A Veteran, Activist, and Teacher: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

At the beginning of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, when many activists were still gathered in a park in lower Manhattan, I was part of a small team that was organizing a community group in West Harlem.

It was in October of 2011 when David Suker, a local activist, teacher and veteran, initiated two meetings that brought together this group of activists who started a community-based version of Occupy Wall Street called the West Harlem 99%. The group was based on ideas similar to Occupy Wall Street like using open space to facilitate democratic discussions to create social justice. However, even though the group of us that organized the West Harlem 99% were all heavily involved in Occupy Wall Street, this group was much different—we focused largely on the needs of the community.

One of our first meetings brought together about ten activists in the basement of a small church in the middle of West Harlem. As we settled in, several uniformed police officers invaded our meeting and began to harass us. They tried to coerce individual members to leave the room and talk to them outside. Most of us refused.

We found out later that the police had contacted the priest (who was a supporter of Occupy Wall Street and the West Harlem community) before our meeting and told him we were a group of thugs and he shouldn’t let us gather in his church and he was in danger. The priest, of course could tell we were friendly and well-intentioned, so he tried to support us, but he asked us not to meet in his church because he didn’t want to be harassed by the police. As a result, we were forced to organize meetings in our apartments, cut off from the community, and our larger assemblies in a church 20 blocks away.

As an outspoken member of these groups, David, a fourteen-year tenured teacher, became a prime example of how corporate and government institutions use power to silence citizens who speak out against injustice.

A lot of people argue against teacher tenure. They say the unions protect lazy and ineffective teachers, but when teachers are not protected, how can they stand up to the system we all want to change? Most teachers want to teach. They want to help kids learn and get a good education: it excites them when their students light up with ideas and when they understand a new concept. Most importantly, teachers understand the school system from the inside. They know why it doesn’t work, but they are often afraid to speak out against it. David’s case is an example of why.

After becoming a vocal member of Occupy Wall Street and the West Harlem 99%, David was systematically attacked by the city of New York and the Department of Education (DOE).

David was arrested as part of a large group at Occupy Wall Street when the NYPD caged protestors on a march across the Brooklyn Bridge. He attended political demonstrations frequently and quickly became a target of the NYPD, which pulled him out of several legal protests and political demonstrations and arrested him for political activities including distributing copies of the Occupied Wall Street Journal. Furthermore, by mid-November, the DOE implemented the disciplinary action know as the “rubber room,” which meant David had to report to work but couldn’t teach because of his political arrests. Instead he spent everyday in a disciplinary room while his case was reviewed.

For months the DOE worked to compile a list of charges that led to David’s termination. Since most of the charges were minor infractions and unrelated to his ability to teach, the DOE based his termination on a fraud charge because they claimed he used a false address on his daughter’s school applications to intentionally deceive them.

 Knowing the entire investigation had been an attempt to politically silence him, David brought his case to the New York State Supreme Court. In a rare decision the Supreme Court overturned the DOE’s ruling against David because it determined that the list of charges the DOE presented were not nearly enough reason to terminate a teacher and showed no bearing on his ability to teach or the quality of education he provided. Instead, Justice Schlesinger noted that David was targeted by the DOE stating, “the conduct … regarding a false address for his daughter, never involved Suker’s own school and never would have been discovered but for the DOE’s decision to target Suker to see if an investigation could find something to be used against him.”

For a variety of reasons, including not having steady housing, David had in fact used the address of a friend’s house (where his daughter often stayed) on his daughter’s school applications in 2001 and 2006. However, whether or not David is guilty of this fraud is irrelevant because the law states that the DOE cannot bring up these charges if they are more than three years old. And since NYC high schools are open to all students through the five boroughs, his daughter’s address is irrelevant since she’s been in high school.

Justice Schlesinger determined, “The school’s leadership did not want Suker to remain there as a teacher. They did not like him or approve of his actions. They believed he was insubordinate, that he did not conduct himself properly, that he was getting arrested too often, and probably that he was not a team player.” In other words, the DOE doesn’t like that David is politically active.

People in many jobs who want to exercise their right to speak out against injustice face overwhelming challenges. It raises an important question for us as a society: do we want to live in a world where individual people can express their political beliefs freely without fear of persecution, or do we want corporate and government institutions to hold the power to oppress free speech, press, and assemblage? Do only people who agree with you or only express themselves quietly deserve freedom of speech? While unions may have a bad reputation for several reasons, including protecting ineffective workers, should we trust society’s most powerful institutions with the right to decide who can exercise freedom and who can’t?

David is a veteran who served his country, a teacher who serves his students, a son who cares for his elderly father, a father who works tirelessly to make a life for his children, and a citizen who only wants to utilize his rights and freedoms as an American. But he is still unable to return to work for 12-18 months because the DOE is appealing its case. Even though David had initially won, the witch-hunt against him continues. In a gross injustice by the NYC DOE, he has been presumed guilty until proven innocent over and over again. Now, being unable to work for almost two years, David is struggling to provide for his daughter and two-year-old son.

Do you really support the troops? Do you really believe in freedom for all? If so, call the public advocate’s office at 212-669-4102 and tweet @deBlasioNYC to let them know you want the case against David Suker dropped.

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Harry Binswanger is a total tool. Don’t be like Harry Binswanger.

Recently, Harry Binswanger, contributor to Forbes, published an Op-ed in which he argued the 99% should “give back” to the 1% because: (1) communities don’t give anything to individuals that isn’t already paid in full at the time it is given; (2) all transactions are freely and reciprocally agreed upon and therefore, mutually beneficial and uninhibited by further obligation; and (3) the 99% actually reaps the benefits of the 1% by profiting from their mental capacities to innovate and create jobs to produce products and services. His article illustrates everything that is wrong with our society.

The notion that the wealthy ought to “give back” to the community is infinitely more complex than Binswanger gives credit. Of course, he is attempting to captivate readers by cloaking his arguments in distorted interpretations of libertarian theory so they will emotionally accept what is actually an extremist and quite ludicrous point of view: that the working people of the world owe more money and gratitude to the extremely wealthy, that is the 1%. In doing so, he simply ignores the nuances of what the rest of us call “reality.”

Binswanger is wrong because: (1) the extremely wealthy not only make profits by exploiting others, but also by not paying adequate value for what they use to make profits. Furthermore, in accumulating wealth they negatively impact many people who are not involved in the “mutual exchanges,” and those people are not compensated. (2) Consumers don’t purchase products and services simply because they value and want them. Money is an inadequate measure of real value; global access to markets allows capital holders to manipulate local and national markets; consumers are lied to, coerced, and often lack real choice; and, again, many people are forced to pay costs (even non-monetary costs) for exchanges they had no say in. And (3), Binswanger’s assertion that the 1% are innovators and job creators – well, it’s not true. That claim is a fallacy created to attempt to align the 1% with small business owners and entrepreneurs. However, small business owners operate very differently from large corporations and the 1%.

It is terribly sad to see someone unable to understand the value one receives from their community or the country to which they belong. Perhaps, Binswanger is a victim of the epidemic of hyper-focused individualism and undervaluing of community in the neoliberal western world. However, let’s not harp on his opening statement and the overall tone of his article, which suggest he doesn’t believe in or value what communities give to individuals. Instead, let’s focus first on what appears to be his main point regarding community: the value one receives from the community is paid at the time it is received so those that accumulate extreme wealth do not owe anyone anything more.

Let’s take that statement as true and therefore we can assume people should be allowed to accumulate unlimited wealth without ever giving back to their community or country. Some would agree with this point. However, if in pursuing wealth you are taking resources without paying a real value for them, damaging the environment, cheating the financial system, bribing politicians, circumventing laws, preventing competition, coercing consumers, inhibiting accurate information, or exploiting employees by paying them as little as possible, then the bare minimum compensation is a fair tax rate, because even that amount would not sufficiently pay for the value you take from others.

Expecting the extreme wealthy to give back to the community is not the same as condemning the successful. Most people loved Steve Jobs for bringing us the iPhone, but when Chinese teenagers began jumping off the roof of his subcontractor Foxconn to escape their effective enslavement, we lost the love. There is no “envy-ridden moral code that damns success, profit, and earning money in voluntary exchange.” Most Americans still admire success. What we don’t like is the extremely wealthy controlling our government, forcing the rules of the playing field to their advantage, and preventing real Americans from doing the entrepreneurial work that needs to be done.

Furthermore, paying taxes isn’t the same as charity. Most Americans are not arguing for the wealthy to give anything extra other than their fair share—they want the rich and corporations to pay at least the same tax rate as everyone else and close the loopholes. You may not like the idea of taxes, but in our current structure, taxes are how we maintain a society and mitigate the effects of our oligarchical corporatist system. We all benefit from things like an educated citizenry and a healthy population, but essentially, taxes are needed to make up for the damage Binswanger’s friends inflict on the rest of us. Whether it’s environmental degradation, worker exploitation, consumer coercion, or messing up our financial systems, big corporations and the swindlers that run them owe the rest of us some compensation. Until we change the structure to one where taxes are no longer needed to mitigate the effects of our corrupt, political, and business elites, the argument for taxing the rich remains: “hey, while our messed up system allows you to accumulate unreasonable amounts of wealth through corrupt and counterproductive practices, you need to pay for at least some of the damage you’re causing and some of the benefits you’re reaping from our complacency.” Taxes are the bare minimum for these elites.

Wealth is not exclusively accumulated by exploiting people and the environment. Wealth, as Binswanger proclaims, is also created by using human brainpower and labor to turn resources into a product or service that is sold for a price. What isn’t factored into the economic calculation (or price) is the value lost by removing resources from nature or the impact a transaction has on others.

In a perfect world, wealth would be created by making products while factoring in the real costs of environmental degradation and human input: but that doesn’t happen. Furthermore, in today’s finance economy, innovators aren’t creating awesome new products that everyone needs and selling them in a free market at a reasonable cost. Most innovation is not the creation of new products at all. There are many different ways businesses innovate to increase profits that have nothing to do with making new stuff. Tony Davila, Marc J. Epstein, and Robert Shelton surveyed a large number of manufacturing and service organizations. In Making Innovation Work, they present their findings that things like product quality improvement, expanding a product’s range, creating new markets, cutting labor costs, improving production processes, and other efficiency improvements, account for most innovation.

The way we create and measure wealth in our society is so illusionary and inaccurate that wealth no longer reflects productivity once you surpass a high enough threshold. So, yes, there are those that innovate, create, and work hard to provide quality products and services, but unfortunately most of the major wealth accumulators today are in fact exploiting the people—through suppression of wages, price manipulating, cheating the financial systems, circumventing laws, and many other practices—and the environment and they are doing it with the help of our government. And no hardworking, honest American, whether anarchist, liberal, or libertarian, thinks that is okay.

Binswanger further presents his case by reciting the standard economic discourse that, “in commercial transactions, customers buy a product…because they want the product or service…for their own personal benefit and enjoyment.”

An unfortunate limit of money is its inadequacy in measuring real value. Money spent does not determine value of things; it determines value relative to supply of money and is distorted by misinformation. Also, it is limited by our capacity to accurately put a price on something. For example, a plot of untouched land has inherent value to a community even if the community cannot afford to purchase it. It is aesthetically pleasing, absorbs some pollution, and maintains local ecosystems. If someone buys the plot of land from the owner (an out-of-state property management company), they are paying only for the value of the land to an owner who doesn’t interact with the land or the community that surrounds it.

Binswanger argues further, “all proper human interactions are win-win; that’s why the parties decide to engage in them. Voluntary trade, without force or fraud, is the exchange of value for value, to mutual benefit.”

Commercial transactions are infinitely more complex than the moment of exchange of a product or service between parties. On a small scale they may be a bit closer to Binswanger’s analysis, but in the modern world the “community” for big business is the United States and the economic playing field is global. This scale allows business leaders to exploit and manipulate people all over the world for their own interest while reaping the benefits and securities that a company in the United States enjoys.

For example, in America, our labor often competes directly with workers in Thailand because owners of capital have the resources to use labor to produce anywhere on the globe; so available jobs and wages in the US are driven down. However, as an American, you can’t shop for products in Thailand at Thailand prices. Instead, the owners of businesses bring them back to America and price items low enough to undercut the products made in America, but high enough to take as much of your money as possible.

The assumed truth that all economic transactions are a “win-win” is such a gross oversimplification of reality with several flaws. First, it assumes people have all the information they need, can quickly and adequately process it, and make the best economical choice possible. Meanwhile, the multibillion-dollar advertising and public relations industries are fully committed to brainwashing and misinforming people so they will buy something against their own interests. Binswanger ignores the fact that people are lied to and misled. He ignores that they aren’t informed and don’t consciously and actively participate in many of their transactions. Any student of economics knows that capitalism requires accurate information.

Second, it assumes people make decisions because it is a win for them, while many transactions are coerced either through advertising and manipulation, pricing control, or the lack of real choice (i.e. cell phones, gasoline, and meat industries are dominated by a handful of companies with almost no difference in products, services, and price). It assumes when people take a low paying job, it is a mutual exchange based on a win-win. In reality, most of us take a job because we have no other choice. You may think, “Well just go get an education.” Many of us did that. There are still so few jobs available and the pay is so little that we are forced to take jobs to survive – we don’t choose them. This view also assumes that the wage of a job simply found is its proper value based on equilibrium reached from supply and demand. Binswanger most likely believes that because that’s what he read in an economics textbook in his freshman year of college. Again, I remind you that the reality is a bit more complex. Labor is not paid value for one’s work; we are paid the least amount possible an owner can pay in a climate where technology and outsourcing are diminishing jobs.

Third, it assumes that no one else is impacted by the transaction. Economists trivialize the impact an economic transaction has on third parties—called an externality. Often, the total value lost to third parties is greater than the gain of the parties engaging in the transaction, but this loss is not calculated. For example, if you want to turn your suburban yard into a landfill because you secured an account with a nearby city to dispose of their trash, you would decrease the value of all the houses around you, who had no say in in the agreement and would not be compensated. The total loss of value among the community would be much greater than the net gain of the two parties involved in the transaction. Now, you’re probably thinking, “But that could never happen because it’s against the law.” Exactly.

In a response to the article, Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone recently addressed the practices of the 1% and counters Binswanger’s determination that the CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, should be held in higher regard than Mother Teresa. He highlights some of the common practices of companies like Goldman Sachs that are either illegal or should be because they violate the freedom and self-determination of others just like turning your yard into a landfill would (only worse).

Binswanger perverts libertarian notions of voluntary exchange by pretending that this is somehow the reality of the America we live in. By using divisive language like, “an end must be put to the inhuman practice of draining the productive to subsidize the unproductive” he excites a following because some people love to hate — but here is a platform where all Americans should be able to stand united. Even the libertarian right knows that in a free market with access to accurate information, supported by a small government, the Goldman Sachs types would never exist. They exist because our government helps them survive because they artificially inflate GDP and American power.

People don’t oppose big businesses because they’re successful; we oppose them because they are corrupt institutions that rose to power by cheating the system and our government simply helped them do it. We could have a society where real work and innovation was rewarded and small businesses would be able to compete—but we don’t. Goldman Sachs and other overblown banks and corporations would not be able to survive in that climate. In the meantime, while our corrupt political and economic system allows them to exist, we’ll go ahead and settle for that payback.

Ultimately, Binswanger hangs his hat on the most unoriginal of all neoliberal pundits’ arguments: the wealthy are the innovators and the job creators. But what do they innovate? Well, they innovated a pretty cool finance trick where they sold bundles of bad debt as a package with a good rating and then bought insurance on the debt so when loans went into default (which they knew would happen) insurance companies paid them a lot of money. They created a pretty awesome process to target and trick lower income families into buying mortgages because of a low affordable payment, knowing it would rise and their houses would be foreclosed. They created millions of part-time, low paying jobs while simultaneously contributing to the downfall of full-time, good paying jobs. But we should say thank you because “the man who works as a janitor in the factory producing that invention, receives an enormous payment in proportion to the mental effort that his job requires of him.”

I feel bad that Binswanger does not feel like he belongs to a community and cannot comprehend the value of community because it doesn’t translate into a monetary denomination. However, the rest of us understand it. Not for charity, but for the value society will receive by preventing future distortions of reality from being projected into our collective discourse, someone ought to buy Binswanger a book that was written after 1975.

Instead of paying back the 1% with what Binswanger says we owe them, I suggest the 99% build strong human bonds within their communities to promote both mutual aid networks and environments in which small businesses are free to exchange. Let’s be honest, if we only advanced far enough to create the type of real competitive capitalism that someone like Ayn Rand believed in, one where corporations had to play on level fields and information was accessible, businesses like Goldman Sachs and Walmart would crumple to the ground under their own inadequacies.

To find out more about why Harry Binswanger is a complete tool and how you can avoid being anything like him, check out my book, “Another World IS Possible: Freedom, Economic Truth, and Creating a Society of Humanness.”


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Occupy and America: Two Years Later

Two years for Occupy Wall Street. What still saddens me is how many Americans are still letting the corporate media dictate what and how they think. Whether you consider yourself—a liberal or a conservative, left, right or whatever—most of us would agree on most things if we were having the right discussion with each other. If we listened to why others were advocating for one thing or another we would find common courses of action.

Take taxes for example—something talked about a lot in both the Occupy and Tea Party Movements. Most people would prefer not to be taxed too much and have the government spending our money. But in the current climate of overblown corporations whose actions impact our environment, food supply, wages, small business, political sphere, self-determination, and even our constitutional and human rights—all combined with a media and public relations campaign that prevents accurate information from reaching the masses—it isn’t unreasonable to seek a solution. Those who argue for a free market or some version of capitalism should not be looking to protect this model. The economic system we have is far from either. Taxes are not the solution to fix the system, but they may be a part of a comprehensive transition process. And they certainly can help mitigate the effects of the system while we develop a better way. This is a conversation we could have if we could get passed the rhetoric.

It’s difficult to have this conversation about taxes without taking a hard look at the government. Almost everyone in the country is not satisfied with the government but if we were to transition to a government that was of the people and by the people, then we likely wouldn’t look at taxes the same—like we are handing over our money to some far off, unaccountable institution. Instead, if we had a real say in how our taxes were used and could see the direct impact on our own communities and neighbors, we might not be so angry about them.

Furthermore, if you believe in the America your junior high civics teacher told you about, you should be furious that when other Americans (even if you think you disagree with them [which you probably don’t]) are exercising the first amendment rights they are caged, beaten, and arrested in mass. It should outrage you because someday you may have a grievance to redress and you would want your rights to speech, press, and assembly protected. Don’t let corporate media make you believe that protestors are getting arrested because they did something wrong or illegal. That’s not the case. And don’t let the corporate media make you afraid of other Americans participating in democracy: that’s what democracy is.

Finally, you may believe that Occupy no longer exists because you don’t hear much about it in the media. But, in addition to the activists still working on Occupying Wall Street, what we knew as Occupy in lower Manhattan and public parks around the country has grown into so many projects and movements all over the world and they all remain interconnected through human networks and around common beliefs. Those beliefs are what made Occupy so transformative for so many people: we all have the power to create change with each other. Of many things Occupy accomplished, the most important in my eyes is that it made people remember that they can be the change the world needs. What’s important now is that Americans throughout the country who are living their day-to-day lives, trying to get by, do not forget it.

I’m still positive and optimistic about change. There’s good reason to be: there are so many amazing people doing so many amazing things. I hope to see you in the streets, but even more so I hope to see you in your community park or on your block talking with your neighbors and building a better world.

#OccupyWallStreet #S17 #AnotherWorldISPossible

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Wide Awake and Ready: The Occupy Movement Set to Kick Off a New Season

The burst of exhilarating energy and national attention around Occupy Wall Street (OWS) faded by December but the arduous work persisted throughout the winter. OWS activists have been obsessively preparing for an inspiring and effective year. With weekly marches to Wall Street, an ongoing occupation at Union Square, and a sleep-in action in front of the New York Stock Exchange, OWS in NYC has shown the public what the media tried to hide: we are still here, and we are not leaving. In addition to all these activities, Occupy Wall Street organizers have been working on movement building projects that have yet to emerge.This Saturday, OWS and people from throughout New York City will converge on Central Park. The event, “Spring Awakening 2012: Occupy New York City People’s Assembly” (#A14), driven by OWS organizers, will likely develop as a new invigoration of the OWS movement. While the park occupations, direct actions, and many other types of work that came out of Liberty Plaza continue to grow, many organizers have also began to shift focus toward creating connections with other networks, merging efforts, and strengthening existing relationships. There are two main constituents that the Spring Awakening 2012 is aimed at. First, there is significant focus on effectively bringing new people into the movement by connecting them in a way that suits their needs. Second, we hope to create relationships between seasoned organizers from, both inside OWS and other organizations, in a way that fosters collaboration on existing work efforts. With long-term, lasting, and fruitful relationships being the goal, this event could be a good indicator of the next phase of OWS.

A planning group of over one hundred activists choose April 14 for specific reasons. Energizing events in early spring will pull us out of a long and hard winter where the movement had some degree of disarray and where many have felt defeated. It is designed to propel us into the spring and summer where the work that everyone has done over the last 4 months will begin to manifest, for example, the citywide May Day actions. The group also chose Central Park because the mission of the day and the process to achieve it necessitates having people invested and involved from all over the city. As the movement grows, it is more and more important to have an increasing number of people and a diversity of voices involved in planning. Central Park is a central location for people from all boroughs to converge.

The earlier part of the day will be an open space format with blanketing, teach-ins, performances, and activities. The purpose of this is to celebrate our work and accomplishments, to bring positive energy and reinvigorate people, and to welcome newcomers and help plug them in to existing organizing work. For example, parents may find it difficult to participate in OWS because of overwhelming family responsibilities and safety concerns regarding bringing their children to events. However, parents are among the most concerned citizens because they are trying to shape a better world for their children.

“As parents, we are naturally focused on creating a better future for our children. For me personally, it is important to show my children how to participate in democracy and understand the process. And as my 10 year old is fond to point out, we are here to provide a voice for those that do not have one,” says Myra Kuo Territo, an Organizer with Parents Occupying Wall Street (POWS).  To mitigate fears of parents who are reluctant to participate in activism, Ms. Territo explains that POWS is hosting a teach-in, “discussing how to safely protest with children. Like a yellow balloon campaign so that people and police recognize there are children in actions. Recognizing signs of danger and creating escape plans.”

Spring Awakening organizers will keep all participants informed about activities using an open space system that they constructed in collaboration with Not An Alternative, Occupy Town Square, and other open space experts. It works by listing all activities on a “commons board” that denotes the time of the activity and a letter. Flags with matching letters will be posted throughout the space so participants can see where they need to go to find the event they are interested in. Additionally, all participants can receive constant updates by texting “@SpringAwakening2012” to 23559.

This open space format will continue throughout the day, however at 3pm, an assembly will also convene for those interested in more structured organizing and work commitments. At the assembly, organizers and activists will submit campaigns, projects, and initiatives. Participants will then form clusters, or groups, based on these submissions and collectively plan a strategy around them. They will also form commitments to the cluster with the goal of collectively working toward creating change in that area. Essentially, everyone will combine efforts to accomplish greater goals.

This is one step toward a greater coalescence of people working toward social and economic justice, but it is a crucial one. Occupy Wall Street has shown us that we have a common enemy. Whatever issues you’re passionate about, the oppressive economic structure plays a significant role. #A14 is about merging and strengthening collective efforts, with OWS and other groups who have been doing this work for a long time. Simran Sachdev, an OWS organizer who has been working on this event, said, “so many organizations have spent years working on the issues that OWS is passionate about. Forming greater unity amongst the 99 percent, by increasing collaboration between such groups, is crucial for our success. The Spring Awakening 2012 is a big step in that direction. I’m looking forward to the long-term accomplishments to come out of the event!”

Arrested Freedom (part 2) #n17

I didn’t really know what to do. Handcuffs on, just standing off to the side against the wall, I had never felt like this before. I’ve been arrested for civil disobedience in the past, but it’s different when you choose to break the law as a form of protest. Being arrested as choice is a way to make a statement against an injustice.  This time the NYPD arrested me for legally expressing my opinion, by marching, within the law and even after following an unjust police order to move the other way. Standing by that wall, I felt compelled to sing the Star Spangled Banner, the United States National Anthem. After all, it is the “land of the free and home of the brave” we live on, isn’t it? Well, it is time for the brave to stand up for our freedom. 

By the time I was escorted to the paddy wagon, my right hand was already numb. Years ago, I was a correctional officer for a short time, so I know how these cuffs are supposed to be applied. I told my arresting officer they were too tight.  The right sleeve of my shirt was sticking to my elbow where my blood, from when the police officer unnecessarily threw me on the ground, was soaking into the cloth.  But he didn’t seem to care. Once locked in with eight other arrestees, we drove off. In the back of the police wagon, we tried to predict how long it would be before we were released. We agreed they were definitely not letting us out in time to make the night actions, which meant we were likely being held overnight. We told some stories and got to know each other a bit. The two small, caged windows blocked out most of the light and the large ragged spare tire on the floor left us little floor space for our feet. I guess it’s not supposed to be a comfortable ride to jail. Officers in the front were complaining about all the miscommunications going on. They seem to have been told the wrong place to take us and were turned away. When they started complaining fervently about the condition of their beat-up and broken vehicle, we laughed, and shouted comments like “that’s why you need to join us make the one percent give up money for NYPD equipment!” From then on, the driver was kind enough to slam on the breaks at every stop and turn corners without slowing down so the nine seatbelt-less prisoners would slide, bounce, and bang around in the back cage.

Walking into the courtyard outside prison was like a reunion of sorts. Activists found familiar faces and offered each other comforting smiles. Standing there, officers seemed incredibly laidback. Out of the fifteen or more officers checking us in, only one seemed to be consistently rude to us. Many were even nice to us. Finally, the same officers who an hour earlier threw us to the cement and piled on top of us, took the time to cut the overly tight cuffs and apply new, appropriately tightened cuffs to our wrists.


We moved through the check-in process and officers took and filed our property, then brought us to the holding cell. While in holding, the 99 percent activists were in full form. Every time a new male comrade was brought through the door or a female comrade passed our cell on the way to the female holding cell, we hugged, slapped hands, pounded on the walls, stamped our feet, chanted, sang, and danced. “WE! ARE! The 99 Percent!” It was wild. We shared our stale cheese sandwiches, stories, ideas, and poetry. The strong solidarity can be summed up by one prisoner who mic checked “I just want to say, you all have given me hope again.”

When I was taken from the holding cell to process, one officer courteously applied my fingers to the fingerprint-scanning computer, another officer in the room serenely stated, “We really appreciate the work you all are doing.” The scene was a bit surreal. After the mass police violence against protesters, all the standoffs, and being arrested violently that same morning, to hear an officer of the NYPD openly thank me as if he had nothing to hide was quite shocking.

I have always taken the position that the NYPD institution is made up of many individual people that include supporters and adversaries of Occupy Wall Street. Looking at the officers that surround the park or marches, it is easy to see that some sympathize and refrain from judgment while others are marked by disdain for the activists. However, when the lines of robotic looking riot-police approach non-violent protesters in strict formations and execute violent crowd-control tactics and arrest indiscriminately, it is easy to forget the human element of the NYPD and only see the institution. At these times, it appears that any and every officer just follows orders to dehumanize and unjustly beat American citizens. It is impossible to see any internal conflict or restraint on behalf of individual officers; rather it is one force, massively and violently oppressing people.

Back at the holding cell , the verbal support from officers continued into the next day where several of them approached us in central booking and engaged in hours of conversations that are indistinguishable from Liberty Square debates, aside from the huge metal bars bars between us of course. Conversations with the officers spanned across topics of the economic and political structures we are confronting. According to their words, they are supportive of the cause. Some disagreed with the tactics of our protests, some did not. Police are like working class folks, they just have badges, guns, power, and privilege. That said, as individuals, they are still victimized by the political and economic institutions that oppress our society. Of course some of them agree with us. But if that’s the case, why the violence?


During the conversations, I condemned them for the institutional violence. I think people that break the law should be arrested, even if it is in protest, but police power and authority must be in check. For example, protesters should not be moved from a sidewalk just because police say so. They have just as much right to use the sidewalk as any pedestrian. I also think that police have a responsibility to protect citizens and property and also have the right to defend themselves in violent situations. However, the reality of the police violence at Occupy Wall Street does not fit this analysis. First, the mass police presence escalates tensions because they are preventing peaceful protest, not deterring possible violence or property damage. If the goal was to serve and protect, the NYPD would seek an appropriate balance. Secondly, a cowardice act of violence from a protester in a crowd of peaceful protesters cannot be an excuse to attack the whole crowd indiscriminately. It certainly cannot be used to justify attacking a different peaceful crowd the next day or week when there is no act of aggression from protesters what so ever. But this is the justification we are given/used as an excuse. NYPD officers should refrain from using violence as a way of forcing compliance from nonviolent protesters. There are plenty of nonviolent methods the officers could implement. Instead, they have been using violence in hopes of preventing protester violence, which is not necessary or effective. Finally, it is not acceptable that officers beat crowds of peaceful protesters indiscriminately to “protect themselves.” We are not talking about mass riots here. If a handful of people break a law or become aggressive, arrest them and maintain control peacefully. Instead, officers are drawing batons and pepper spray and wielding their institutional power.

One officer told me that most cops are just doing their jobs and following orders. That doesn’t justify their actions. He said. “We are all individuals and make individual choices.” I pressed him, saying, “I have been at these front lines. I am telling you your colleagues are beating innocent people for exercising their freedom of speech. I was tackled and arrested violently for marching peacefully on the sidewalk.” He replied, “If I was given that order, I wouldn’t do it.” I would like to believe him. I would like to believe that individual people that make up the NYPD are not the same as the institution, but it is increasingly difficult to do so. We don’t see these types of officers surrounding us on a regular basis. It is time for brave officers, who know what is right, to follow their hearts and say “no!” It is time for the real heroes to be human, stand up as conscientious objectors, and really protect and serve.


Goodbye Freedom. Be Careful. (#NDAA)

From my mom, to family and friends, to Facebook acquaintances, so many people have bestowed the same advice upon me: “be careful”. Two simple words that carry with them a complex tornado of confusion and emotion that not only magnify the lack of comprehension regarding the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) dynamics, but also carry the weight of an eye-opening debunking of nationalist rhetoric that has shaped my identity.
I know why everyone keeps telling me to be careful. They see the news, the perceptions of chaos, mobs, and riots and they see reports that the police are cracking down and violently arresting people. Meanwhile, I post pictures and updates on Facebook and Twitter that let my friends and family know I’m usually in the mix of things. The concerns derive from a combination of two things: the media shaped illusions that portray a gathering of loving American citizens as an unpredictable mob, and the police. Apprehensions regarding my presence at OWS are dominated by the latter.


This notion should baffle the American-patriot’s mind. Why would I need to fear the police when I am in public spaces, lawfully exercising my American rights to freedom of speech and assembly? How could my perceptions of country and freedom have been so wrong? Why should I fear those who are meant to serve and protect me?

The police and government are cracking down on dissent all across the country. On November 17th, I was arrested and I hadn’t broken a single law. I simply spoke out against my government in a peaceful and public gathering. The NYPD detained me for being part of OWS, in America, where we are supposed to have freedom of speech and assembly. Over the last decade, we have sat by as our government has stripped our rights away.

On New Years Eve, President Obama cowardly signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) when he knew most Americans would be busy celebrating the coming new year. I emailed the White House several times asking why this bill was not listed under pending legislation only to receive a generic response about Obama’s defense strategy.  As I write this blog, NDAA is not posted on the White House site under signed legislation. When the President signs a bill purposefully, when the people are not watching, what does that tell us about the bill and about him as a leader? And this from the man who campaigned on transparency. As Obama swiped his presidential pen across the NDAA he wipe away even more of our constitutional rights. This bill codifies indefinite detention of American citizens who were “a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners” by the military “without trial until the end of hostilities” in the War on Terror.


Now you may feel certain that you or I are unattached to “associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States” however, media pundits have already tried to align protesters with terrorists. Furthermore, it would behoove you to know that what appeared to be a leaked memo shows London Police have already aligned the Occupy Movement with terrorism. As far as we know, neither the NYPD nor the US government has done the same, but… we don’t know. The FBI has targeted activist as terrorists (maybe in part to justify a the terrorism budget), so the connection of OWS protests to terrorism is not farfetched.

Historically, the US government has not been above robbing its own people of their liberty. In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order that allowed the US military to detain tens of thousands of American citizens of Japanese heritage. While a drastic measure, this was less extreme than signing indefinite detention into law. The Internal Security Act of 1950 and the witch-hunting of the Red Scare obliterated civil liberties in America. In the 1960s, the FBI targeted the Black Panther Party, who militantly spoke against the US imperialist establishment, as the greatest threat to internal national security. They also targeted Martin Luther King Jr. who spoke of peace and used nonviolent resistance. In September 2002, US officials deported Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen, in an example of extraordinary rendition, to Syria where he claims he was interrogated and tortured for almost a year. One thing seems certain: it is not beyond the US government to use vague laws and fear to crush dissent by obliterating civil liberties.


Whether the military detains innocent Americans citizens is not the only issue. It will do well all lovers of freedom and justice to consider the impacts of simply passing a law that gives the government that power. When people fear their government, they hesitate to speak out against it. For governments to control people, they do not always have to crush dissent with an iron fist; in many cases all the government has to do is make people afraid to speak out. The power shift itself is an affront on American freedom.

I love my family and friends for their concerns. I call on them and everyone to stand up for justice. I know that when they say “be careful” they don’t mean I shouldn’t protest. However, if being “careful” in the current swarm of government disenfranchisement, police brutality, and oppression of freedom means not expressing my opinion, voice, and beliefs to the fullest extent, then I refuse to “be careful.” I love my family and country too much to hold back.  I choose, instead, to be care full. As our freedom dwindles, and oppression perseveres, I will remain hopeful. However, I shall bid farewell and offer the advice of my family and friends to that, which needs it most, and simply say “Goodbye freedom. Please be careful. You are under a much bigger threat than I”.


Arrested Freedom (part1) #n17

On Thursday, November 17th 2011, thousands of protesters flooded the streets of lower Manhattan, surrounding Wall Street in response to a call for a global day of action, celebrating the two-month anniversary of occupying Liberty Square. As a full time participant in the movement, I met up with some friends at 6am to pass out the new poster edition of the Occupied Wall Street Journal to the protesters gathering at Liberty. The plan for the day was well known: show an overwhelming presence in the morning to disrupt business as usual at Wall Street; fill the subways in the afternoon with teach-ins, posters, and fliers to spread our message and gather more support for the movement; in the evening we would march across the Brooklyn Bridge, which was a milestone in our movement because of the mass arrests in early October.


People were probably aware of specific acts that would get them arrested. Sit-ins to block streets and entrances were met with mass arrests, which was no surprise. Police used, the now standard, excessive force in dealing with non-violent protests. To break through human chains where peaceful protesters linked arms, police punched and beat them. When arresting protesters there is little, if any attempt to do so without slamming them to the ground, jumping on top of them with several officers, and tightening the plastic zip-cuffs to cut off circulation.

Most participants, however, including myself, were trying to avoid the early morning arrests. I mean, who wants to be in jail with so much excitement planned for the day? Many people also had to go to work the next day. Personally, I had planned a teach-in on the one train with a small group of organizers in West Harlem and I volunteered to speak at it. I literally promised them I would not get arrested. To keep my promise, and against my natural inclinations, I tried to move along every time the police presence foreshadowed arresting time. It’s always a struggle to leave any compatriots behind, but one thing I’m learning from this movement is the importance of checking my ego and allowing others to make their sacrifices without feeling like I need to protect or join them.

As a result of my morning fluidity, I ended up following a small march up Broadway, passing the iconic bull at Exchange Street. It was a small march, probably under sixty people. As an artistic blockade of New Street, an access point to Wall Street, one group had held large cardboard paintings of houses and buildings. When held, side-by-side, these paintings created a wall, symbolically sending the message “Wall Street is closed”. These folks became the front row of our small march as we searched for the next protest intersection that needed support.

As we marched up the sidewalk of Broadway, riot-ready police sprang to formation. Helmets on and batons drawn, they formed a three officer-deep line across the sidewalk, blocking our way. We stood in our lines, face-to-face with the police lines, in what was a standard police-protester face-off. We basically just stood there. We want to walk forward, and have a legal right to do so, but the police are in our way. What could we do? We are not going to push through them and provoke violence. We could walk back the other way, but that might be too easy of a submission. We cannot walk away from the police every time they block us or all our marches would just amount to a bunch of people walking around in circles all day. Why should the police be able to dictate where we walk when we are not breaking a law and when there is no justification for their blockage? So… we wait.


Cardboard vs. Batons

After several minutes of standing, a heavy-set, white shirt officer walked up behind the line of riot police and shouted that we needed to walk the other way or they were going to start arresting us. This order took a couple of seconds to process. Why do we have to walk the other way? What is the reason for this demand? All things considered, it seemed like everyone was willing to take this loss and walk away so we could continue with the larger effort throughout the day. Everyone, including me, began filing out. However, seconds after the white-shirt demanded we leave, the police began to storm through our front line of cardboard-bearing marchers and pulling on their signs. A bit of a struggle ensued as protesters tried to hold onto their signs, which the police had no justification for taking. One officer tore at my sign. I pulled it back exclaiming, “I’m allowed to have a sign.” He replied, “you are allowed to have it but you have to keep walking.” The only reason I had stopped walking was his pulling on my sign challenging my inertia, however, I followed the order and “kept walking,” to avoid arrest. While I walked, I pulled out my cellphone to capture the police escalations that I knew could lead to violent arrests. While walking, I tried to film the scuffles behind me.

The white shirt officer that pushed through the line said “grab him. He’s a camera. He’s camera.” An officer tried to grab at my arm, which I pulled away and said “I’m walking the way you told me to. I’m not resisting.” She said, “keep walking” as she did not appear to be attempting to arrest me. At this moment, the white shirt cop barreled through her and another officer and grabbed my arm, obviously intent on arresting me. I said, “Why are you arresting me? I am NOT resisting you!” To which he replied, “you’re resisting now!” As he pulled me violently to the ground gashing my arm on the pavement and he and two other officers jumped on me to “hold me down.” All of this was unnecessary as, after a failed attempt to brace my fall, I, face-down, simply and peacefully put my hands behind my back.

I have been speaking adamantly against the NYPD’s infringement on the first amendment rights of speech, assembly, and press. I believe strongly in our rights as American citizens. I am willing to accept limitations on these freedoms only when the use of them infringes others’ freedoms. I am not willing to subordinate my, or anyone else’s freedoms, because someone disagrees or is inconvenienced by and how they are used. No American should tolerate this.

I defend the protesters because of what I have seen happening to us. I know, from actually being there, that our actions are almost entirely nonviolent. When someone uses violence, I think they should be arrested. But this was personal. I know I am allowed to express my opinion nonviolently, I know I am allowed to walk on the sidewalk, I know that it was not I or my fellow protesters blocking the sidewalk, but the tight line of police. There was not even pedestrian traffic around to block. Everyone on that sidewalk was either a cop or a protester. I know I should not have to walk “the other way” just because some angry cop with a hatred for informed people, or just on a power trip, tells me I have to. But I did. I did follow his unjust request. I swallowed my pride, and walked away. In spite of this, I was arrested. My voice, my right to express my beliefs, and my freedom were stripped away from me for 32 hours for no other reason than that my voice, what I have to say, was an inconvenience to some.

This should be clear to everyone: you do not have freedom if those freedoms are subjected to the will of the government. You do not have freedom of speech if the government prevents your speech when you say something they do not want you to say or if you say it too loud. You do not have freedom to assemble if you are told how, when, and how many people are allowed to assemble. Or if the assemblies are disrupted when the message of dissent is too strong. You do not have freedom of the press when the press can be kept away from seeing and filming what is happening at the whim of the police.

Whether or not you agree with Occupy Wall Street, every American should be outraged at the affront by police forces around the country on our fundamental American freedoms.


Answers to My Friend Phil’s Questions Regarding OWS and the 99% Movement

This post is the result of questions posted on my facebook page by a friend of mine, regarding Occupy Wall Street. It is quite lengthy, but they were significant questions. Phil’s message is in bold. My responses are in regular font.

hey man, nearly everyday I log in here I see some post from you regarding the protest that you are seemingly involved in…as I only watch from afar, I have several questions for you so that I can better understand what it is that you/your cohorts are trying to acheive…

Sorry for the delayed response. The questions are deep and important and I think everyone has an interest in this type of discussion. That all said, a lot of effort and time has to go into answering these. I was in jail for a couple days and had a funeral and other family things to attend to this weekend so I couldn’t address them right away. I will try to do my best to answer them now. Additionally, when reading the discussion, please keep in mind that I am not speaking for the movement. These are my thoughts and opinions.

Some people, who don’t know him, have asked me about Phil’s post regarding his intentions and such. Obviously, I cannot speak for Phil and hopefully he will respond if I misrepresent anything. So I want to provide some background information and thoughts on this discussion before I answer the questions. First of all, I consider Phil a friend of mine. We met in school while pursuing our graduate degrees at NYU. We haven’t seen each other in a year or so but we spent many nights after class, having drinks with our classmates, and discussing these type of issues of politics, economics, humanity, etc. Phil worked (maybe still does) on Wall Street (I believe trading???) and is extremely knowledgeable of markets, finance, economics, and so on. He knows what he is talking about from an academic and practical perspective. He is also a genuinely good-hearted dude who intellectually pursues ideas and ways to make the world a better place. He cares about the well-being of people. I understand that the tone of the questions may have appeared to some of my friends as confrontational, and I am not capable of affirming or denying Phil’s intentions, but I want to say that I think it is necessary to have these discussions among friends. My friends are welcome to challenge me and disagree with me. This does not change the friendships. Phil and I are friends from having these types of discussions and from respecting each other’s opinions. My point is, even if he intended to have a confrontational tone, this is not a bad thing as far as he and I are concerned. We are able to have this type of dialogue with this type of tone. It is how we know each other. I believe he respects my opinions, as I do his, and I think it is better for someone who disagrees or thinks they disagree to speak up and create dialogue than to judge from the sideline and say nothing. So, whatever your feelings on Occupy Wall Street, I ask that you do not judge me and do not judge Phil for our opinions, we are both good, caring people. Especially to those who do not know him. Our opinions and beliefs are informed and valid.

1) what is the ultimate goal of this movement?

There are several reasons why this question is difficult to answer. You have to understand the way the movement is developing. There are several levels to the movement and different dynamics at each level. So there is the actual occupations. Here I am referring specifically to the people living and working in the parks. These occupations have several functions. The most important are 1. They are protests. People being there is a statement. Something along the lines of “we are so fed up with the status quo, we are willing to be here, showing that dissatisfaction, all the time”. Exactly what aspects of the status quo that upset people vary, but there is a general discontent. This protest element also is to raise awareness of the general discontent, anger, etc. Whatever, the affect or implications, agreements and disagreements, this protest has let people know we are there. Even though it is heavily distorted in the media, this awareness is crucial to growing the movement. 2. The occupations in the parks serve as a place to work on the issues we are dealing with. People come to the park and nearby locations to get information, share information, work together, etc. We have general assemblies where people can get information, share information, network, etc. Basically, talking to other people and groups who do different types of work so you can contribute, coordinate, collaborate, etc. So this type of work is also happening online and in community spaces like churches and schools. Maybe the need to have these type of meetings outside will diminish overtime, but right now it is important to be outside, at least part of the time, to be easily accessible and because being outside and bearing the elements makes a statement. 3. The occupations in the parks also serve as little communities. They serve an immediate need, which is providing people with services. We provide food, healthcare, education, etc. All donated and free. * A side note here, for those opposed to government healthcare, this is a good way to explore alternatives to public and privately funded healthcare. This is healthcare provided by doctors, nurses, holistic healers, etc, to people who cannot afford it, for free (not saying this is the solution, just saying there are things going on worth exploring). So in these communities there is the politically element that I wrote about in point 2 and the community element. Beyond the discussions and ideas, these create practical issues and problem. Not only do we have to address these problems, we need methods to address them. A huge aspect of this movement is redefining and refining the process of community, social, political organization, etc. This does not mean, necessarily an overthrow of the current system. Some of us want that, some of us don’t. The results of that are uncertain and the process is still developing and probably will continue to develop.

So, once you understand the process of the movement, the “ultimate goal” question becomes increasingly vague and all I can really do is give you broad umbrella ideas. I’m not even sure if they qualify as “goals of the movement.” Let me throw out what I’m talking about and take it with a grain of salt. For goals, I would say most people want change in the current economic model, political representation, and the interaction between the two. Basically, most people think and feel, the current way these forces function do not work for the benefit of the people and planet and they want something better. I’m pretty sure even you agree with that (correct me if I’m wrong). I have friends and family on Wall Street that agree, 100 percent with the system being broken, horrible, corrupt, etc. Now, how we make those change is a subject of heated debate within the movement. I understand fully that this movement is painted as a left-wing, socialist. I’ll tell you right now, these people are there and they are welcome.  When you start along the lines of “everyone wants a hand out”. Well, that’s an unfair characterization. Some people who want the government to do everything are probably there too. But, being angry about student loans, predatory lending, healthcare, and most important, so much tax money going to bailout big banks, does not always mean these people want handouts (in some cases it does, in some it doesn’t). There is a lot of room for discussion and debate here. Besides the left-wing types, we have lawyers, business owners, cops, soldiers, teachers, etc left and right people, all with different ideas how to create the changes we want. In fact, we need the media to go away and we need more conservative voices to come help. The media pigeonholes us as a crazy left movement and then people who do not associate themselves with “the left” avoid the spaces where all voices are welcome. We cannot come up with solutions if we don’t have people coming and sharing different ideas.

So to sum up, I think the goals are along the lines of 1.) a cultural shift. We want people to interact differently than they do, participate in the political discourse beyond just voting and acting out on what they are against (I know that seems ironic because of the “anti-wall street” message but that message is an anti-status quo message, many people want Wall Street folks involved eventually to make this about the 100%). This side note is a lot to get into, sorry if it’s ambiguous, it’s not the point, and we can get into more if necessary. 2.) An economic shift. We want a more equitable society. Again, how we get there is undetermined and the movement is only determining that method by trying to create and expand space for the discussion. On this point, I know you might feel like the methods are shutting people out. I admit, especially with the media portrayal, people are closing off to it. However, if it keeps going like this, it will expand enough and people will get involved who may feel shut out now (like people who feel the movement does not represent them). Right now, we are spreading into communities and getting more people in the discussions. This takes a long time. There’s nothing we can do about that. 3. We want a change in political representation. I’ll say it again, HOW that is accomplished is undetermined. We just are trying to expand and get more and more people involved to have their voices heard and then they can figure out how they want to be represented. Maybe the current system would stay even if the movement grows, but, if it does, people will have more influence on their representatives because they will be speaking collectively. (This seems like a good idea to me. It’s basically just getting people out and talking again).

Everyone should realize this annoying and confusing fact. As a movement, we do not try to prevent autonomous actions. We stand against things like hate speech and violence, etc. We try to mitigate and deal with those types of issues but it is difficult for a movement like this. We have methods I can get into if people are curious. More importantly, the movement is largely based on nonviolence and love for others and respect for other opinions. We try to push a culture of these principles. But autononmous actions make it annoying and confusing from an outside perspective because they may appear to represent things that they don’t. For example, a list of “demands” appeared on th facebook page called “Occupy America”. I was reported in the news and looked pretty official. This was an autonomus action by a group of people in the movement, who do not represent the whole movement. But you wouldn’t know that from the outside. In consensus at Zuccotti Park, demands lists  get rejected because they don’t represent enough people. Also, when we reach consensus at a specific place (say Zucotti Park), the decision only represents the people in that place, not the whole movement. Tell me if this isn’t making sense. This can make it confusing, but we are willing to deal with it because we want to expand and grow and include other people, so we cannot make decisions that represent people that are not involved yet or in different locations. There is a lot of autonomous actions and statements across all the occupys that do not represent all the movement. Sometimes they represent a small minority. I understand, it is difficult to dig through the mess of information. That’s just how it is right now. People are working to make it better and more efficient as the movement spreads.

Finally, one purpose is to begin and maintain localized general assemblies. Obviously, these happen at Zucotti, but they are popping up all over the city and other places nation wide. This is a crucial culture shift, hopefully, not temporary. If we can keep people engaged in the decisions that impact their own lives, we can change anything we need to.

2) why are you specifically taking part in this “movement”?

(I think the quotation marks are a little unnecessary. It is a movement, even if you disagree with it.)

I am specifically a part of this movement because I believe in change through social movement. I am not satisfied with the current economic, political, and social models. These ideas of everyone having a valid voice and self-determination is something I have always believed in. I don’t get into much of the debates of one “side” versus the other. I believe most differences can be reconciled if we get passed the mainstream discourse. Our debates are largely framed by nonsense. For example, we may argue over healthcare, but we both want the same type of results. We all want people to be healthy and cared for and get the services they need. We may even go further and fight over how much the government should or shouldn’t be involved. And then further how much taxes we should or shouldn’t pay to accomplish such a goal. At the root of such a debate, we would all prefer to have everyone have their needs met and not have a huge government and high taxes. So the conversation is really about how to accomplish a better society. Instead of putting two ideas opposed to each other, or putting up one idea and voting for or against it, I think we need to figure out a better way to combine ideas. I mean what if we had a system of coordinated volunteers to provide healthcare to those that couldn’t afford it. We could coordinate these efforts through local governments instead of federal and we could do it through with a substantially lower cost? Maybe this is stupid, but I throw it out and you (and hundreds of others) say “that won’t work because…” we address the “because” and so on and so forth. If experts and people were having that discussion publically, I doubt we would end up with the current system.

The movement attempts to create space for people to construct solutions form differing points of views. Again, a slow process. But there is a place for everyone’s opinions in this type of discussion. My personal role, why I am involved, is to help facilitate these discussions. I have my beliefs about what I want. But I’m not so closed off to other ideas that I am not willing to listen to others.

I want something different and better. I define “better” as more equitable for people and also something that respects ecological limitations of the planet. How we accomplish that, I believe should be a combination of many ideas. I don’t believe in cookie-cutter panaceas. I think most solutions will be highly localized. I am also involved in the protests because I believe any dissent must battle the overwhelming corporate PR and advertising industry. So I add my voice to the movement to help make it louder. I also feel very welcome and accepted by the people there. I think that most people there are open and interested in hearing a variety of opinions. I think that is the right way to be. And for those that are closed off and ignorant (left, right, or whatever), there are enough reasonable voices like mine, to try to show there are different sides to all stories. I like participating in it, I believe in it.

Finally, I think everyone should voice their opinions in public discourse. These occupied spaces are a good community platform for participation. I feel obligated to participate as a US citizen, same way I do to vote. I have always used resources available to use my voice and to listen to other voices.

3) how do you think shutting Wall Street actually accomplishes anything other than angering folks who work on Wall Street – not the supposed “1%” – who may have sympathized with your cause?

The shutting down Wall Street thing is part of the protest element I spoke of earlier. Generally, we do not “shut down wall street.” On November 17th, we had a morning action with this aim. I think a show of power like that for us is probably necessary. My personal belief is that we should minimize our confrontational tactics against “the 1%” and try to focus more on engaging the 99%. But I understand the need to make a powerful statement every so often. Unfortunately, we need to show people we have some strength behind us. There are many people who support stuff like this but won’t participate until they know it is significant. These actions help us grow.

As far as your point about angering folks, I feel bad about it. That morning, I saw some people going to work on Wall St who still support us. Obviously, a lot of people were annoyed with us blocking their commute and don’t sympathize. I did feel bad. Most people who work there are regular working people and good people and part of our definition of the 99 percent. I don’t disagree with you. Maybe there is a better way. Maybe we will find it. I am not saying I think we should not do that type of protest. It may be necessary. I don’t know for sure. We, as a movement, have definitely made mistakes, and will make more. Hopefully, we learn from them. I think the shutting down Wall Street stuff is largely symbolic. And even though it was portrayed the way it was in the news, the message does get out to the masses. We can show people the true side of the movement as it grows.

Ironically, even many officers I spoke with in jail said the support the movement and hope we achieve some real changes.

4) why do you protest downtown when the majority of banks are headquartered in midtown?

The short answer here, I think , is that it is symbolic. I wasn’t part of the original planning. I came like a week in. But originally, the idea was to actually be on Wall Street. It’s symbolic. “Wall Street” is a metaphor for the governing economic institutions. So, actually being on Wall Street doesn’t work so well legally or logistically. Zucotti Park, one block away from Wall Street, is a privately owned public space which made it a space we could occupy legally, 24 hours a day. Everyone down there is aware of that most of the action takes place in midtown. But protests are largely based on symbolism and imagery.

5) besides what seemingly is just living in private/public spaces, is there an actual political arm of your movement using the system to cause change?

There is no political arm per se. I mean, democrats try to co-opt it, but the movement, as a whole won’t tolerate it. Again, there are autonomous actions where people are trying different political organizing and voting campaigns, etc. But the political organization of the movement is really about creating space for everyone to have a say and constructing solutions based on all opinions. I’m not sure what this will turn into as far as how the movement interacts with representatives. There are many possibilities but hopefully it doesn’t turn into another political party or worse, a wing of the democratic party. That would suck. Maybe people will continue to meet and share info on different bills so everyone can have more info on a bill when they tell their rep how to vote. Or maybe people will come together and work on their own legislation. This stuff is uncertain. And long term affects are far off. As of now, people protest or support different political actions based on their own ideas. If there is a march for something, you don’t support, you don’t go on it, or you organize something else. That’s pretty much how it is right now.

6) do you feel that some of the ideals you/your movement espouse are in opposition to traditional American values, and if so why wouldn’t you or other memebers of the movement emigrate to other states who shared the same values as your movement rather than force the movements upon the population?

Ok. This is pretty much the love it or leave it question. I think to frame it like this, is a bit offensive. I think the principles of the nation allow for a wide range of ideas and beliefs. The founding documents set up freedoms, like speech and press, and create a system of checks and balances, with people power of voting thrown into the mix so everyone has a say. While some things are difficult to change, it is literally set up to allow change. To suggest that because someone disagrees with what you think are American values, they should leave the county, is unfair. American values are many things and there can be many interpretations of them but they are based on freedom. In a country based on freedom you should not take the love or leave it stance. People need to be allowed to voice their opinions and work toward the changes they desire. Other people have the right to voice different opinions and stand against change. The country was founded on dissent, the Declaration of Independence explicitly states that it is the right of the people to alter or abolish the government if it no longer represents them. Not that everyone in this movement are advocating abolishing the government, but the founding documents, structure and organization of the government and political system, and the history and progression of the country are all set up to allow people to work toward changes.

I am going to make a quick stab at what I think you mean by “opposition to American values.” If I’m off the mark, correct me. I think you might be talking about capitalism vs socialism or the idea of keeping what you work for. The capitalism vs socialism debate is an oversimplification. We have a mixed economy. Our debate on capitalism is more a debate on regulation and deregulation and a debate on degree of taxes and what to do with taxes. So that type of debate is going on within the movement. People have all kinds of ideas. There are many people who are involved in the movement who consider themselves pro-capitalism, pro-business, etc. There are people who want more socialist type of organization. So the movement is not against American values. It promotes American values as far as free speech and voices etc. As far as the economic side of things—capitalism vs socialism or the idea of keeping what you work for, etc. I would say that the movement doesn’t have a stance on that. The movement is about people coming together and finding solutions. People in the movement have a full spectrum of ideas and beliefs on that stuff. I think most people are not opposed to someone who works hard being able to get ahead and have more than others. I am speculating based on my experience but I think most people are concerned with the degree of inequality and what the work is people are doing to accomplish that inequality. I haven’t heard anyone say a small business person who works her ass off and makes a good living should be taxed on principle. It’s more the extreme profits from unethical activity people oppose. Not to say there are not people there who want everything communally divided. I’m sure there are, but they are one opinion in a group of many opinions.

I don’t think the movement is forced on the population. If you take the total of what I said about the movement and about the nation, I think there is no forcing of anything on the people. I realize that some people near Zucotti feel inconvenienced by the presence there (many also love us there) but that isn’t the same as forcing some ideology on people.

7) do you or the majority of the folks along with you have jobs, if so, how do they make the time along with work to protest during the day and if not how are you/them being supported (and making efforts to find employment)?

The movement is made up of a wide variety of people and it is much more than Zucotti Park and the other parks. I was working at a restaurant full time and applying to jobs abroad. I left my job to support this movement fulltime and am figuring out ways to support myself as I go. This is a personal decision, based on many factors. It is not the norm. I have worked my whole life, since I was young. I worked in construction jobs in family members’ businesses before I was old enough to get working papers. Started working in a restaurant when I was 15 and became a manger after a couple years. I was a correctional officer for a year. I worked in a hospital and in a school with children and adolescents with development disabilities for several years. I paid my way through undergrad working more than fulltime. I chose to not work through my grad program because I wanted more time to dedicate to my studies so I have significant amounts of loans from that experience.

My father was a veteran from the Vietnam War. He struggled his whole life with the affects of that war (and our family did as a result), he attempted suicide several times, and died of a drug overdose several years ago. I tried to join the marines when I finished high school but was met with the strongest possible resistance one could imagine, from my mother, who lived with the effects the war had on my father, I could not join. While you asked specifically about jobs, I am bring up military service because I think many people who are tossing around the job questions are doing so with implication of laziness, entitlement, and anti-americanism with those questions. (I do not think this was your intention, Phil, but it is relevant to questions other people raise).

I’ve worked my whole life, will continue to work my whole life, I pay taxes, and I love my country. I am not working for pay now, but work full time, more than 12 hours everyday on this movement, because I believe it is necessary. When I am employed again, I will pay back the debt I accrued and make up for the lost time. I am not lazy, nor do I feel entitled. I believe everyone should be taken care of, but I am more than happy to be on the side of service more than a recipient of service.

The movement has every type of person you can imagine. The unemployed and homeless are there more often than most because their situation allows it. There are people who have money and living space but stay there because they are working on the movement. There are people who work and have full time jobs and come there as much as possible in their free time or work on the movement from home.

There are some efforts to help get people work. A lot of these efforts, as far as I know, are new and developing. This is becoming more possible as we spread into the communities and meet regularly with people living there. This is happening in various communities and spreading. I have been helping organize in West Harlem where I live. I think we need more people working on getting people jobs. We will see what happens as these efforts grow. One benefit has been the networking aspect of getting so many people together.

8) do you honestly believe the rhetoric that you/your movement represent 99% of American citizens?

I don’t think everything that every person in the movement says represents 99 percent of the population. The 99 percent is based on a statistic of wealth inequality. One percent of the people controlling 42 percent of the wealth in the contry. I think it is sort of an arbitrary number. I would prefer that the movement eventually transition to representing 100 percent (or maybe 99.9 or something, not sure).  I don’t think any capitalist rhetoric or socialist rhetoric or any other specific and defined model represents the whole population. Chants like “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out,” represent a genuine frustration of people.

Maybe you could be more specific about what rhetoric you are referring to, but if your specifically talking about the claim that “we are the 99 percent.” I don’t know, the number 99 doesn’t matter to me. I think the movement represents everyone in that all voices are given a space and welcome (or should be). I don’t want to try to define you and your beliefs but I there are business people and finance people and conservatives, etc who are part of the movement and do not agree with what you would think the movement is based on the media portrayal. So the reason I think the movement does represent the 99 or 100 percent (or will  as it grows) are the reasons I discussed earlier. There are all types of different voices and perspectives involved and the platforms, processes, and methodologies we are trying to promote allow everyone to have equal say, no matter where you stand on the spectrum. It’s a lot to take on and it is slow and sloppy but the tools are there and everyone is working on making them work and be better.

Someone coming down promoting the current Wall Street model, I’m sure will meet with a lot of resistance, but if they are willing to engage in dialogue, they will be heard by most people there. Most people I know on Wall Street and in businesses want change though. Many of these types of voices engage in the discussions. We need more of these voices.

There probably isn’t any statement anyone can make that would represent 99 percent of the population (aside from extremely vague statements). The reason I think this movement can represent the 99 percent is because of the model that allows and includes all voices. That is what represents the 99 percent, rather, the 100 percent.

Of course, we have to see how things progress.

naturally a long list of questions as I have pondered these and many others regarding this movement and don’t know anyone else involved with the protest…hope all is well

I think people who are not involved, don’t go there, or go down for a short amount of time and watch from a street corner cannot possible understand the complexity of the movement. It takes time to get in a talk to people and participate in a few things before you can understand what is going on. People who have to rely on corporate media, or really any media, are going to have a difficult time understanding it. Unfortunately, too many people spend minimal time in the park and feel they are capable of judging the entire movement and put out blogs, videos, and reports that are very misleading. This is not much different than what the press did to the tea party. They painted the whole movement like a bunch of crazy people and ignored their valid concerns. It’s very disappointing.

I hope all is well with you too. We should get together and talk more of this through. And you should go to some discussions and see how people are having these conversations.  Let me know if you’re interested.

Love or Hate Occupy Wall Street, it is Now a Question of Freedom

I loved looking at their eyes, seeing their faces as I walked circles around the outside of the newly barricaded Zucotti Park. It was Liberty Square only the night before, but on the morning of November 15th it was vacant of all liberty. I consider myself a reasonable person; I will not hate men and women who work for the NYPD just because I don’t agree with the actions of some. I’m certainly not going to act violently toward them. I am consistently one of the voices (among many) preaching nonviolence at the front line of these stand-offs with the NYPD. Earlier that morning, at 2 a.m., I stood a block away, barricaded from Zucotti Park, trying to promote a peaceful resistance to the violent eviction. I am not someone the police officers should hate. In a different setting, many officers and I would agree on a lot of issues. We all think that corporate and government power is out of control, however, these officers “have a job to do.” Despite that job, their eyes and faces paint a complex picture of the human element behind the helmet and mask. 

The range of emotion among the officers seems to cross a spectrum like any other. They are indifferent to us, hate us, are annoyed by us, agree with us, and maybe even love us. Some talk to us for hours while we stand in front of them, some won’t even look at us, some mock and threaten us. Civilians follow a similar spectrum. With the protesters gone, many residents and Wall Street workers, fed up with the protestors presence, walked by a bit excited the morning following the eviction. Smiles on their faces, many gave a thumbs up or shook the hands of officers. “Great job,” they said.

As one tall, prestigious-looking gentleman walked by, shaking an officers hand and clapping, I couldn’t remain quiet. I clapped loudly behind him. “Good job guys! Oppressing free speech! Way to go!! Eff the first amendment! We only have a right to free speech when we agree with you! Thanks guys!” I yelled. The man turned around and walked slightly in front of me as I followed. He said “I have a right to my opinion.” I replied, “I agree, you do. I fight to protect that right, but your opinion is that I don’t have a right to express mine.” We had a little exchange. Part of his argument was he strongly believes people have a right to use the park. Of course, I agree with that. But I reread the constitution. Come to find out, there is nothing in the Constitution regarding a right to use a park. Maybe the right to publicly assemble, but that favors my point more. And my point is, no one should be celebrating the restrictions on anyone’s freedom. Just because you do not agree with how someone uses his or her freedom, does not mean you should praise the forces that oppress it.

If we are talking about the right to use the park, why is your right to use it is more valid than mine? Is your leisurely stroll through the park more valid than my use of space for chats with visitors because mine is associated with a message you think you don’t like? I feel sorry for those that judge strongly, as it appears their opinions are based on ignorance. The media plays a large role in framing what they think the protest is, rather than what it actually is. It would be hard for American to disagree with what the movement is really about.

The camp at Zucotti is an assembly of people, exercising their free speech to figure out better ways to hear everyone’s voice, and to bring power back to the people, away from corporate power and an over-inflated government. You may disagree with some of the opinions in Zucotti Park, but that’s the point. You may disagree with some of the methods in Zucotti Park, but that’s the point! Come. Disagree. Or better yet, if you like, start your own assemblies in your communities where people can come and discuss issues, agree and disagree, but find solutions together. What I don’t understand is the joy people expressed, knowing people’s freedoms were violently oppressed, and you cannot deny that is what happened.

Clearly, we need to question what happened on November 15th. The sudden, harsh, and secret crackdown in the cover of night, with the eyes of the “free” press strategically blocked by barricades and trucks, is something no one should tolerate. I want to ask these officers if, when they were young and in school studying history, for example studying the civil rights movement, how did they feel about those stories? How did they feel about, reading about the forces that oppressed the voices of Americans because they were people of color? Did they feel anger toward the oppressors? Did they ever wonder if they would one day be the oppressors? Officers on the NYPD need have a personal challenge ahead of them. They need to decide, at what point are they part of something that violates what they believe in. At what point, does “doing their job” go beyond the rhetoric of “public safety,” and translate to oppressing dissenting voices.

We all have “a job to do” but if we believe in freedom of speech, than we all need to stand up for everyone’s use of it, especially when we do not agree with the message because that is when it matters most. If you only believe in freedom of speech when someone agrees with you, then you don’t believe in freedom of speech at all. Make no mistake, our camp in Zucotti Park IS a statement. It says, “everyone can have a voice here.” It is us, using our right to assemble, as an expression of frustration with the state of our country. Violating that is an affront on the foundation of our nation.

How to Kill the Occupy Wall Street Movement

There has been an underlying current of disenfranchisement in the country. Economic and political institutions (and the people running them) have failed us miserably. They have robbed us of our freedom and our self-determination on almost every level. With an abundance of consumerism and materialism, coupled with the lack of capacity to affect the quality of one’s own existence in a meaningful way, our society has systematically suppressed itself from what it really means to be human. People want their voices heard! This is why the Occupy Wall Street protests have exploded across the American landscape, popping up in over one-hundred cities within the first month.

It was no surprise when the corporate media and politicians tried to ignore us. They were hoping we would go away. However, in any smart leadership, holding power means hoping for the best, but planning for the worst. While the mainstream media ignored us, you can bet Wall Street was doing anything but ignoring. On the contrary, they have teams of risk management experts watching our every move. They are preparing and planning how they can kill our movement and mitigate the impact as much as possible.


Social Movement theory suggests five ways a movement declines: Success, Organizational failure, Co-optation, Repression, or Establishment within mainstream society.[1] The lines between reasons for decline are blurry and usually more than one will apply. They can be impacted by internal or external forces.

Based on combining these scenarios (excluding repression because it appears to strengthen not weaken us), I will argue that there are two ways that corporations, banks, and people that own our politicians and our economy can strategically kill our movement. And you can bet they are gearing up for both. The first one is co-opting the movement. And the second one is appeasing the movement. This does not suggest a conspiracy theory model; it is really more of a system analysis. Politicians typically care about one thing over all else—their job. Therefore, Democrats, who are less open about their pro-business stance than Republicans , see this movement as an opportunity to gain some approval. Bankers, corporate heads, and lobbyists will be more than happy to take steps to help Dems cash-in on this movement rather than leave it to chance. One thing we can say about Wall Street, they love them some certainty. As far as with the appeasement route, it is not crazy to think Wall Street planners are seeing the potential risk this movement presents. With that, why wouldn’t they plan to cut their losses? In other words, why wouldn’t they figure out, if they had to make some compromises, what the strategy should be to minimize losses?

Let’s briefly explore these options.

Co-opting the Movement

Be honest. Wall Street does not care if Republicans or Democrats staff Congress and the White House; they own both. According to one survey, 70 percent of protesters do not identify with either the Republican or Democrat parties. However, 27 percent do align with the Democrats.[2] With this knowledge (and the inaccurate perception that this is predominately a left-wing movement), there will most likely be a continuous, strategic attempt by the Democrats to co-opt the Occupy Wall Street Movement in the same way the Republicans did the Tea Party Movement. In an open letter from an alleged former tea partier, the author warns of such a co-opt. “We were anarchists and ultra-libertarians, but above all we were peaceful. So, the media tried painting us as racists. But when that didn’t work they tried to goad us into violence. When that failed, they killed our movement with money and false kindness from the theocratic arm of the Republican Party. That killed our popular support.”[3] The author goes on to warn that corporate and government employees from the liberal side will infiltrate the movement with support, the media will portray the movement as opposing the right, and a Democratic sympathizer will befriend the movement (gaining support from many in the protests) to hijack and neutralize it.[4] The early signs of this attempt are already happening with high-ranking Dems like Nancy Pelosi and even President Obama supporting the message. [5]

In the classic version, co-optation “occurs when movement lead­ers come to associate with authorities or movement targets more than with the social movement constituents”.[6] Because we have a leaderless movement, I combine the idea of co-optation with establishment with the mainstream, which is when “goals or ideologies are adopted by the mainstream and there is no longer any need for a movement.”[7] Of course, this outcome could be defined as a success or failure depending on how you define mainstream. In this example, the mainstream is the current political system. If the Democrats adopt our ideologies in the current, narrow, bi-partisan American political system, we will not achieve a massive cultural shift and the movement declines in failure. However, if our goals of horizontal democracy, everyone’s voice being heard, fair economy, etc. are adopted by mainstream American people (meaning almost everyone) then our movement will decline in success.


Appeasing Enough to Get By

If the Democrats can’t hijack our movement and embolden Obama to raise some taxes on the rich to show support for the people, the next step will be appeasement. All the leadership has to do is figure out the bare minimum concessions it would have to make, to satisfy enough of the movement to the point that people would stop fighting and go home, thereby deflating the movement. In this scenario, many would view the decline as resulting from success and many as resulting from failure. This is why a list of demands like the one released on the Occupy America Facebook page are so dangerous at this early juncture.

Let politicians and businesses run through a list of demands and negotiate an outcome and we could be left with the usual bare minimum that ultimately changes nothing. This will create a fractionalization within the movement where high percentages of the 99 percent, whose individual needs were met, think, “we won!” and go home (even if those folks preparing demands would prefer an all-demands–met-in-full or nothing scenario). Factions of the movement that aligned with one demand or another would be established within the mainstream without fundamentally changing the culture.

The movement is happening so fast that no one knows what to make of it. Liberty Square serves as the ground-zero of the Occupy Wall Street/99 percent movement. People are looking to Liberty Square because it is essentially where the movement began, because of its proximity to Wall Street, and because of the overall size of the Occupation, events, and marches. People everywhere are wondering how they can be involved and help the cause. The media is flooded with analysts trying to deconstruct the movement and its demands. What’s terrible about this is that people are responding. For example, a “demands group” has emerged at Occupy Wall Street. Someone responded on thecoccupywallst.org saying “a group claiming to be on the verge of issuing demands for #OWS has gotten the attention of a story hungry media. We are our demands. #OWS is conversation, organization, and action focused on ending the tyranny of the 1%”.[8]

*Just to be clear, at OWS everyone has a voice and is entitled to use it as they chose. I have not worked with the demands group, so I do not know what they are working on. However, any I would disagree with any demands that attempt speak for people who do not endorse the statement i.e. the rest of the movement and future of the movement. I think “demands” are better stated as goals and are fluid and directed to the people involved, not the government and corporate powers.

A movement that represents the 99 percent based on horizontal democracy should be extremely cautious about releasing demands. First, it is far too early to claim we know what the 99 percent want. We feel great when twenty thousand people flood Times Square and Occupies in over one hundred cities throughout the country. We talk about how the police are escalating the violence because we are winning. (And winning we are!) We have so much momentum and the movement grows exponentially every week. It’s truly amazing. But hubris could be our downfall. There are almost 313 million[9] people in this country. 99 percent of 313 million? 309.87 million people. We cannot speak for them before we have spoken to them. Second, demanding anything from the one percent is essentially telling them what to give us, instead of being the society we want to be. A better option would be to gather the people and allow them to create alternatives—no demands required. This takes patience.


Focusing on Goals

While we probably have to make certain transitions at the federal level, like ending the FED and getting the money out of politics, people are discovering that they can find solutions and alternatives by talking to other human beings. Maybe we don’t have to demand these things or, if we do, they don’t have to be a focus of the movement. At Liberty Square, people can have a voice that is heard. Right now they can be the politics of the square through horizontal, participatory democracy. They can affect the policies that govern the park and the Occupy Wall Street protests. As this model spreads, people could bring it back to their communities, make the necessary adjustments, and affect policies that govern their own communities.

In the meantime, we could focus on goals. The difference is that we are not asking (demanding) anything of anybody. Goals are for US to achieve. I do not see anything wrong with setting goals for ourselves. Let’s set the bar high and see how much the power of the people can really do. These goals should be broad enough to include a diversity of opinions and people across the American (possibly Global) landscape. Gathering the 99 percent seems like a reasonable goal in line with the movement – possibly create general assemblies all across the nation. “We want freedom for all, without regards for identity, because we are all people, and because no other reason should be needed”.[10] We can achieve this by spreading a massive cultural shift that targets the way people interact with each other on social, political, and economic terms—human relationships—the formation of “a society of cooperation and community.”[11] That can be our goal.


[1] Jonathan Christiansen. ‘Four Stages of Social Movements’. http://www.ebscohost.com/uploads/imported/thisTopic-dbTopic-1248.pdf. 2.

[2] Carl Franzen. ‘Occupy Wall Street Demographic Survey Results Will Surprise You’. < http://idealab.talkingpointsmemo. com/2011/10/ occupy-wall-street-demographic-survey-results-will-surprise-you.php >(10/19/2011)

[3] ‘An open letter and warning from a former tea party movement adherent to the Occupy Wall Street movement’.http://www.reddit.com/r/occupywallstreet/comments/kyjo/an_open_letter_and_warning_from_a_former_tea/ (10/20/2011).

[4] ‘An open letter and warning from a former tea party movement adherent to the Occupy Wall Street movement’. http://www.reddit.com/r/occupywallstreet/comments/kyjo2/an_open_letter_and_warning_from_a_former_tea/ (10/20/2011).

[5]  Rick Klein ‘Democrats Seek to Own “Occupy Wall Street” Movement’. Oct. 10, 2011.<http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/democrats-seek-occupy-wall-street-movement/story?id=14701337>. (10/19/2011)

6 Jonathan Christiansen. ‘Four Stages of Social Movements’. http://www.ebscohost.com/uploads/imported/thisTopic-dbTopic-1248.pdf. 4.

[7] Jonathan Christiansen. ‘Four Stages of Social Movements’. http://www.ebscohost.com/uploads/imported/thisTopic-dbTopic-1248.pdf. 4.

[10] ‘A Modest Call to Action on this September 17th ‘. Sept. 17, 2011, 9:46 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt. <http://occupywallst.org /article/September_Revolution/> (10/3/2011).

[11] ‘A Modest Call to Action on this September 17th ‘. Sept. 17, 2011, 9:46 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt. <http://occupywallst.org /article/September_Revolution/> (10/3/2011).