Occupy Wall Street Plans To 'Occupy Christmas' (VIDEO)
NEW YORK -- Faith leaders from across the country met at the Judson Memorial Church in downtown New York City on Tuesday to discuss their role in the future of the Occupy Wall Street movement. The meeting came just days after the three-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street in New York; demonstrators trespassed on a vacant lot owned by the Trinity Church to hold a rally and protest, ending in dozens of arrests.
Father Paul Mayer, who worked with Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights era, was one of those arrested on Saturday. "These young people are raising the issue of social justice and economic justice and equity and a fair distribution of the riches of this Earth between all peoples in a way that our churches should be raising it," he said at the meeting.
Participants of Occupy Faith NYC, a faith-based protest group, handed out pamphlets at the meeting to explain the "Occupy Christmas" event scheduled for Christmas Eve in Zuccotti Park. Protesters plan to stage a 24-hour vigil with music and food beginning at midnight. The pamphlets entitled, "Why Occupy Christmas?," explained that a bible passage commonly read in church during the Christmas season inspired the idea for the event.
"It says in your narrative for Christmas day, that the people who walk in darkness have seen a great light. And this whole movement has come together because of that darkness," explained Matt Carson, 26, an Occupier and seminary student who is helping to organize the event.
At the Church of St. Paul & St. Andrew on Manhattan's Upper West Side, Occupiers have been welcomed with open arms since the Nov. 15 raid of Zuccotti Park. Associate pastor Shiboan Sargent recently recalled those first hectic days. "They felt really violated, all their stuff got taken and as a result when they came here they needed to have a moment of peace and healing," she said.
The church has been doing just that, providing the protesters with a place to sleep in its sanctuary and the usage of its kitchen on most nights. For the last month, it has hosted 60-90 protesters on average each night. The protesters are required to sign in for the night with a volunteer receptionist who sits at the main entrance. A list of rules on a paper handout explains that drugs and alcohol are strictly forbidden and that the church will not allow protesters to arrive past midnight. They can arrive as early as 8:30 p.m. and are asked to leave by 8:30 a.m.
"The whole goal is that we're helping them to change the world and they're not here to just hang out here and sleep all day," Sargent said.
On a recent night, some protesters borrowed cushions from the church pews to use as makeshift mattresses, while others put sleeping bags on the floor of the sanctuary. Eric Smith, who The Huffington Post profiled in November in its "Faces of Zuccotti Park" video series, was getting ready to go to bed for the night on the sanctuary floor.
"I've never been in a house or an apartment that had such beautiful high ceilings," he said, looking skyward toward the church's antique dome interior.
Teddy Mapes, 46, was working in construction as a pipefitter before he was lured into the movement by what he described as Zuccotti Park's "Woodstock vibe." He had just finished preparing a dinner of franks, beans, and white bread for his fellow Occupiers. Mapes said he felt like the church gave the protesters a "big bear hug" after their eviction from Zuccotti. "If it wasn't for St. Paul and St. Andrew, there would have been a lot of people that were lost," he said.
Back at the meeting of national faith leaders, Reverend James Lawson, who also worked closely with Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement, was giving Occupy Wall Street his stamp of approval. "You first start out be saying no, resisting the oppression and the pain and suffering that's going on and staying together, and then you begin to move further down the line," he said.
The vacant lot next to Duarte Square was eerily silent after Saturday's protest. Decorations left over from the rally hung from a tree and a police car was stationed next to the chain link fence -- which had been quickly repaired after protesters scaled it or crawled under it to get to lot. Graffiti scribbled on a wooden park bench sent a message about the future intentions of the Occupiers. "It's far from over," it read.
Via HuffPost Miami:
When an Occupy Miami member offered evicted protestors vacant apartments in a building he owns in Downtown Miami's Overtown neighborhood, it seemed like the perfect solution: the 'Peace City' space would provide headquarters for the movement and shelter a small faction of the group's most vulnerable members. But it hasn't gone well. Other tenants say the building has become a cesspool of drug use and violence while non-resident Occupy Miami members are trying to distance themselves from the 'radicals' -- all while the two factions are wrestling for control over Occupy Miami's social media sites and future plans.
The feud between the Overtown occupiers and more mainstream members has only gotten worse. The two factions are now battling for control of Occupy Miami's social media sites. The movement's main Twitter account recently announced it had been "hijacked by a small, non-consensus group of radical members." The Occupy Miami Facebook page was also temporarily hacked by someone inside Peace City. Meanwhile, the Overtown occupation is slowly driving away more moderate members.
"This is a black eye on the Occupy movement," says Shannon Reaze, an Overtown community organizer and Occupy Miami supporter who is now helping tenants move out of Paz's building. "The violence and drugs going on here are way outside of what I thought Occupy stood for. This place is destabilized."
...The supposedly hard-core activists here spend their days drinking and getting high. And as Peace City devolves into lawlessness, the most committed occupiers are leaving. Local landowners and politicians want the place shut down, while cops are suspicious. Yet as long as Paz wants the protesters around, nothing short of a demolition order can keep them out.
Via HuffPost DC:
WASHINGTON -- Occupy DC has a new lawsuit involving tents on its hands. But it doesn't involve temporary structures in McPherson Square.
Two protesters arrested during a February action outside Merrill Lynch's offices on 15th Street NW near McPherson Square have filed suit against the Metropolitan Police Department, Legal Times reports. (Read the complaint here.)
The plaintiffs, Samuel Dukore and Kelly Canavan, were part of a "targeted occupation" of Merrill Lynch on Feb. 13 where protesters were raising awareness about Merrill Lynch's reportedly close ties with Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). Issa, for his part, claims that the reports of these close ties are "wildly inaccurate."
Full story here.
OWS reports via its website:
After the brutal attack on the attempted re-occupation of Liberty Square by NYPD on the 6-month anniversary of #OWS, a number of Occupiers have relocated their base of occupation to Union Square in midtown Manhattan, a point of convergence for several #OWS protests over the past 6 months.
According to reports on the ground, several dozen people slept in the park after the illegal and violent raid on Liberty Square. Over 70 people remain, now on Day 3. Although tents and tables are still banned, Occupiers have brought blankets and sleeping gear. Many are calling it ¨the new Occupation.¨ In addition to holding General Assemblies, Union Square Occupiers are providing vital jail support for those arrested on #M17 as they are released from NYPD custody. So far, the NYPD has made no attempt to remove Occupiers or prevent them from sleeping in the park.
Occupy Long Beach is defending the mother's home. For more information, click here.
Cecily McMillan, an Occupy Wall Street activist once profiled in Rolling Stone, suffered a seizure Saturday night during protest action near Zuccotti Park. Many on-scene reported Ms. McMillan had trouble breathing after she was tackled and handcuffed by law enforcement.
A video uploaded to Youtube late Saturday night purports to show the attack. Two women can be heard commenting, “There’s Cecily,” then there is confusion as the police clearly perform a violent take-down on someone in the crowd.
According to Jeff Sharlet’s November, 2011 article about the Occupy Movement, this may be Ms. McMillan’s second violent encounter with police.
To read the full story, go here.
Cops caught on video about 10 seconds in taking down the woman who had the apparent seizure:
Watch video from inside Zuccotti Park as police moved in late last night:
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The paper reports from last night's chaos at Zuccotti Park:
At one point, a woman who appeared to be suffering from seizures flopped on the ground in handcuffs as bystanders shouted for the police to remove the cuffs and provide medical attention. For several minutes the woman lay on the ground as onlookers made increasingly agonized demands until an ambulance arrived and the woman was placed inside.
By 12:20 a.m., a line of officers pushed against some of the remaining protesters, forcing them south on Broadway, at times swinging batons and shoving people to the ground.
Kobi Skolnick, 30, said that officers pushed him in several directions and that as he tried to walk away, he was struck from behind in the neck. “One of the police ran and hit me with a baton,” he said.
To read the full story, go here.
|@ Greg_Palast : Our photographer ZD Roberts beaten @OWS Zucotti Park by cops. Thrown to ground, hair grabbd, hit with clubs while yelling, I'M PRESS PRESS!|
|@ macfathom : Doubling east on Barclay, and now the ragged front of the march is at City Hall. #OWS|
|@ LuddoftheFuture : girl in the street having a seizure and the cops have her in handcuffs. can this get any worse (live at http://t.co/4pLyy3gP)|
Activists cry out for paramedics. The woman is limp on the ground. "Come on you violent bastards where's the paramedics?"
|@ jeffrae : March is heading north up broadway #ows #occupywallstreet|
|@ macfathom : Dozens of arrests, many cuffed and sitting on broadway waiting for their ride to jail. #OWS|
|@ RDevro : Police are barricading the park. It's cleared. I witnessed countless violent arrests. No way to estimate numbers.|
Cops pulling apart human chains. There are shouts for mic checks. Now, chants start forming. "The NYPD are sweeping through," says Tim on the live stream.
|@ ANIMALNewYork : NYPD just made an announcement that Brookfield has to "clean the park" and Liberty Plaza is officially "closed."|
|@ OccupyWallStNYC : Bagpipers just started marching into the park bringing the party mood with them, NYPD arrested one of them, and things got real heated. #OWS|
|@ JackieHRye : NYPD just "destroyed" the tent in Zuccotti Park, Occupiers call for its re-building. Marching band also going through the park. #OWS|
|@ RDevro : The tent in the middle of the park continues to fill with people planning to stay the night. Lots of energy here.|
Activists ask for more room as the tent is growing, expanding.
"It looks like a floating tent." -- as Tim on his live stream.
|@ OccupyWallStNYC : .@justawall is leading us in a song! "Hit the road, banks! And don't ya come back no more no more no more no more!" #OWS|
Activists have assembled make-shift, cardboard sleeping areas inside Zuccotti Park. The cardboard is joined by a large green tarp.