just to cause a disruption. I went along only because I thought it would be a laugh.
“At the time, I had really big hair and everyone else did so I fitted in and looked the part. Basically, the demo was people walking up and down shouting slogans. ”
“But the police tried to get us all into a small pedestrian area off Threadneedle Street where we were bounded in by railings.
“I was up against the railings and thought I was going to get crushed. So I climbed over and tried to get through the police cordon.
“The police wanted to throw me back into the crowd but I said: ‘No, I’m not moving.’ When I said I was going to be crushed they ran me off into their van.
“Inside the van about five of them started throwing me around. I didn’t suffer any serious injury but basically they were beating me up. “One of the policemen put his fist in my face and told me if I caused any more trouble, it would be going through my head. They filled the van with some other people then took us off to the police station.
“We were put in a cell with about 25 other blokes and one toilet in the middle of the floor.
“We were there for hours and I was bursting but I couldn’t face having a pee in front of all these other men just in the middle of the floor.
“Right at the end, after hours in there, the police gave us one polystyrene cup of water to drink - between all of us. By the time it got to me, it was just spittle.””
David was accused of trying to lead an aggressive charge and charged with obstructing the police and the highway. But when his case came before a magistrate, he was cleared.
“A young junior barrister took on my case for free. He pointed out that the police evidence contradicted itself and the case was dismissed.
And finally, here’s the description from Punk Torrents of a long out of print documentary film, Stop the City: 1984 made by Mick Duffield and members of Crass that came out in the mid-90s. I had no idea this even existed:
The Stop the City demonstrations of 1983 and 1984 were described as a ‘Carnival Against War, Oppression and Destruction’, in other words protests against the military-financial complex.
Activities that formed part of these events were separate day-long street blockades of the financial district (‘The City’) of London — which supporters of the protest argued are a major centre for profiteering and consequently a root cause of many of the world’s worst problems.
One blockade involved 3,000 people, which succeeded in causing a $100m shortfall on the day according to The Times. Around 1,000 arrests were subsequently made by the police over 18 months.The first demo took place on the 29 September 1983 and involved hundreds of protestors, but six months later on 29 June 1984, thousands brought the City to a standstill. This rare documentary by Mick Duffield and Andy Palmer of Crass offers unique footage of the day’s events. Stop the City is widely regarded as being the precursor of modern protest such as the J18 Carnival Against Capitalism in 1999 and the birth of the Anti-Globalisation movement in the 21st century.
Stop The City in its entirety:
UPDATE: More on Stop the City from History is Made at Night
This is a video from today’s Occupy Wall Street protest in New York, at Citibank near Washington Park Square. Protesters were at the bank to close down their accounts and this shows a female customer of the bank, in a business suit, being manhandled and then arrested with what is quite clearly excessive force. She doesn’t appear in the video until 1:24. I wonder if the woman in this clip is the person mentioned as “resisting arrest” in this Associated Press report?
24 people were arrested at a Citibank branch when they refused a manager’s request to leave. Activists had entered the bank to close their accounts in protest of the role big banks played in the nation’s financial crisis.
Police say most of the people arrested were detained for trespassing. One was arrested on a charge of resisting arrest.
Thanks to Paul Shetler.
Demonstrations for Global Change are taking place today, October 15.
The demonstrations are against financial mismanagement and government cut-backs, and it is expected that 951 demonstrations will take place in 82 countries world-wide.
A statement on the 15october.net reads:
“From America to Asia, from Africa to Europe, people are rising up to claim their rights and demand a true democracy. Now it is time for all of us to join in a global non violent protest.
“The ruling powers work for the benefit of just a few, ignoring the will of the vast majority and the human and environmental price we all have to pay. This intolerable situation must end.”
At the biggest rally In Rome, tens of thousands marched on the street and were involved in skirmishes with the police.
In Belgium, 7,000 marchers brought Brussels to a standstill. Smaller protests took place in Paris.
5,000 demonstrators also gathered outside the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany.
In Berlin, 4,000 marched demanding the end of capitalism.
In Madrid, Spain, thousands of all ages have gathered for an evening rally in the Puerta del Sol Square, the site of May’s “Indignant” demonstration.
400 people marched through the streets of Dublin, towards a hotel where delegations from the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank are currently resident.
A thousand demonstrators occupied London’s financial district and Wiki-Leaks founder, Julian Assange addressed a rally of around 500 outside St. Paul’s Cathedral.
500 people gathered at a rally in Stockholm, holding up banners that read “We are the 99 percent”.
In Sarajevo, Bosnia, hundreds marched behind a flag that read, “Death to capitalism, freedom to the people.”
Poland’s former President, Lech Walesa announced he supported Occupy Wall Street
Hundreds of people have marched in New Zealand, and over 2,000 demonstrators, including union leaders and Aboriginal groups, occupied outside of the Reserve Bank in Sydney, Australia, waving signs that read “You Can’t Eat Money”.
Demonstrations also took place in Melbourne and Brisbane.
“Occupy” protests were also held in Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
As we all know by now, Mayor Bloomberg blinked and the “cleaning” of Zuccotti Park was postponed. Allison Kilkenny writes at The Nation blog:
Brookfield Properties, the owner of Liberty Park, which had planned to schedule a cleaning of the property where protesters have been camped out these past weeks, cancelled its maintenance plans suddenly last night to the surprise of many.
Reportedly, Brookfield handed down the decision to the city late Thursday, though the announcement didn’t reach Liberty until Friday morning when two thousand activists erupted in cheers as they huddled at the center of the camp. I’m sure Brookfield and the Mayor will stick with the story that this decision was made late last night, but the presence of thousands of determined occupiers probably sealed the deal if there was any indecision left in the board room.
Confused murmurs served as a prelude to celebrations – a haze of disbelief best articulated by a fellow reporter, who stumbled from the surging crowd to exclaim, “We don’t WIN! We’re the ones who get the shit kicked out of us!”
This was the first protest I’ve ever covered where the activists won – if only a battle, and not the war, and if only temporarily. And the victory is definitely temporary. Major problems have not been resolved and large questions remain: Will the protesters be able to bring their sleeping bags back into Liberty Park? Will they be able to sleep on the ground? Fourteen hours ago, Mayor Bloomberg declared protesters wouldn’t be able to return their gear to the park, and now the decree came down to postpone the cleaning entirely. Why the change of tune?
Considering the sorts of electronic images that would have been instantly transmitted to the rest of the world had a bunch of NYPD riot cops tried to evict 5000 committed citizens from Zuccotti Park this morning, Mayor Bloomberg dodged a seriously stupid bullet that he was threatening to shoot into his own foot.
This is an important victory. It shows you that they’re afraid and it also shows you the limits of what they think they can get away with.
You can see the jubilant moment when the news was announced early this morning, in the video below.