Occupy Wall Street: Where We At

“Coverage was initially dismissive and minimal – and mea culpa, I wasn’t paying attention myself. But it’s becoming clear that there’s something important happening: finally, after three years in which Very Serious People refused to hold the financial industry accountable, there’s a real grass-roots uprising against the Masters of the Universe.”  – Paul Krugman

A police officer swings his baton to keep marchers behind barricades in Manhattan. Credit: Craig Ruttle / Associated Press

With Occupy Wall Street now moving into day 21 in New York City, protests have spread to multiple cities such as Philadelphia, San Francisco, St. Louis and London, as well as branching off into a separate movement called “Occupy College,” encouraging students to walk out of their schools. Hundreds of marchers have begun to occupy city centers, as well as march on JP Morgan Chase buildings, the Federal Reserve Building, and multiple city halls. President Obama officially addressed the nation regarding the widespread protests and called the movement a “broad-based frustration about how our financial system works.”

We had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression – huge collateral damage throughout the country, all across Main Street. And yet, you are still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to crack down on abusive practices that got us in the situation in the first place”¦ I think people are frustrated” ““ President Obama

The protests in New York have grown exponentially with the support of multiple unions: The Writers Guild of America, The Transport Workers Union, New York State United Teachers, 32BJ SEIU, 1199 SEIU, Workers United, The Communications Workers of America Service Employees International Union, as well as solidarity measures with striking employees from Verizon. Both and The Working Families Party are lending their support and helped organize a march that took place on Wednesday night, where the protest quickly turned violent as police began to use force against the crowd, an action that evidenced by this video, seems to have been premeditated.

Other news of the NYPD’s violations have included the arrest and mistreatment of transgender activist Justin Adkins, who was part of the group of protesters who had marched on the Brooklyn Bridge last Saturday night, an action which culminated in more than 700 arrests (most which were subsequently let go). From Adkins’ account:

Throughout the night it became clear that they wanted my fellow protestors to think that I did something criminally wrong. That I had done something different from them. That I was not just a peaceful protestor exercising my rights on that bridge. That I deserved to be handcuffed to a railing on the side of the precinct with violent criminals. Everyone seemed to wonder why I had been separated. When other officers chatted amongst themselves about me, one officer suspected aloud that I was a “ringleader.” The woman officer stood a few times outside the glass wall with the door open as male officers asked about me. It appeared that she told them that I was transgender as they gawked, giggled and stared at me. This was embarrassing and humiliating. Only I have the right to out myself as a transgender person. She was using my identity to get a laugh with those she thought would find me curious and freakish.

Several outlets have also presented important critiques of the Occupy Wall Street movement, namely Jessica Yee’s “The Game of Colonialism and further nationalism to be decolonized from the ‘Left,'” as well as Manissa McCleave Maharawal‘s “So Real It Hurts.” Both pieces call for a greater examination of what occupying already occupied land means, as well as confronting current OWS organizers on the nature of privilege, whose voices get heard and how movements like Occupy Wall Street can be more inclusive to a large array of people, not just privileged communities that exists within the 99%.

“If they want to have a debate on class warfare, we’ll have that debate, [because] it wasn’t our class that started the war on working Americans.” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

Of course, one of the most damning pieces of information that came to light this week was the donation of $4.6 million to the NYPD by JP Morgan Chase on the eve before protests began. From JP Morgan’s Website:

JPMorgan Chase recently donated an unprecedented $4.6 million to the New York City Police Foundation. The gift was the largest in the history of the foundation and will enable the New York City Police Department to strengthen security in the Big Apple. The money will pay for 1,000 new patrol car laptops, as well as security monitoring software in the NYPD’s main data center.

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly sent CEO and Chairman Jamie Dimon a note expressing “profound gratitude” for the company’s donation.

“These officers put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe,” Dimon said. “We’re incredibly proud to help them build this program and let them know how much we value their hard work.”

However you may choose to look at this thing that is currently happening, it is hard to present any further evidence that indeed, there are massive specialized interests that have been scared into donating millions of dollars to be protected. This, if anything, says more than any statement of demands on what is happening in this country. Those with power are scared and that means something phenomenol.

“What is the core of that protest, and why is it increasing in terms of the people it’s attracting? The core is that the bargain has been breached with the American people. The core is that the American people do not think the system is fair or on the level”¦ here’s a lot in common with the Tea Party.. the Tea Party started why? TARP. They thought it was unfair we were bailing out the big guys.” ““ Vice President Joe Biden

So for now, many of us still watch and wait, participate or not, and wonder, where exactly is this thing going? How big is this going to get? What’s going to happen?  What happens if nothing happens? There are more questions than answers, more concerns and criticisms that pop up everyday and above all, a curiosity as to whether or not that this is something on the scale of “Arab Spring” or if it will just quietly go away when it starts to get cold.

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