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In the U.S.

Occupations battle police evictions

Published Nov 22, 2011 8:46 PM

Occupy movement tries to shut down the Stock Market.
Photo: Sam Talbot

A protester in Wisconsin who
believes that recalling
Gov. Scott Walker isn’t enough.
WW photo: Bryan G. Pfeifer

If the mayor of New York City thought that he, his judge and his shock troops could put a halt to the Occupy Wall Street movement by raiding Zuccotti Park in the early hours of Nov. 15, he was wrong.

At 1:00 a.m., police brutally descended on the park with no warning and ousted activists, first pushing away reporters and camera crews. They threw computers, tents, expensive medical equipment, musical instruments, even individual’s I.D. cards into sanitation trucks. Pets were confiscated or fled in fear. More than 200 people were arrested, including NYC councilperson Ydanis Rodriguez.

Undaunted, OWS protesters went to court early that morning and got legal approval to continue the encampment. But Mayor Michael Bloomberg looked for and later found a judge to do his bidding and decree that there were no legal rights for protesters and their camping equipment to stay in Zuccotti Park.

WW photo: Joseph Piette

However, that evening OWS regrouped and held a General Assembly at Zuccotti Park. The city’s repression had only made the protesters more resolute, and solidarity actions spread around the country.

On Nov. 17 OWS then organized a “Historic Day of Action for the 99 percent“ with several events to celebrate the two-month anniversary of successful occupation. It started with actions at 16 subway stations in all the boroughs. Thousands of activists came to Wall Street, blocking traders from entering the Stock Market. Sanitation workers blocked a street with a truck in solidarity.

WW photo: Joseph Piette

Labor unions, students marching from Union Square, and OWS groups, along with many other progressive and working-class activists — officially counted as 32,650 – from all five boroughs joined in a monumental march from Foley Square to the Brooklyn Bridge. The air reverberated with chants of “Shut the city down”!

That day the police ramped up the repression once again, and brutally raided Zuccotti Park, hitting people with batons, penning them in, arresting and dragging out some OWS activists who were sitting there.

However, OWS has made it clear it is not dispersing. The movement is regrouping and making plans, and may be changing locations, but plans on organizing ongoing actions to represent the 99 percent. A General Assembly Nov. 18 discussed plans for people’s assemblies whether or not there are encampments, flash mobs, “occupy squads,” which would target locations including banks, and more, with a view to indoor venues during the winter months.

New York
WW photo: John Catalinotto

Three days after the assembly held at the SEIU building, OWS showed Bloomberg they are not acceding to his or Wall Street’s demands. They gathered near the mayor’s townhouse, chanting and playing drums, pots and pans.

Additionally, on the same day, Nov. 21, there was also a Solidarity Demonstration with Adelante Alliance and an event featuring Elders from the Civil Rights Movement in Zuccotti Park.

Nov. 23 is “Deficit Deadline Day,” when the congressional supercommittee, Wall Street’s proxies, are supposed to submit a plan to cut $1.2 trillion from the federal budget over 10 years on the backs of working and poor people. The Occupy4Jobs Network is calling a march to demand, “Jobs not Cuts,” which will gather at Zuccotti Park at 4 p.m.

New York
WW photo: John Catalinotto

Occupy Detroit

Protest austerity

On Nov. 17, Occupy Detroit activists and their supporters linked up with representatives of city unions to hold a picket and rally outside City Hall in downtown Detroit.

About 150 people marched around the building chanting, “[Mayor Dave] Bing says cutback, we say fightback!” Representatives of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 207, which represents water utility employees, called for the city to halt further pay reductions and layoffs.

Occupy Oakland

Police continue attacks; activists continue resistance

Dan Coffman, president of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 21 in Longview, Wash., spoke at the Nov. 19 rally in Oakland, Calif. Their local is in support of a call for a West Coast Port Shutdown on Dec. 12. Meanwhile, school children at Lakeview Elementary, one of five Oakland schools scheduled to be closed, also rallied on Nov. 19.

Duluth, Wis.
WW photo: Bryan G. Pfeifer

A new Occupy Oakland encampment was destroyed by Oakland police on the morning of Nov. 20. Undaunted, an emergency general assembly was held at Oscar Grant Plaza that evening, focusing on both the most recent attack and the port shutdown. Some are urging the re-occupation of Oscar Grant Plaza, which Occupy Oakland renamed in honor of the young Black man killed by Oakland transit police in 2009.

Occupy Duluth

Demands high-speed rail

Madison, Wis.
WW photo: Bryan G. Pfeifer

At a Nov. 17 rally sponsored by Occupy Duluth, Minn., presentations supported efforts to build the “Northern Lights Express,” a high-speed rail for the region. Labor, student and community members then marched to City Hall for a speakout and picket line.

Occupy Wisconsin

On the move in many fronts

On Nov. 19, a 40,000-strong demonstration kicked off the Recall Gov. Scott Walker campaign at the state Capitol in Madison. For hours, streets surrounding the Capitol were packed with poor and working people outraged at Walker’s union-busting bill and state austerity budget. Labor, community and student contingents held a roving picket line, then a major rally on the Capitol steps. An anti-capitalist Jobs Not Cuts rally took place at the nearby Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce headquarters.

A massive protest at Walker’s suburban home was held Nov. 15, the day official signature gathering began. To recall Walker, 540,000 valid signatures are needed within 60 days; by Nov. 19, volunteers had already gathered more than 100,000 signatures.

On Nov. 17, hundreds of people shut down the Interstate 43-North Avenue Bridge. Four were arrested in this powerful, multinational, youth-student-led act of resistance, which demanded that members of the communities be hired to fix thousands of bridges.

The protesters drew many sympathetic residents of this majority African-American neighborhood; unemployment is well over 50 percent in Milwaukee’s African-American community. Protesters then marched to the annual meeting of the Milwaukee Inner City Allied Congregations for Hope.

On Dec. 3, the Wisconsin Bail Out the People Movement is hosting a People’s Organizing Meeting in Milwaukee. A special section of the meeting will be on Occupy Wall Street. Free and open to the public, the meeting will take up BOPM’s Occupy 4 Jobs campaign, fighting police brutality, immigrant rights, youth-student issues, a moratorium on foreclosures, opposing imperialist wars and the NATO/G-8 conference in Chicago in May.

Numerous progressive organizations are involved, including Occupy The Hood and other Occupy Wisconsin movements, as well as BOPM organizers from Chicago, Detroit and New York City. Visit www.wibailoutpeople.org or email wibailoutpeople@gmail.com.

Occupy Rochester

Hub of organizing

Following Occupy Rochester’s recent victory that meant it could occupy Washington Square Park 24/7, the movement is rapidly organizing to increase its outreach and political influence.

With more than 25 tents and growing, the movement has been working overtime to meet the encampment’s varied needs. Cultural events are frequent, and there is even a free lending library. The movement has a strong online presence, including livestreaming of most events. Plans are underway to sustain the encampment through the harsh Rochester winter. The occupation has welcomed a number of homeless people, who have joined the movement.

Occupy Rochester is rapidly becoming a center for progressive political organizing in the region. Eighty people from Occupy Rochester and other labor and community organizations demonstrated in front of the offices of Wells Fargo on Nov. 14, demanding a halt to the impending foreclosure/eviction of a Latino family, Harold Streidel and Maria Streidel.

On Nov. 16, more than 150 people rallied at the park, which has been renamed Liberation Square, in solidarity with the Occupy protesters who were violently evicted in New York City and around the country. Organized labor was significantly represented. A highlight was an announcement by Harold Streidel that Wells Fargo had suspended its eviction order and that the Fannie Mae attorney handling the case had been fired.

On Nov. 17, a busload of labor activists and occupiers traveled to Albany, N.Y., to lend support to the beleaguered occupation there and to pressure the state government to extend the millionaires’ tax.

That evening, about 40 people withstood snow to discuss the role of the police in society. The meeting was organized by the Occupy Rochester anti-oppression working group, which has also produced a leaflet for outreach to the oppressed communities.

Occupy Philly

Resists threats

A dozen members of Occupy Philly spoke at a Nov. 14 press conference refuting Mayor Michael Nutter’s political attacks on the growing occupation. City officials have been threatening to dismantle the tent city at City Hall.

That same day, hundreds of UNITE HERE members and supporters marched from Occupy Philly to Aramark Headquarters to demand a new contract. Among the major issues are fighting reduced hours, wages and benefit levels.

Some 800 people marched from Occupy Philly to the Market Street Bridge on Nov. 17, calling for jobs to repair failing bridges across the U.S. Twenty-four protesters refused to move off the bridge and were arrested.

W. Massachusetts

Action shuts down two banks

In Amherst, Mass., about 85 protesters, mostly students from surrounding colleges, gathered in the town Commons, then marched to a Bank of America branch at the town’s main intersection. After spirited and lively chants, the protesters went into the bank and “mic-checked” a written statement to Bank of America expressing solidarity with the workers in the branch and with Occupy movements around the country. It ended with the words, “Bank of America, you’ve been served!”

When the activists left, the bank immediately raised its shutters, closing for the day. A group of about 40 protesters walked into the street and blocked the main ­intersection.

Someone then suggested, via a mic check, that they do the same action at Nations Bank across the street. The whole group complied. They then marched to Amherst College and on to the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Raleigh, N.C.

Activists demand jobs, defend occupation

On Nov. 17, nearly 200 workers, students, unemployed people and community supporters gathered at the U.S. 1 Highway overpass bridge on Peace Street near downtown Raleigh to demand a public works program to create millions of jobs. Recently, the North Carolina Department of Transportation announced plans to replace the Capital Boulevard Bridge by the year 2016; yet they are still planning on laying off as many as 400 workers this year. The rally was organized by the North Carolina AFL-CIO in support of Occupy Raleigh and the national occupation movement and to demand jobs for all.

Participants then marched from the bridge to the state Capitol building, where Occupy Raleigh members have valiantly held onto a permanent sidewalk occupation despite attacks by the Raleigh Police Department, in which a total of 28 people were arrested.

Occupy Raleigh has demanded the right to assemble on state property, which has been repeatedly denied by the Department of Administration. The Raleigh City Council has also refused to grant the occupation a space. Yet this has not deterred the occupiers, who still hold strong on the sidewalk.