Occupy Spring

The protests are back and building to a May Day to remember

Almost from the moment Occupy Wall Street protesters were evicted from their camp in Zuccotti Park last November, observers have speculated whether the movement was finished, or if it would somehow rebound in the spring.

Dedicated Occupy activists dismissed the possibility that the movement had already run its course and promised an "American Spring," kicking off a new season of activism with May Day events coordinated across the country.

As it turns out, spring came early.

A March 17 rally downtown was originally conceived as a low-key way to mark the sixth anniversary of the movement, but as has happened so many times already in Occupy's history, police overreaction transformed the event into something more than it would have been on its own.

The NYPD responded with a chilling and disproportionate show of force, once again evicting the protesters from the 24-hour park and arresting scores of them with a level of violence Occupy veterans said they hadn't seen before.

Many of those who weren't arrested marched north that night, inaugurating a new camp in Union Square. In response, police have taken to barricading and garrisoning that park at midnight, prompting a nightly standoff with protesters.

Last fall, certain images—the unprovoked pepper-spraying of young women, the mass arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge—threw Occupy Wall Street into the headlines. Already this spring has produced its own galvanizing scenes: the footage of Cecily McMillan, handcuffed and thrashing in a grand mal seizure that might have been brought on by her rough arrest, as police look on without offering medical attention; the video clip of police slamming a medic's head into a window so hard the plate glass spiderwebs; the shots of a 16-year-old girl, her shirt torn and pulled and pink bra exposed as police grab at her.

As much as occupiers still believe that police violence only makes their movement stronger, they also know that though street actions grab headlines, they're not always the best showcase for Occupy's message.

"This is a movement about economic and social injustice," occupier Aaron Black said last week. "We are not an organization that's here to battle the police department."

Protesters are adapting, increasingly countering police force with humor and wit rather than being drawn into dangerous and exhausting showdowns.

Even as street tactics are evolving, the bulk of occupier energy is still focused on planning for May Day.

Recent press accounts have questioned whether Occupy Wall Street has the sort of union support necessary to pull off a major action on May 1 and dismissed the movement's grandiose call for a citywide general strike. After all, the general strike is an artifact of another age of American labor—no U.S. city has seen one since the Taft-Hartley Act made them illegal 65 years ago.

But Occupy Wall Street's May Day organizers still say the day will be the single biggest action the movement has mounted yet. They're working with the May Day Coalition, whose massive 2006 Day Without Immigrants rally effectively revived the observation of May Day in New York. Major unions are on board as well: the Transit Workers Union, the Service Employees International Union, and New Jersey's Industrial Union Council.

"We've been really clear about using language that leaves a lot of different ways for people to take part," says Chris Longenecker, one of the organizers. "It's a 'Day Without the 99 Percent,' a 'Day of Economic Noncompliance.' That can mean not going to work, not buying anything, finding other ways to step out of the system."

During the day, protesters and their partners plan to blockade corporate offices in midtown and the financial district, regrouping in the afternoon for a rally in Union Square featuring musical guests whom organizers aren't ready to name. From there, a march and further disruptive action will carry on into the evening.

At the same time, other Occupy working groups will be setting up kitchens in New York's food deserts—neighborhoods where it's next to impossible to find anything fresh to eat. A team of lawyers and volunteers will be calling attention to the unfairness of the criminal-justice system by posting bail for arrestees moldering in Rikers because they can't afford the $500 to go home to their jobs and families while they await trial.

"There's going to be a lot going on," Longenecker says. "May Day is our coming-out party as a radical movement."

Spring is just starting. And as NYPD detective Rick "Hipster Cop" Lee observed wearily while escorting a march last week, "It's going to be a very long summer."

npinto@villagevoice.com

 
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43 comments
Trianglefirecoalition
Trianglefirecoalition

It is important to continue to organize for labor rights in the United States. Check out the Triangle Fire Coalitions Open Archive! Here is one piece from the archive, a poster made to commemorate immigrants and workers

hankD
hankD

Yuck. I hate the OWS movement. They have done absolutely nothing productive. They have burdened the city resources and funds. They have hurt small businesses in the areas and even made things dangerous for children in the areas they've "occupied" and more difficult for these children to get to school. I am a liberal that believes things were done wrong as well. I changed careers and now teach Special Education in the Bronx. I teach kids to be better. To have the skills to be successful. It's embarrassing that this leaderless pathetic movement feels that laying around a park or stopping traffic or dumping their waste or leaving their trash around, rendering some of the parks and green space in the greatest city in the world useless is helping anything. GO f-yourselves. Grow up. Be a solution, not yet another cause. This movement doesn't even come close to representing those that need it. You want to help, go into parts of the city that need help and do something. Leave your goddamn drums in your mom's basement.

Hamiltonian55
Hamiltonian55

Virus,

For help with student debt...check out BINKSTY.COM

Shaiqua Jones
Shaiqua Jones

Yawn. These people need to get a job and do something productive. Nobody is interested anymore.

Hamiltonian55
Hamiltonian55

Tell your story to J.K.Rowling, Oprah Winfrey, countless immigrants, who came here with absolutely nothing! Or should we get out the violin? Do you think it would be better anywhere else? You can play the victim or be a fighter, the choice is up to you....

Hamiltonian55
Hamiltonian55

Jason,We hear you, but ask what you propose as a solution? Go to our site, and see our side of the story. Instead of getting angry, let's discuss some solutions...Hamilton Society of Wall Street.

Hamiltonian55
Hamiltonian55

You've heard their side...now hear our side. Hamilton Society of Wall Street. Let's begin a civilized conversation and look for fair and realistic solutions.

PunkIntellect
PunkIntellect

Your site has no news, just an opinionated blog. The links don't go anywhere and there's no information except some scribbled on note. This has got to be a poorly done prank. I can't believe anyone could put that site up and claim it's real.

Poorly done website or not, what is your solution? I have a few. Stop dealing in fraudulent mortgages (still going on). Stop paying bonuses and repay the loans not with other federal money. Stop buying our elections. Stop investing in for-profit prisons as long as they have a 90% incarceration rate. I could go on, but I'm curious as to what your solutions to these issues are.

Hamiltonian55
Hamiltonian55

Hundreds who have visited would disagree. The reality is that our economic system was successful enough to get your ancestors to come here instead of staying wherever they were. What system has done more to allievate poverty and want? The so-called fraudulent loans came about because our consumerist society wants immediate satisfaction. The politicians wanted to give everyone everything, so they finagled with the system and it broke. now they don't know how to fix it, without a horrific cost. The loans have been paid by the financial institutions, which are now hamstrung by excessive and repressive regulation. Even the progressive publication the Economist, has attacked this situation in "Over-regulated America." recognize that the financial institutions are to the economy what aircraft carriers are to national defense, they need to be strengthened to compete globally not crippled. Start getting people to vote instead of complaining, My solution, get people to understand how the economic system works, get them to stop thinking the government has all the answers. Stand for freedom of choice in education, through vouchers. Start teaching the kids, instead of sustaining an educational system that benefits everyone except the kids, a glorified baby-sitting service. One that costs $19,000 a child and doesn't educate them. Teach critical thinking and encourage young people to major in science and mathematics...we need fewer, lawyers, bankers, accountants and more scientists and engineers. Break the monopoly in higher education too. Why do tuitions continue to rise so families have to go into debt to educate their kids. Introduce on- line degrees that are accepted by employers and are affordable. I could go on and on too....

Mike
Mike

All complaining and no solutions. Everyone has their hand out and wants more and more from the government. The Occu-morons are just going to cause more trouble leading up to the election.

PunkIntellect
PunkIntellect

The ones asking for a handout the most are the banks and corporations that get so many tax breaks, they don't pay anything. Is saying. "Hey, this isn't all right?" causing trouble?

kathleen
kathleen

Peaceful resistance and boycotts will be a wake up call to the gas bags in congress

Jason M. Glover
Jason M. Glover

Get with the program folks. Occupy is here to stay, and we won't rest until America lives up to the promise that was touted to us in our history classes. Until the government does its job and protects the common wealth and serves the people instead of the elite monied minority. Until there is equal opportunity for every child, and children are not punished for the mistakes of their parents. Until there is an end to wars of conquest, and our economy can meet our basic needs without invading other nations and stealing their resources. Until this country produces wealth again rather than charging fees on moving piles of it around. We aren't smelly protesters, we are Americans. And Occupy is what happens when you raise generation after generation on the myth of freedom and democracy... now we as citizens have decided we are going to make those myths a reality. Call us as many names as you want, your insults are only a reflection of your own lack of morality and spineless preservation of the system that exploits you. Stockholm syndrome. Battered wives syndrome. You fight for your captors and disparage those who would offer you freedom. But we care not, for when freedom is earned for all, it will be yours to share as well. Peace.

Carl Koch
Carl Koch

Ah yes. Spring is here and the " I want something for nothing" crowd is preparing to once again honor us with their smelly, raucous, presence. I am 70 years old. I have a job. I will never retire because I am taxed into oblivion to pay for the rabble that make up the occupy movement. I will work until I die and hopefully my wife will get my life insurance. That is unless the progressives decide that half or more of my insurance should go to someone else. If you want a normal standard of living, get a job. It may not be as the vice president of a big corporation, but it will help pay for your miserable existance. I am tired of paying for someone elses lifestyle. These people are no better than the folks that hang out on street corners with cardboard signs. I have charitable groups I support. Don't expect me to hand out money on street corners.

PunkIntellect
PunkIntellect

Yes. It was the Occupiers making you work. Not the endless wars or TARP or the banks fraudulently foreclosing. That makes total sense. Why aren't you getting this worked up over who you are really paying for, the bankers and their lavish lifestyle. With all due respect, you need to read a newspaper. None of what you wrote is fact. "Gut instinct" does not mean truth.

Hamiltonian55
Hamiltonian55

Punkintellect,

Let's ask a question, how did the crisis come about in the first place? Want an answer? Go to the Hamilton Society of Wall Street website...get informed.

Hamiltonian55
Hamiltonian55

You need to do a little more work. There were a lot of such brainy people before the crisis...the old saying, smart, smart, very smart, genius...Dumb! The politicians were looking to step on the gas, they were looking to get the system to perform the impossible. You're right Glass Steagall was repealed, by the very same politicians who, now passed Dodd Frank, which has crippled the financial institutions. In addition, in 2004 , the SEC decided to let the leverage permitted to soar from 11 times to 30 times or more. Leverage caused the bubble that blew up, leading to the financial crisis the collapse in home values and the crash in the markets. The banks had to be bailed out as a result. The politicians tampered with the system and now they and their economist friends can't find a solution. What do you propose? A return to feudalism? Mercantilism? How about a barter system? No one is blaming OWS, but their efforts are not solving the problem.

PunkIntellect
PunkIntellect

Heh, I am completely the wrong person to imply that I need to be informed. As a veritable news junky, I can say with certainty that I'm probably over-informed (if that's possible). I checked out the site, which doesn't have much info--just an opinionated blogs and links that go nowhere. I *know* how this started. The whole mess started because of Glass-Steagall being repealed and then spiraled downward from there. It was pure greed thinly disguised as "the free market" (which in fact does not and has never existed--it's free market for the common man and corporate welfare for the rich). That is, however, besides the point, which is that I think it's silly to blame OWS for your taxes etc, when it wasn't them who committed widespread fraud. It wasn't them who intentionally bundled bad mortgages. It wasn't them who got bailed out to the tune of billions on a vague promise to release it to small businesses when in fact they kept it all. And, it wasn't them who "repaid" the loans with other federal money.

InDaDrops
InDaDrops

Your moral authority to talk about ANY social or economic justice issue was mortgaged the day you defended your marketplace for child prostitution. Occupy Backpage.com BOYCOTT the Voice!

Paul Rusin
Paul Rusin

Well, at least now I know which day to go shopping. No smelly protestors in the stores on May Day. Really, I agree that you have the right to protest, but what you are protesting has been the norm in our country for generations. Every American was required to pull themselves up by their bootstraps until the welfare generation initiated by LBJ. What's worse is that for every person on welfare, it drives up the number in poverty, because welfare only provides sustenance money. They aren't in business to make people wealthy. That is what work is about. If OWS wants to really make a difference they should get jobs & pay taxes like the majority do.

John Hardy
John Hardy

So, were I to create, say 15 jobs at $9 hr fully expecting each employee to make me $3000 a day justifies me not offering insurance, paid vacation, pension(or offering pension then pulling the rug out when said employee has three months left before retirement), then laughing all the way to the country club. This is The New America, and it is wrong.

Hamiltonian55
Hamiltonian55

I don't think many are laughing. The middle class is an endangered species, over-taxed, over-fee'd, over-fined, their "nest egg," the home, was supposed to provide for their retirement and has cracked. Their 401k's are now 201k's if they were lucky enough to stay invested. The dollar is continuing to lose buying power and we're all faced with an inflationary time bomb. You're faulting the wrong group...want to place the blame, look to Washington. Demand change where it is needed.

PunkIntellect
PunkIntellect

If there *were* any jobs.

Hamiltonian55
Hamiltonian55

There are careers, look at the Internet, look for a "need" that has to be addressed. Think outside the box and stop being a victim.

mo717
mo717

Whiney children.... Go occupy a desk. This is getting old and eventually your parents are going to stop paying your rent.

PunkIntellect
PunkIntellect

Please stop using old, baseless assumptions. 73% of Occupiers have jobs as compared to 54% of Tea Partiers. Not realizing how badly we're getting screwed by those stealing from us is getting old.

mo717
mo717

Working at the record store or Starbucks doesn't count....

Hamiltonian55
Hamiltonian55

So what you're telling us is that it's the spring, the weather is nice, get the bandannas, paint the protest times, get the tents and sleeping bags out of the closet...contact the "friends" in the mainstream media, the unions, academia, the hack politicians and let's get high and have a nostalgic replay of the sixties? And you except people to take you seriously?

mo717
mo717

Well, if their stench is anything to go by, it amazes me that they have been able to hold a job as long as they have. In the immortal words of Eric Cartman - "Hippies. They want to save the world, but all they do is smoke pot and play frisbee." Banging on drums in a public park is about a useless as it is a nuisance....

PunkIntellect
PunkIntellect

First, why not? Who are you to put restrictions on what a "real" job is? That said, I work in a professional office setting. I know Occupiers that are gardeners, doctors, lawyers, rabbis, programmers, union members, retired police and ex-military. And there's far more of them than whatever you've decided.

Jacob Banco
Jacob Banco

Isn't this why the 1% exists? The police are in the 99% with their mortgages and loans for homes for their kids and parents, and the 1% is dividing and conquering us while we bloody ourselves! When will the police officers realize they too are losing? OWS is actually fighting for their rights! Isn't the police, in its conception, supposed to be there to protect citizens from being brutalized? When they brutalize the already brutalized it proves the police are being the tool of their superiors, and blind to what is actually going on. Please, open your eyes!

The truth is that the people who can change things never show their faces in the streets. They hide, as humans do when they're scared, but the courage to stand up and say they've been greedy and want to give back, want to be human... Yes, this may be a naive oversimplification, but we ought not have to go into the streets to bring about change, but we will so we can be seen, and does anyone in the 1% have the courage to show themselves, stand up for what they believe? Show their worth?

'One swallow does not make a summer [or spring] nor does one day; and so too one day, or a short time, does not make a person blessed or happy.' - Aristotle

Keep up the struggle, it will be worth it.

Hamiltonian55
Hamiltonian55

Greedy...what is greedy? That is a telling word, which means that the person who uses it is uninformed. Every person seeks to work for his and her self interest. Who doesn't? That said many who have "made it," have been incredibly generous. It would take a book, to list the number of wealthy and successful people who have donated huge sums to charitable causes. No other nation or People, in the history of the world have given as much. OWS is serving its political masters, whoever they may be. Is this the answer of the Left to the Tea Party...If it is I don't see any halos. The people who can change things, take responsibility for their own lives, hold jobs, support their loved ones and don't have the leisure to play activist.

Paul Rusin
Paul Rusin

Police perform a function. It is the upholding of the state apparatus That OWS is too ignorant to realize that it is the government which is causing all these problems, and not the "1%," is par for the course, You are all ignorant brats educated by older ignorant brats (leftwing college professors) who never had to hold a real job (meaning one where they "lift things up & put them down"). You will continue to simply spin wheels until you realize that those pushing you are the ones who hold the power. Until you decide to think for yourselves, and stop glomming onto their nonsense, you will be ignorant of the realities of life. BTW, my daughter just finished paying off her considerable student loans, after several years of work. It was a priority for her. She did it in record time if I don;t say so myself, and put off a lot of other things she could have done. She didn't whine she had them, or protest that someone else should pay them. She understands that her education has benefited her. It was worth every penny to her that she paid to get where she is. And it isn't in a tent. Quit thinking that you are fighting for others. Quit trying to prove yourselves to be better than everyone else, more concerned, etc. People out in the real world don't give a rat's ass. They merely see you as spoiled children with an axe to grind, but no right to grind it. With each right comes a responsibility. The right to HC comes with the responsibility to pay for it. The right to speak comes with the responsibility to speak without inciting riots, or causing death (shouting fire in a crowded building, libel, etc.) The right to protest comes with the responsibility to do it peacefully.

PunkIntellect
PunkIntellect

No, YOU see us as spoiled children when that is simply not the case. If you actually, you know, read something instead of being satisfied with a five second soundbite, you'd know this. Also, I find it very funny that you tell OWS not to speak for everyone when you do the same. That's awesome, truly, that your daughter could pay off those loans. Most can't. There's a bubble about to burst with student loan debt that's going to make the housing bust look like child's play. And, who are you to define a "real" job? Are doctors and lawyers not real professions? Are you all right with getting swindled over and over again?

TylerCobb
TylerCobb

OWS can have the city in the summer. No one wants to be here in the summer. The 1% isn't in the city starting Memorial Day.

JeffreySmith1
JeffreySmith1

OWS is historic and significant directly because it is a fusing of the concerns of an ultra wide spectrum of activists. It is the reversing of the process of splitting society into the "left"and the "right" which was the basic secret controllers project of the mid to late 1800's. Once societ was so split-it was easy to take over and dominate. Just be the banks whoissue credit and print the various nations money....OWS is a bringing together of mindswho wouldn't spit ant each other even two years ago. No onder the Bloombergs (and his superiors) HATE OWS...

OWS ALSO historically was the first movement to react so that deprivations of constitu-tional rights in one part of the country resulted in immediate responses in Midtown Manhattan.(This Something which generations of patriotic activists considered but never went forward withwhen the Farm forclosure crisis of the late 70's and early 80's hit or when Ruby Ridge or Wacohappened-There were many calls for picketing of the key NGO's who actuially thought up and promoted the policies which Caused all those crises but nothing was done.

OWS has changed this basic relationship-NOW if you had something like a Waco therecould be the kind of fully legal, high visability public questioning of the key NGO power centers which always have been the starting points for these kinds of incidents. But because of OWSa LOT of other more MOR groups have now been encouraged to make public display of their questioning of "public policy"and who is really at the root of what is happening.

But remember, it took something like 80 years of committees of corospondences and other civic gatherings to come up with what we know as our constitution and our structure of rights and basic law

Notice that when the macing of the women in "the village" happened, it was just AFTER thosesympathetic to OWS had marched through 10th, 11th and 12th Streets between 5th Avenue and University. Hmmmm-wonder what the residents-who of course are average types not inany way connected to any power network whatsoever-..thought of loud demonstrators onthose blocks-Hmmm-wonder how the various yuppie wonks in the Bloomberg command structure reacted. Well, we all saw how they reacted.

Jeffrey J Smith Northeast editor American Free Press (pub Washington DC)

JeffreyJSmith.NewYork@usa.com

Peanut
Peanut

Their name couldn't fit them better: people that just occupy space. What other definitions do they have? Get a life

Good articles on www.ariespost.com

novenator
novenator

The #AmericanSpring is coming. Expect us. #M1GS

SickOfTheStupid
SickOfTheStupid

NYCPD the DOJ and DHS have made their intentions clear , they will use what ever force necessary to quell the revolt. If OWS is going to survive at some point they must stand and hold their ground .

Hamiltonian55
Hamiltonian55

They didn't all winter...now the Spring has come they can all come out and play activist! Everyone smile now the cameras will be rolling....

Jen
Jen

all citizens can make a true dissenting impact on the system, rather than supporting it at its elite subsidizing worst.www.taxkilla.com

 
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