in case you were wondering, after reading my post on #strikedebt, whether this is just “another insular #occupy liberal fantasy/fetish among trust-fund hippies who don’t understand how the economy works”, here are links to media commentary about the #strikedebt initiative:
It has taken Occupy Wall Street long enough to manage to come up with an idea that I think we can all get behind. But they have managed it: even to the point of convincing me, a neoliberal who believes very strongly in capitalism red in tooth and claw. What they’re suggesting is that if we wish to alleviate the debt burden on people we should purchase that distressed debt and then forgive it. Sounds like an excellent plan to me.
one of the finest examples, so far, of individual capitalism at work
Business Insider: Occupy Wall Street Has An Ambitious Plan To Buy Distressed Consumer Debt And Forgive It: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-rolling-jubilee-works-2012-11
Digital Journal 11/13/12:
So far the Rolling Jubilee has collected $137000 which will abolish around $2 million worth of American held debt. The Strike Debt affiliate will take their donations and purchase the debt from the loan holders or banks and instead of collecting on it they will simply forgive it. How is this legal? You can thank the same people who made the housing bubble burst because of speculation, bad loans, and the ability to buy and sell debt.
New York Times 11/13/12: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/14/nyregion/occupy-offshoot-aims-to-erase-peoples-debts.html
and from across the pond:
the UK Financial Times: http://ftalphaville.ft.com/2012/10/30/1237921/haldane-occupy-and-the-path-to-reform/
There is the quiet, but unmistakable, sound of a leaf being turned.
If I am right and a new leaf is being turned, then Occupy will have played a key role in this fledgling financial reformation. You have put the arguments. You have helped win the debate. And policymakers, like me, will need your continuing support in delivering that radical change. – Bank of England’s executive director for financial stability, Andy Haldane
and, finally, a great one for skeptics: Reuters 11/13/12
Filed in politics and news, things you can do | Tagged with #occupywallstreet, #ows, #strikedebt, capitalism, economics | Comment (0)
a new movement is bubbling up that i think is interesting and important.
what is #strike debt? this project is aimed at a problem most of america is facing: debt. you know what debt is. i bet you have some. but do you know how it works and what your rights are?
RIGHT NOW, a big part of their debt resistance campaign is the Rolling Jubilee.
say you are a person or family who has suffered a medical tragedy. whether insured or not, you end up owing literally millions of dollars. literally. dollars you know you can never, ever pay back. i know one family who owes more than that for saving the life of their premature baby. it didn’t matter to them that it would cost over a million dollars. it was their child. but because we don’t have national healthcare, despite the fact that they had insurance they now owe millions of dollars for saving their child. and that will forever hang over their heads, their finances, their resources. it will always affect how they can live.
so you owe a $1,000,000 medical bill for saving your baby. the insurance company knows you’ll never pay. they have the numbers. they’ve run the odds. they know there’s no chance of getting anything out of you. even though you owe them money they know you are not an asset to them. so what does the insurance company do? they bundle up your debt with a bunch of other never-going-to-be-repaid debts (also known as Asset Backed Securities) and sell them off to debt collector (in fact, banks and lenders are *required* by law to write off nonperforming debts after just 90 days.) but the debt collector doesn’t buy it for $1,000,000. the debt collector buys it for $50,000. pennies on the dollar.
and then they start calling you. constantly. in the middle of the night. sending harrassing letters. threatening your bank accounts, threatening your life. this is not an exaggeration. but they aren’t asking you for the $50,000 that they paid for your debt. they are asking for the million. they are looking to make $950,000 of you*. and they are relentless.
that $950k doesn’t even exist anymore. it was written off the books. but they are hellbent on collecting it. and you stay awake, you stress, you ruin your life trying to deal with this. this illegitimate debt.
this is a reality for way too much of america. (62% of bankruptcies are from medical debt. Also of note: In 10 years of RomneyCare in MA (which is basically exactly the same as ObamaCare), bankruptcies due to medical debt have not decreased at all. Insurance is a for-profit industry. it does not help when people really need help.)
so what is STRIKEDEBT? strike debt steps in and acts as that debt collector. they buy your $1,000,000 debt for $50,000 just like the other collector would. it’s for sale on the market. but instead of harassing you with phone calls and threatening your life, they just get rid of it. they erase it. and in a little while – out of the BLUE – a notice arrives that says “congratulations. your debt has been erased”. and your credit report shows this. it’s a real thing.
“OWS is going to start buying distressed debt (medical bills, student loans, etc.) in order to forgive it. As a test run, we spent $500, which bought $14,000 of distressed debt. We then ERASED THAT DEBT. (If you’re a debt broker, once you own someone’s debt you can do whatever you want with it — traditionally, you hound debtors to their grave trying to collect. We’re playing a different game. A MORE AWESOME GAME.)”
it seems like magic but it’s just math within the system. it’s using the system to beat the system.
STRIKEDEBT cannot buy a specific person’s debt. you cannot send money to directly help your Uncle Bob pay off the debts that his family incurred while he was overseas serving in the armed forces. but you can send money so that someone, somewhere, wakes up one day and gets a phone call or a letter that says “hey, that million dollars you spent to save your baby? guess what. you don’t owe that anymore.”
so then WHY strike debt?
after last week’s hurricane Sandy, the feeble lack of government response was powerfully overshadowed by the response of people helping people. in fact, 2 days ago when the snowstorm was coming through NYC just after Sandy, FEMA CLOSED THEIR OFFICES.
the banks got bailed out 4 years ago because of their risky and unethical business practices, which they did not to save lives but to turn profit, and in the process ruined a whole lot of american homes and dreams. they got bailed out with your tax dollars.
the government isn’t going to bail us out. we have to bail eachother out. “normal” wasn’t working. the america we want is an america we have to build.
if you want to donate to help alleviate the burden of illegitimate debt all over the united states, by the people, for the people, please, click here. $10 erases $200, $25 erases $500 in debt…. for someone, somewhere, struggling in america.
see here: one person talks about their thoughts on the functions of debt in our system and his moving personal experience at a strikedebt meeting: http://occupiedstories.com/i-take-your-stuff.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=i-take-your-stuff
[Strike Debt is an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street. Strike Debt is the group / movement, Rolling Jubilee is the debt-buying project. Strike Debt has many initiatives. RJ is one, another is the Debt Resistors Operations Manual, and also informational/sharing/communal assemblies. learn more about debt resistance @ http://strikedebt.org/]
*the amount the debt collectors actually try to collect may vary depending on how much they calculate/expect they can get out of you.
Filed in politics and news, things you can do | Tagged with #occupywallstreet, #ows, #strikedebt, economics | Comments (10)
i don’t have a lot to add to the post-#mayday commentary about what happened (or didn’t). some people are still really into #occupy. some people are over it. some people can take it or leave it.
(and if you are still wondering what exactly HAS #occupy accomplished? visit http://occupydidwhat.tumblr.com/ - you might be surprised.)
i’m with those who think it is probably more important as a cultural movement than a political movement. i hope #occupy is changing how people -Americans in the Land of the Free in particular – interact with their world – what they expect, what they want, what they see as possible.
for me personally, even though I have not been that directly involved, #occupy has proven a lot of what i assumed i knew about social movements, but it has taught me more about what i don’t know, and where i am weak in that regard – in really understanding and not just assuming things about the current dynamics of law, justice and politics, and then that intersection with my world of art and the creation of meaningful experiences (not just entertainment, catering to artificial mass taste). so much of how the world works now is unnatural, nonintuitive, not what it seems – we get sold values and the definitions of what things are or should be just as readily as you are sold a can of Coca Cola. the way things are framed, how they are defined and by whom (especially the by whom) create our perception and experience of the world.
we all know this – it’s part of becoming an adult, realizing that almost everyone is trying to sell you something, and not just person-to-person. that capitalism has produced a systemic, institutionalized, government-sponsored snake oil culture industry, influencing everything from what you eat and where you shop to who you vote for and how you feel about all of it.
but what is harder is figuring out what to do about it – and that is where i have really struggled with #occupy on a personal level. how to join and fight in a way that feels right, that uses our talents and desires and makes us feel empowered and engaged and excited and productive in our own way. not all of us want to take to the streets and fight the riot police. not all of us want to work tediously in committee meetings or court rooms. some of us just want to #occupyart:
“The marches are very powerful and motivating for anyone who begins in the march,” said 27-year-old librarian Jeremy Bold. “For passersby, they see people who are very vocal and angry.”
“Personally, I don’t like labels,” said 25-year-old musician Dotan Negrin. “So I don’t consider myself part of Occupy Wall Street. I’m not a protester.” Negrin has been travelling the country with a musical project called Pianos Across America. He has driven and dragged his upright piano as far as LA, Seattle and Chicago to play in open spaces and welcome people into the the performances. For the past few months, he’s been playing in Union Square Park, which has become something of a second home for the occupiers.
“I always play Union Square, so I figured I might join them,” said Negrin.
His goal in life, he said, is to “try to do something really extraordinary while trying to make the world a better place.”
“That’s my sort of protest,” he added.
YES to that. yes.
and i do know that Occupy has space for this. that if you build your own movement, it will be supported. it’s one of the great things about decentralized models. everyone can play. i think that is what makes it strong. but i have still struggled to find my voice here, through no fault but my own.
i still support #occupy 100%, and believe that we all do need to fight what is going on in the U.S. — that complacency and entitlement are social evils and killing us. i might not be in the streets, but i have put a lot of energy into this and i need to let myself stop feeling guilty – and peer pressured – to participate in #occupy in ways that don’t feel comfortable for me. i wish the same for everyone else out there who is interested and supportive of the movement, and that we all find a way to fight the good fight in our own ways.
(use the #ows tag to see all previous posts)Filed in art, culture and random linkage | Tagged with #occupyart, #occupywallstreet, #ows, capitalism | Comment (0)
i ♥ that this happened: http://www.cynicaltimes.org/articles/occupy-brings-working-class-outrage-to-fashion-week/
“The whole Occupation thing is important because it’s about people going out and talking about the things that are messed up in our own society and the fashion industry is one of them,” said Mediavilla. “New York City used to be popping with jobs for people making clothes and then the industry outsourced many of those (apparel) jobs so they could pay people pennies on the hour in other countries instead of a decent wage.
“Meanwhile, they’re spending $500,000 on a single magazine cover photo that gets photo-shopped all to hell and is often very unrealistic. Young people see these fake images and think they have to look like that.”
Employment in the U.S. apparel industry has fallen by 82% since the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect Jan. 1, 1994, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The U.S. had 149,700 apparel workers last month, compared with 834,900 in January 1994.
The median pay for the 64,100 sewing machine operators left in the U.S. was $19,180 in 2010.
…”Most of my friends that work in the fashion industry are only part timers and they’re given less than 30 hours of work each week so they don’t qualify for benefits, but they still make too much to qualify for food stamps,” Stone-Diaz said, pausing briefly as a passing fashionista called the protesters “assholes.”
He smiled, shook his head and continued.
“We have all these fashion shows on television right now – like Project Runway – that romanticize the industry and hold it up as part of the American Dream,” Stone-Diaz said, “but it’s built on 1% structures just like the American Dream.”
One of those structures is grossly underpaying workers in order to lavishly overpay investors and top executives, models and designers.
i think some people think my work in fashion shows is counter to all of the other socio-political stuff i do/write about and wonder how i could be dong this “really superficial’ thing one day and then writing about poverty and justice the next. first of all, it irks me that some people think that fashion is only trivial and superficial and belittle its importance in human culture, especially as compared to the other arts, but that is another topic in itself and so i digress. my point here is that in fact, i ONLY, and i mean ONLY, work with designers who are dedicated to responsible clothing, who source their goods as responsibly as they can, and to keeping their lines ethical from beginning to end.
i do these fashion shows because i love fashion as a form of self-expression, but also because i think supporting my friends who do local fashion IS IMPORTANT – as noted above, the U.S. fashion industry is not only cruel in its treatment of women as objects, but the treatment of workers here and abroad is horrid.
Filed in art, fashion | Tagged with #occupyart, #occupyeverything, #occupywallstreet, #ows, capitalism, consumerism | Comment (0)
The poems on Old Street are set in capital white letters on a brushed black background, in a sort of mangled Futura; it’s a type treatment that should send his words running and screaming through the streets but somehow does not. Instead, the words lean calmly against the wall and arouse a kind of subtle and unnoticed reflection. People pass by on their way to or from here or there. They do double-takes and slow down. Intrigue wraps their faces. They stop, read, think, and eventually move on, carrying something with them that maybe wasn’t there before. Something that came free, silent and unexpected, set in capital white letters on a brushed black background.
Filed in art, oracles | Tagged with #occupyart, #occupywallstreet, #ows, capitalism, consumerism, marxisms | Comment (0)
“I’m an acolyte of Situationist ideas,” Montgomery says, referring to Situationist International, a group of 20th-century European revolutionaries who used public art installations to capture people’s attention, ask questions, and express ideas. “Their influence on me is far reaching. But the key introductory idea is perhaps Guy Debord’s idea of the spectacle, by which he means loosely the coalition of capitalism and the media.”
Debord, a French social theorist, writer and filmmaker, helped to form the SI in 1957. In his influential book, The Society of the Spectacle, he suggests that the combination of capitalism and the mass media will lead to a society dominated by false images, and that these images will act as a spectacle isolating people from reality. Debord eventually shot himself through the heart in 1994 in a small village in Auvergne, France.
“What Debord and the SI really get into,” Montgomery says, “and what sets them apart from much other post-Marxist thought, is questions of what capitalism does to us on the inside; in the inner sphere of life, to our hearts and minds, almost to our karmic sphere. I think those questions have never been more pertinent, especially in this historical moment when it is inarguably clear that capitalism in its current extreme form is not only immoral, but technically flawed.”
Montgomery’s poems hang near the vacant Old Street Magistrate’s Court, where, until recently, a group of Occupy London protesters had been squatting. “If you look at what Occupy are doing,” he says, “I think we’re finally seeing a positive international forum for positive change to the global financial system. That’s if we listen to them and don’t marginalize their voice.”
Emma is a 42-year-old Occupy camper and writer. She says she thinks it’s important to see artwork like Montgomery’s in the public realm. “Reclaiming public space is vital,” she says. “Art, music, poetry, performance, debate, conversation—these are the things that bring us together, that lead us out of our isolation, that allow us—the 99%—to connect, to share, and eventually, to mobilize. Every attempt to stimulate conversation regarding how we live now and how we could do it better is valuable.”
following up on my last #occupy post……
the Muppets have taught us so many things since 1976. and this week, they’ve taught us just how well popular Art can be used to call bullshit:
Miss Piggy was more combative and political; the puppet added that the charge was “almost as laughable as accusing Fox News of being news.”
(this is a response to this)
have the Muppets always been so intense?
anyway, i love it, and this is a great segue for me to post some of that which i recently wrote for my art school application on the subject of the current state and intersection of art vs. politics in America. this is definitively the longest post i’ve ever published, but if you’re interested, read on….Filed in art, culture and random linkage, personal favorites | Tagged with #occupyart, #occupywallstreet, #ows, adbusters, banksy, capitalism, huxley, marxisms, memetic, mimetic, shepard fairey, TED | Comment (0)
last night at the salon, a nice older woman sitting next to me asked, “so what happened with the Occupy? why did it all go so bad? it makes me so sad, i watch the news and i want to cry. i wanted good things to happen.”
“You know what you don’t see much of these days? Those moist-eyed bloggers’ odes to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Gosh, remember the columns telling us these people had a noble political agenda? Seems like just yesterday the lefty bloggers were picking through polls, telling us the American people embraced the OWS gang. But then protest turned to filth, and high-mindedness turned out to be just plain-old stench.
To write such loving tributes to OWS took extraordinary discipline, I suppose. Not to actually look (or smell) and determine who the real Occupiers (as opposed to the Occupiers refashioned for the readers of the New York Times and the Nation) were must have taken real will-power, especially since the encampments in major cities (as in the District) were only a few blocks from the journalists’ offices. Had they taken a peek or inhaled on the way to work they would have discovered the real Occupy movement.
Zack Munson reports: “There are lots of bearded folks (male and female), lots of dirty tents, some college students, the unemployed, the career homeless, some white people dancing out of rhythm to rock music played over a loudspeaker. The ‘movement’ itself is still a jumble of anti-capitalist/police/
government rhetoric and pointless noise and pungent smells.” Oh, well, who wants to write about that?”
it’s true. i haven’t wrttien about OWS/OccupyOakland in over a month, but it is not because i think the shine wore off to reveal a bunch of dirty hippies. in fact, the opposite is true. i think once the new smell and initial popculture interest wore off, who was left was a bunch of super invested people who have since then been heads-down entrenched in making things happen, not out there in the camps but in smaller working groups, in meetings, behind closed doors. see: the Alternative Banking Working Group, for example.
and despite all the negatives, the movement has been effective — causing democratic change on issues local and global, from healthcare to home evictions to school funding, not only in the higher-profile cities like New York and D.C. but also in small towns across the U.S. …. not to mentioned having kicked the door open for a lot of other progressive non-Occupy NGOs and social and cultural groups to take a stand. The Media, of course, chooses to only focus on the the bad apples. this is true for nearly every single aspect of society, not just OWS, and everybody knows it. so why don’t people question what they see on the news more often?
i told the woman at the salon to try to look up other places to read about Occupy, and that while i am not actively involved much personally, i know many amazing, hardworking people who are and i know, without any question or doubt, that they are doing good things with the right intentions.
“The breadth of this movement is one thing, its depth another. It has rejected not just the particulars of our economic system, but the whole set of moral and emotional assumptions on which it’s based. Take the pair shown in a photograph from Occupy Austin in Texas. The amiable-looking elderly woman is holding a sign whose computer-printed words say, “Money has stolen our vote.” The older man next to her with the baseball cap is holding a sign handwritten on cardboard that states, “We are our brothers’ keeper.”
The photo of the two of them offers just a peek into a single moment in the remarkable period we’re living through and the astonishing movement that’s drawn in… well, if not 99% of us, then a striking enough percentage: everyone from teen pop superstar Miley Cyrus with her Occupy-homage video to Alaska Yup’ik elder Esther Green ice-fishing and holding a sign that says “Yirqa Kuik” in big letters, with the translation — “occupy the river” — in little ones below.” – Compassion Is Our New Currency
last weekend in Oakland there was another Occupy vs. OPD clash when Occupy tried to take over an empty building. before you keep reading, WATCH THIS VIDEO.
the press and City Hall reported that the Occupiers were breaking into buildings and harrassing police and that, 6 months into the movement, all this is is a temper tantrum on the part of entitled youth and rabblerousers who should find better uses for their time and stop being a public nuisance. but here is the perspective from Occupy:
“In Oakland, thousands of active community members chose to engage in true democracy by supporting the real and pressing needs of the people. The state, which supposedly represents these people, exercised extreme police brutality and violence to protect the 1%’s vacant assets. The explicit goal of the action was to build community—to open a desperately needed community center with a library, medical care, free education and emergency housing in a city that has suffered massive budget cuts, high unemployment rates and ravaged public schools. In response, the city government poured hundreds of thousands of dollars, bullets and canisters of tear gas into declaring open war on these parents, students, workers, artists, teachers, children and veterans. These people’s only offense was to believe so deeply in the American tradition of democracy, self-sufficiency, and sacrifice for the next generation that they were willing to put their bodies on the line to make this nation the empowering democracy that we know it can be.”
And here is a journalist’s first hand account of the situation, and being unlawfully arrested: http://motherjones.com/mojo/2012/01/journalists-arrested-occupy-oakland
so yeah, there are obvious issues with people taking over public buildings and setting up DIY healthcare units etc. not up to code, health violations, blah blah blah. but what i don’t understand is why the City can’t just,……let them try? see what happens? wouldn’t that cost FEWER CITY DOLLARS AND RESOURCES than hiring an outside army of police to shoot rubber bullets at citizens, people trying to create for their communities what the government has neglected to protect or provide?
which leads me back to reiterate that the main success of this movement has been to get people to WAKE UP. maybe they’re waking up to an American Dream Turned Nightmare, but if that’s the case then if Occupy stands for anything it’s this: STAND UP AND FIGHT. OCCUPY EVERYTHING that matters to you.
The Ultimate Culture Jam
“We awoke one morning to the dark realization that humanity is being dragged into a black hole of ecological, financial and spiritual catastrophe … that our democracy has been seized by a corporatocracy … that every day two hundred species of plant, insect, bird and mammal become forever extinct … that a deluge of advertising is sleepwalking our civilization to the brink of insanity … and that unless we fight back in the most visceral and creative way possible all will be lost.
And yet, what sets our struggle apart in 2012 is that we are not fighting to save a distant future. We are not trying to prevent some terrible event that is still to come. This is not about our unborn grandchildren. Instead, many of us sense that the threshold has already been crossed; the tipping point has already happened and what we are fighting for is our present. We are living in that tragic moment of eerie stillness where the fatal damage has been done, widening cracks can be seen, yet the edifice still stands and business as usual continues … but for how much longer?
Our days may be shadowed by this dark realization, but there is reason to be deeply optimistic for “where danger is, grows the saving power also.” Never before has the tantalizing possibility of a Global Spring, a worldwide people’s insurgency for democracy, seemed as close. For perhaps the first time in human history, we just might be on the edge of an everywhere-at-once revolution against the financial fraudsters, corporate lackeys and the ideology of consumerism that has brought the Earth to the precipice of collapse.
In this, the era of the total and transcendent indignato swarm, we look to each other, not to the masters above, to find out what it will take to pull off the ultimate culture jam: spiritual insurrection.”
this post is to be continued, in the vein of CULTURAL TRANSFIGURATION: OCCUPY ART.Filed in culture and random linkage, politics and news, things you can do | Tagged with #occupyoakand, #occupywallstreet, #ows, adbusters, capitalism, oakland | Comment (0)
“When righteousness withers away and evil rules the land, we come into being, age after age, and take visible shape, and move, a man among men, for the protection of good, thrusting back evil and setting virtue on her seat again.”
i admit i am getting more cynical by the day about the tactics of the Occupy movement, so i was almost relieved when this almost brought me to tears (the first few minutes are of protesters encouraging the opera goers to disobey the police and come down the steps; you can jump to the 2:45 mark for the Philip Glass appearance).
“The protest, which was directed not at the opera itself but at a certain disparity between its lofty moral message and the machinery of corporate arts funding, got under way during the third act…When the Satyagraha listeners emerged from the Met, police directed them to leave via side exits, but protesters began encouraging them to disregard the police, walk down the steps, and listen to Glass speak. Hesitantly at first, then in a wave, they did so. The composer proceeded to recite the closing lines of Satyagraha, which come from the Bhagavad Gita (after 3:00 in the video above):
“When righteousness withers away and evil rules the land, we come into being, age after age, and take visible shape, and move, a man among men, for the protection of good, thrusting back evil and setting virtue on her seat again.”
In accustomed style, he said it several times, with the “human microphone” repeating after him.”
lots more about it is worth reading at http://www.theawl.com/2011/12/at-satyagraha-and-occupy-lincoln-centerFiled in culture and random linkage | Tagged with #occupyart, #occupywallstreet, #ows, capitalism | Comment (0)
i haven’t written anything about OWS in a while, because i’m not sure what to say now that isn’t being written and argued everywhere else. the issues are complex. the economics are gargantuan. politicians are evasive. is it winning? are things happening? yes. and no. but i will repeat again that what is indisputable is that it is changing the lives of people involved, people who were hopeless and disconnected who have now found a community. like this man.
and so on that tip, and along the same no-currency principles as burning man, someone is making a docu on the ideas of economics, loneliness and disconnection in humanity and why community is as much an important part of the Occupy Wall Street movement as political and economic reform:
Life is pretty bleak at the top too – and all the baubles of the rich are this phoney compensation for the loss of what’s really important. The loss of community, the loss of connection, the loss of intimacy. The loss of meaning.
Everybody wants to live a life of meaning. And today, we live in a money economy where we don’t really depend on the gifts of anybody. But we buy everything. Therefore we don’t really need anybody, because whoever grew my food, or made my clothes, or built by house, well if they die, or if I alienate them, or if they don’t like me, that’s okay because I can just pay someone else to do it.
And it’s really hard to create community if the underlying knowledge is “we don’t need each other.”
About The Film
Occupy Love will be a moving, transformative feature documentary that asks the question: how are the economic and ecological crises we are facing today a great love story?
A profound shift is taking place all over the world. Humanity is waking up to the fact that the current system that dominates the planet is failing to provide us with health, happiness or meaning. The dominant paradigm is based on separation, as exemplified by the financial system, and the corporate emphasis of profits before people.Filed in culture and random linkage, politics and news | Tagged with #occupywallstreet, #ows, capitalism, happiness | Comment (0)
1. i urge you to watch this video of the retired Philadelphia policeman who was arrested at #OWS, talking about the problems he sees with how the police are interacting with this movement.
he is super respectful of the police, but notes that from his experienced perspective, there seems to be no link between leadership and the police on the ground. the mayor says she doesn’t know why it happened. the chancellor says she doesn’t know why it happened. everyone’s apologizing after the fact. but what about preventing this from the top down?
also on this point, this article “Militarising the police from Oakland to NYC ” talks about the fact that since 9/11, our police forces have been increasingly militarized (through funding from DHS) in order to be able to respond to terrorist threats. this causes a mental shift in how police respond to things. they have been given different tools, different directives. and now they are being used against peacful American citizens, treating demonstrators like terrorists. as the cop in the video above says, police are people too, and subject to emotions and situations. so they respond according to what they’ve been taught and the tools they’ve been given. as someone said, when you’re dressed in riot gear, everything starts to look like a riot….
All over the country, police switched out their traditional uniforms for Battle Dress Uniforms, dubbed by one retired policeman in the Washington Post as “commando-chic” regalia. It wouldn’t be surprising to find that swaggering around armed to the teeth and dressed like RoboCop might lead some cops to adopt a more militaristic attitude.
Former San Jose chief of police Joseph McNamara raised these alarms as early as 2006 in the wake of the Sean Bell shooting in New York. He pointed out that the effects of the drug war and 9/11 had led to “an emphasis on ‘officer safety’ [where] paramilitary training pervades today’s policing, in contrast to the older culture, which held that cops didn’t shoot until they were about to be shot or stabbed”.
Likewise, in the name of “officer safety”, the Taser became a common tool in everyday policing, deployed with little knowledge of the effects, and a tendency to Taser first and ask questions later. But over the course of the past decade, the body count grew as it became more and more obvious that tasers were sometimes as deadly as the guns they purported to replace.”
2. in addition to illustrating how militant our “Keep the Peace” police forces have become with few checks and balances, the Occupy movement has shown that our politicians are much more willing to talk strongly about supporting democratic uprisings in other countries, even sending in troops to fight multi-billion dollar wars for others’ freedom, while keeping their mouths shut on our own domestic affairs. Sec. Clinton and Pres. Obama have been on TV since Arab Spring supporting democratic uprisings and movements around the world, but mostly silent about our own.
i realize it’s a pre-election year and they don’t want to too-closely align themselves with what some see as a “leftist” movement (which it isn’t, it’s more of a populist movement), but i dare say they’re losing precious votes and active supporters by more or less staying silent on not only the bank situation (slight nods to “protecting the American Dream” don’t count), but taking a stand for 1st Amendment rights and against police brutality issues. the fact that Obama has made no (or so few) public statements about the rights of Americans in the Occupy movement makes me angrier every day that goes by.
[update] rereading this again, i think it sounds really strident, or, propaganda–y, and i am not wanting to be naive in thinking it’s easy to change an entire way of life, and perhaps Obama “expressing solidarity” with the Occupy movement is all that is really pragmatic at this point. let the movement lead itself.Filed in politics and news | Tagged with #occupyoakand, #occupywallstreet, #ows, capitalism, NaBloPoMo, obama | Comment (0)