Why are you here? “Because of the collective economic noose around our necks and that our system is corrupt and we don’t have a voice anymore.”
What’s your specific grievance? “We are not headed in the right direction and we are losing our voice. I have more money than a lot of people in this country and I don’t have a say in what happens, but corporations do. Corporations have a voice. We have lost our rights as well.”
Do you think this movement could grow? “Dang, yeah. We see it every day and it is growing exponentially. A lot of people don’t even know that it’s happening, and they are not even here yet.”
What would make you think “mission accomplished”? “Constitutional courts. … I don’t trust politicians anymore. Since our country is based on separation of church and state, it also should be based on separation of money and state. We also need to have a voice in the system again. There is a lot of money working against us.”
Sukkahs are the new front in the battle to occupy NYC and Seattle
For immediate release Contact Daniel Sieradski email@example.com 347-560-0440
Protesters at Occupy Seattle lock arms to defend a sukkah from destruction by the Seattle Police.
This weekend, police in NYC and Seattle forced Jewish protesters to take down temporary shelters used to celebrate the holiday of Sukkot – the Feast of Tabernacles – an annual week-long harvest festival, which also commemorates the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. During Sukkot, Jews are obligated to treat a temporary dwelling known as a sukkah as their primary residence, and “should eat, drink, study, amuse ourselves, and sleep” there, according to the Shulchan Aruch, the code of Jewish law. “Even our friends should be entertained in the sukkah,” it says.
However, in both New York City and Seattle, where hundreds of protesters are occupying public parks, city government is preventing individuals from erecting shelters that would allow them to survive the weather and continue their occupations.
On Wednesday, members of Occupy Judaism NYC erected a Popup Sukkah, a portable nylon tent-like sukkah, while surrounded by supporters, press and legal observers. Police inquired as to the commotion surrounding the structure and upon learning that it was a Jewish ritual object, one officer threw up his hands and said, “We’re not messing with that,” and backed away. This precedent gave Occupy Judaism impetus to advise other demonstrators who identified as Jewish to erect temporary dwellings for themselves and their guests in order to join in the celebration of Sukkot.
Daniel Sieradski, national organizer of Occupy Judaism and co-organizer of Occupy Judaism NYC said he told other protesters that “If you identify as a Jewish person, you should build for yourself a temporary dwelling and join us in the celebration of the holiday. Inform the police: I am not Orthodox and I do not follow the letter of the law, but the spirit of the law, which says that you should dwell in a temporary shelter for the week of Sukkot and that it is our custom to invite our friends and neighbors to join us in our dwellings. This will help people stay out of the rain and cold for at least a week.” When asked whether this constituted a distortion of Jewish practice, he responded, “There is no better application of Jewish practice and law than towards the elevation of human dignity. Let the occupiers occupy sukkot!”
On Wednesday evening, another Jewish demonstrator, acting on Sieradski’s advice, erected a shelter which he identified with a sign as his sukkah and was approached by over a dozen police officers who insisted he take it down. 200 demonstrators then surrounded the police chanting “Do the right thing!” and “Shame on you!” The structure nonetheless came down.
On Thursday afternoon, Sieradski and members of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) moved their sukkah to the center of the Occupy Wall Street encampment at Zuccotti Park in anticipation of a showdown with the NYPD which was expected to evict the occupiers under the pretense of cleaning the park. Surrounded by concentric circles of protesters locked arm-in-arm, Sieradski planned to stay inside the sukkah praying when police arrived, insisting that they remove him and take down the sukkah themselves if they wanted it to come down. “If the Jewish mayor of New York wants to send his thugs to pull a Jew out of his sukkah in a 20% Jewish city on a Jewish holiday, let him be my guest,” Sieradski said.
The need for a showdown was obviated when thousands of supporters joined the occupiers in Zuccotti Park early Friday morning, including Rabbi Ellen Lippmann and congregants of Brooklyn congregation Kolot Chayeinu, who joined Sieradski and JFREJ in defending their sukkah. The city soon announced it was indefinitely postponing the cleaning of the park.
On Thursday night, 10 protesters participating in Occupy Seattle were arrested after building a sukkah to celebrate the holiday, while also trying to leverage the sukkah as a means to establish precedent for the erection of structures in Westlake Park. The protesters, who had locked arms in and around the sukkah, were broken up and hauled off by police while protesters chanted, “Happy Sukkot! Let my people go!” Raw video footage of the arrests and the Seattle police department’s destruction of the sukkah is available online here. (Seattle Times story here. Seattle Post Intelligencer photos here.) Organizers of Occupy Sukkot Seattle say they intend to reestablish their sukkah Saturday, October 15 at 4:30PM PT.
On Friday night, Occupy Judaism NYC took down their Popup Sukkah which had been ravaged by the inclement weather in New York City, intending to replace it Sunday with a more durable structure. In the interim, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice chose to erect a temporary shelter that was nonhalakhic (meaning, not formally recognized under Jewish law), where they held a Shabbat celebration and potluck dinner. A dozen officers from the NYPD intervened and forced JFREJ to take the shelter down saying that a sukkah had to “be open to the sky.” Daniel Sieradski asked the officers, “Why do non-Orthodox Jews need to observe an Orthodox interpretation of Jewish law?” The police could not provide a sufficient answer and forced the structure to come down anyway, leaving Sieradski to wonder, “Since when is the NYPD arbiter of what is and is not a kosher sukkah?” The incident was observed and documented by the National Lawyers Guild.
Sukkahs have been erected at occupations in nine cities as part of Occupy Sukkot, a celebration of the Jewish holiday by a decentralized network of Jewish supporters of the international Occupy movement known as Occupy Judaism. These Jewish activists believe in unifying their Jewish practice and social justice values with radical direct action. Read the movement’s official statement announcing Occupy Sukkot here.
Protesters set fire to a government building, torched cars, and smashed bank windows in Rome on Saturday during the most violent of scores of Occupy Wall Street-inspired demonstrations around the world.
Woman in business suit detained (w/ others) for trying to close her Citibank account
Seriously, this is some pretty F***ed up stuff. Starts around 1 minute in, but good to watch the whole 3 minutes. (And really gives a whole new meaning to “hostages at the bank”.)
UPDATE: Not as simple as it seems. See here. Also, they apparently did try to basically take over the bank (here) which was dumb. Good place to have protested and said testimonials would have been outside the bank.
Publicola reported that a short time after the pepper spray was fired, the protesters were lectured by a man in a suit who described himself as a “professional investor.” He told a group of protesters, including a young woman who said she has a job at Safeway but is underemployed, “I’m in the 1 percent; I’m not like you.”
The man also asked the woman, “Who is John Galt?” That question is the first line of Ayn Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged,” and the phrase is commonly used by devotees of the book to signal their allegiance to its free-market ideology.
The Publicola report continued, “A young man wearing a black ’99 Percent’ shirt responded: ‘Go take your tie somewhere else.’”
“Masked Occupy Seattle protestor ‘Pip’ (last name not given) holds up a sign that says "Sorry for the inconvenience; We are trying to change the world” while he and dozens demonstrate during the 'Black Friday’ holiday shopping rush at the Wal-mart retail store in Renton, Washington on November 25, 2011.“~Yahoo/REUTERS/Anthony Bolante
To the Mayor of Seattle and SPD: Stop Harassing the Occupiers!
So being a Seattle native, I still have a soft spot for my fellow rabble-rousers in the Northwest. Especially when I read that Occupy Portland had 3-5,000 people marching last weekend! The last thing Seattle needs is more of an inferiority complex about competing with Portland :) so I was glad to hear that Occupy Seattle is picking up some steam this week, slowly winning over the local unions and local media (The Stranger!) alike.
However, reading about how the Seattle Police Department and the Mayor’s Office have treated the occupiers is really disappointing. Over the past few days, they have been harassed by SPD and Park Police constantly, forbidding them from setting up tents, trying to drive them from the square, and generally being assholes. It’s gone so far that the Seattle Police have been ticketing drivers who drive by the occupation and honk in support. Can you believe that? Now, fast-forward to last night:
Mayor’s office spokesman Aaron Pickus said about an hour ago that cops wouldn’t bug protesters at Westlake Park tonight as long as they didn’t have a “structure.” But other than that, things were hunky-dorey.
Cut to right now.
Police are aggressively clearing people out of the park. Cops are telling people they can’t stand underneath the awnings, can’t wrap themselves in a tarp, and
can’t even sit down with an umbrella. “You can’t have an umbrella open unless you’re standing and holding it,” a cop reportedly just told a few people who were sitting down next to their umbrellas. Paul Contant, intrepid reporter, just called to confirm that person’s account. And he added, “The cops are lined up under the awnings—I tried to get under an awning to type and and they told me I cannot be under the awning at all.” Police are also telling people they can’t lay under a tarp.
That’s right: you can now be arrested in Seattle’s Westlake Park for sitting down while holding an umbrella to protect yourself from the rain. All because the Mayor’s new ‘rules’ for the park, updated a couple days ago (conveniently), forbid erecting a structure in the park. And umbrellas apparently count as a structure to the police.
So, this is bullshit, right? I’ve already written the mayor to let him know that he can kiss my vote for his re-election goodbye if he doesn’t cut this out immediately. But we need as much help as we can get. If you can spare a couple minutes today, please let Mayor McGinn’s office know that you DO NOT approve of his strong-arm tactics to break up this demonstration!
Also: Spoke with my new classmates. Most had no idea about any of the protests, and only a few had heard something about it. (Though I am meeting one of my classmates there.) Lesson: We need to make ourselves heard more!
Mayor Mike McGinn just issued the following statement about last night’s confused orders to Occupy Seattle protesters—police may arrest you, no they’re not going to arrest you, actually they’re going to play head games until they provoke protesters to do something rash—to say police were operating under his orders to warn arrests could happen:
The Parks Department and the Seattle Police were under instructions last night to inform people of the rules that apply to Westlake Park, but to not make arrests for camping at this time.
Got it, brilliant, police were simply under orders to threaten arrest. McGinn didn’t intend to follow through. So when Paul asked Lt. Nollette what they were doing, she was simply communicating that order:
“Everybody was advised twice that the park closes at 10:00 p.m. and that they could be subject to arrest.” Asked if the mayor knew about this, she said, “I have no idea.”
Very clever, Mike McGinn. You’re declaring support for the protesters and harassing them. The commanding officer on the scene was just telling protesters what could possibly, maybe, perhaps—who knows, really?—happen if they don’t leave. That jibes with this announcement that if protesters “don’t leave the area you can be subject to arrest for criminal trespass.”
But interesting that the
cops didn’t know what the mayor’s office knew, the mayor’s office sent a staffer scrambling down to the scene to defuse the situation, and the police needed to make regular loudspeaker announcements (even though making noise was a ticketable offense a few nights ago because it would upset nearby residents). What will “Mayor” McGinn threaten next—and is he capable of following through?
Eighty-four-year-old activist Dorli Rainey tells Keith about her experience getting pepper-sprayed by the police during an Occupy Seattle demonstration and the need to take action and spread the word of the Occupy movement. She cites the advice of the late Catholic nun and activist Jackie Hudson to “take one more step out of your comfort zone” as an inspiration, saying, “It would be so easy to say, ‘Well I’m going to retire, I’m going to sit around, watch television or eat bonbons,’ but somebody’s got to keep ’em awake and let ’em know what is really going on in this world.”
Something like this would be quite helpful for the Occupy movement (again, see my recent post here about science, OWS, and giving-a-damn), and I’m actually a bit surprised that there hasn’t been a more tech-savvy element to the protests. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not to say that there hasn’t been any, or even much (there is, for instance, “Vibe”), but this is 2011, era of the smart-phones, and this protest was started by GenY-ers - and now has many GenX-ers and older. I just expected more use of smart-phones and smart-tech to help coordinate efforts and prevent such fairly primitive methods as “kettling”. (Honestly, the NYPD are just herding people around.) That said, the movement is still very young (around two weeks!), and I’m hoping that some clever chaps are just putting the final touches on some brilliant home-made apps.
Anyways, here’s an interesting article about an app called “Sukey” (after the rhyme, “Polly put the kettle on, Sukey take it off again.”) that was used by British students - successfully! - earlier this year to ward off a kettling attack by the police. (Also, and this may sound far-fetched, but only until you read a single issue of any robot magazine: how about a quadrotor fitted with a webcam? It could provide some live coverage from a birds-eye-view without the need for an actual helicopter! Science!)
… Saturday’s non-kettle, then, was a victory in itself. But the real excitement wasn’t that it didn’t happen – but how it didn’t happen. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly why police and protesters behave in a certain way at a certain time, but one explanation for the kettle’s failure to form lies with a new communications network, which launched that afternoon: Sukey.
The brainchild of a group of young, recently politicised computer programmers, Sukey’s main goal is to stop people getting kettled. On the day of a protest, founders collate information from individual protesters – tweets, texts and GPS positions – about what is happening on the ground. The Sukey team then update an online live-map of the protest, accessible from smartphones. Simultaneously, they tweet and text brief summaries of events to all their subscribers, telling them where other protesters are situated, and – most significantly – where kettles are forming…
And, in London last Saturday, that might well be what happened. Around 500 students coming from a 5,000- strong anti-cuts march on Millbank joined the ongoing, separate protest at the Egyptian embassy. After around an hour and a half, a few demonstrators said they had overheard kettling tactics being discussed on police radios, and thought they had seen police lines closing in. They relayed this to the Sukey team at their computers in an east London office block, and the team quickly texted the news to their entire mailing list on the ground. Recipients of the text alerted those around them, many protesters left the area, and, perhaps as a result, no kettling took place…
“Everyone who was getting the Sukey updates was telling everyone who wasn’t what was happening,” he says. “It took about five minutes for us to mobilise.”…
Sam Carlisle, 23, an electronics engineer who graduated from Durham, became politicised after his girlfriend was trampled in a horse-charge at the protest on 24 November. Outraged, he decided to offer his exceptional technical skills to the UCL occupation, where he met Gaus. To differentiate between the two Sams, other occupiers christened them “Sam the techie” (Carlisle), and “Techie Sam” (Gaus). Physically, the pair are chalk-and-cheese – Carlisle is pale and stocky; Gaus dark-haired and tall – but intellectually they seem united. The night before the 9 December protest, both independently came up with the same idea: a live, online map that could show people at home where protest troublespots were located…
So, over the next month, they set about coding what became Sukey: a text-based warning service (used to great effect on Saturday); a similarly successful Twitter feed; and an auto-updating map of the protest, accessible from smartphones, which users complained didn’t update fast enough. A compass-based application for smartphones, which would have told users in which direction kettles were to be found, was not ready in time. It was not through lack of effort. By the time I arrived at Sukey headquarters on Saturday afternoon, Carlisle hadn’t slept in a bed for a week…
When Sukey’s arrival was announced last Friday, some critics warned it would merely facilitate rioting, rather than help keep protesters safe [a legitimate concern, imho - RCS]… Some announcements made by Sukey probably did indirectly assist those protesters who were less interested in the original “A-to-B” march, and more interested in a new kind of protest tactic that has emerged in the last few months: the “civic swarm”, which sees large groups of demonstrators peel off from official marching routes and instigate flashmobs at shops such as Vodafone and Topshop, but which is arguably a perfectly justifiable form of protest.
But the Sukey team take umbrage at the idea that their goal is to cause disruption rather than to aid safety. They see themselves as distributors of information rather than battle tactics. Early in the day, they had sent out a text reminding everyone about the exact route of the march; later, they ended every announcement with the suffix: “Stay sensible, stay safe.” When the march ended, and split into three groups of protesters, the team had a brief debate about whether they should carry on texting and tweeting. “We aren’t there to lead people to the palace gates for the revolution,” says Gaus Sr. By reporting the activities of the three meandering groups, he feared that “effectively, we’re not just supporting it, we are instructing it”. Eventually, however, they agreed that it is exactly at those moments that protesters are in need of information. “We’re never going to be able to stop people leaving,” Gaus Jr points out. “But when they do leave, and there is trouble – that’s when we can be most useful. We can protect people from those troublespots.”…
It would certainly make sense for the Metropolitan police to pay close attention to Sukey: communication is not the police’s strongpoint. On a day when students were keeping in touch by Twitter and mobile phone, the police were handing out little slips of paper. As Bance says: “The police don’t understand Twitter. They might as well be shouting at the screen with a megaphone.”