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The Daily Occupation - Keeping you up-to-date with the #Occupy movement.

Keeping you up-to-date with the #Occupy movement.

Sandy Victims need your help

Occupy Sandy continues to be on the front lines of hurricane relief. But people in New York and New Jersey are still freezing and without power. Occupy Sandy calls it a humanitarian disaster, and they need your help. Click here to donate. Or, using Amazon’s gift registry, buy and ship items to Occupy Sandy’s relief center.

More info:

We Got This (Occupy Sandy) from Alex Mallis on Vimeo.

The People’s Bailout: Occupy buys your debt, cancels it

The situation is dire: nearly 80% of American households are in debt, medical bills continue to bankrupt American families, and the total amount of student loan debt has reached one trillion dollars. Americans are being forced to work longer hours for less pay just to keep a roof over their heads, and being debt-free and financially secure is now just a pipe-dream for millions. In short, we’ve become a nation of debt-slaves — not because Americans have been greedy or irresponsible, but because it is virtually impossible to get housing, healthcare and education for your family without going into debt. In a system that forces us go into debt just to secure basic human rights, we must stand together and fight back

That’s the message behind StrikeDebt, a new Occupy Wall Street initiative that aims to buy up debt and cancel it. How? When banks think they can’t collect full payment on “distressed” debt — debt that’s so large the debtor has no realistic way of paying it off — they sell the debt as an Asset-backed Security at hugely discounted rates to collection agencies, who hope to harass and intimidate the debtor into giving up their every last penny. Well, Occupy has another idea — buy that same debt, and abolish it. Just like that, a person’s medical debt can be declared null and void, lifting a huge weight from their shoulders. And it’s working: StrikeDebt and has already raised over 100,000 dollars — enough to cancel 2,000,000 dollars’ worth of medical debt. They’ll raise even more from a sold-out variety show to be held this Thursday, Nov. 15th. People who get bailed out will in turn bail out others — a Rolling Jubilee.

Want to free a family from crippling medical debt? DONATE HERE TODAY. Or, spread the word about StrikeDebt on Facebook or Twitter. Don’t forget to watch the show this Thursday, which features musicians from Fugazi, Sonic Youth and Neutral Milk Hotel, as well as comedians, professors and activists. There will be a Livestream on this page on the evening of November 15th.

Occupy outperforming the Red Cross in Hurricane Relief?

Katherine Goldstein at Slate suggests that Occupy Wall Street may be helping even more than the Red Cross and FEMA in many poorer areas of New York City.

In Sunset Park, a predominantly Mexican and Chinese neighborhood in South Brooklyn, St. Jacobi’s Church was one of the go-to hubs for people who wanted to donate food, clothing, and warm blankets or volunteer help other New Yorkers who were still suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. On Saturday, Ethan Murphy, one of the people heading the kitchen operation, estimated they would prepare and send out 10,000 meals to people in need. Thousands and thousands of pounds of clothes were being sorted, labeled, and distributed, and valuable supplies like heaters and generators were being loaded up in cars to be taken out to the Rockaways, Staten Island and other places in need. However, this well-oiled operation wasn’t organized by the Red Cross, New York Cares, or some other well-established volunteer group. This massive effort was the handiwork of none other than Occupy Wall Street—the effort is known as Occupy Sandy.


So how did an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street, best known as a leaderless movement that brought international attention to issues of economic injustice through the occupation of Zucotti Park in the financial district last year, become a leader in local hurricane relief efforts? Ethan Murphy, who was helping organize the food at St. Jacobis and had been cooking for the occupy movement over the past year, explained there wasn’t any kind of official decision or declaration that occupiers would now try to help with the hurricane aftermath. “This is what we do already, “ he explained: Build community, help neighbors, and create a world without the help of finance. Horst said, “We know capitalism is broken, so we have already been focused on organizing to take care of our own [community] needs.” He sees Occupy Sandy as political ideas executed on a practical level.

As frustration grows around the city about the pace and effectiveness of the response from FEMA, and other government agencies and the Red Cross, I imagine both concerned New Yorkers and storm victims alike will remember who was out on the front lines.

Additionally, Occupy bike-generators are being used to charge emergency cellphones, and volunteers are canoeing critical supplies to the victims still in the flood-zones.

Portland cops pepper-spray Occupiers

Evidently, the Portland Department has never heard of the First Amendment — they routinely violate the Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly when they insist protesters get “permission” to protest. Asking those you’re protesting for permission to protest them is beyond ludicrous and insulting, and it is a testament to the courage of Occupy that they don’t submit to such arbitrary, capricious and unconstitutional demands. Of course, this doesn’t make the 1% (or the cops who serve them) very happy.

Here’s the story:

The march started around 1 p.m. at Holladay Park in Portland’s Lloyd District as a protest against excessive debt, and cuts to education, healthcare and social services.

Protesters told KGW that police sprayed a group of about 24 people during a march in Northeast Portland. The handful of people hit stopped to wash the pepper spray off while around 200 other marchers continued down Northeast Halsey Street. Police confirmed they used pepper spray after they said demonstrators used wooden shields to directly confront them. They have made one arrest.

Occupy Portland continues to be active and promote events like the Anti-austerity Day of Action aimed at combating cuts to crucial social services and education. To raise awareness of the continuing Occupy movement, Occupy Portland is soliciting donations to create an advertising campaign on Portland city buses. Here are some of the poster designs submitted; you can vote for the ones you like best on the comments page.

Occupy Leads Hurricane Relief in Red Hook

DONATE HERE

In the aftermath of a truly devastating hurricane, which has left scores dead and millions without power, Occupy members are organizing relief efforts, providing food for nearly a thousand people every day and getting crucial medical supplies:

The New Yorker reports:

So far, Red Hook has received little help from the city or FEMA, and a team of Occupy protestors have been heading relief efforts.

In an outcropping of 30 buildings, some of them high-rises of 14 stories, the Red Hook Houses hold some 6,000 tenants, and about half the buildings remain without power. Red Hook Initiative, which usually offers services like tutoring and college counseling, has been joined by about 15 people from the Occupy movement who have set up infrastructure and logistics for running hot-meal operations serving 500 to 1,000 people every day, bringing in medics, gathering information about people who are elderly or disabled and can’t leave their apartments or get down stairs, and broadcasting calls for volunteers and supplies from flashlights to ice for storing insulin.

The Huffington Post has more:

Together with members from 350.org, Recovers.org, and interoccupy.net, the group has begun Occupy Sandy. Members have set up donation drop-off points in multiple boroughs and created localized websites that outline the needs for a given neighborhood, according to interoccupy.net.

Occupiers began their efforts in Manhattan’s Lower East Side and have moved throughout New York’s five boroughs. The organizations are asking anyone with “experience in or tools for medical and psychological services, electrician work, plumbing, construction, financial or legal services, debris and tree removal, childcare, transportation, senior services or language skills” to volunteer their services. They are also asking for donations in the form of candles, flashlights, batteries, water, food and other amenities that can be dropped off throughout Brooklyn as well as online donations, the news outlet reports.


Oakland to Punish Cops in Occupy Clashes

They ought to face jail time for what they did for Scott Olsen — the US Marine and Occupy protester who was put in a coma by police brutality — but I suppose firings and suspensions are a distant second-best. Here’s a reminder of what happened:

Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan said Friday that he is seeking to fire two officers, demote a third and suspend 15 others for their treatment of Occupy Oakland protesters, whose downtown clashes with police drew worldwide attention.

Jordan also revealed that one of his officers – not an officer from an outside agency – fired a beanbag that critically injured Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen on Oct. 25, an incident that galvanized the Occupy movement. Olsen was one of more than 1,000 people who rallied after police cleared an elaborate encampment outside City Hall.

Get the story at SFGate.com

Occupy Defends Detective Facing Eviction

Standing up to the big banks (and soon, the cops) Occupy Our Homes protesters in Fayetteville, Georgia are camped outside the home of retired detective Jaqueline Barber:

FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. — Protesters are pitching tents and bracing for a showdown outside the home of a retired police detective under threat of eviction.

The development sets up a possible clash between the detective’s co-workers and other law enforcement officers who carry out evictions.

Occupy Our Homes ATL spokesman Tim Franzen says a Thursday court hearing involving retired Atlanta Police Det. Jacqueline Barber’s home in Fayetteville did not go her way.

Franzen said a judge at the bankruptcy hearing effectively lifted a stay, meaning the eviction could happen any day. He added that more than 30 people were camped out in Barber’s yard on Friday.

Several financial institutions are involved in the foreclosure. A U.S. Bank spokeswoman referred questions to GMAC ResCap, where a representative didn’t immediately return a phone call for comment.

Occupy Our Homes remains on the front lines, and has helped countless people in their time of need. Helen Baily, a 78 year old Civil Rights veteran, and an Atlanta police officer are among those who have stood down the banks with the help of Occupy.

Protests, Catalan independence, and police brutality in Spain

Outside of parliament, they are protesting the austerity regime of Prime Minister Rajoy. Since austerity measures have started, there have been cuts to some of the most important programs for the poor, and no improvement in employment. In fact, Spain’s central bank this week warned of a “deep recession.” Below is footage from the protests.

Why are the people angry? Because the entire purpose of the economy has shifted from making sure people have what they need to survive, to making sure bankers make as much money as possible, no matter what risks they take. In order to bail out the bankers who caused the crisis, the Government is willing to sacrifice medical care, assistance, jobs, mental healthcare and anything else — so long as it helps the poor, not the rich. And not only have these cuts measures led to a declining quality of life, increasing suicide rates and homelessness, they simply aren’t improving the economy.

At the same time, Catalan President Artur Mas is threatening an independence referendum if things don’t improve — and Catalonia doesn’t receive more bailout funds — which would mean Spain loses one of its largest regions and economic powerhouses. RussiaToday reports.

Police arrest nearly 25 Occupy Wall Street protestors

Though it’s only the first day of the 1-year Anniversary events (Occupy Wall Street started Sept. 17th, 2011), police have already arrested dozens of Occupiers.

From the Wall Street Journal:

About 25 people were arrested Saturday as hundreds gathered in New York City to mark the coming one-year anniversary of the start of the Occupy Wall Street movement, a representative for an organization defending the protesters said.

The activities started Saturday in Manhattan’s Washington Square Park and culminated with an evening march to the Financial District.
….

Police had expected a largely peaceful day in the Greenwich Village’s Washington Square, where protesters had focused their efforts late last year after city authorities shut down the encampment in Zuccotti Park in November.

Saturday’s gathering, which organizers dubbed “Occupy Town Square,” was the first event in a series planned to mark the Sept. 17 anniversary of the group’s first day in Zuccotti Park.

Last year, the protest spread quickly across the country, as groups took on the Occupy brand and applied it to their own cities or causes. There were moments of violence. Notably, Occupy Oakland clashed with police and led to an attempt to recall the mayor.

On Saturday in Washington Square Park, people advertised their opinions about issues such as personal debt, capitalism and even so-called fracking, or the extraction of natural gas from shale deposits using hydraulic fracturing. The localization of the movement was evident. Nelly Tournaki, a special-education professor at the College of Staten Island, stood at a table with a banner saying “Occupy Staten Island.”

“It’s a very emotional day,” she said, speaking over the drumming. “I believe we should give to the movement, things like compassion and passion and a will to change for a better a life for the 99 percent.”

From the New York Times:

police officers plunged into the crowd and made arrests on sidewalks. Further arrests followed after the crowd reached its destination. In all, it appeared that at least 15 people were taken into custody. Police officials could not immediately provide information about how many people were arrested and with what they were being charged.

Standing nearby, Shir Campeas, 17, said she had been passing by when the arrests occurred and did not witness what initiated the police action. “All of a sudden the police went into the crowd,” she said, adding that the protesters “got really mad.”

The marchers continued south, chanting “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out,” and “We are the 99 percent.”

More arrests took place near White Street. Again, officers ran onto the sidewalk and grabbed people in the crowd. A commander wearing a white shirt took one man by the arm and threw him forcefully face down on the sidewalk. Some in the crowd said that officers appeared to be pointing out specific individuals for arrest.

Suicides skyrocket in Europe due to austerity measures

Austerity is more than ineffective — it’s also deadly. Countries continue to sacrifice the poor and the young in order to keep corrupt bankers afloat and rich. How much more blood will we spend defending a worthless, moribund system that places short-term corporate profits over  human life?

Europe is approaching a crisis as the region’s debt crisis and austerity measures increase the rates of depression, suicide and psychological problems – just as governments cut healthcare spending by up to 50 percent, according to campaigners, policy makers and health organizations.

A growing number of global and European health bodies are warning that the introduction and intensification of austerity measures has led to a sharp rise in mental health problems with suicide rates, alcohol abuse and requests for anti-depressants as people struggle with the psychological cost of living through a European-wide recession.

The doctors surveyed relayed an increase in the incidence of alcohol abuse, anxiety, depression and requests for abortions due to economic reasons, anecdotal evidence borne out by statistics for anti-depressant requests in the U.K., which have risen 28 percent from 34 million prescriptions in 2007 to 43.4 million in 2011.

..

“Cutting back on healthcare delivery is invariably a false economy, triggering worsening outcomes in the longer term — for people’s health, for health systems, for society and the economy as a whole,” [Dalli] said.

But with rising debt burdens and austerity programs, this is exactly what countries throughout Europe are doing. In Greece, a country in which a number of high profile “economic suicides” have been recorded, funding for the mental health service has been cut by up to 50 percent.

Get the story here.

Pepper-spray cop Tony Balogna won’t get City Lawyer

Remember Anthony Bologna? That’s right, the spray-happy cop from New York whose attack on protesters gave himself notoriety and the burgeoning Occupy movement a surge of public support.

He seemed to get away with it — no disciplinary action was taken. But now, he’s being sued by protesters for excessive force and New York City doesn’t want to let him use their lawyers. Looks like poor old Tony Baloney is on his own.

NEW YORK — New York City’s top cop is upset that the city’s legal department isn’t defending a police inspector who doused a group of women with pepper spray during the Occupy Wall Street protests. Chief city lawyer Michael Cardozo says NYPD Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna violated agency rules when he used the spray on a group of demonstrators waiting on the sidewalk.

As a result, Bologna is paying for his own defense in a civil lawsuit filed by the women, and might have to pay damages out of his own pocket.

But Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Friday that the city’s stance could have a “chilling effect” on police officers. He told reporters it might make some officers hesitate to “engage.”

Well, if “engage” is anything like “abuse Americans exercising their rights”, then we can all agree a little hesitation is  good thing.

 

Spray
My bologna has a first name, it’s “S-P-R-A-Y”

Unemployment will stay high, economy not improving

While CEO pay has increased since the crash and continues to rise, quality of life for middle and working class people has declined demonstrably. Students, who need jobs more than ever to pay off their enormous debt, get their degrees only to find that there’s no work for them.

But of course, things are getting better, right? Not according to economists, who note that slow growth (driven by consumers not having money to buy things after their bosses cut pay and benefits year after year) and worries over Europe may ensure that unemployment remains the same, or gets even worse, throughout the rest of the year and next year.

The Associated Press reports:

High unemployment isn’t going away — not as long as the economy grows as slowly as it did in the April-June quarter.

Weak consumer spending held growth to an annual rate of just 1.5 percent, even less than the 2 percent rate in the first quarter. And few expect the economy to accelerate in the second half of the year as Europe’s financial woes and a U.S. budget crisis restrain businesses and consumers.

“The main takeaway from today’s report, the specifics aside, is that the U.S. economy is barely growing,” said Dan Greenhaus, chief economic strategist at BTIG LLC. “It’s no wonder the unemployment rate cannot move lower.”

Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, expects the unemployment rate to end this year — and next year — at 8.3 percent. He said he foresees no decline in unemployment because of how tepid he thinks economic growth will remain: 2.2 percent for all of 2012 and 2 percent for 2013.

Gas prices have stopped falling and have even started to rise in recent weeks. And this summer’s severe drought is expected to push food prices up toward the end of the year.

—————————–

Why would anyone expect improvement, if no real changes have been made?

Welcome to the New Economy.

The LIBOR Scandal – Explanations and Details

It is safe to say, especially to an American audience, that the LIBOR scandal has been one of the quieter scandals that’s been going around – but the impact has been global. (And to non-Americans, this has been basting the front pages of many newspapers and magazines.) As Matt Taibbi succinctly put it:

This is the world’s biggest banks stealing money that would otherwise have gone toward textbooks and medicine and housing for ordinary Americans, and turning the cash into sports cars and bonuses for the already rich. It’s the equivalent of robbing a charity or church fund to pay for lap dances.

Okay, but what’s actually been going on? Daily Finance has a pretty decent infographic (featuring the Matt Taibbi quote at the end), and the New York Times has a somewhat more text-based explanation.

To distill the two above links, Barclays did two things: manipulated the LIBOR through employees to bolster their own profits, and coordinated the submission of lower interest rates during the 2007-9 financial crisis to make themselves appear to be in far better shape than they truly were.

Matt Taibbi’s full article is a great read for Americans looking to get caught up on the more grisly details. And it’s definitely looking like American officials were complicit in permitting this to happen! (As well as the British government.)

There is legal work – indictments in the U.S., and a probe in the U.K. – going on, but only time will tell if these are more constructive than the usual slaps on the wrist that are handed out for financial crimes.

More Laws Target the Homeless

This trend is nothing short of sickening. Earlier this year, Philadelphia decided to make it illegal to feed the homeless, and now Clearwater, Florida (infamous for its connections to Scientology) has decided to make it illegal to sit or lay down on sidewalks. Oh, it’s also been discouraging donations to local soup kitchens.

The Tampa Bay Times reports:

CLEARWATER — This city could soon outlaw a harrowing crime: sitting. Sitting or lying down on sidewalks or other public rights of way on Clearwater Beach, downtown or in the East Gateway neighborhood could mean a $500 fine, 60 days in jail or both. The sitting ban is among a flurry of new ordinances the City Council will consider Monday as part of its crackdown on homeless people.

The sitting ban is one of the most extreme proposals in a city already known for welding shut public bathrooms, turning off access to water in public areas and discouraging donations to a long-running soup kitchen.

But city leaders say the proposed ordinances, similar to bans enforced in St. Petersburg, San Francisco and Seattle, will give police more authority to clean up areas known for attracting the down-and-out.

It’s beginning to seem that, for homeless people, merely existing is a crime.

Chalk protests spread

As a result of the LAPD’s violent crackdown on chalk artwork by Occupy supporters, people around the United States are making their mark on the streets. Boston, Austin, New York, and Chicago are just a few of the cities experiencing a “Chalk-upy” craze.

Obviously, it’s just getting to be too much for police to contain, and their heavy-handed response (comprising around 140 officers with rubber bullets, riot gear and “sponge-cannons”) has simply emboldened the protesters. There’s even a Chalkupy page on Facebook.

Below are a few Chalkupy images from around the nation:

JP Morgan’s botched trades may cose 7.5 billion dollars

This irresponsible behavior doesn’t only affect JP Morgan, or even Wall Street — this reckless greed has side-effects that ruin the lives of millions of people all over the world, people who never had anything to do with Wall Street or investment banking.  Because of similar behaviors and lack of meaningful regulation, countless innocent people have lost their jobs, their homes and life savings during the global recession. This is not right, this is not just and it must be stopped.

According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, JP Morgan’s risky trades — and resistance to regulation and oversight — may have cost it a full 7.5 billion dollars. Once lauded as one of the more conservative and cautious investment firms, its reputation has fallen under Jamie Dimon’s leadership.

JPMorgan’s chief investment office has lost $5.8 billion on the trades so far, and that figure may climb by $1.7 billion in a worst-case scenario, Dimon, the bank’s chairman and chief executive officer, said yesterday.

The mounting losses have focused regulators’ and investors’ attention on the CIO. Dimon transformed the once-conservative unit in recent years to boost profit by buying higher-yielding assets such as structured credit, equities and derivatives, Bloomberg News reported on April 13, citing former employees.

One trader, Bruno Iksil, amassed positions in credit derivatives so big and market-moving he became known as the London Whale. Bets on credit-default swaps known as the Markit CDX North America Investment Grade Series 9 backfired this year. Dimon dismissed reports about the London operation as a “tempest in a teapot” when the bank reported first-quarter earnings April 13. He reversed course less than four weeks later, disclosing a $2 billion loss that he said could grow to $3 billion or more during the quarter.

The bank said yesterday it ousted managers responsible for the transactions and will claw back their pay after an internal inquiry found traders may have intentionally tried to hide souring bets during the first quarter.

<a href=”http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-07-13/jpmorgan-s-botched-trades-may-generate-7-dot-5-billion-loss”>Read the article here.</a>

 

Rubber bullets vs. Chalk in Los Angeles

LA Times coverage

Is the chalk mightier than the riot shield? According to a local CBS affiliate in Los Angeles, violence has broken out at the annual ArtWalk. Why? Evidently, some participants drew on the sidewalk with chalk — perhaps not the most outlandish thing to do at an “Art Walk” — and were confronted by police.  It then turned into a full-fledged protest, with around 200 Occupy LA people joining in. Things just escalated from there, with police using donning riot gear and using rubber bullets and ArtWalkers using rocks.  Details are still emerging, but be sure to check out recorded footage from UStream and YouTube in addition to mainstream news reports to get the full story.

Various Twitter users and OccupyLA have reported that police attempts to ‘kettle’, or corral the demonstrators have failed so far and that confrontations are continuing. Perhaps as a defiant response to the orders to stop, more and more people are writing messages with chalk.

At least 12 have been arrested thus far.

More info:
LAPD arrests 12 as Art Walk turns into Occupy Protest

http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/live-video/

 

Foreclosures Soar in California

This story from a San Fransisco CBS affiliate reminds us all just how bad things still are. While the media tells us the economy is “improving”, millions of Americans see no light at the end of this tunnel. Foreclosures, layoffs (retail giant Best Buy is reportedly laying off nearly 2,000 workers), pay cuts and fees for emergency services are just a few of the harsh realities in this “new economy.”

The article, written by KCBS reporter Doug Sovern, gives an overview of the foreclosure crisis in San Fransisco and explores the trials faced by many families out of work, out of home and out of hope.

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – California had the highest foreclosure rate in the country in July, a stark reminder that people are still losing their homes in record numbers despite state and federal efforts to end the housing crisis. For the first time, there were more foreclosures in California than Nevada during a 30-day period, according to the RealtyTrac report for the first six months of 2012. Foreclosures in California have shot up 18 percent since June 2011.

“So many people have lost their entire net worth, their only asset. And a lot of it is because these banks gambled trillions of dollars on the derivatives markets,” said J.P. Messer with Foreclosure Defense, an activist group based in Oakland.

The Homeowner Bill of Rights signed by Gov. Jerry Brown signed on Wednesday comes too late for many of the 700,000 Californians who have already defaulted on their mortgages and been told by the bank to get out.

That’s exactly what happened to Pamela Hall of San Leandro, who owes nearly $500,000 on a diamond in the rough she turned into her dream home. Unfortunately now it’s only worth about $200,000. “I worked in the real estate world, so I thought I knew everything until the market crashed. And I got a rude awakening. We have been struggling, trying to hang onto our house,” she said.

Hall got laid off a few months ago, has a child in college and a 14-year-old daughter at home. And the bank has notified her it would foreclose and put the property up for sale within a week.

“I don’t really know what we’re going to do. I mean, I don’t know. I don’t know,” Hall said.

Read the article here.

But, across the country, people are fighting back. Occupy Our Homes is a vibrant movement dedicated to keeping families with a roof over their head, and forcing banks to renegotiate rather than foreclose. They also seek to confront legally question practices like robo-signing.

Learn more about Occupy Our Homes here.

Occupy Victory: Judge rules protesters wrongfully arrested

Last October, approximately 700 Occupy Wall Street protesters were arrested for marching across Brooklyn Bridge. Police claimed that they had issued warnings and orders to the protesters using a bullhorn. Judge Rakoff of Manhattan didn’t buy it, saying, “A reasonable officer in the noisy environment defendants occupied would have known that a single bull horn could not reasonably communicate a message to 700 demonstrators.”

The court ruled the protesters were wrongfully arrested, which will allow the protesters to sue certain NYPD officers for their treatment. Here’s more from The Guardian:

The decision clears the way for a class-action lawsuit accusing police officers and officials involved in the arrests of violating the protesters’ constitutional rights by leading them into a trap. The lawsuit calls for all arrest records stemming from the incident to be cleared, an injunction to end the police practice of trapping and detaining demonstrators, and damages to be awarded to those who were arrested.

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice and an attorney representing the plaintiffs in the suit, said: “We think it’s a great victory for people that were arrested on the bridge and it really sends a strong message in defense of free speech rights.”

Verheyden-Hilliard says matters of “notice and warning” are at the heart of the suit. “The important thing here is really very much the narrative, because immediately after the arrests the police were saying the demonstrators knowingly violated the law and they knew that they were marching on the bridge,” she said. “It was the police that closed the bridge. It was the police that led demonstrators onto the bridge. It was the police that blocked the bridge for hours to conduct these unlawful arrests.”

 

200 Occupiers gather in Zucotti Park, at least one injured by NYPD

Video Update: NYPD arrest, abuse peaceful protesters

 

The NYPD and Mayor Bloomberg have not succeeded in shutting down Occupy Wall Street yet. In fact, on a Wednesday afternoon, around 200 protesters gathered in order to celebrate the birthday of folk singer-songwriter Woodie Guthrie, well known for his working class and pro-union sympathies. Though the exact circumstances are unclear, arrests and confrontations occurred both because protesters gave food to the homeless and because the police declared the sidewalk off-limits.

The Associated Press reports one such incident:

One protester was injured in a scuffle between Occupy protesters and police officers at New York City’s Zuccotti Park during a rally marking the 100th birthday of the late folk singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie.

About 200 protesters spilled into the street Wednesday afternoon at the edge of the park. Police officers began pushing protesters back onto the sidewalk. One woman fell down and was later taken away in an ambulance. The protesters had ended a six-day march from the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.

During the so-called Occupy Guitarmy rally, protesters sang Guthrie’s song “This Land Is Your Land” and gave speeches.

Image: protesters face police in Zucotti Park

LiveStream of Zucotti Protests, Eviction

SWAT team Raids Occupy Seattle & E4E organizers

On the morning of July 10th, Occupy organizers and Everything For Everyone (E4E) activists in Seattle were woken up by the sound of flash-bang grenades and battering rams. While police claimed they were looking for ‘anarchist materials’, including articles of clothing possibly worn during a MayDay protest, no one was arrested.

Local news outlet MyNorthwest reports:

A SWAT team descended on an apartment connected to members of the Occupy movement early Tuesday morning, looking for evidence in the continued investigation into May Day protests, the Seattle Police Department said Tuesday.

Just before 6:00 a.m., police served a search warrant at the residence in the 1100 Block of 29th Avenue South. Police described the four occupants as “cooperative.”

Unconfirmed accounts of the raid, as released by Occupy Seattle, describe a chaotic scene that involved officers “breaking down the door,” “holding drawn tactical rifles, “yelling over a loudspeaker,” and using a flash bang grenade.

Meanwhile, the Seattle Police Department has stated that the investigation into the May Day protests will continue and there may be more search warrants in the future.

 

Another article, posted on the official Occupy Wall Street website, speculates that the raid may have been designed to harass and intimidate rather than lead to prosecutions.

The neighbor Natalio Perez heard the attack from downstairs: “Suddenly we heard the bang of their grenade, and the crashing as police entered the apartment. The crashing and stomping continued for a long time as they tore the place apart.”

The raid is a heavy-handed threat delivered by armed police aimed at intimidating specific people – but also st suppressing the work to continue the Occupy movement in Seattle, and create E4E as a space for radical gathering.

The E4E site will update this with more as we receive it, including hopefully statement from those involved. http://www.everythingforeveryone.org/

Read more at OccupyWallSt.org

Miners and Protesters clash with Police in Spain [video]

Video: Mayhem in Madrid

The streets of Madrid are filled with protesters, miners and riot cops. For several weeks, miners’ unions across Spain have been protesting pay cuts, raised sales tax and cuts to subsidies. After a long hike across the country, the miners and their supporters have converged on Madrid, their anger intensified by the announcement that Spain would agree to further austerity measures — which have thus far hurt rather than helped the economy of Spain, which suffers from crippling unemployment — in order to receive another bailout.

At least 76 people were injured in the clashes, many by rubber bullets fired by riot police.

The situation shows no sign of improving, and may well become worse in response to the following policy announcements made by Prime Minister Rajoy:

The clashes came as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced an increase in the country’s general sales tax from 18% to 21%, as well as spending reductions that include cutting employment benefits after six months … “We will significantly reduce the number of public institutions,” Rajoy vowed.

Spain’s economic crisis has worsened since last year.

The nation slipped back into recession during the first quarter; the unemployment rate has risen to 24% overall, and more than 50% for those under age 25; and the government has already enacted billions of dollars in austerity cuts, along with some tax hikes, to reduce the budget deficit.

Read more:
http://edition.cnn.com/2012/07/11/world/europe/spain-protest-clashes/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/11/spain-miners-protest_n_1664227.html
GUARDIAN LIVE BLOG: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/jul/11/eurozone-crisis-spain-austerity-bailout

California town to charge 225$ for emergency calls

What once would have been unthinkable is now becoming routine. Following the lead of cities like Scranton, the city of Folsom is resorting to extreme (and frightening) measures in an attempt to curb its budget crisis:

“FOLSOM (CBS13) – Starting Monday, the city of Folsom’s fire department will charge $225 for anyone needing a paramedic.

In an era where every American is watching how they spend their money, Folsom’s move follows an alarming trend in how fire departments are delivering first response medical aid.

..
Folsom’s fire department is just the latest to charge a fee for its medical aid.”

Read Article Here

Occupy Student Debt and Occupy Colleges merge

After many months as separate entities, Occupy Student Debt and Occupy Colleges have decided to “join forces.”

According to the announcement
, the two groups exist to “[fight] for quality, affordable and accessible education for all students who want to obtain a college degree.” Specifically, they are protesting “exorbitant fees and penalties, exploding and usurious interest rates, ruined credit ratings, possible suspension of driver’s licenses, possible suspension of professional licenses, and more.”

To put some figures on the crisis, 35 million students have taken out loans — and 20% of them will default. Of course, student debt is perhaps the only major form of debt which cannot be discharged with bankruptcy — it follows you around forever, like a weight chained to your neck.

The groups are pushing for student debt forgiveness, in the form of House Resolution 4170, now sponsored by Hansen Clarke of Michigan’s 13th District.

Learn more from:
Occupy Student Debt
Occupy Colleges
And here’s a Russia Today story on student debt.

Scranton cuts salaries of Police, Firefighters to Minimum Wage

To say that Occupy protesters and police have had an uneasy relationship would be a tremendous understatement. Nevertheless, even the most radical protester feels profound sadness at the news that Scranton, Pennsylvania — the old industrial town of The Office fame — is cutting the pay of all public workers, including firefighters and police, to minimum wage.

One can’t help but wonder if even Michael Scott could come up with a better solution:

Scranton’s police, fire and Department of Public Works unions Monday filed a lawsuit to overturn Mayor Chris Doherty’s unilateral slashing of their salaries to minimum wage.

The unions – International Association of Firefighters Local 60, the Fraternal Order of Police E.B. Jermyn Lodge 2 and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local Lodge 2305 – are seeking an injunction against the mayor to prohibit him from cutting pay to the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour.

On Wednesday, the mayor dropped a bombshell by announcing he would unilaterally cut the pay of 398 city workers, including himself, to minimum wage indefinitely due to the city’s cash-crunch crisis.

The city is fast running out of money, the mayor said, and unpaid bills, particularly health care coverage, are mounting. By paying only minimum wages, starting with the next payday on Friday, the payroll that is paid every two weeks would drop from up to $1.2 million to $300,000, leaving the remaining $700,000 in deferred wages to pay bills, Mr. Doherty had said. Once the crisis is over, employees would be paid the deferred pay, he has said.

Scranton is just one of many cities running out of money, and this shows that the crisis is far from over. The next time protesters remind the police officers that they, too are part of the 99%, perhaps they’ll take heed.