Category Archives: Significance

Occupier + current system + social media = ?

20 May 2012: The police crack down pretty hard on the Occupiers in Chicago today during their Anti-NATO protest.

I found this photograph moving around Facebook and I thought I’d post it.  I thought the Occupy protests were winding down, but based on this chaos, I’d say I was quite off the mark.

The focal point of the image is the young man guarding himself against a police officer, as well as on the overwhelmed and scared woman with the camera.  I feel like this image represents three main elements of the entire Occupy movement really well.

The young man represents the generic Occupier: the recent college graduate, possibly a hipster, who feels the need to stand out against the current regime and say that he doesn’t approve of the current status quo.  His hands are up to shield himself against the night stick, but the look on his face isn’t necessarily one of fear.  There is determination there, a confidence that comes out if you stare a little longer at him, and you can see that he isn’t just going to defend himself against the police officer, he is willing to take him on.

The police officer is not only representative of police presence and the issues that have come out of that during Occupy, but the illustration of faulty government itself.  The police are supposed to protect citizens, just as the government is supposed to benefit the people, but clearly the police were not protecting anyone but themselves in Chicago today, and clearly the system is not working for the governed because groups like the Occupiers and the Tea Partiers exist.

Finally, the woman with the camera represents media, more specifically social media.  Before social media took off, people heard about things like this through news articles or segments done by professionals.  Ideally, the news is supposed to be unbiased but it rarely is.  Now, with social media, people who were actually there in the moment can show their own evidence to anyone they want at lightning speed for free.  With these kinds of resources, the moments like this will always be available to the public and the truth will never be forgotten.

The Occupier, the current system and social media. Put them all together and what do you get?  Based on this photo, a real Charlie Foxtrot.

Iliana

Crime in OWS vs Crime of OWS

From the violent shutdown of Zuccotti Park on November 15 to continued police brutality, the OWS movement is no stranger to crime. There is, however, a very large difference between the crimes committed by people who participate in OWS-related events and occupiers who commit protest-related “crimes.” What is unfortunate is that the media has played a role in discrediting the movement as a whole by its association with and response to these crimes.  According to a statement issued by the Women’s Caucus of Occupy Philly:

“Rape happens every day, murder happens every day and suicide happens every day. These tragedies are not symptoms or creations of the Occupy Movement, nor are they exclusive to the Occupy Movement; they are realities of our society and of our everyday lives.”

By taking what this quote says into account, the difference between the two groups is more easily defined. As a “society,” a term defined by Dictionary.com as “an organized group of persons associated together for religious, benevolent, cultural, scientific, political, patriotic, or other purposes,” the Occupy encampments are bound to have individuals in their midst who are prone to committing crime. Therefore, when sites like OWSexposed.com and PunditPress put together statistics seen in the chart below, it’s important to remember the circumstances that contribute to those statistics.

It’s sad to acknowledge that rape and sexual assault in particular have occurred in multiple locations across the nation; however, these actions weren’t carried out as measures backed by the OWS movement. In order to counteract this issue and raise awareness for its implications in society, some people are attempting to educate about how these issues go completely against the goals of Occupy Wall Street. In order to potentially eradicate sexual violence from first the movement and eventually the world, many people are asking for help.

With that being said, there are both those who commit crimes within the movement that can detract from its legitimacy (one woman reacts to an action by one of this type by saying, “You’re giving this movement a bad name right now, because you are going around and violating others’ space, and it makes people feel unsafe.”) and those who commit crimes for the movement. An example of this—most likely an occurrence that added to the 6000+ arrest that had already been made by February 2, 2012—can be seen in how one group of occupiers was promoting the idea of getting arrested. In the flyer below for a recent event, one of the two ways that the organizers ask people to get involved is by “acts of civil disobedience.”

With the intention behind this call to action as a demonstration of the evils of this nation’s justice system, these arrests are hardly seen as “crimes” in the eyes of occupiers and other supporters. Therefore it is important to realize that statistics cannot always be taken at face value.

Becca Barbush

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-15/u-s-mayors-crack-down-on-occupy-wall-street.html

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/society?s=t

http://www.occupypatriarchy.org/2011/12/12/occupying-patriarchy-throughout-the-u-s/

http://abcnews.go.com/US/sexual-assaults-occupy-wall-street-camps/story?id=14873014#.T6LhDo7qEhw

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2011/10/another_rape_at_occupy_wall_street_goes_unreported.html

http://www.occupypatriarchy.org/2012/01/19/petition-to-address-sexual-assault-at-occupy-boston/

http://www.observer.com/2011/10/objecting-or-objectified-at-occupy-wall-street-women-get-attention-but-not-always-for-their-message/

Patriarchy at the root

“Occupy Patriarchy calls on the Occupy movement everywhere to support and attend these rallies because an attack on the 52% is an attack on the 99% and if we want to confront Wall Street, then we MUST confront patriarchy.”

With this quote, occupypatriarchy.org, a project by the Feminist Peace Network, sends its rallying cry to the internet.

While there are countless motives for people to be involved in the OWS movement around the world, it seems that many of the issues that people are fighting to improve stem from shared, deep-rooted needs of all human beings. With many different types of people making up the 99% and only a small representation of that number actively involved in the movement, it is important to discuss what those deeper issues really are.

One particular group has found a way to identify both a specific cause and what they feel is one of the source problems. In all probability, all of the contributors of the Occupy Patriarchy blog feel as though patriarchy is at the very root of the issues and that all of the specific concerns that stem from it are simply manifestations of this type of group consciousness. One contributor to another blog explains this as he or she discusses the presence of sexual assault in many of the OWS encampments:

“Sexual and bodily violence are part of the everyday social interactions that make up our economy and our lives. In the same way that we can’t begin to tackle the economic disparities between white and black Americans without acknowledging the racism and everyday violence/bullying/intimidation black people face in the workforce or as consumers, we will never truly make life better for ALL 99% if we can’t come to terms with how patriarchy, kyriarchy, and rape culture limit women’s access to wealth and economic opportunities.”

In this quote, the contributor acknowledges the “manifestations” of the issues and also brings the specific examples back to what problems he or she feels are at the root. Both blogs repeatedly reinforce the importance of raising awareness of the problems associated with patriarchy as the current standard around the globe. However, even if awareness can be raised, success cannot always be garnered so immediately. In the following quote it becomes apparent how this fight is a step in the right direction for progress, but recognizes that there is a long road ahead:

“But as women in the Middle East who have participated so fearlessly in the uprisings of the Arab Spring have discovered, the success of progressive and revolutionary movements does not guarantee gains in women rights.“

Women protest in Egypt

Now, with the ability for women in the United States to use the structure and status of the Occupy Wall Street movement as a platform, steps can be taken and change could be implemented that could eventually raise the quality of life for women around the globe.

Becca Barbush

http://www.occupypatriarchy.org/2011/12/14/the-global-occupation-of-patriarchy/

http://scatx.com/2011/11/03/ows-are-we-fighting-for-genuine-transformation-of-the-system/

http://www.occupypatriarchy.org/2012/01/19/petition-to-address-sexual-assault-at-occupy-boston/

http://inveritascrescentes.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/the-arab-spring-versus-occupy-wall-street/

Useful platform: feminist issues line up with OWS goals

The website, occupypatriarchy.org, brings a unique perspective to the category of “Within the Movement.” With little research surrounding the specific gender breakdown of Occupy, this blog provides information about how and why women need to participate. In particular, one post provides the following quote that describes how even though the Occupy movement is new and young, long standing issues such as gender inequality can be addressed by using its structure:

“While the Occupy movement has been developing, the war on women has become a nightmare of hateful, ignorant, daily attacks on women’s human rights.  It is urgent that this be stopped and presents an opportunity for the Occupy movement as a whole to stand up for women’s lives and say that this war must stop.”

From this application of the ideals of the movement, one can see how wide ranges of people and causes (with respect to geography, education, economic standing, medical history, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc.) have the potential to speak out for change by using the OWS movement as a platform. More specifically, in the case of occupypatriarchy.org, many feminists and feminist supporters wish to show how Occupy’s many human rights complaints forge a bond between the occupiers and women’s rights activists.

Below you will find a list of issues deemed by the writers of the blog as issues routinely prioritized by feminists that are, or according to the article should, be important to the OWS movement:

  • Equal pay and ending other forms of economic discrimination
  • Childcare
  • Paid maternity and paternity leave
  • Zero tolerance of violence against women, sexism, sexual harassment and other misogynist behavior
  • Ending sexual exploitation and trafficking
  • Getting the Equal Rights Amendment ratified
  • Implementation of the National Action Plan for Women, Peace and Security
  • Funding the Violence Against Women Act
  • Ratification of CEDAW the Convention on All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
  • Reproductive justice (including the right not to have a child, the right to have a child and the right to raise children
  • Zero tolerance on the assault on women’s reproductive health
  • Valuing unpaid work such as childcare, eldercare and housework

The general focus of this list is equality for women both nationally and globally; however, its undercurrent furthermore suggests that because these circumstances exist, the more general issue of human rights is still a serious problem within the United States. What this lists describes is a series of circumstances in which many people feel as though human rights have been limited or have been nonexistent. The income inequality concern that sparked the OWS movement in New York is also an example of a very specific complaint that has its roots in human rights. By supporting the endeavors of both groups to raise awareness for the core issues the chances of effecting change are much higher.

(A more in-depth look at the feminist issues presented in this article can be found here)

http://www.occupypatriarchy.org/2012/04/02/a-call-to-the-occupy-movement-to-join-in-uniting-against-the-war-on-womens-lives/

Becca Barbush

So, what is Occupy Wall Street anyways?

The easiest way for me to define OWS is really difficult to define. It seems that every part of the definition I think up comes with about a thousand stipulations: do we look at OWS as part of a global protest or do we limit it to groups that claim the title “occupy,” do we measure its successes by policy changes or by the movement’s spread across borders? There are a few things everyone seems to agree on:

It didn’t start with Zuccotti Park. OWS is part of a larger global protest or protest movement that represents the frustrations of the underprivileged many in regards to the privileged and powerful few – bankers, dictator-like leaders, whoever. Think of my Shepard Fairey post Part 3

The global movement and OWS use new media and social media tools to spread the movement.Another post on our blog compares its global spread to that of the anti-globalization movements in the 90’s. The 2011 movement of anti-capitalism (a feature of OWS according to this post and many OWS protesters) has an ally in the internet and social media that wasn’t so prevalent in the 90s.

In fact, Time‘s Person of the Year article claimed that these movements have partly redefined the terms “globalized” and “viral.” They say that globalized no longer simply means economy, it can also mean this globalized movement and globalized feeling; and viral is no loner cute videos of pets or people doing embarrassing things, it can be a protest or a plan or a news story. Richin’s hyperphotography shows that OWS and the global movement have the internet’s cubist linking ability to thank for some of its successes. (Richin) See practically all of the Shepard Fairey posts, but most notably Part 2.

Part of this “viral” protest makes OWS into a kind of social meme. Celebrities follow it. Through their endorsement, their fans may join the cause or at least learn about it through “weak ties” as discussed in “Unreciprocated Ties.” “Occupy” is an advertising scheme too – this Tide advertisement copies the “99%” meme.

And, many of us have seen the pepper spraying cop, who has an entire tumblr dedicated to him. In a post about this, and other images from the OWS movement, J Hallward talks about a  comparison between the pepper-spraying event at UC Davis and the Kent State Massacre images. Though, obviously, the Kent State Massacre was a much more serious incident, the blog post does bring up another point about OWS.

It isn’t a new occurrence. Yes, OWS, the Arab Spring, Tunisia, and Moscow are recent events. These types of protests, however, are not. The Times notes the phenomenon of protest history.

Ever since  modern republican democracy was invented, astonishing protests and uprisings have spiked and spread once every half-century or so… It happens almost like clockwork, yet each time people are freshly shocked and bamboozled. (Abouizeid 89)

The article mentions the American, French and Haitian revolutions of 1848, various revolutions in 1910, and of course, the 60s. And they had art too:

1960’s anti-war image

So, what is Occupy Wall Street anyways?
It is a part of a movement that shows the frustration of the “common man” against the people who supposedly have the power, like so many that came before it. But, due to the proliferation of internet usage and social media, the movement has gone global in new way. Its images, ideas, and messages have gone viral.

-Evelyn

“Don’t tase me, bro!” ~ “I wasn’t planning on it, sir. I’m just trying to do my job.”

Police brutality is nothing to be overlooked or downplayed. It is a serious offense. However, it is not the all-encompassing defining action of the police against Occupy. Mostly they are just trying to do their job.

As mentioned in my previous post, there has been an increase in criminal activity in and around Occupy protest sites. As a result of that activity, the police force has to be ever more vigilant at those sites to continue to protect their cities. But as the numbers of police officers increase to survey the areas of protest, tensions between the protesters and the police force rise.

Sgt. Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, explains this tension. In a Fox News article, he states, “paralysis is occurring across law enforcement. It’s becoming a Catch 22 […] To go in there to clear the [Zuccotti] park is going to cause confrontation. To not do so is detrimental.” Regarding the specific pepper spray incident in Kara Jonach’s post, Mullins told the Staten Island Advance to “remember who created the atmosphere,” referring to the rowdy protesters that caused many well-mannered, professional police officers to respond on-scene. He goes on to say that Bologna, the man responsible for pepper spraying the girls, “made a decision to use the pepper spray and it wasn’t popular,” essentially saying that it was one man’s decision and his actions should not be reflected on the police force as a whole.

Since this event, the way the police interact with protesters at Zuccotti park has changed greatly. A New York Times article reports that “most uniformed officers have remained on the perimeter of the park since the third week of the protest, rarely venturing in,” and the only officers within the park dress in plainclothes and are just there to keep the department privy to planned marches and the like. This new hands-off policing has “pleased the protesters, who have had numerous run-ins with law enforcement officers and tend to view them negatively.”

Based on what happened with the pepper spraying incident, there is good reason for protesters to be weary of a heavy police presence. However, I do not see why Bologna’s unlawful actions should somehow equate the entire police force. An anonymous police official at Zuccotti Park stated, “We try to maintain a low profile and not antagonize the crowd […] and once you go in there, there’s a sense of hostility.” Is it important for protesters to watch out for the police that act out? Sure, absolutely. But does that mean that every boy in blue is a threat? Not at all.

Iliana

What is OWS?

According to http://occupywallst.org/about/ the Occupy Wall Street movement self identifies as  

 

“a people-powered movement that began on September 17, 2011 in

Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District, and has spread to over 100 cities in the United States and actions in over 1,500 cities globally. #ows is fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations. The movement is inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, and aims to fight back against the richest 1% of people that are writing the rules of an unfair global economy that is foreclosing on our future.”

 

I plan to look at OWS in its historical context and come up with my own definition. First, here’s a general consensus as to what the Occupy Movement fundamentally is. OWS is a global movement; this is self-evident when one hears of the Occupy demonstrations taking place in more than 1,500 cities worldwide. It was originally put into motion as a means to address economic inequality, hence the 99% slogan that is thrown around (meaning, the protestors believe they are speaking for the 99% of Americans who are economically disadvantaged by the richest 1%).

The rhetoric for this movement, however, can be categorized as inconsistent. For example, OWS is known to have a corporate sponsor, Ben and Jerry’s, and yet they platform of their movement is to fight against the economic inequality that big corporations (like Ben and Jerry’s) help create. Also, the 99% slogan is quite misleading; included in this statistic of those who are disadvantage are those who make 500,000 dollars a year for their income. This definitely hurts their statistic when the movement argues that the 99% are at a disadvantage, yet some of them are making half of a million dollars yearly. Although this inconsistency does not destroy their cause, it does weaken their argument. This movement is structured horizontally and is essentially leaderless; this can be seen taking place with the general assembly tool put in place. Everybody has an equal opportunity to step up and have their ideas disseminate through the crowd. In order for the protesters as a whole to make important decisions, they use the general assembly method to take votes on what should be done. The Occupy movement can also be said to be fizzling out. Referring back to an earlier post about Occupy Fashion Week, what was supposed to be a huge protest and stance against Fashion Week turned out to be a complete failure, with less than 20 protestors showing up (much less than the anticipated number.) With failed protests and less protestors participating in events such as fashion week, it has led me to believe that OWS may just me a phase. It seems like the cool thing to do (like the hippies back in the 60s).

According to an earlier post titled “Protest vs. Demonstration vs. Revolution”, a revolution is “a major change in the power structure and takes place in a short amount of time. Most revolutions are violent and tend to focus on cultural, political, and economic issues.” However, another definition of a revolution given in an earlier post is a movement that seeks to effectuate broad social change. Given the second definition, the Occupy Wall Street Movement would be termed as a revolution. The change they seek to effectuate isn’t specific enough to pinpoint, but OWS would like to see some change in our economic structure so as to balance out the economic inequality suffered by the 99% (whether they want complete equality or a partial shift is unclear.) Finally, looking back at another post about Occupy Alcatraz, you can see how the OWS movement mirrors that historical movement. Alcatraz’s goal was to raise awareness to the injustice suffered by the Native Americans, which can be compared to a possible goal of Occupy Wall Street: to raise consciousness of the problem of economic inequality.

Overall, it is too soon to determine whether or not OWS is a success or not. If their only goal is consciousness raising and awareness, then they have been pretty successful, considering our class is devoting months of our time to wrote about it. However, if their goals are to effectuate some sort of policy change or restructure the government, it is too soon to tell whether or not this will happen. Like other historical movements (Civil Rights Movement, Women’s Suffrage, etc.), this type of change will take time. Therefore, with time, we will be able to fully define the movement and understand it more clearly.