Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day 5: Occupy Wall Street

Here's a video of the most recent march by protesters in the Occupy Wall Street protest in New York.

And a dispatch from Dustin M. Slaughter about the anti-corporate-greed encampment on Wall Street, now well into Day 5.
Something important is happening at Liberty Plaza in Lower Manhattan. The encampment that began there on Saturday, September 17th, is a vocal and stark reminder of growing American youth discontent. Banks and other corporations are sitting on record profits and CEO salaries continue to climb at an unprecedented rate, while students and the average American worker face an anemic job market and growing economic disparity. The occupation in Lower Manhattan may be the start of a sea-change in so-called American democracy...
There were several more arrests today, and police got a little rought with the protesters. Anonymous, the group of hackers that helped organize the demonstration, retaliated by taking down a New York City government website, (we think that might be the NYPD recruitment website, but we're not sure).

The Nation has a nice collection of videos from the encampment.

We understand Teamsters were there, or at least expected to meet with the occupiers this afternoon. And here are some sample tweets:
@OpIntoNinja: #Occupywallstreet day 5 - getting bigger, seems more organized and has a great vibe. #TakeWallStreet / #libertyplaza / #A99Shields
@KeithOlbermann: EarlyShowPlug: To answer what I must say have been some testy tweets: I'm back tonight, covering #OccupyWallStreet + media blackout
@KristianneMrsC: People in San Francisco are protesting at the Pacific Exchange in solidarity with the #occupywallstreet protests. Yes!!
@littlelisa8: #OccupyWallStreet SO PROUD OF ALL OF U!! Be back Friday :))) stay strong...reinforcements r coming!! #Sept17 #TakeWallStreet
There's a Facebook Page for carpoolers to the Wall Street Occupation.
As usual, the UK Guardian had the best take on the protest. Amy Goodman wrote,
I interviewed one of the "Occupy Wall Street" protest organisers. David Graeber teaches at Goldsmiths, University of London, and has authored several books – most recently, Debt: The First 5,000 Years. Graeber points out that, in the midst of the financial crash of 2008, enormous debts between banks were renegotiated. Yet only a fraction of troubled mortgages have gotten the same treatment. He said:
"Debts between the very wealthy or between governments can always be renegotiated and always have been throughout world history. … It's when you have debts owed by the poor to the rich that suddenly debts become a sacred obligation, more important than anything else. The idea of renegotiating them becomes unthinkable."
President Barack Obama has proposed a jobs plan and further efforts to reduce the deficit. One is a so-called millionaire's tax, endorsed by billionaire Obama supporter Warren Buffett. The Republicans call the proposed tax "class warfare". Graeber commented:
"For the last 30 years, we've seen a political battle being waged by the super-rich against everyone else, and this is the latest move in the shadow dance, which is completely dysfunctional economically and politically. It's the reason why young people have just abandoned any thought of appealing to politicians. We all know what's going to happen. The tax proposals are a sort of mock populist gesture, which everyone knows will be shot down. What will actually probably happen would be more cuts to social services."
Outside in the cold Tuesday morning, the demonstrators continued their fourth day of the protest with a march amidst a heavy police presence and the ringing of an opening bell at 9.30am for a "people's exchange", just as the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange is rung. While the bankers remained secure in their bailed-out banks, outside, the police began arresting protesters. In a just world, with a just economy, we have to wonder: who would be out in the cold? Who would be getting arrested? 
The protesters are tweeting quite a lot about the rough tactics by the NYPD. Let's hope the occupiers remember to focus on the real culprit -- Wall Street -- and not the police officers who are merely taking orders. Police are union members who belong to the working class. They have similar grievances to the occupiers, and it would be too bad if animosity toward the police destroyed solidarity with working Americans.

Watch it live here.