A really good recap of Occupy Wall Street, the unprovoked and needless arrests by Mayor Bloomberg’s NYPD, his “army,” as he (sadly) likes to say), and what OWS means on its one year anniversary which (many) people tend to forget, by Allison Kilkenny of The Nation:
It was one of the largest turnouts since the early days of Occupy, but Monday was also exceptional because of the high arrest figures. More than 180 individuals, including journalists, were arrested, and in at least some of these cases, the police were arresting individuals arbitrarily and without cause.
Protesters reported, and I witnessed first-hand, police dragging individuals off of sidewalks (previously considered the “safe space” of activists who don’t wish to participate in direct action and go to jail) into the street where they were then arrested. When press attempted to rush forth to photograph these arrests, the police formed a wall and aggressively shoved back journalists, making it difficult to document the actions.
At one point, a NYPD white shirt supervising officer told a group of journalists, “You can’t stand and take more pictures. That’s over with.”
“I just got out of jail. Was arrested despite screaming over and over that I’m a journalist,” Chris Faraone, aBoston Phoenix staff writer, tweeted.
Julia Reinhart, a photojournalist, was also arrested even through she was wearing identification that listed her as a member of the National Press Photographers Association.
Another journalist from WPIX was arrested Monday, as was journalist and illustrator Molly Crabapple and independent journalist John Knefel. Knefel’s sister, Molly, described the arrest as “violent and unprovoked.”
Later in the evening, New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams was assaulted in Zuccotti Park by the NYPD. Protester Jeff Rae photographed a NYPD officer jamming his baton into the councilman’s chest.
Reports emerged almost immediately that the anniversary was a flop, or in the words of the New York TImes‘ Aaron Ross Sorkin, the event “fizzled,” a diagnosis preordained by a media that has never been particularly friendly to a movement it failed to understand in the first place. Sorkin is a Times‘ financial columnist who only first checked out OWS “after getting a call from the chief executive of a major bank,” who wanted to know how worried he and his CEO buddies should be about the movement. Sorkin dutifully hurried down to Zuccotti.
To say “Occupy is dead” is to misunderstand everything about the movement. Occupy can’t die as long as the dire conditions that inspired the creation of the movement continue to exist. In speaking with protesters, one can easily see all of their grievances are still real and present. One protester summarized the current state of Occupy nicely as he carried a sign around Zuccotti that read: “Nothing has changed.”
Students are still buried under loan debt. People are still losing their homes. People still can’t afford health care, and they still can’t survive on minimum wage jobs.
… and …
No revolutionary force is without ebb and flows — that is without question — but it’s been interesting to watch the establishment media rush to slap a bow on the “Occupy story” and force a “The End” onto the movement. There is a borderline obsession in the media with numbers, as though there’s a direct correlation between protester turnout and the “seriousness” of a protest — as though small groups of highly dedicated individuals haven’t inspired real, lasting change in the past.
Several media outlets alluded to the “good ol’ days” of Occupy, and how this new Occupy is only a shadow of its former self. As if these aren’t the same media outlets who also dismissed the old Occupy, as well. Hundreds aren’t as important as thousands, who aren’t as important as millions, and the point is Occupy was never, ever going to impress the mainstream media, and so they never aimed to.
What else hasn’t changed? The media and its reporting, its deference to Mike Bloomberg, its ignoring of how the NYPD horrifically treats peaceful protest (and gets away with it), how the other city agencies (City Council? any kind of regulating agency? Public Advocate?) look the other way, the way Mayor Bloomberg acts as if there aren’t real problems in the city while catering to his soft drink obsession. I could go on. I was one of those people who hoped initially OWS would go further but, really, how could it in this climate outlined so well by Allison Kilkenny above?
Occupy Wall Street infused an energy into the idea that the world could and will change, a belief that had been somewhat extinguished or at least was so under the radar amongst any of us who hoped for – and worked for – real change. Many people buy into the media’s characterization(s) of the whole thing and they, and their corporate bosses, who are threatened by it, know this.
This movement speaks to pretty much all of us. Carry on.
Also worth reading: Salon.com by David Sirota, Media: Stop Sucking up to Bloomberg August 22, 2012