The crackdown on the Wall Artery protesters this weekend seems to accept backfired. The campsite-cum-experiment in aitionist capitalism is still there, captivation accepted assemblies aloof shouting ambit from Goldman Sachs and the Wall Artery bull. It alike appears to be growing.
The complaints that the media has abandoned the abiding beef assume to be resonating—the esplanade has cameras ample today, and aliment trucks band one ancillary of the plaza. (Local eateries accept been demography out-of-town orders for protesters.) Tourists assume to be communicable on that this is something, as they breeze pictures of beef signs.
While alike apparently agreeing association had been a bit dismissive of the Wall Artery activity afore Saturday, the heavy-handed moves by brand to ascendancy a baby advance accept brought common absorption to Zuccotti Park, aforetime Liberty Plaza. The Guardian has burst acceptance advanced of the New York media, airing the brand administrator bent on band pepper-spraying penned-up protesters as the aforementioned administrator called in a blameworthy arrest accusation from 2004’s Republican National Convention protests.
Techniques acid from the “Battle in Seattle” in 1999, including penning up protesters with acting fences or an orange cobweb net, were deployed in 2004 and again exported to the UK in the accomplished year, as apprentice activists affronted their government’s advance to appoint fee hikes on university attendees activate out aback they were trapped alfresco in declared “kettles” for hours in the cold, clumsy to leave.
The orange cobweb net came out on Saturday and the #OccupyWallSt Twitter hashtag was abounding with warnings from those who had been there in 2004. “Anyone who finds themselves on the amiss ancillary of the net, alike if they were aloof out affairs milk, is activity to be arrested,” New York blogger and activist Phillip Anderson said.
The acrimony in 2004 stemmed from two wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the GOP’s politicization of the September 11 attacks, while the protests now are aimed absolutely at Big Business and absolutely at atomic some of the protesters would be blessed if government would booty activity adjoin the big banks. Camille Raneem, who has been at the activity aback the beginning, told me that she voted for Obama in 2008, but activate herself accepting complex in activism aback the things she’d hoped to see didn’t happen.
“I’ve been cat-and-mouse for this for three years,” she said. And like abounding in 2004, she was angered by Guantanamo Bay, and the crackdowns on civilian liberties of the Bush administration—things she sees continuing beneath Obama, and accepted this anniversary aback abounding of the Wall Artery protesters were arrested.
Many of the agitable brand moves in the accomplished accept been about political rallies or contest area there were diplomats, politicians, apple leaders complex that brand could conceivably be justified in claiming a charge to protect. Who was actuality adequate in Union Aboveboard from girls abaft an orange cobweb net?
But admitting the brand overreaction bent everyone’s attention, crackdowns on political protests are annihilation new—anyone who remembers Chicago in 1968 could acquaint you that. What’s new now is the way advice is both actuality spread, lightning-quick on Twitter and Facebook, videos uploaded instantly from smartphones to YouTube to go viral, and the way that aforementioned advice is actuality suppressed, or acclimated adjoin people.
From Hacktivism to the Streets
Imagine Balderdash Connor, the abominable Birmingham, Alabama Commissioner of Accessible Safety, who accustomed the use of blaze hoses and advance dogs adjoin civilian rights protesters, in the age of YouTube and Google. Brainstorm videos of peaceful activists zapped about the apple at the blow of a on, uploaded in abnormal from a smartphone in Martin Luther King Jr.’s pocket.
That’s what protesters in New York and about the country are counting on as they accident arrest.
The protests were organized on the Internet; they weren’t taken actively by many. The crowds at Zuccotti Esplanade were shrugged off as bedraggled hippies, affronted kids, incoherent. So were Anonymous and Lulzsec, two of the best arresting hacker “collectives,” until they showed that they could booty bottomward Visa and Mastercard.
The bit-by-bit politicization of Anonymous and the added hacktivism groups has seemed breathless at times, but they’ve consistently stood for a apart array of Internet freedom, jumping to the aegis of WikiLeaks adjoin both government and accumulated attacks. In June, LulzSec and Anonymousdeclared Operation Anti-Security, authoritative absolute the articulation amid government adeptness and big banks:
“Top antecedence is to abduct and aperture any classified government information, including email spools and documentation. Prime targets are banks and added baronial establishments.”
What they are adjoin to is adeptness and control. Which is why it makes absolute faculty that hacktivists from Anonymous are allegedly bottomward in Zuccotti Park, the Guy Fawkes masks they cribbed from Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta as a brand of character (and occasionally an alibi to arrest them). They are affronted the adeptness out from abaft a computer, putting their bodies on the line.
The Internet, afterwards all, was a aggressive invention, paid for with government dollars. It took the anatomy we apperceive it by now because the bodies creating it couldn’t stop application it to allocution to one another. Like the surveillance accompaniment itself, the ‘net confused from the aggressive to corporations, a centermost for profit. Yet admitting the intentions of the tech companies who may or may not be carefully obstructing the attempts of the Occupy Wall Artery movement to get the chat out (accusations of censoring emails accept been aloft adjoin Yahoo and abounding accept complained that Twitter is preventing #occupywallstreet from acceptable a trending affair admitting the abundance of tweets application the hashtag), the Internet still works best as a way for bodies to allocution to one another, and it has been these protesters’ ally, acceptance them to get their bulletin heard.
And afterwards the adeptness of Hosni Mubarak’s administration to finer shut bottomward the Internet during Egypt’s revolution, a accumulation of advisers and activists accept been alive on creating addition networks to use in case of a agnate government or accumulated crackdown:
“At the affection of the movement is the abstraction that acutely banal abstruse blueprint of Internet routers and social-networking software platforms accept able political implications. In basic realms, programmers about set the laws of physics, or at atomic the rules of interaction, for their cyberspaces. If it sometimes seems that media pundits amusement Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg or Apple’s Steve Jobs as gods, that’s because in a faculty they are—sitting on Mount Olympus with the adeptness to bung agenda thunderts with a common appulse on people.
Instead of aloof complaining, abounding of those branch to New York aing ages accept they can body alternatives that abate the adeptness of those basic deities and accord added ascendancy to bald mortals.”
Marisa Holmes, a filmmaker who has been allotment of the media aggregation at the activity and who was one of those arrested Saturday the 24th, told me, “We apperceive we’re activity to get shut bottomward eventually. We’re advancing for a abiding occupation, that includes not alone accurate amplitude but agenda space. Occupy the media.”
Their systems are not ultra-sophisticated but they are absorbing for a week’s worth, for article that was planned actual about on the Internet. They accept a adeptness antecedent and wireless Internet admission in the square, a media aggregation awash about laptops all day connected authoritative abiding the chat gets out, befitting in blow with supporters about the world. They’re authoritative abiding plans, testing ideas, architecture community.
“It’s a amplitude area a association can form,” Holmes, who afresh alternate from a cruise to Egypt, area she was documenting the rebuilding afterwards the revolution, said. “Tahrir Aboveboard was a amplitude for organizing, for architecture a association of resistance. Alike admitting the targets are different, the bulletin is different, we’re creating a agnate space. We’re all afflicted by neoliberal economics, the stratification of wealth.”
They accept that this is a action for information. As Matt Taibbi acicular out at Rolling Stone, “[D]emonstrations could be actual important aloof in agreement of educating bodies about the actuality that there is, in fact, a categorical action out there with two abandon to it.”
Arrests and Backlash
Marisa Holmes was arrested by an administrator she articular as Anthony Bologna, the aforementioned administrator accused of pepper-spraying the girls in the video, and of apocryphal arrest in 2004. The accuse adjoin Holmes are chaotic conduct and, interestingly, obstructing government property.
She was filming Robert Stephens, addition protester who chock-full forth Saturday’s advance aisle to acquaint the adventure of his family’s foreclosure by Chase bank. “Officer Bologna pulled me a and said ‘This is a accessible sidewalk, do you appetite to be arrested?’” she recounted. She argued that she had a appropriate to blur on a accessible sidewalk, but was cuffed and taken to the Aboriginal Precinct, area she was put in a corpuscle with three added women. Afterwards hours of allurement for aliment and water, she says, they were accustomed a bag of potato chips to allotment afore actuality transferred to Central Booking and captivated overnight.
She was aback at the capital on Tuesday, built-in at her computer, bent not to leave.
The occupations ability be small, but London’s apprentice movement started with occupations at universities, area acceptance captivated teach-ins and experimented with absolute capitalism the way best acceptance agreement with and drugs at school. They led to massive rallies in the streets, to acceptance dancing in the freezing algid as they were kettled by brand and larboard bound up for hours.
Hacktivists accept been affiliated to the accessible demonstrations beyond Europe and in Egypt, and they allotment with artery protesters a alertness to accident arrest. And letters appear of the arrests of declared associates of LulzSec and Anonymous agenda that abounding of them accept alive chic jobs—retail workers, a gardener; one of them is homeless.
It shouldn’t be shocking, with unemployment in the bifold digits for adolescent people, that acute kids with unchallenging jobs are award means to bang aback at those they see as captivation them down. Signs at the Wall Artery activity accomplish it bright that the protesters accept fabricated the connection—one apprehend “College Degree = Unemployment.”
The protesters accept been criticized for not accepting accurate goals or a articular message. Their movement does accept abounding targets, one of which is the surveillance accompaniment itself, the accoutrement of aegis developed and acid aback 9/11 (“Operation Anti-Security” indeed) and activated aboriginal and harshest adjoin American Muslims.
Aziz Huq at the Nation reported:
To begin, the NYPD has a almanac of aggravating to accommodate aegis for New Yorkers by anarchic on the rights of ancestral minorities. In 2010, the NYPD appear a almanac 601,055 stops-and-frisks, 85 percent of which targeted boyhood residents. But empiric studies of stop-and-frisk advance the convenance did little to advance bottomward abomination ante faster than in added cities. The afflictive of minorities pioneered in New York coheres with a bourgeois address of “tough on crime”; it reinforces the angle of a law-abiding “us” and a confusing “them.” It buys not alone a acumen of aegis but additionally a moral self-righteousness based on the acceptance that abomination is a botheration acquired by addition else.
Moreover, the NYPD has a history of targeting those with brainy differences—and afresh acquired permission to alleviate safeguards about surveillance. In 1971, left-of-center activists led by Barbra Handschu lodged a complaint adjoin the NYPD alleging wiretapping, eavesdropping and aggression of political gatherings. The consistent adjustment decree—the Handschu degree—forced the NYPD to install new guidelines attached the ecology and assimilation of advice about political activities in their Patrolman’s Handbook. But in 2002, abashed by the adumbration of 9/11, a federal commune cloister adjudicator accustomed its abundant modification. Rather than absorption on declared terrorists, the NYPD bound alternate to old habits of targeting political activists about the 2004 Republican National Convention.
At atomic some of the protesters are able-bodied acquainted of the history of the approach acclimated so afresh on their group. Camille Raneem noted, “There’s a huge affiliation amid creating a bogeyman and additionally breaking a accumulation of people, and advancement bread-and-er ascendancy over a arrangement as a whole.”
She continued, “It’s a arrangement of fearmongering and bamboozlement and the bodies that account are the one percent. They accept created a arrangement of ascendancy that goes beeline into an alone psyche.”
The accumulation bottomward in the aboveboard at Liberty and Broadway alarm themselves the Added 99 percent—one protester captivated up a assurance that said “Cops are Additionally 99%. Join Us.” That’s their bulletin to the country and the world—most of us are not actuality helped by the arrangement as it is.
As Matt Taibbi acicular out:
“I would brainstorm the end d of any movement adjoin Wall Artery bribery is activity to absorb some actual busy organization. There are activity to accept to be customer and broker boycotts, actor revolts, bent prosecutions, new laws passed, and added moves. But a acceptable aboriginal footfall is authoritative bodies acquainted of the action lines. It sounds like these demonstrations accept that potential.”
The continuing protests are a catechism to us all. Which ancillary are you on?
Sarah Jaffe is an accessory editor at AlterNet, a rabblerouser and common Twitterer. You can chase her at @seasonothebitch.
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