On Monday, the last of the Occupy activists facing riot charges over the Cruz home protests arrived at a courtroom for trial, joined by about 50 supporters. If convicted, the four defendants -- Catherine Salonek, Jessica Davis, Tomahawk Riley and Dee Xaba -- would face up to two years in prison and a $7,000 fine.
A year ago around this time, Occupy Wall Street was celebrating Advent — the season when Christians anticipate the birth of Jesus at Christmas. In front of Trinity Church, right at the top of Wall Street along Broadway, Occupiers set up a little model tent with the statuettes of a nativity scene inside: Mary, Joseph and the Christ child in a manger, surrounded by animals. In the back, an angel held a tiny cardboard sign with a verse from Luke’s Gospel: “There was no room for them in the inn.” The reason for these activists’ interest in the liturgical calendar, of course, was the movement’s ongoing effort to convince Trinity to start acting less like a real estate corporation and more like a church, and to let the movement use a vacant property that Trinity owns.
Thomas Gokey is one of the creators of Occupy’s Rolling Jubilee, which is preparing to purchase and cancel $9 million of ordinary people’s medical debt. Here, he speaks about the project’s origins, methods, and future.
My first day covering Occupy was also my first eviction. I went down to see the protest’s midday march on October 5, 2011 in San Francisco. It was huge — the biggest thing I’d seen since the 2003 antiwar protests I’d participated in. It dwarfed anything from the BART protests I’d covered. But what was most remarkable was the response. We didn’t know yet what Occupy would be; there was no hint in the air of what was to come. But something was different from the start. There were honks of support, smiles on the faces of drivers blocked on Market Street. There was an inconvenienced bus driver, pumping his fist in support.
The Occupy movement may have come into our lives just over a year ago with a bang but it went out months later with a whimper. Cathal Larkin uses the benefit of hindsight to look at the phenomenon as it manifested itself on these shores and what anarchists could have done to make it work better. The difficulties as Cathal argues did not lie in making arguments for democracy has been the case in so many other campaigns but in that the occupiers “didn’t see this conception extending to the realm of economic production” and in developing the 99%/1% analysis into a deeper class analysis. Recognising problems with current modes of consciousness raising, he utilises Paulo Freire’s pedagogical framework in an attempt to subject “our own political strategies, methodologies and theories to critical scrutiny”.
There is a scene I always recall when I try to remember the exhilarating effect that Occupy Wall Street had on me when it was first getting going. I was on a subway train in Washington, D.C., reading an article about the protests in Zuccotti Park in Manhattan. It was three years after the Wall Street bailouts. It was two years after everyone I knew had given up hope in the creativity of Barack Obama. It was two months after the bankers’ friends in the Republican Party had pushed the country right to the brink of default in order to underscore their hallucinatory economic theories. Like everyone else, I had had enough.
When Occupy Wall Street pitched up at Zucotti Park in New York over a year ago, many people, even those of us involved, doubted it would be much more than a predictable street battle with the cops before we were all dispersed and sent home. I had the same feeling a month later when Met officers kettled thousands of us around St. Paul's Cathedral during our attempt to occupy the London Stock Exchange. The following morning, when Canon Giles Fraser kindly asked the police to leave, and announced that the protestors were welcome to stay, that kicked off, for me, months of intense organizing with amazing people, both within and without of, Occupy London. We definitely changed the conversation and made some interesting allies, but concrete achievements are harder to identify.
"Occupy Sandy has cooked and distributed between 10 and 15 thousand meals each day; enlisted more than 7,000 volunteers; created three major distribution hubs from which it dispatches both workers and supplies; and established dozens of recovery sites in New York and New Jersey."
There is not much left of the Occupy movement as such — almost all the encampments were destroyed in November or December 2011 and virtually no new ones have emerged. On the other hand, the movement was in no way “defeated.” With few exceptions, the people arrested were quickly released and totally exonerated. The elimination of the encampments simply had the effect of forcing the participants onto other, more diverse terrains of struggle. Countless people all over the country continue to meet regularly, to network with each other and to carry out all sorts of actions — picketing banks, disrupting corporate board meetings, blocking home foreclosures, protesting environmental policies (Monsanto, Tar Sands Pipeline, fracking, etc.),
After a long, rollicking and vintage Occupy-style concert and telethon last night called the People's Bailout, which included music, talks about debt, and performances the Rolling Jubilee has raised enough money to forgive over 5 million dollars of debt.
It was a beautiful sight -- throngs of volunteers lining up outside a local church on Sunday, Day Five of the local recovery initiative spearheaded by Occupy Sandy. The number of willing helpers had tripled over the last three days alone, a response as dizzying as it was encouraging for the coordinators at the relief hub in St. Jacobi Lutheran Church in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, New York.
Medical debt is the cause of 62 percent of bankruptcies, say organizers of Strike Debt, which threw last night's offbeat fundraiser for their new “Rolling Jubilee.” Ordinary people donated enough money to collectively buy an estimated $5.9 million in bad debt in order to cancel it.
Two hundred people were lined up at a hurricane relief center in a park in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood on Sunday morning when three volunteers hoisted the banners of two enemy camps that had come together in an uneasy collaboration: the Occupy movement and the office of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
NEW YORK (AP) — The social media savvy that helped Occupy Wall Street protesters create a grass-roots global movement last year is proving to be a strength in the wake of Superstorm Sandy as members and organizers of the group fan out across New York to deliver aid including hot meals, medicine and blankets.
It was Tuesday afternoon. The hurricane had swirled offshore, but the floods had yet to recede. Red Hook was seeping from the cellars of its rowhouses, dripping from the tips of every awning, blacked out all the way to the 20th floor of its NYCHA housing projects. FEMA was nowhere to been seen. The Red Cross was nowhere to be seen. The National Guard was nowhere to be seen. Those massive bureaucracies were processing the paperwork, reviewing protocols, checking boxes and getting everything in place.
The Rolling Jubilee project is seeking donations to help it buy-up distressed debts, including student loans and outstanding medical bills, and then wipe the slate clean by writing them off. Individuals or companies can buy distressed debt from lenders at knock-down prices if it the borrower is in default or behind with payments and are then free to do with it as they see fit, including cancelling it free of charge.
We can not thank you enough for your support. It is so amazing to see so many people come together to help with Sandy Relief. This is a critical time to help as the media moves to cover other events there will be a danger that the ongoing emergency will fade. We saw this after Katrina. Please consider becoming a long term Food Not Bombs volunteer helping with our groups on Staten Island, Brooklyn, Long Island and Manhattan. Our volunteers are preparing huge amounts of food but the need is so great we could use more donations and help. There will be many hungry and cold people struggling for many more months so your help is urgently needed.