Occupy Wall Street, Day 11
Jeanne Mansfield has a gripping first hand account of the violence over the weekend - including the assault on her. Here's a detail I've noticed over and over again:
The white-shirted cops are shouting at us to get off the street as they corral us onto the sidewalk. One African American man gets on the curb but refuses to be pushed up against the wall of the building; they throw him into the street, and five cops tackle him. As he's being cuffed, a white kid with a video camera asks him "What's your name?! What's your name?!" One of the blue-shirted cops thinks he's too close and gives him a little shove. A white-shirt sees this, grabs the kid and without hesitation billy-clubs him in the stomach.
"What's your name?! What's your name?!" - I've seen that in a lot of video. Folks knew to get arrestees' names before they got led away, presumably to arrange for representation and for inquiry at the precinct. That's some phenomenal organizing. They've really got it together over there.
John Farley has a really nice post on citizen journalism and the sometimes improvised organizing process at the site:
But as we all sat in a jail, I noticed an interesting thing happen.
People began to talk very seriously about organizing in a more cohesive way than they have been. Jailhouse rookies, who had never been arrested or involved in radical political activities, listened attentively as experienced activists spoke about the need to set clear demands in order to rally broader public support for specific outcomes.
The whole article is great.
C. Cryn Johannsen writes about the student debt angle:
Slaughter was asked if he was there because of the student loan debt he owes. He said in an Loop 21 interview via email: "[It's] partly because of crushing student loan debt, but more so to help give voice to history unfolding in Lower Manhattan." Slaughter has been laid off twice in the past year, and like many of the other protesters, he is young and educated, indebted and unemployed.
Danny Schechter does too:
Ten days on, the persistence of the Occupy Wall Street protest is a minor miracle in itself, surprising a cynical media and even activists who weren't sure if they could pull off a sustained attack on financial power. Young people are showing how political they can be - in part, no doubt because so many are out of work and deeply in debt.
I get a little nervous about the student debt angle because 1) it makes it easy to pigeonhole the movement as nothing more than pissed off college kids and 2) it risks making immediate self-interest the dominant theme - which lends itself to an easy response: We've all got problems, boyo; suck it up and get over your precious self. On the other hand (via):
Demonstrations are stronger when protesters are denouncing a target that directly affects them. In 1971, President Nixon's decision to end student deferments sparked a new wave of antiwar protests on campuses around the country. Many believe the lack of a draft severely weakened protests against the Iraq war. In 1932, the Bonus Army was able to gather thousands of veterans to Washington because their cause was not someone else's poverty but their own.
I tend to think the most compelling protesters are the ones who aren't directly affected, because those are the ones best positioned to argue from principle. I'm probably in the minority, though. So hey - whatever gets you off the couch, baby.
While I don't endorse the language in this comment, the sentiment is right on.
As always, drop your links and feedback in the comments!