I’m just going to sit back and enjoy this for a while.
Tag Archives: occupydc
Photographs from the January 20, 2012 Occupy the Courts demonstration at the Supreme Court
Supreme Court police said eleven people were arrested in the demonstration and a twelfth was later arrested inside the court. That man, Scott Fitzgerald, was reportedly already wearing the jacket that said “Occupy Everything” when he went through security upon entering the court and was not attempting to be disruptive.
On October 16, Dr. Cornel West was arrested along with eighteen others for demonstrating on the Supreme Court steps.
After a 14-hour drive, two of which were spent in northern Virginia traffic, we arrived back in DC.
McPherson Square had changed dramatically since our departure. The park, which had seemed so large when we were only sleeping on the ground in one quadrant, had been filled with tents.
We made our way to the Capitol building, where the day’s demonstrators were planned. The group was filled with both young and old, seasoned protesters, Occupiers, children and grandparents – people had traveled from across the country to attend the protest.
Retired Philadelphia Police Captain Ray Lewis was in attendance, and quickly stopped and held by Capitol Police. Assuming his arrest was imminent, protesters rallied behind him.
Captain Lewis was released to cheers and told protesters Capitol Police were confirming his identity and that he was not carrying a weapon. In a later interview with Occupy San Diego, he gave protesters some advice about dealing with police:
“Don’t be shouting things at them that rile them up. I understand the frustration, I understand the anger…we worked within the system, we elected Obama…but if you’re ever involved, do not become physical with the police. You will not win. You will come out worse.”
He also spoke about the Occupy Wall Street eviction, the increasing militarization of police, and the use of tasers and the LRAD system.
After the initial breach, the atmosphere around the Capitol steps turned jubilant, with protesters feeling they had achieved a small victory for the day.
Capitol Police quickly lined up to contain the situation. Most were professional, calm, and even seemed to be enjoying the revelry, but several arrests did occur.
Another young man was arrested shortly after. “I’m not resisting!” he said, “I’m standing here.”
After 2 pm, groups formed for planned autonomous actions and meetings with their Congressional Representatives, including at the Rayburn Office Building, which houses the offices of 169 Representatives. The group decided to forgo the crosswalks to the Rayburn Building and took to the street instead.
Shortly after leaving the Congressional offices, protesters held an impromptu march through the streets. The police response was unprecedented. This was not the first time that an Occupy had taken the streets, but Capitol Police seemed more interested in containing the march than preventing it.
Already people were mic checking for another march, but the group decided to wait until the planned time on the permit.
Just before 7 pm, protesters again took to the streets for the planned march following a route from the Capitol to the Supreme Court and ending at the White House. I lost battery at this time, but still ran ahead of the march with other media. Police presence, perhaps in response to the earlier march, was heavier and more aggressive. At one point an officer forced me off of the sidewalk and into the street. When I told him I was covering the action he said, “if you’re covering it, you’re with them.” Another citizen journalist was similarly forced into the street.
The march ended at the White House.
After chanting and singing, the crowd began to dissipate slightly, with some people leaving for a planned party at the Capitol lawn and others demanding President Obama make an appearance. What we didn’t know at the time was that the President was out to dinner for the First Lady’s birthday. The security demanded by his motorcade returning may explain the events that followed.
Both Park and DC Metro Police were on scene but allowed normal pedestrian traffic to flow through the street in front of the White House and Lafayette Park. As protesters lingered, police presence began to intensify, with Secret Service mobilizing. One person mic checked that he was informed (through sources unknown) that riot police were on their way, bringing dogs, to disperse and presumably arrest any remaining protesters. Several of us decided to remain on site to document the events, aided by our ‘Ninja Backpack’ with its portable military-issue personal generator. After some time we began to see police donning riot gear and there were indeed vehicles marked as K9 units, but there were no signs of dogs or even police mobilization. There were, however, a number of fire trucks and ambulances staged on 17th Street, and police moving in from that area (Note – I lived in DC for a year and saw this many times when the Presidential motorcade was due to pass through a particular street).
Tension steadily increased and we decided to leave the scene, as there were about 20 – 30 people remaining at the White House gate.
As we were walking back on H Street, on the north side of Lafayette Park, police informed us that the park and Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House were closed because “one of you Occupy people” lobbed a smoke device onto the lawn.
The corporate media has reported extensively on that incident, and I was not there, so I will not attempt to recount it. However, I do wonder if there is any correlation between mainstream media’s coverage of #J17 being almost entirely limited to this event and that members of the White House press pool held while the device was investigated.
I can also assert that there were not 1500 people present at the White House at that time, as Secret Service spokesperson George Ogilvie has been quoted as saying.
When we left, the remaining demonstrators were hanging paper hearts on the fence, confident that #J17 had been a success.
I’ll not pretend that this post will make some of those within the Occupy movement like me. But as @kennethlipp always says, and as Ghost reminded me yesterday, “if it can be destroyed by the truth, it should be.” (See original quote by P.C. Hodgell here.)
And as I said yesterday …
It’s a chilly day here in Washington D.C., with wind gusts forecasted up to 35 mph. As I type, a quick Weather Channel check shows it’s 38ºF but feels like 27ºF. Earlier today, I stepped out of Fort Mayhem II (#TOYM DC headquarters) and into the sun. I headed over to CVS on 15th and K streets for a quick warm-up, before heading over to Cosi’s across the street to grab a small coffee (and a much-needed pee break).
Outside CVS this cold January morning sat Antonio. I’ve seen him before, and I’ve passed by him a few times without saying a word, but I’ve flashed him a quick I’m-sorry-I’m-broke-too smile each time.
Antonio sits outside CVS daily, and continually tells passers-by to have a happy new year or speaks blessings to them. He has an easily approachable attitude and is quick to smile. Though I had not stopped to speak with him before — to my own shame — this morning was different.
“I’m sorry I don’t have any money to give you,” I said, as I passed him on my way into the pharmacy.
“That’s all right, you have a blessed day,” he replied, without judgment.
I tooled around the pharmacy for a few minutes while I thought about Antonio and the rant I launched into on Twitter yesterday evening.
For those of you who missed it, I’ll recap it here nearly verbatim in italics and as block quotes, with a few edits for clarity. I’ve also expanded my 140-character thoughts in-between, in regular type and with some additional information.
If you are uncomfortable when the light hits the dirt and exposes the underbelly of the things this movement has ignored — good. You should be uncomfortable. You should be upset. You should take a long, hard look at yourself and at your actions or inactions.
I’ve seen it before — local homeless communities ignored or disdained by occupies. Where is the outreach? Where is your compassion?
Specifically regarding the
#occupydc baby story — most aren’t asking the vital questions. How did he end up homeless in a tent with a baby in the first place — assuming he is homeless and didn’t just choose to occupy?
Ghost and I spoke with K. about this yesterday. K. is another occupier and journalist who was on-scene to record the incident and the action that followed. (The video has not yet been released.) According to K., there was immediate condemnation by an occupier who was present.
“’He has no rights,’” K. said, quoting the occupier who was referring to the man who allegedly left the 13-month-old child in his tent for an undetermined amount of time. (I cannot confirm a specific amount of time as the times stated by all accounts range anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours.)
Excuse me? He has no rights? What. The. Fuck? If he has no rights, you have no rights. No one has the right to be judge, jury and executioner.
This snap-judgment alone (and the actions that followed which K. recounted to us, but which I will not describe yet as I have not seen the video and also because of the potential legal ramifications of said actions) is abhorrent. This snap-judgment by an occupier who is at #occupydc 24/7 blows my mind. K. also stated the video will show that said occupier also began to tear down the accused man’s tent.
To that occupier I ask: Did you forget why we are occupying? Did you forget who we are supposedly representing? (That is, we are the 99 percent.) Again I ask, where is your compassion? Also, what the fuck?
To the rest of you, including those on Twitter who are condemning this man as if they are the judge, jury and executioner, I’d like to know why you want to immediately burn this man at the stake.
Why don’t you ask yourselves the following: What is the root of his situation? What is his story? Do you not realize he is human, just like you? Did you forget he is part of the 99 percent, too?
The label “99 percent” is not exclusive to those of us who only occupy 24/7. The 99 percent is not exclusive to those of us who consider ourselves part of the Occupy movement.
Do you not see the failures of our current system which lead to things like this?
Yet people condemn the person rather than condemning the system. And if we are condemning this system to which we are vehemently opposed for all its failures to adequately facilitate equality, do we even have the right to occupy when we ourselves are mimicking a broken system by ignoring those of us who are the most vulnerable?
Open your eyes and realize you hold no right over another human being. You are no better or worse than any other. Unless we stop the in-fighting and bickering and grade-school, petty bullshit, this movement will fail at its loftiest goals.
And unless we stop mimicking the broken system by changing our own actions and attitudes one-by-one, this movement will fail.
Here are some guidelines I tweeted in my anger (in no particular order):
1. Grow the fuck up.
2. Learn how to be respectful and compassionate.
3. Be respectful and compassionate.
4. Realize this isn’t about you. This is about a movement.*
5. Remember actions speak louder than words.
7. Don’t be a cunt.
*And this movement includes the man who was arrested for allegedly leaving a baby alone in his tent at #occupydc/McPherson Square.
We need to come together and patch our broken world, one small community at a time. This is bigger than any singular occupy. If we’re not all in this together — including the most vulnerable — then what is the fucking point?
By ALL I mean ALL. Employed, unemployed, homeless or not, legal or undocumented immigrants, citizens or not, black, white, purple, green, [insert all the additionally irrelevant labels you can imagine here] — it doesn’t fucking matter. We’re all made from the same matter. Have some humanity for fuck’s sake.
This morning I took my own advice. I walked out of CVS and told Antonio I was going to Cosi’s to grab a coffee, and asked if he would like some. He readily accepted.
Antonio, 54, is from New York but has lived in the D.C. area most of his life. He is currently waiting for his disability application to be approved by the government.
“But I don’t sleep outside at night,” he said, and explained he sleeps in a shelter at night.
While I talked with him after getting us coffee, a man stopped as he passed and handed Antonio a five-dollar bill.
“He just gave me good luck,” Antonio exclaimed, and thanked the anonymous, generous man.
We talked for a few more minutes — a little bit about the Occupy movement but mostly about life itself. Before I departed from our conversation, he gave me blessings and also said, “Don’t let your past haunt you. If you find yourself down, pick yourself up and move forward.”
Is even one small act of compassion and generosity contagious? With one simple act of compassion, can you change a person’s day? Life? World? I really hope so.
By the way, Antonio takes his coffee with extra cream and five Splenda.
[Antonio, outside CVS at 15th and K streets. Jan. 13, 2012. Photo by me.
He gave me a hug after I took his portrait.]
We are the 99 percent, and we love.
Thanks to Ghost (together we make up the #gypsycell of #teamoccupyyourmom) for spurring me to rant on Twitter. I’ve taken screenshots of his tweets regarding this topic, as well as tweets from additional people — @OccupyAura, @jeeezelouise and @Kaymee — which I have inserted below as they are important and influenced this post.
If you’re unfamiliar with Twitter, be advised you need to scroll down to the bottom of this post and read from the bottom up.
#Occupydc marched down K Street Monday night, Jan. 9, 2012, to the corner of K and 16th streets to protest outside an Obama fundraiser at the Capital Hilton. They chanted and utilized the peoples’ mic to let the 1 percent participants inside know their actions are not going unnoticed.
For additional videos of the #occupydc action, you can visit my Ustream archive at http://ustream.tv/channel/Korgasm
Earlier in the evening, I read on Twitter about a mass of police a couple blocks from McPherson Park, where #occupydc is located. I took a walk and streamed what I saw.
Approximately 50 Metro PD rollers and vans were situated from the corner of K and 15th streets, down to K at 16th Street, and along 16th Street to L and M streets. On M street I overheard an officer tell a curious couple that M street was “completely blocked off.”
Indeed it was completely blocked off to vehicle traffic — but not to foot traffic. I successfully streamed the police presence in the area without being approached by them.
At M and 15th streets was a scooter brigade of approximately 20 scooter cops. More rollers and vans lined 15th, down the corners on 14th Street at both M and L streets.
I asked two cops at the corner 14th and L streets why M Street was blocked off. “An accident,” one replied.
Funny, I saw no accident.
I continued back to McPherson where I warmed up and tried to figure out via Twitter if there was some type of event occurring. Indeed, there was.
After I learned this, I tweeted that #occupydc should mic-check the fundraiser. Curiously enough, they decided to (whether they were spurred by my tweet to do so I don’t know). After about half an hour, #occupydc journeyed back to McPherson.
No other media presence could be seen at the corner of K and 16th streets, except an NBC satellite truck with no reporters present outside. I was the only media present. Why? Perhaps they are too busy basking in the glow of their corporate overlords, who are busy stuffing the pockets of the politicians who continually neglect the American people on the whole. Do as you’re told and no one gets hurt. Right?
According to ABC News, Obama graced his donors’ presence at two different fundraisers that night, raking in over $1.2 million. One event was closed to not only the public but to media (o noes!) as well:
Earlier in the evening, Obama attended an exclusive fundraiser with 25 supporters at the Jefferson Hotel in Washington. Each paid $45,000 to attend, according to a Democratic official. The event, which was closed to all press coverage, was dubbed a “roundtable discussion” by a White House spokesman. — ABC News
Monday night’s fundraiser at the Capital Hilton benefitted the Victory Fund and the Democratic National Committee. As OpenSecretsBlog reports, the Victory Fund is a joint-fundraising committee for Obama and the DNC. Top benefactors include the employees of Goldman Sachs, DreamWorks, Comcast and Disney.
Who else volunteers to raise funds for the President (“bundlers”)? Hollywood heavy hitter Harvey Weinstein, UBS Americas CEO Robert Wolf and Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen, among others. The full list released by Obama’s campaign is here.
It’s no wonder we see legislation introduced like SOPA. Pay off a president and it seems he’ll let anything pass.
Remember kids, as Thomas Jefferson said, “Monied interests are more dangerous to our civil liberties than standing armies.”
Protest on, #Occupy.
When Ghost and I returned to our respected home bases from a month on the road, streaming, tweeting and blogging from #occupydc, #occupybham, #occupyNOLA, #occupyaustin, and the #D12 port shutdown action in Houston, we were both spent.
I wasn’t able to blog as much as I wanted to during that month, due to lack of consistent power sources, sketchy wifi and personal writing issues. Now that we are full-time occupying at #occupydc, generally have access to power and wifi, and are in somewhat of a routine, it would be a let down were I not to write.
At a time when many full-time on-site occupiers have burnt out, and rightfully so, I am reminded of something that keeps me going — the generosity and compassion of those that support the occupy movement.
We arrived in D.C. the evening of Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012. We spent the first two nights occupying the floor of two fellow occupiers who were kind enough to let us occupy their apartment.
Day two, January 4, we went on a shopping excursion to purchase a tent with funds donated from people on Twitter. (The tent has been dubbed Fort Mayhem 2 … #FM2.) We attended the general assembly (GA) that night and Thursday we officially began our #occupydc occupation. (Ghost’s third time here, my second.)
Our new neighbor whom I’ll call B has been most helpful and welcoming. He even got into an epic zipper battle with @unknown_vector yesterday because he wasn’t aware that I was inside FM2, writing. (Ghost had asked him to keep an eye on it.) B is looking out for us and we’ve barely been here three days.
This afternoon I tweeted out a need for pizza, and the plea was answered in deliciousness. Food purchased for the occupation by complete strangers. I had a bit of déjà vú as @unknown_vector and I carried the first batch back to McPherson.
[Today at #occupydc. Donated pizzas. <3]
I’m humbled by my fellow humans’ and occupiers’ generosity. The basic needs of occupiers are met every day by unseen people who work behind the scenes to help provide for occupiers all around the world. Many people can’t afford to help much, but they give what they can and for that I am extremely grateful.
We have even been offered a laptop which is sorely needed for video streaming and editing purposes. We’ve received two webcams with which to stream. We’ve received a loaned mobile power source. All of this just today.
The #gypsycell of #teamoccupyyourmom could not do what we do, were it not for the donations and love of (mostly) complete strangers. We can only do this because of you. Thank you.