Tag Archives: may day


Where are they now?

Where are they now?

Curious about the current issues of the Occupy movement? Check out this article in The Stranger to learn about the repercussions of the May Day protests in Seattle.



From Alcatraz to Zuccotti: Part 2

American Indian people and their supporters wait for the ferry to Alcatraz in ’69 or ’70. (Ilka Hartmann, via California State University)

My previous post narrated the basic history of the 1969-71 Occupation of Alcatraz. This was the takeover of the then-abandoned former prison by a group of American Indians, mostly California-area college students, in response to unjust treatment of the First Nations by the federal government. The occupiers wanted their grievances heard, and demanded the deed to the island in order to establish an university, cultural center, and museum. The government refused to listen to their demands, the initially sympathetic press grew disdainful, and as the basic organization of the occupiers degraded the government found reason to invade and remove everybody from the island.

The occupiers’ concrete goals were not achieved, but public awareness of their objections was raised and the government policy of ending First Nations sovereignty was gradually halted. While the basic arc reads as very similar to that of the Occupy Wall Street movement thus far, as my colleagues have observed there are some significant differences. OWS has not articulated goals that are as specific; OWS is a larger, more amorphous group; llaurenfrank: “for OWS there doesn’t seem to be anything specific that the government can do in order to end the protest.”

While it is true that OWS’s goals have remained comparatively broad, a recent Washington Post article indicates that their basic goal of correcting economic inequality remains the same. Brittany Duck, a participant in the D.C. May Day protests, said that “[T]here’s still a lot to do. Politicians say the economy is turning around, but for many people out here, the blue-collar workers, it hasn’t.” savannahredwards1 asks, “are [OWS] actually trying to get a specific goal accomplished like the Alcatraz ‘occupiers’ or are they just trying to change the way we think?” The Post article, as well as the articles included in this round-up of coverage of the May Day protests, illuminates that a large number of OWS participants are not satisfied with having “made a lasting contribution to the national debate about income inequality.”

A group of American Indian people at Pier 40 following the June 1971 removal. (Ilka Hartmann, CSU)

The larger scale of OWS is indeed different from the Alcatraz occupation, but one could argue that there is some similarity to be seen in the diversity of the Alcatraz occupation–over 20 tribes were represented, which is part of what led to the development of factions (Winton). Their individual goals differed, but the overall goal of government respect and recognition was the same. This can be compared to regional differences among OWS groups, where the individual goals differ while the overarching goal (correcting economic inequality) remains the same.

With regards to how the government can respond to the OWS protests: it’s possible to argue that there is, in fact, something specific that the government can do to respond to the demand(s) of OWS. If the root problem is income inequality, then bills could be introduced raising the minimum wage to align more realistically with the current cost of living. This would turn the minimum wage into what is known as a living wage; Pennsylvania State University has a website that calculates the living wage for localities across the USA and shows the disparities, illustrating how the difference can contribute to poverty and economic inequality.

That is just one example of a concrete solution; debates over progressive tax rates, another potential concrete solution, are currently ongoing but do not seem likely to go anywhere.

So how does this link back to the Alcatraz occupation? Again, there’s the impact on the national discourse without (immediate) concrete gain. It’s possible that in the long run, due to OWS, we will see real attempts to address income/economic inequality, like the Alcatraz occupation helped end some discriminatory policies.

nb: it should be pointed out that, as has been observed repeatedly by my colleagues on this blog, the majority of ows participants are socially privileged in a way that the alcatraz occupiers were not. it could be argued that this is why their trajectory has bottomed out earlier than alcatraz’s; the perception of this privilege caused people/the media to dismiss them more quickly. however, what will be the real long term effects remains to be seen.


May Day Protest

Here is an article for the next major planned protest for NYC: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/occupy-wall-street-plans-snarl-city-traffic-day-article-1.1069632

Enjoy 🙂

Winter Logistics and the Aftermath

It’s Spring everybody!  The birds are singing. Blossoms are blooming. The Occupy Movement is in full swing…

Or is it?

Occupy May Day is around the corner, and according to Facebook, the movement has 21,976 confirmed participants world-wide as of today (http://www.facebook.com/events/337068492974144/). Now, these figures are not definite, as with all events that document attendance via Facebook. The amount of people that did sign up and won’t attend varies, along with those who did not sign up and will attend. What one can take away from this 21,976 digit is that there is still interest and fervor behind OWS.

Is this interest in the movement more or less now in the spring than it was in the fall? A large aspect of this answer relies on analysis of logistics during the Winter season. I’ll use the East Coast Movement, consisting of New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. as examples.

  • Philly: They got hit hard by a snowstorm in late October. Thankfully, their camp had been working diligently with City Hall beforehand and secured a permit that enabled access to a power grid that powered electronics and provided heat for tents. This service was not free as an undisclosed fee was charged (Estes).
  • DC: Alike to Philly, back in October, relations with city officials were relatively well. For example, instead of kicking people out at 3am for sleeping in a park, police officers woke them up. This action was in congruence to an ordinance prohibiting people to sleep there past that time (Estes).
  • New York: The central camp of the movement happens to be located the most northern out of the group. In turn, they suffered probably the worst winter climate. Generators were out of the question due to “hazards” claimed by NYFD. The solution: bicycles. Occupies took turns pedaling on bicycles to charge a battery powering a generator. An estimated six hours of pedaling resulted in 100 hours of use (Estes).

Not bad.

Of course, being that it’s Spring, anybody following the movement relatively would know that things have changed.

  • Philly: Strong. There are 2,414 members registers on their official website. Also available are documentations of past events as well as information on future ones, including General Assemblies and community initiatives with detailed locations, times, and agendas. This is all available on a very user-friendly site. Check it out:


< occupyphillyga.net>

  • D.C.: Weak. A visit to the site prompts this:



Not pretty, is it? I’ll elaborate more on Occupy DC in another post and reveal my personal experience working    with their management team and their logistical approach.

  • NY: Well, this is the basis of the entire project. This will be analyzed in my final post.

(Insert cliff-hanger prompting phrase)