Occupy Wall Street: Reports From the Front Lines…



This week in Occupy, the 99 Mile March rocked its way across two states, the movement survived an NYPD smear campaign, Comic Con got #occupied, and banks continued their usual reprehensible behavior.

#Led by the Occupy Guitarmy, the 99 Mile March arrived in Manhattan via the Staten Island ferry to honor folk singer Woody Guthrie on his 100th birthday. The trek, which began in Pennsylvania on July 5 following the Occupy National Gathering, terminated at Liberty Square, where marchers were greeted by police. At least one was injured and three were arrested in the aftermath.

#After their Hamptons action, the MoneyOut/VotersIn affinity group of Occupy Wall Street released talking points about the Koch Brothers, who were apparently so rattled that they released a set of their own. In them, they call Andy Stephanian, Occupy Wall Street‘s media adviser,  a “convicted terrorist” because he was one of the SHAC 7, which campaigned to shut down a notorious animal testing lab only to be sentenced to Gitmo North.

#The Paul Robeson Freedom School summer camp, started by members of Occupy Wall Street and modeled on civil-rights-era Freedom Schools, was profiled in the New York Times.

#Madeline Nelson described her jail visit with Mark Adams, who has been dubbed Occupy Wall Street’s first political prisoner.

#On July 11, the NYPD announced that DNA recovered from a bicycle chain at the site of a wildcat fare strike in March had been matched with DNA linked to the unsolved killing of Sarah Fox, a Julliard student whose naked body was discovered in Inwood Hill Park in 2004. The story was sensationalized on the New York Post’s front page and in multiple mainstream media outlets. The next day two anonymous sources from the medical examiner’s office told the New York Times that the DNA likely came from a lab worker who worked on both cases. So where were the retractions? A skimpy three-paragraph article buried in the next day’s Post admitted that the link was a lab error, a far cry from the previous day’s cover splash. The lopsided coverage angered members of Occupy Wall Street, who came to suspect the leak was part of an NYPD smear campaign. While it’s certainly true that the NYPD has no love for the city’s activists, police commissioner Ray Kelly also might have publicized an Occupy/murder link to detract from a report two days earlier that he and Mayor Bloomberg overstated the department’s counterterror successes.

#The same day he pushed an Occupy/murder link, Ray Kelly actually said his racist stop-and-frisk policy is for the black and Latino population’s own good. But the policy may hit judicial roadblocks, as recent rulings by federal and state courts have now cast judges as the most potent critics of the practice.

#Meanwhile, Philadelphia’s police department continues enforcing its stop-and-frisk policy, albeit with “legal safeguards.”

#Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter’s ban on feeding the homeless was blocked by a federal judge.

#If Occupy did one thing, the Christian Science Monitor reported, it put the wealth gap in the news, and kept it there.

#“Nobody trusts the system anymore,” Occupy Wall Streeter Alexis Goldstein told Chris Hayes on MSNBC.

#Debt is emerging as a connective thread for Occupy organizers and their allies as they begin to build toward the movement’s one-year anniversary, Truthout opines.

#A California appeals court ruled that police officers may be held liable for injuring someone with a pepper ball projectile intended to disperse a crowd. The decision, which stems from a 2004 incident, is a good sign for the U.C. Davis students doused with pepper spray in November, who have sued university police.

#Occupy Fresno joined Members of Faith In Community and Peace Fresno to call for a divestment of accounts with Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs.

#In the early hours of July 10, armed SWAT officers burst through the doors of an apartment belonging to organizers of Occupy Seattle as part of an ongoing investigation into the May Day riots. Phillip Neel, one of the residents of the apartment, spoke about the ordeal.

#San Diego Comic Con International staged an Occupy Comics panel on July 15 featuring David Lloyd, Zoetica Ebb, Susie Cagel and other contributors to the Occupy Comics Anthology.

#The LAPD brutalized participants of Chalkwalk, a sidewalk-decorating festival staged by Occupy Los Angeles around the Downtown LA Art Walk to bring attention to the arrests that have been occurring at 626 Wilshire. The police fired rubber bullets at occupiers and non-occupiers alike, arresting 17.

#A federal court awarded $200,000 to an Orlando activist who was imprisoned for 18 days after scribbling “The revolution will not be televised” and “All I want for Christmas is a revolution”  in front of city hall last December.

#An Occupy Eugene member was arrested on July 11 as the group dismantled its latest base at the behest of federal officials who ordered an end to the 10-week demonstration outside the Federal Building. “Brave Beatrice,” a.k.a. Emily Semple, 58, said she never thought she’d want to get arrested. “But this is important,” she said. “There’s no way that I’m not going to stand up for my First Amendment rights.”

#Occupy Santa Cruz is back, and the police are right on its heels.

#The Oakland City Council voted unanimously to end its relationship with Goldman Sachs if it did not terminate an interest rate swap deal the city entered into with the investment behemoth back in 1997. If Goldman refuses, the city council will enlist the Stop Goldman Sachs Coalition, a group with members affiliated with Occupy Wall Street.

#Occupy Marin has taken up the cause of a Mill Valley couple who are trying to avoid being evicted from the home they lost to foreclosure. Patricia Goff, 60, was in a serious car accident and has been unable to work, and she and her husband face eviction by Wells Fargo.

#Occupy Wall Street #occupied the Allen and Company retreat for media and tech moguls in Sun Valley, Idaho, on July 12, laying down on the sidewalk near the town’s duck pond where Google co-founder Sergey Brin and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg were enjoying lunch.

#One week after nearly 700 nurses, nurse assistants and laundry, dietary and housekeeping staff began walking the picket lines at five HealthBridge nursing homes in a strike over unfair labor practices, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman came out to join them.

#In a settlement negotiated by the ACLU, Occupy Delaware agreed to temporarily suspend its occupation of Wilmington’s Spencer Plaza in September to make way for a much-needed $1.2 million renovation. The group has maintained the longest-lasting Occupy Wall Street-inspired tent occupation in the nation despite freezing weather, violent storms, blistering heat, the hazards of night and attempts by the city to renege on agreements.

#Occupy Tampa met with the West Tampa Community Development Corporation to discuss claims that the encampment in the privately-owned Voice of Freedom Park on Main Street is tarnishing the city’s image. But in fact, some residents said it wasn’t until Occupy Tampa fully inhabited the park seven months ago that they finally felt empowered to use it.

#Occupy Knoxville activist Paul Jacobs penned an editorial in the Knoxville News Sentinel urging his overwhelmingly conservative neighbors to recognize that “we live in a closed system of control, designed so that we find a wall any way we turn,” and “another world is possible.”

#Some of the nation’s largest corporations — General Electric, Caterpillar, Microsoft, Wal-Mart, Chevron, Cisco, Intel, Stanley Works, Merck, United Technologies and Oracle — cut their workforces by 2.9 million people over the last decade while hiring 2.4 million people overseas.

#A federal judge upheld two Springfield, Massachusetts, anti-foreclosure ordinances, ruling against six regional banks that sought to overturn the regulations.

#Major websites and human rights advocates criticized a proposed law that would grant the Russian government broad new powers to restrict online content, supposedly to protect children from pornography and other harmful material. Critics said the law could quickly lead to repression of speech and a restrictive firewall like the one in China.

#A peaceful march in support of the Asturian miners in Madrid led to violence when police evicted the crowd.

#Spanish civil servants, many dressed in mourning black, took to the streets July 13 in angry protest as the government approved new sweeping austerity measures that include wage cuts and tax increases for a country struggling under a recession and an unemployment rate of 25 percent.

#To show solidarity with the Occupy Movement, Iran hosted the International Wall Street Downfall Cartoon Festival.

#British austerity has left the elderly and the disabled fearing for their lives.

#A march to protest the declared winner of the July 1 presidential election drew 5,000 to Mexico City on July 14. The protesters – a mix of students, adults and families – marched from the Angel of Independence monument to the Zocalo, Mexico City’s largest plaza.

#Indians braved the rain-slicked streets of Guwahati to protest for rights and protections for women, bolstered by the recent molestation of a young girl and an attack on a female member of the legislative assembly. The culprits remain free in both cases, and the government “has failed miserably” in tackling the issue, an advocate said.

#Radical Islamists in northern Mali briefly detained about 90 protesters and whipped them in an apparent attempt to intimidate the locals.

#Syrian security forces killed 200 people in the town of Tremseh in central Hama province, according to anti-government activists. But Bashar al-Assad’s government is nearing its end, as defections from his inner circle mount.

#While once estimated to be anywhere from $2 billion to $9 billion, the final cost of JPMorgan Chase’s risky hedge was reported to be $5.8 billion.

#In the wake of the Libor scandal, the Justice Department’s criminal division is building cases against several financial institutions and their employees, including traders at Barclays. The Federal Reserve knew of the rate rigging scandal as far back as 2007 and did nothing to stop it. ZeroHedge illuminated the many ways banks commit criminal fraud.

#HSBC is the latest bank to have laundered money for Mexican drug cartels and terrorists because of its lax controls. Last week, the FBI accused Bank of America of laundering money for Las Zetas.

#Visa, MasterCard and major banks agreed to pay retailers at least $6 billion to settle a long-running lawsuit for conspiring to fix the fees that stores pay to accept credit cards. As part of the settlement, stores from Rite Aid to Kroger will be allowed to charge customers more if they pay using a credit card.

#Wells Fargo will pay at least $175 million to settle accusations that it discriminated against African-American and Hispanic borrowers in violation of fair-lending laws.

#A range of Facebook users, from political dissidents to technology bloggers, are reporting the sudden blocking of their pages.

#South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham actually said, “It’s really American to avoid paying taxes, legally,” the way Mitt Romney does with his foreign tax shelters.

#The implosion of the subprime lending market has left a scar on the finances of black Americans, one that not only has wiped out a generation of economic progress but could leave them at a financial disadvantage for decades.

#Why does the mainstream media keep perpetuating falsehoods about the ATF’s Fast and Furious operation?

#According to Pew researchers, only half of Americans will exceed their parents’ wealth.

#The next strategic and tactical step in the Medicare For All movement is divestment from private health insurance, TIAA-CREF said.

#A new survey by law firm Labaton Sucharow LLP, which looks to work with potential whistleblowers to help SEC investigations, found 26% of financial employees in the U.S. and U.K. surveyed had firsthand knowledge of “wrongdoing in the workplace.” 16% of those surveyed said they would engage in insider trading if they could make $10 million and not get caught, and 24% believed rules “may have to be broken in order to be successful.”

#In a misguided solution to the threat of voter disenfranchisement in Florida, the Department of Homeland Security has granted state election officials access to a database of noncitizen residents for use in Republican-backed efforts to remove people who are not American citizens from voter registration rolls. The decision came after efforts by the Obama administration to block access.

#Number-cruncher Nate Silver attempts to derive whether voter identification laws depress turnout.

#ProPublica curated the best reporting on detention and rendition under Obama.

#Occupy the Film Festival will bring together the most compelling and innovative films of the movement on September 15 at Anthology Film Archives in New York.

#Occupy groups from Santa Rosa, San Francisco, Portland, Sebastopol and Petaluma are joining twenty other social justice activist organizations to protest the powerful 1% elites partying at the secretive Bohemian Grove in Monte Rio, California, from July 14 to 29.

#According to Occupy Arrests, there have been 7,360 arrests in 116 cities since September 17.