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Occupy Wall Street Thursday

Open thread, please add links and comments.

1. Here's an article by Amy Goodman from the Guardian.

2. Yahoo blocking: "False positive" my sweet Aunt Fanny.

3. "People's mic":

Every afternoon, the group convenes at the centre of the plaza for what they call a "General Assembly," a meeting during which they map out their tactics for the next day.

Forbidden from using a microphone - they don't have the proper permits - the group got creative [#180].

"What we do is a people's microphone," Reed said. "So the person who's speaking says a couple of words and then the whole crowd repeats it so everyone can hear. It's actually beautiful."

Great metaphor.

4. A fascinating take from (I think) the right side of the student world. "Not even hate in their veins."

5. Media station with portable generator. Awesome:

Working the informal kitchen area, 36-year-old Seattle resident Galen Prouty said that efforts are being made to "formalize the encampment" [#174] by designating certain areas for sleeping, eating, demonstrating, and relaxing. A media station powered by a generator has been set up to continue a live stream. Asked about a lack of leadership, Prouty said, "Exactly. That's how it should be. We hold general assemblies [#48]. That's how decisions are made."

6. Another great metaphor:

Protesters today were arrested for putting up tents to weather the rain [#158].

7. "Arrested for looking like I ought to be arrested":

New York's law [against "masked gatherings] dates back to 1845, when lawmakers tried to quell uprisings by tenant farmers who "used disguises to attack law enforcement officers," according to a later U.S. Court of Appeals ruling. A dip in the price of wheat left many in debt [plus ça change!] to landowner Stephen Van Rensselaer IV.

After Mr. Rensselaer moved to evict tenants, disgruntled farmers disguised themselves as "Indians," [like the original Boston Tea Party] dressed in "calico gowns and leather masks" and attacked agents of the landlords. The court papers said the tactics adopted by these rebel groups ranged from "tarring and feathering" to murder, including a sheriff.

Here again, I'm at a loss to classify the technique using Sharp's 198 categories. The masks are remind me of 35, "Humorous skits and sketches", except without a narrative. However, as with caravans, we're looking at Symbolic Public Acts that seem to occur in the American context only. Dunno.

A few comments:

1. Try something! Bold, persistent experimentation. It's great what they're doing.

2. The stories that are floating to the lazy surface of media attention are (a) cops vs. kids and (b) ZOMG!!!! Media blackout, as in Goodman above. Those are the obvious narratives, and therefore not interesting. I mean, of course, and of course to both.* They are also misdirections and distractions, in that they have nothing to do with who the kids protesters citizens are, what their work is, where they are doing it (not only the streets), when they are doing it (not only the streets but also in the general assembly), or why they are doing it (policy goals). So, the story is being "non-covered" as it were (DIScovered and UNcovered both not being available).

3. I think the real story is connections made on the ground, and lessons learned tactically (Wall Street is not the central square of a great Mediterranean city) and to-be-learned strategically. That story isn't visible in our famously free press. It's probably implicit in the twitter feeds....

4. What I'm not seeing -- and maybe I'm missing it, since I'm not posting on this 24/7, as I did with Egypt -- is the expressed sense of joy at coming to "the square." I think that's important, and perhaps even critical (especially as occupiers fan out back to "RL"). If what I am not seeing is in fact not there, I wonder if it's a function of the Manhattan canyons, a lack of critical mass, police tactics, not "all walks of life," or what.... ) Readers, please correct with cites; I could well be wrong and would be happy to be. I mean, setting up a portable generator is totally cool.

Again, try something! It's all good.

NOTE * As others have pointed out, lack of media coverage makes it harder for non-violence to achieve its ends. MLK is hard to imagine without Life magazine, and Tahrir Square without the Al Jazeere live cam. So media FAIL (or success, depending on where you sit) is a huge strategic issue, for sure. But nobody goes to the barricades for meta.

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danps's picture
Submitted by danps on

I'm seeing tweets of folks coming in from all over - buses from Florida, Wisconsin, etc. I ought to be checking the #undergroundrailroad tag more to see who's offering shelter to those in transit. But obviously self-reported messages of support en route can't be checked. We'll have to see if folks actually start showing up.

Also, #sept24 is starting to pop up. It looks like the 1 week anniversary is being focused on by organizers.

The daily general assembly is pretty darn encouraging, no?

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

I had not thought of that, but the lack of press may very well prove a blessing. On the day's errands I stopped for a bit to eat, the place was tuned into a black radio station and the announcer, who was also talking about Troy Davis, kept talking about "all these white college kids demonstrating on Wall Street, where are the cameras?" His tone of voice made it very clear that he regarded the protesters as good guys. So maybe our not-ready-for-prime-time popular movement is being spared premature publicity and at the same time word is getting out that our press is pure Soviet.

Submitted by dirac on

Indeed, it is all good. It's not a riot, which I'd say is a collective lesson learned FOR NOW. Tim O'Reilly said the other day he went there and "there weren't the right kind of people." To which I replied: "Movements start with the 'wrong kind of people.'" And why isn't he in the camp with them then?

Is there a place somewhere to donate more than pizza to those folks? I am already donating to the October occupation in DC, but the folks in NY deserve to have support to keep going.

jest's picture
Submitted by jest on

I had the same misgivings about Olbermann's "coverage" of the event.

It had little regard for the movement, the message, the people... \All he was interested in was the media, or lack thereof.

Even when something of this importance is afoot, all the media can do is use it as an excuse to talk about themselves. Assuming they even bother to cover it at all.

The narcissism is stunning.

It reminds me why I stopped watching his show so long ago....

Jessica Yogini's picture
Submitted by Jessica Yogini on

I had thought until 2008 that one of the reasons the elites have been able to play one-sided class warfare against us was that the elites had become more successful at pulling more of our natural leaders into their orbit from early on. Compared to before the 60s, when any natural leader who happened to be African-American or female was automatically excluded.
But since 2008, the elite simply has a lot less to offer.
I am loving the non-hierarchical, truly democratic work I am reading about. But developing a leaderless structure requires leadership at first. In fact, it requires much more leadership than using a pattern that is already well known. Even if that leadership is exercised by many people rather than being concentrated in just a few.

Submitted by lambert on

Excellent communique here. It ends:

We speak as one. All of our decisions, from our choice to march on Wall Street to our decision to continue occupying Liberty Square, were decided through a consensus based process [#174] by the group, for the group.

Note: Our use of the one demand is a rhetorical device. This is not an official list of demands. Click Here to learn more about how you can participate in the democratic process of choosing the "one demand".

Jessica, this fits very well with what you are saying above.

UPDATE The manifesto, if you didn't click through, reads "Our one demand is.... Our one demand is.... Our one demand is.... " Hilariously, this mocks not only the media's desire for one bullet point to right down, but Obama's favorite rhetorical device: anaphora. These are smart people...

danps's picture
Submitted by danps on

A tweet earlier today suggested adding MSM tags like #cnn to #ourwallstreet tweets - that way users searching on the outlet's hash tag might see info the outlet itself was ignoring.

Don't know how well that fits in at this very moment - concerns re: too much exposure too soon and all - but at the very least it's a handy strategy to keep in mind for future use.