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Out in the Open: Occupy Wall Street Reincarnated as Open Source Software
BY KLINT FINLEY 04.28.14 | 6:30 AM | PERMALINK
It was 2011, when the globe was dotted with camps inspired by Occupy Wall Street, that iconic protest against economic and social inequality. As part of Occupy Wellington, Knight didn’t just camp out on the street. He participated in the daily “General Assembly” meetings, an effort to reach a consensus on a variety of protest issues and ultimately make everyone’s voice heard.
He loved the process — when it worked. Some discussions took hours or days without ever reaching a consensus. Worse, the ultimate decisions were sometimes made without input from the whole group. “Everyone has to be together at one time and in one physical place,” he says. “A few voices could dominate the conversation, or a small group become dominate by waiting everyone else out.”
With the right web software, he thought, it should be possible to give everyone in the group a voice.
He knew there had to be a better way. With the right web software, he thought, it should be possible to give everyone in the group a voice — regardless of whether they were able to attend every single physical General Assembly or not. So he and a few other activists approached a New Zealand tech startup incubator called Enspiral. “We basically turned up and asked them: ‘Hey, you’re a bunch of web developers. Can you make us a tool for making non-heirarchical decisions?’” Knight remembers. “And they said: ‘Sure, we actually need something like this for ourselves.’”
However you may feel about the Occupy movement, I think this is chilling:
It was more sophisticated than we had imagined: new documents show that the violent crackdown on Occupy last fall – so mystifying at the time – was not just coordinated at the level of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and local police. The crackdown, which involved, as you may recall, violent arrests, group disruption, canister missiles to the skulls of protesters, people held in handcuffs so tight they were injured, people held in bondage till they were forced to wet or soil themselves –was coordinated with the big banks themselves.
The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, in a groundbreaking scoop that should once more shame major US media outlets (why are nonprofits now some of the only entities in America left breaking major civil liberties news?), filed this request. The document – reproduced here in an easily searchable format – shows a terrifying network of coordinated DHS, FBI, police, regional fusion center, and private-sector activity so completely merged into one another that the monstrous whole is, in fact, one entity: in some cases, bearing a single name, the Domestic Security Alliance Council. And it reveals this merged entity to have one centrally planned, locally executed mission. The documents, in short, show the cops and DHS working for and with banks to target, arrest, and politically disable peaceful American citizens.
The documents, released after long delay in the week between Christmas and New Year, show a nationwide meta-plot unfolding in city after city in an Orwellian world: six American universities are sites where campus police funneled information about students involved with OWS to the FBI, with the administrations’ knowledge (p51); banks sat down with FBI officials to pool information about OWS protesters harvested by private security; plans to crush Occupy events, planned for a month down the road, were made by the FBI – and offered to the representatives of the same organizations that the protests would target; and even threats of the assassination of OWS leaders by sniper fire – by whom? Where? – now remain redacted and undisclosed to those American citizens in danger, contrary to standard FBI practice to inform the person concerned when there is a threat against a political leader (p61).
As Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the PCJF, put it, the documents show that from the start, the FBI – though it acknowledges Occupy movement as being, in fact, a peaceful organization – nonetheless designated OWS repeatedly as a “terrorist threat”:
“FBI documents just obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) … reveal that from its inception, the FBI treated the Occupy movement as a potential criminal and terrorist threat … The PCJF has obtained heavily redacted documents showing that FBI offices and agents around the country were in high gear conducting surveillance against the movement even as early as August 2011, a month prior to the establishment of the OWS encampment in Zuccotti Park and other Occupy actions around the country.”
The daughter of a prominent New York doctor and her Occupy Wall Street-organizer boyfriend were arrested after police discovered an explosive used for making bombs and a cache of weapons in their upscale New York City apartment, it was claimed.
Morgan Gliedman, 27, and Aaron Greene, 31, were taken away from their home in Manhattan’s pricey Greenwich Village on Saturday.
Gliedman, who is nine months pregnant, is the daughter of a top Brooklyn cancer doctor and was educated at the Dalton School, an exclusive New York prep school attended by the likes of Anderson Cooper and Claire Danes.
Greene went to Harvard University for his undergraduate degree and did graduate work at the Kennedy School of Government there, as well.
The New York Post reports that police found seven grams of HMTD, a high explosive powder that was reportedly used in the 2005 London Underground bombings.
Officers discovered bomb-making instructions, including one document titled ‘The Terrorist Encyclopedia,’ according to the newspaper
Police evacuated the building and several others nearby as the bomb squad removed to highly-unstable material from the apartment.
Officers also found a flare gun that could be used as a grenade launcher, a modified Mossberg 500 12-gauge shotgun, nine high-capacity rifle magazines and ammunition, according to the Post. ‘
Police confiscated several notebooks with instructions for making boobytraps and makeshift submachine guns and several sheets with handwritten chemical formulas.
Greene is an activist with Occupy Wall Street and friends told police his political views are ‘extreme,’ a source told the newspaper.
The NYPD allegedly found the dangerous material after they went to Gliedman and Greene’s apartment to question Gliedman, who was wanted for credit card theft, the Post reports.
Gleidman’s father is Dr Paul Gleidman, the Columbia University-educated director of radiation oncology at Beth Israel Hospital’s Brooklyn division.
Her mother is Susyn Schops Gliedman, a top New York real estate agent.
Morgan Gliedman grew up in an upscale apartment on Park Avenue.
Large amounts of chemicals commonly used to make bombs were found in the basement of a New Jersey doctor, along with assault rifles and a stun gun, prosecutors said today.
Dr. Roberto Rivera, 60, who according to some reports was active in the Occupy Wall Street movement last year, was arrested following a Friday night raid on his Ridgewood, N.J., home.
Ridgewood police first showed up at the home around 6:15 p.m. after getting a report of potential hazardous and explosive material, according to a press release from Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli.
Inside the home, police found a “large amount” of a chemical typically used in bomb-making, the release said. The name of the chemical was not released.
Armed with a search warrant, the FBI and the Bergen County Bomb Squad then visited Rivera’s home where they confiscated the bomb-making chemical and also found “several other precursor chemicals commonly used in the making of explosive devices,” Molinelli said.
A few days after the Occupy Wall Street movement began to stir in September 2011, I walked the narrow streets of the world’s financial hub in a light rain, looking for a protest still too small to find. During the next few weeks, OWS would change the national conversation. The slogan “We are the 99 percent” did what years of complaint by economists and liberals could not: it focused attention on staggering income inequality and “the top 1 percent” who’d enriched themselves phenomenally during the past thirty years. “I am so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I’m frightened to death,” Frank Luntz, the GOP’s master of spin, told a private meeting of Republican governors at the end of 2011. “They’re having an impact on the way Americans think about capitalism.”
Suddenly, cable news shows that had been obsessing over the deficit “crisis” and President Obama’s latest poll numbers were explaining how decades of tax cuts and deregulation unraveled the social contract established in the New Deal. It had been accepted by every American president for thirty years afterward, until Richard Nixon brilliantly divided the New Deal coalition, largely around race. In the early days, polls showed that the Occupy movement’s grievances were broadly shared, even by the white working class, which Nixon and then Ronald Reagan had lured to the GOP. Yet how long before the 99 percent would cleave back into the 51 and the 48 percent? I couldn’t know. For the moment, though, it was amazing to see such broadly shared political discontent surfacing at all.
As I headed down the dark canyon of Wall Street itself, I decided to climb the steps of Federal Hall to get a better view of blue-helmeted cops behind barricades, waiting for trouble that never came that day. With the famous statue of George Washington to keep me company—our first president gave his first inaugural address on the site—I found myself thinking, and not in a good way, about another historic gathering on those same steps, one that offered important lessons for any American political movement: the Hard Hat Riot of 1970. The violent but little known skirmish marked the ultimate fracture of the Democratic
…Ahmadinejad is also set to meet American university students, artists, intellectuals and elites, including Occupy Wall Street anti-capitalist protestors, despite the ongoing efforts made by the pro-Zionist lobbies to prevent direct link between American people and the Iranian president.
President Ahmadinejad has also accepted the interview requests made by several news networks, including CNN, CBS and Russia Today
New York police on Monday arrested dozens of Occupy Wall Street activists who gathered in the city’s financial district, where they sought to disrupt traffic and surround the New York Stock Exchange as part of a day of protests to mark the movement’s first anniversary.
The protests attracted about a thousand activists, far fewer than last fall’s numbers, highlighting the challenge the movement has faced in trying to sustain momentum after sparking a national conversation about economic inequality last fall.
The New York Police Department, which set up a broad perimeter to block access to the NYSE by anyone other than exchange workers, said it has made “multiple arrests” by midmorning. Police were also posted at major banks and government buildings, and guarded Wall Street’ landmark Charging Bull, a 7,100 pound bronze sculpture.
A look back at the rise and fall of Occupy Wall Street, the movement against corporate greed and inequality that marks its anniversary on Monday:
Occupy Wall Street protesters first began camping in Zuccotti Park on Sept. 17, 2011. The small granite plaza near the New York Stock Exchange became a crowded encampment where protesters slept in tents, served buffet-style food to the masses and played drums into the small hours of the morning.
The group of young people who harnessed the power of a disillusioned nation were soon joined by people of all ages, with celebrities even stopping by the park on occasion. Occupiers took to the streets chanting about corporate greed and inequality, frequently holding marches and rallies, shouting: “We are the 99 percent!”
On Oct. 1, a march across the Brooklyn Bridge led to more than 700 arrests during a clash with police, garnering worldwide attention for Occupy.
Encampments sprang up in cities across the U.S. and all over the globe.
In fall and early winter of 2011, Occupy Wall Street was a big deal in New York and elsewhere. Debates about its meaning spilled across most media. That was a long time ago, it seems.
Now—in August 2012—debates about its future occur via left websites, meetings, and networks. Occupy has occasionally been able to produce crowds in 2012, but it is off the front pages. Occupy Wall Street members promised a strong return and even an escalation in the spring centered on a May Day “general strike,” but there was no general strike. Occupy activists sought to establish new occupations in Manhattan and elsewhere, but these efforts have not approached the scale and impact of the initial round of occupations nor found a new course. Perhaps there will be an Occupy presence at demonstrations at one of the national party conventions, but that is not likely to command much national attention.
While the political significance of OWS and the Occupy locals has greatly diminished, they still deserve attention. It’s worth thinking about the possible meanings of Occupy for 2011, 2012, and beyond.
I survey the main accounts of what Occupy did and what it might mean. Proponents of these views often claim both to provide analytical insight (this is what OWS was and is) and to express valid preferences (this is what OWS should be).
1. It was a flash movement.
Occupy assembled and expressed anger about economic and social injustice. Not many opinions changed, but the terms of national debate shifted, with durable aftershocks. OWS actions registered deep concern among significant parts of several (mainly left-of-center) publics. Yet OWS as we saw and knew it is gone.