It started as a “Modest Call to Action” and has currently grown into an international movement with millions of participants in thousands of cities. OccupyWallSt.org states: “Occupy Wall Street is a people-powered movement that began on September 17 in Liberty Square in Manhattan. OWS is fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations. The movement is inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, and aims to fight back against the richest 1% of people that are writing the rules of an unfair global economy that is foreclosing on our future.1-We call for protests to remain active in the cities. Those already there, to grow, to organize, to raise consciousnesses, for those cities where there are no protests, for protests to organize and disrupt the system. 2-We call for workers to not only strike, but seize their workplaces collectively, and to organize them democratically. We call for students and teachers to act together, to teach democracy, not merely the teachers to the students, but the students to the teachers. 3-We call for the unemployed to volunteer, to learn, to teach, to use what skills they have to support themselves as part of the revolting people as a community. 4-We call for the organization of people’s assemblies in every city, every public square, every township. 5-We call for the seizure and use of abandoned buildings, of abandoned land, of every property seized and abandoned by speculators, for the people, for every group that will organize them. We call for a revolution of the mind as well as the body politic.” Early in the movement, New York police began cracking down and literally cracking skulls. On day 4 at least five were arrested as cops used brutal force and pepper spray. The initial wave of repression against the protesters helped it gain national attention as many well known activists began to visit the encampment and endorse the cause. On Sept. 26 Noam Chomsky announced his solidarity in a letter: “Anyone with eyes open knows that the gangsterism of Wall Street, financial institutions generally, has caused severe damage to the people of the United States (and the world)…The courageous and honorable protests underway in Wall Street should serve to bring this calamity to public attention, and to lead to dedicated efforts to overcome it and set the society on a more healthy course.” The next day, revolutionary Hip-Hp artist Immortal Technique, documentary film-maker Michael Moore, and Professor and Dr. Cornel West make guest appearances at Occupy Wall Street.
As the camp grew and the movement gained momentum, larger and bolder actions began to occur. On Oct. 1, over 700 people were arrested
on the Brooklyn Bridge after police kettled a march that shut the bridge down. As before, police repression only seemed to add support to the Wall Street camp. A few days later labor unions and others joined together as 10,000 gathered in New York’s financial district. By this time there were Occupy camps and general assemblies going on all over the country including Boston, Denver, Oakland, and Chicago. Around the same time there was call for a Global Day of Action on Oct. 15, police around the country began plotting a nationwide “eviction” of the movement. On Oct 11, at around 1:30 in the morning hundreds of police in full riot gear brutally attacked Occupy Boston, which had peacefully gathered on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. The Boston Police Department made no distinction between protesters, medics, or legal observers. Earlier in the day, an estimated ten thousand union members, students, veterans, families, men, and women of all ages marched from the Boston Common to Dewey Square, and then to the North Washington Bridge to demand economic reform on Wall Street and the end of special interest influence in Washington. On Oct. 14, at least 21 were arrested in an Occupy Denver eviction. On the same day, over 3,000 people gathered at Liberty Plaza to defend the Wall Street occupation and the Day of Action went ahead and tens of thousands took to the streets in Times Square, NY. Various actions also happened all across the Midwest and South, from Ashland, Kentucky to Dallas, Texas to Ketchum, Idaho. Protests filled streets of financial districts from Berlin, to Athens, Auckland to Mumbai, Tokyo to Seoul. In the UK over 3,000 people attempted to occupy the London Stock Exchange. In Taiwan, organizers drew several hundred demonstrators. 600 people began an occupation of Confederation Park in Ottawa, Canada. In Australia, about 800 people gathered in Sydney’s central business district. There were 175 arrested in Occupy Chicago protests, 300 nationwide. As can be expected, police in the numerous cities where actions took place continued evictions, arrests, and other tactics of harassment and oppression. On Oct. 23, about 123 people were arrested while occupying the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago. Two days later Oakland PD arrested almost 200, using tear gas and flash-bang grenades, one of which hit and fractured the skull of Scott Olsen, an Iraq war veteran. As police and politician repression continued to change strategies and tactics, so did the protesters, reaching out to more communities, continuing the struggle, and fighting back in creative ways. On Oct. 29, in Solidarity with ‘Occupy the Hood,’ OWS marched to Jamaica, Queens, the foreclosure capital of NY and held forums on the intolerable hardships Americans have been suffering because of bank foreclosures on five thousand homes in Queens. On Nov. 2nd many military veterans, who served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, and even World War II, joined Occupy Wall Street in a procession in uniform. Most recently, the unconscionable treatment of Marine veteran Scott Olsen in Oakland has drawn national attention to veterans’ participation in the Occupy movement.
Meanwhile, on the West Coast, a Nov. 2nd General Strike shutdown the Port of Oakland and many downtown banks. Over 30,000 people joined the march
and port officials confirmed that the workforce was sent home. As of 8pm the police remained hidden out of sight, but late into the night the police returned in force, reportedly to deal with the building occupation at the former homeless service center on 16th street, which was closed and vacant, about 80 people were reportedly arrested. Again, police go in for another round of evictions and step up repression on camps across the nation as, on Nov. 12, Occupy Denver faced tear gas and rubber bullets, at least 16 were arrested. The next day thousands rallied to resist Occupy Portland’s eviction. 10,000 filled the areas around the encampment last night as the deadline approached, unfortunately the cops just waited it out and later began clearing out the camps, tearing down people’s tents. A couple days later 70 were arrested in Liberty Square (Zuccotti Park), home of Occupy Wall Street, by a large police force in full riot gear. The kitchen tent was reportedly tear gassed as police moved in with zip cuffs. NYPD also destroyed the OWS Library and threw 5,000 donated books in a dumpster. In response nearly 500 marched north to Foley Square.
Another Day of Action was called for on Nov. 17 and over 32,000 rallied in New York City while actions in at least 30 cities across the country and around the world went on in solidarity. Since then the cycle of protester action and police repression in the Occupy movement has increased in scale on both sides. As more and more evictions occurred, and the acts of police brutality became more egregious, like the pepper-spraying of UC Davis students, Occupiers began to take over alternative spaces, not all of them indoors.
On Nov. 19, Occupy Oakland set up a new camp at a vacant lot on
Telegraph and 19th but was later evicted. On the same day Occupy DC liberated the empty, city-owned Franklin School, which was closed several years ago and initially reopened as a homeless shelter. Despite widespread public opposition, the city government later closed the shelter. Next, in blatant disregard of social safety net programs that are necessary for the very survival of the people who are most directly impacted by economic injustice, the city announced plans to turn the building either into luxury condos or a hotel for the rich lobbyists on K St. In a move similar to other recent building occupations in Oakland, Chapel Hill, New York, and London, dozens of occupiers entered the building with sleeping bags and food and declared their intent to stay indefinitely.
On Nov. 25, Oakland celebrated with a ‘Indigenous Solidarity Thanksgiving Celebration’ which was quickly attacked by Oakland police. O.O. was in the process of feeding hundreds of people with an impressive feast of donated food including over 10 turkeys when police surrounded the vehicle delivering ‘porta-potties’ and stated that the celebration did not have authorization, police attacked the crowd, 2 were arrested and many more were hit by police. In the following week, Occupy LA, Philadelphia, and Oklahoma City all faced evictions from their camps and had to hold their ground. Building occupations continued, on Dec. 3rd hundreds of Occupy Seattle participants took over a vacant warehouse slated for demolition and condo development. After entering, Occupiers erected barricades, held a General Assembly, and began plans to fix up the space for community use. Using SWAT teams and a ladder truck, police swarmed the warehouse, making 20 arrests. The next day Portland police in full riot gear aggressively took down nonviolent protesters as they evicted their camp. Among other incidents, one 15 year old was smashed in the face with a baton. Undaunted, Occupiers took to the streets, routed lines of riot police, and marched on City Hall. Soon Dec. 6th was set as a day of ‘occupying your home’ if you’re being forclosed on by greedy and corrupt banks. The next day, San Francisco police moved in on the Occupy camp at Justin Herman Plaza and dismantled the main area. Bicycles, books from the library, tents, and people’s belongings were thrown directly into trash crusher trucks. Many occupiers were trying to leave the area and were arrested anyway, as many more elected to get arrested as a form of peaceful protest. On Dec. 10th, Occupy Boston was evicted again, but many protesters came back.
On Dec. 12th, the Occupy movement struck back with a full West Coast port shutdown including San Diego, LA, Oakland, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle. In Oakland, at least 8,000 people participated. In Los Angeles at the Port of Long Beach reports of at least a thousand protesters began the day by picketing in front of SSA Marine, a shipping company owned by Goldman Sachs. Hundreds then marched into the streets and took over the intersection this morning and are still there. The entrance to the Goldman Sachs pier has been closed for the past few hours, and shipments are backed along the highway. After an attack from police, at least two nonviolent protesters have been violently arrested. In San Diego Occupiers gathered at Chicano Park and then headed to Caesar Chavez Park in a march led by veterans to set up a picket line. The street and entrance to the port were closed for several hours until police in riot gear moved in. Protesters were snatched, tackled, and tossed on the ground by San Diego police and Harbor Police. Several arrests were made, cameras from media were also taken and smashed on the ground. In Portland mounted police, tear gas, pepper spray, and flash grenades were used to clear protesters, but the port was still shut down. Groups of several hundred protesters each are blocking various terminal entrances to the port. Several terminals were closed. Several protests went on in Seattle, Vancover, and Anchorage as well as solidarity acts in Houston and New York.
Towards the New Year the Occupy movement continues to grow and evolve as does the state and police efforts to either shut it down or neutralize it by absorbing it into the Democratic party or other leftist organizations, but many see through the bullshit and are keeping the message of political independence and radical change. On Dec. 17, Mumia Abu-Jamal wrote a letter “To My Friends of Occupy Wall Street” as OWS protesters took to Duarte Square on Canal and 6th Ave. Occupy groups in different cities continue to search for new homes in parks and abandoned buildings as well as in individual homes like in Santa Cruz and Atlanta. On New Year’s Eve celebrations and jail noise demos went down all over the country. Many arrests happened in NYC, GAs, protests, and parties are also took place in Boston, Oakland, DC, Chicago, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Nashville, Tampa, Bloomington, Toronto, Amsterdam, Tahir Square in Cairo, and elsewhere across the world. Find your local Occupy and come out if you can! What better way to bring in the New Year than making a New Year’s REVOLUTION? Looking forward to Occupying 2012! (Sources for this article from http://occupywallst.org and http://occupyoakland.org)