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Occupy Wall Street: Major Museums And Organizations Collect Materials Produced By Occupy Movement [LATEST UPDATES]

Occupy Wall Street

AP/The Huffington Post   First Posted: 12/24/2011 1:08 pm Updated: 12/24/2011 1:13 pm

By CRISTIAN SALAZAR AND RANDY HERSCHAFT, The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Occupy Wall Street may still be working to shake the notion it represents a passing outburst of rage, but some establishment institutions have already decided the movement's artifacts are worthy of historic preservation.

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More than a half-dozen major museums and organizations from the Smithsonian Institution to the New-York Historical Society have been avidly collecting materials produced by the Occupy movement.

Staffers have been sent to occupied parks to rummage for buttons, signs, posters and documents. Websites and tweets have been archived for digital eternity. And museums have approached individual protesters directly to obtain posters and other ephemera.

The Museum of the City of New York is planning an exhibition on Occupy for next month.

"Occupy is sexy," said Ben Alexander, who is head of special collections and archives at Queens College in New York, which has been collecting Occupy materials. "It sounds hip. A lot of people want to be associated with it."

To keep established institutions from shaping the movement's short history, protesters have formed their own archive group, stashing away hundreds of cardboard signs, posters, fliers, buttons, periodicals, documents and banners in temporary storage while they seek a permanent home for the materials.

"We want to make sure we collect it from our perspective so that it can be represented as best as possible," said Amy Roberts, a library and information studies graduate student at Queens College who helped create the archives working group.

The archives group has been approached by institutions seeking to borrow or acquire Occupy materials. Roberts said they were discussing donating the entire collection to the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University. Tamiment declined to comment.

A handful of protesters began camping out in September in a lower Manhattan plaza called Zuccotti Park, outraged at Wall Street excess and income inequality; they were soon joined by others who set up tents and promised to occupy "all day, all night." Similar camps sprouted in dozens of cities nationwide and around the world. Many were forcibly cleared.

Much of the frenzied collection by institutions began in the early weeks of the protests. In part, they were seeking to collect and preserve as insurance against the possibility history might be lost – not an unusual stance by archivists.

What appears to be different is the level of interest from mainstream institutions across a wide geographic spectrum and the new digital-only ventures that have sprung up to preserve the movement's online history.

The lavish attention poured on the liberal-leaning movement has not gone unnoticed by conservatives.

Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, blogged sarcastically under its "Corruption Chronicles" about the choice by the Smithsonian to document Occupy.

"It looks like it's taxpayer-funded hoarding, as opposed to rigorous historical collecting," said Tom Fitton, president of the organization.

The Smithsonian said its American history collection also now includes materials related to the massive tea party rally against health care reform in March 2010 and materials from the American Conservative Union's Washington, D.C., conference in February.

The Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University launched OccupyArchive.org in mid-October on a hunch that it could become historically important. So far, it has about 2,500 items in its online database, including compressed files of entire Occupy websites from around the country and hundreds of images scraped from photo-sharing site Flickr.

"This kind of social movement is probably more interesting to me, to be honest about it. And also so much of it is happening digitally. On webpages. On Twitter," said Sheila Brennan, the associate director of public projects. "I guess I didn't see as much of that with the tea party."

Curators and those in charge of collections at institutions said it was not too soon to think about preserving elements of the Occupy movement.

"We like to collect things as they are happening before the artifacts go away," said Esther Brumberg, senior curator of collections for the Museum of Jewish Heritage in lower Manhattan.

Brumberg said the museum had approached "Occupy Judaism" co-organizer Daniel Sieradski about a poster he had done for a Yom Kippur prayer service for protesters at Zuccotti Park that drew hundreds of people. The poster shows the silhouetted fiddler image from the Jewish musical "Fiddler on the Roof" astride the Wall Street bull.

Sieradski said it made sense that his poster should end up in the museum's permanent collection.

"What I think is great is that they are actually looking to build their collection around contemporary American Jewish history and maybe broaden what their offerings are to the public so that they can tell a more complete story," he said.

While there are no immediate plans to use the poster in an exhibition, Brumberg called it "just one of a number of instances of Jewish activism" that they are interested in and are trying to collect.

The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History gave a similar explanation for sending staff to Zuccotti Square during the encampment, where they were spotted picking up materials. The museum said it was part of its tradition of documenting how Americans participate in a democracy. It declined to allow staff to be interviewed.

"Historians like to take the long view and see how things play out," said spokeswoman Valeska Hilbig in an email, adding that staff wouldn't feel "comfortable" discussing the protests until some time had passed.

Staff at the Robert W. Woodruff Library at Emory University set up a system to download and archive tweets about Occupy. So far, they have harvested more than 5 million tweets from more than 600,000 unique Twitter users. Ultimately the database will be made available to scholars, said Stewart Varner, the digital scholarship coordinator at the library.

The New York Public Library has added Occupy periodicals to its collection and is considering obtaining some protest ephemera.

And the Internet Archive, a massive online library of free digital books, audio and texts, has opened a mostly user-generated collection about the movement. As of Friday, the Occupy collection included more than 2,000 items, while its "Tea Party Movement" collection had fewer than 50.

Unlike other institutions focused only on collecting, the Museum of the City of New York is planning a photography exhibition on Occupy at its South Street Seaport Museum offshoot when it reopens in January.

Chief curator Sarah Henry said the museum will also include materials on the movement in a new gallery opening in the spring that focuses on social activism in New York City.

The New-York Historical Society has collected between 300 and 400 items from the movement, said Jean Ashton, the library director. Ashton recognized the contradiction inherent in an establishment institution collecting Occupy materials.

"There are probably people in Occupy Wall Street who the last thing they want is to have their materials in a library or museum somewhere," she said.

Roberts, the OWS member who is on the archives working group, said it was good that such institutions want to document the movement. However, she said they would prefer the institutions collaborate with the participants. "We know more about the movement and the stories behind the materials that have been collected," she said.

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Follow Cristian Salazar at twitter.com/crsalazarAP and Randy Herschaft at twitter.com/HerschaftAP


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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.

From the Miami New Times:

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.

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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.

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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.

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Occupy Long Beach is defending the mother's home. For more information, click here.

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The woman had the apparent seizure has been identified by the New York Observer as Cecily McMillan:

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.

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Cops caught on video about 10 seconds in taking down the woman who had the apparent seizure:

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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.

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@ 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!

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@ macfathom : Doubling east on Barclay, and now the ragged front of the march is at City Hall. #OWS

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@ 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?"

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@ jeffrae : March is heading north up broadway #ows #occupywallstreet

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@ macfathom : Dozens of arrests, many cuffed and sitting on broadway waiting for their ride to jail. #OWS

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@ RDevro : Police are barricading the park. It's cleared. I witnessed countless violent arrests. No way to estimate numbers.

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@ troutish : Protesters being dragged out by the head at #OWS #Zucotti Park http://t.co/qomhKkrA

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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.

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@ ANIMALNewYork : Police are moving in. It's chaos.

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@ ANIMALNewYork : NYPD just made an announcement that Brookfield has to "clean the park" and Liberty Plaza is officially "closed."

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@ 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

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@ JackieHRye : NYPD just "destroyed" the tent in Zuccotti Park, Occupiers call for its re-building. Marching band also going through the park. #OWS

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@ RDevro : The tent in the middle of the park continues to fill with people planning to stay the night. Lots of energy here.

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Activists ask for more room as the tent is growing, expanding.

"It looks like a floating tent." -- as Tim on his live stream.

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Owly Images

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@ 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

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Activists have assembled make-shift, cardboard sleeping areas inside Zuccotti Park. The cardboard is joined by a large green tarp.

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@ RDevro : A tarp is going up in Zuccotti as protesters march around the park chant-dancing. #m17 http://t.co/rJfP3GF9

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