Tag Archives: protest


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.



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.


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.


Occupy Bias

I’m going to keep this short and sweet.  To me, the Occupy movement is all about stereotypes based on bias.

Occupiers are considered to be radical socialists and anarchists, criminals, racist (this too), lazy and homeless, except when members of this diverse group are none of these things.  The police are overly violent and are under the control of the big bad government, except when they are just trying to do their jobs to the best of their ability (llaurenfrank, asulkin, kjonach, ivazuka).  Corporations are always evil, unless they fund Occupy, and everyone in the 1% are trying to keep the 99% down, unless they use their power and influence in favor of Occupy.

People are quick to judge the movement and place labels on it, just as Occupiers are quick to judge and label those who oppose them.  But when those labels are laid out so simply, and the incongruities are able to surface, does it still make any sense?  No?  My thoughts exactly.


“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.


What is OWS?

After looking at my previous posts and at the other posts on this blog, I have come to the conclusion that Occupy Wall Street is a protest. However, the question now is what type of protest is it, and how does it compare to past protests? According to the post Types of Protests by Kara, which is a more in depth analysis of the brief post I made containing definitions of protest, revolution, and demonstration, OWS includes aspects of both Passive and Direct action. OWS has included in its actions the displaying of signs, distribution of flyers, petitions, and passive picketing, as well as a more direct approach, such as occupations, lock-downs, disruptive picketing, demonstrations, boycotts, sit-ins, and strikes. Basically, whatever is considered part of a protest, OWS has done it. However, how does OWS compare to past protests, like the Vietnam War Protests? Did it start out the same, and what was the end result of the Vietnam protests? When the Vietnam War started in 1964, the venture was sold as very patriotic, and thus, not many people protested. After nearly 20 years in the Cold War, the American government used the logic that if America did not intervene, then what was going on in Vietnam would spread, according to the Domino Theory. While at first this seemed to appease the American public, it eventually started to lose favor with the increase of the draft. The draft increase particularly affected the working class and the poor, since they did not have the means to dodge the draft. Burning the draft papers became one of the first forms of direct action. The second round of protest increases started when the dead soldier count increased in Vietnam. The war had promised victory, but instead was taking many young lives. In fact, one line used by name protesters was “Hey! Hey! LBJ! How many kids did you kill today?” This line was shouted after it was found out that the US government had sanctioned the killing of innocent people in Vietnam. As the years went on, the Vietnam protests grew larger and larger, eventually leading to rallies in New York City and Washington DC. The veterans threw their medals and ribbons away in a demonstration that shocked many people, making them think that ” those who had worn the uniform of the US military had come to think that the only way ahead was to discard the very things that had been issued to them to represent their bravery” (History Learning Site). At the height of the war, the hippy movement preached peace and love (not war), and many young people wanted to drop out of society. Both of these went against the concept of doing the right thing for your country. The US media definitely played into this, since they were able to bring the war right into people’s homes. The media was able to portray the war for what it actually was, which led to even more opposition against the US government. The Kent State University incident in 1970 is a good example of a peaceful protest that turns violent in a flash. The students at the university burned down one of the buildings on campus, which caused the National Guardsmen to come in with rifles to try to subdue the demonstration, however, things got out of hand quick, with four students being killed at at least ten wounded by gunfire. With the news of political assassinations, indiscriminate bombings, and drug trafficking in Vietnam, the American public viewed the American government to have lost all accountability (Mark Barringer). The antiwar protests had become institutionalized, and eventually led to President Nixon ending US involvement in Vietnam in 1973. So after this long, brief history of the Vietnam protests, how does OWS compare (or contrast)? According to the post made recently by Savannah, Occupy Proposes a “Real Democracy”, OWS is about the fight for representation. The question she poses is more along the lines of whether OWS wants to change the government, or just change the way we are represented by our congressmen and senators. From what I can tell, OWS seems to be heading toward neither. According former Clinton pollster Dough Schoen, OWS “reflects values that are dangerously out of touch with the broad mass of the American people.” He added that the protesters “are bound by a deep commitment to radical left-wing policies” and comprise “an unrepresentative segment of the electorate that believes in radical redistribution of wealth, civil disobedience and, in some instances, violence” (Greg Sargent). However, Schoen’s poll reflects none of his claims. It finds that only 6% of the population say that income inequality frustrates them about the political system of the US, while 35% want the OWS movement to emulate the effect that the Tea Party had on the GOP, and apply the same effect to the Democratic Party now. The poll also finds that less than a third of the population wants the protest to become violent. Schoen’s poll, instead of following Schoen’s radical claims, instead follows suit more with the thought that OWS is leaning more toward being a protest that focuses more on passive action rather than direct action. While there have been reports of police brutality in the OWS movement, I think that, in line with the poll, OWS is heading toward a change in the way the US population is represented, with use of passive action more than direct action. I do not think that Americans, for the most part, want to overthrow the government, but would rather see a change within the government by transforming “the interests of the politicians from big business to their constituents” (Savannah Edwards). While the Vietnam protests also included passive action, I think that OWS is going in another direction from that form of protest because, ultimately, it wants a different outcome. The Vietnam protests, while wanting to pull US troops out of Vietnam, were different from OWS, since the OWS wants to change representation rather than pull us out of a war (which, by the way, only got 8% of the vote on Schoen’s poll). While US involvement in Afghanistan is a big deal, OWS would rather focus on more domestic issues, which is why I think that the movement will lean more toward passive action and trying to change the way the US population is represented in domestic politics.







Three Little Pigs ad from The Guardian

Remind anyone of OWS and Occupy Our Homes, the Occupy group fighting against foreclosures? Maybe a little?

Even if it doesn’t remind you directly, it does speak to the prevalence of social media in OWS while employing some imagery of the protests (i.e. the protesters running into police lines.)

Good job Guardian. Well played.