Category Archives: Announcements

OWS and People’s Librarians File Federal Lawsuit against the City for 11/15 Raid on Zuccotti Park

Today, Occupy Wall Street and several librarians from the People’s Library filed a Federal lawsuit against Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty, as well as other unknown city officials and employees, charging them with unconstitutional and unlawful seizure, damage and destruction of the Occupy Wall Street People’s Library in the middle of night on November 15, 2011, part of the wider raid on the occupation of Zuccotti Park.

On that night, with a scant 45-minute warning, NYPD officers ordered Zuccotti Park cleared and vacated. Occupiers were told they would be allowed to return when the park had been cleaned and that remaining property would be transported to a DSNY garage on 57th Street, where it could be recovered with proper identification. However, the NYPD blocked librarians—inside and outside the park—from gathering the library’s books and equipment. With most occupiers and journalists expelled from the park, workers loaded items from the park into “crusher” trucks, only later switching to flatbed trucks. The next day, when librarians went to recover books and equipment from the 57th St. Sanitation Garage, they found just a small percentage of the books that were taken. Of the approximately 3,600 books seized that night, only 1,003 were recovered. Of that number, 201 were so damaged while in the possession of the City of New York that they were made unreadable. Thus, at least approximately 2,798 books were never returned—presumably victims of the “crusher” trucks—or were damaged beyond repair.

Most of the library simply disappeared: the books, the tent, the shelves, our stamps, our donation box, and more. The books that came back destroyed stank with mildew and food waste; some resembled accordions or wrung-out laundry.

None of this is new. We made the results of Bloomberg’s raid public back in November, asking the city to replace the books and admit wrongdoing. However, Bloomberg has not admitted wrongdoing and has denied that any books or property was damaged or destroyed. We know that is not true.

We cannot allow the Mayor and his commissioners to get away with these violations of law and constitutional rights. We have now filed a Federal lawsuit to demand accountability from the city and its officials, demanding both compensatory and punitive damages. We believe that the raid and its aftermath violated our First-Amendment rights to free expression, Fourth-Amendment rights against unlawful search and seizure, and Fourteenth-Amendment rights to due process, as well as the laws of the City of New York regarding the vouchsafing of seized property. We are demanding compensatory damages for the lost/destroyed books and equipment, which we have estimated at at least $47,000. In addition, because we believe the seizure and destruction of the books went beyond negligence to constitute a reckless and callous indifference to our constitutional rights, we are demanding punitive damages of at least $1000.

These books—and the library itself—arose organically with Occupy Wall Street; visitors and occupiers (as well as authors, publishers, and editors) brought books and other materials to the park, and librarians —some professionals, and others not—stepped forward to steward what at the time of the raid became a collection of 5,500 titles with an honor-system borrowing policy. The library was a common space for education, debate, relaxation, and information. While lawsuits use the language of “property” and “damages,” what is at stake here is much more. Our books—and these were all our books—should not have been destroyed. We hope to hold the Bloomberg Administration accountable for their actions on Nov 15th.

Full complaint is here.

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Filed under 11/15 Eviction, Announcements

Media Alert for Library Press Event/Lawsuit: THURSDAY, MAY 24, 11:00 AM

For Immediate Release: May 23, 2012

Press Contact: press@occupywallst.org, 347-292-1444

For this action only: William Scott, 412-390-6510

Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Wall Street Librarians to file Federal Court lawsuit against Bloomberg, the City of New York and NYPD — legal effort to uncover November 15 raid details.

New York–A lawsuit will be filed tomorrow, May 24, in Manhattan Federal Court seeking redress for the destruction of books, materials and equipment from the popular and respected People’s Library of Occupy Wall Street (OWS). NYPD raided and forcibly evicted Occupy Wall Street, including the People’s Library, from its Liberty Square camp (also known as Zuccotti Park) on November 15, 2011. The middle-of-the night raid, by members of the NYPD and other city agencies, was authorized by NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Journalists were prevented from witnessing the attack; some were arrested. The raid struck not only at Constitutional rights but at a fundamental tool of enlightenment – thousands of library books and materials were destroyed.

What: Federal Court lawsuit filing, press availability with OWS Librarians and lawyers. Copies of the complaint will be available.

When: Thursday, May 24, at 11:00 AM

Where: United States District Court (Manhattan Federal Court), Manhattan. Press availability OUTSIDE — directly across the street from the 200 Worth entrance, on the sidewalk in front of Columbus Park

Who: Occupy Wall Street Librarians from the People’s Library, lawsuit attorneys Norman Siegel and Herbert Teitelbaum of Siegel, Teitelbaum & Evans.

Occupy Wall Street is part of an international people powered movement fighting for economic justice in the face of neoliberal economic practices, the crimes of Wall Street, and a government controlled by monied interests. #OWS is the 99% organizing to end the tyranny of the 1%. For more info, visit www.occupywallst.org and www.nycga.net

# # #

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Filed under 11/15 Eviction, Announcements, Betsy, Cops, Media

May Day Verse

From the foregathered there comes a cry

an echo of all that has been said before

in every language

in every way

it sounds like music

it feels like spring

it seems a message

will play here forever

it reaches even those who cannot hear

those who refuse to hear

it sounds like music

it feels like spring

like an echo of all that has been said before

from the foregathered there comes a cry

here it is then

OCCUPY

visit

www.theowsreview.org

for new words from Peter Lamborn Wilson

and submit your literary arts to:

occupyreview@gmail.com

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Filed under Announcements, Art, Literature, Poetry, Sean, Solidarity

May Day General Strike Info Round-Up

Tomorrow!  I can barely contain myself.  In the meantime, here’s DA Mom’s round-up of important information for tomorrow’s actions in New York City.

The May Day NYC website has a schedule of events, list of participating organizations, links to other locations’ actions, and other useful tidbits.

If you use Twitter, some of the hashtags to follow will be #MayDay, #M1NYC, #M1GS, #GeneralStrike, #99PKTS, #May1, #OWS, #MTA, #NYPD, #NYC.  Tweeters who usually have good info include @OWSTactical, @DiceyTroop, @sabokitty, @OccupySteve, @_girlalex, @OWSBC, @PoweredByCats, @occutine, @TimCast, @OccupyWallSt, @OccupyWallStNYC.  Your dear librarians tweet, as always, from @OWSLibrary.

Streamers work from two places, UStream and LiveStream.  On UStream, try stopmotionsolo, pinkladies, timcast, occupiedair, or owsnyclive.  On LiveStream, try owshdtv.

If that’s not enough media for you, there’s also May Day Radio and Media For the 99%.

Enough of that.  On to dressing and packing!  It’s going to be a long day, the weather might not be great, there’s going to be a lot of long walks, and the cops are going to be heavy-handed.   That said, some of your decisions can be made based on your risk level; if you’ll be in green zones all day you might dress differently than if you’ll be going red.  A longer check-list is here.  My advice:

  • Comfy, sturdy, water-proof or -resistant shoes, such as hiking boots.
  • Full-length pants.
  • A couple upper-body layers that are breathable & will still keep you warm if damp.  I’ll be wearing light wool.
  • It might rain in the morning, consider a light rain coat that can be stuffed in a bag when the weather clears.
  • If you have the space, carry some clothes that allow you to khaki-flage or go civilian.  Or, dress that way in the first place.  For example, I might pack a blouse and a pair of loafers, and wear corduroys instead of jeans.  That way I can look “normal” in a rush-hour crowd or look business-casual if I end up doing jail support later in the day.
  • Do not bring anything that you aren’t ok with loosing.
  • Do not wear contact lenses.  Really.
  • Don’t wear earrings, necklaces, etc. that could be grabbed and ripped off.
  • Don’t wear makeup or put on lotion — pepper spray sticks to it.
  • Wear long hair so that it can’t easily be grabbed, such as in a bun.
  • Smaller bags, worn close to the body, are better.  Harder to grab, and lighter.
  • Water and calorie-dense snacks (Clif Bars, nuts, dried fruit, pastries).
  • If you expect to be in yellow or red zones, consider a couple bandanas (mind the masking laws!), leather work gloves, air-tight goggles.  Some of this stuff is really specific to the kinds of less-than-lethal weapons your local police force likes to use; for example, tear gas canisters are hot, so you need gloves to throw them back handle them, but aren’t a thing we’ve seen NYPD use.  [By the way, canisters are easily dealt with by either putting a bucket over them or submersing them in water. Just saying.]
  • Cell phone & camera.  Bring an extra battery and charging cables.
  • Carry a valid government-issued ID, if you have one.  You don’t legally have to, but you might get out of jail faster.
  • DO NOT bring anything that can incriminate you or people connected to you.  Weapons, drugs you don’t have a prescription for (bring a doctor’s note or prescription if you have legal drugs), your address book, etc.  Delete interesting photos from your phone or camera.  If you are arrested the cops will go through all your stuff very carefully.

There’re a few important phone numbers.  These are New York City specific.  The National Lawyers Guild (those are the folks in the green hats) is 212-679-6018.  Jail Support Coordination is 774-257-4697.  Medic dispatch is 917-727-8621.  If you  haven’t already committed the NLG number to memory, write it on yourself in Sharpie, somewhere that clothes and sweat won’t rub it off. I go with the inside of my calf.  Especially if you will be in red zones, also consider writing an emergency contact number and medical info (blood type, allergies, etc) on your body, in case you get the shit beaten out of you.  If you witness arrests, or are arrested yourself, call the NLG to report it.  Try to get arrestees’ names, so that we can find them later at precincts and central booking.  If not, give a good description, or at the very least a head-count.  If someone near you is injured, yell “medic!” as loud as you can.

Lastly, we know that the cops are mostly a bunch of jerks who don’t like to uphold the law when it’s inconvenient to do so.  Which means, while there are laws about where we can be and what we can do, it doesn’t mean we won’t be arrested for trying to do those supposedly legal things.  Signs, standing on the sidewalk, running, dancing, saying mean things, et fucking cetera, have all gotten folks arrested lately.  That said, there are some things you can do to decrease your chance of arrest, or at least give yourself a stronger case in court.

Know your rights!  The NY Civil Liberties Union has a lot of information, but I’ll also sum it up for you.  As we said at summer camp, this is a repeat-after-me song; as you read this paragraph, repeat the things you might have to say a few times out loud.  If police stop you, ask, “Am I free to go?”  If they say yes, leave; if they say no, ask “Am I being detained?”  If they say no, leave; if they say yes, holler for legal and media.   If cops try to search you, say, “I do not consent to this search.”  They’ll probably still search you, but anything they find may not then be admissible in court.  Of course, if they have a warrant, they can search you and it’ll be admissible, no matter what you say; in that case, demand to see the warrant, don’t let them bullshit you.  This also applies if cops show up at your door.  Do not let them in — don’t even open the door! — unless they show you a warrant with all the correct information on it.  Other than the above, the only other thing you should ever say to a cop (or other law enforcement agent) is “I am going to remain silent; I would like to speak to a lawyer.”  You can (and probably should) give them you name and address, but after that, shut up.  Really, anything you say can and will be used against you, so zip it!  As Safer Spaces said at GA on my first day at the occupation: rule number one, don’t talk to cops, rule number two, don’t talk to cops!  You are allowed to video the cops, including any interactions you have with them.  They won’t like it, but it’s legal and good idea.

A short word on horses — the NYPD likes to bring them out for crowd control on big action days.  We may see some tomorrow.  Horses are naturally disinclined to step on people, though some of that gets trained out of police mounts.  So, if you’ve got some coming at you, and you can’t get out of the way, make yourself compact, cover your head, keep your limbs tucked in, and stay still.

 

So, I’ll see y’all in the morning.  I plan to eat a good dinner, polish my boots, kiss one of my menfolk, and go to bed early.  We’ve a long day ahead of us.

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Filed under #M1GS, Announcements, Cops, Direct Action, Free Speech, Jaime, NLG, Party time!, Radical Reference, Solidarity

Meeting tomorrow!

Y’all, we’ve a working group meeting tomorrow, Sunday, April 29. It’s the last chance we have to get ourselves settled before May Day, so everyone please show up.

6pm by the Gandhi statue in Union Square.

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Filed under Announcements, Jaime, Process

May Day!

Just one week until May Day, friends!  (Which will also be my 28th birthday.  A general strike: great birthday present, or best birthday present ever?)  As Betsy mentioned below, the People’s Library will be out and about at Bryant Park, Madison Square Park (with Free University), and Union Square.

It’s going to be a big, exciting day.  But, since the NYPD doesn’t like us to have nice things, we expect to see some of our friends end up in jail (again).  If anyone out there has a few bucks to spare, we’d all really appreciate contributions to the OWS May Day Legal Expense Fund.  That’s the bail fund, folks, and more money means more of our people bailed out, on May Day and in the future.  After trials are complete, bail money circulates back into the fund, so it’s a gift that keeps giving.

And, if you just can’t wait for May Day to hit the streets, there are a few actions between now and then.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 25, ACT-UP is holding a 25th anniversary action, and calling for a financial transaction tax to raise the funds needed to end the global AIDS epidemic.  Meet at City Hall at 11am for a rally and then march down towards Wall Street.  ACT-UP has always rolled pretty hard, and lots of folks are coming from out of town, so it should be very exciting!

Also tomorrow, 4pm at Union Square,  the Occupy Student Debt Campaign is having a mocking party to recognize that the combined student debt in the USA has topped $1trillion.  Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir, Plus Brigades, and Billionaires for Debt will all be in attendance.

And then, this Friday will be the last weekly Spring Training before May Day; meet at Liberty at 2pm.  See you in the streets!

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Filed under Announcements, Donations, Jaime, Solidarity

Running Out Of Time: Help Print The Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology: And it’s been updated!!!

In synchronicity with Poetry Month, which runs throughout April, a small and very committed group of people have been hard at work preparing the anthology for print. In addition to editing, reformatting, and composing a table of contents for the considerable volume of verse contained therein, we have also been working to raise the necessary funding to make this printing possible. You can check out the indiegogo campaign here. The Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology consists of 721 poems by 448 poets, as well as 4 introductory texts. The poems are in English, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Urdu, German, Japanese, Chinese and Dutch. The online PDF file has officially been updated to include recent additional poems, a Table of Contents and a new section at the end “Suggestion Box.” The backgrounds, career paths, political affiliations, gender identities, opinions, and stylistic choices of the authors are as varied as the occupy movement itself. In bypassing the curatorial and marketing concerns which are de rigeur of a publishing company, we have attempted to create a fully inclusive document; a record of our collective voice which stands in solidarity with not only its authors but as a testament to the literal space held by the general public surrounding the time of its creation.

On April 14th, we gave two copies of a preliminary printing to the Jefferson Market branch of the New York Public Library on the occasion of a reading celebrating the anthology and discussing the importance of the upcoming Mayday strike. The library is currently hosting an installation of poems from the anthology, on display until the end of April. It is an honor and a great achievement to have the NYPL support and recognize the Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology; by creating space on its shelves for this book, the NYPL is ensuring that future readers will be able to access this crucial moment in history from the perspectives of those who lived it.

To print this text in its entirety is a special opportunity. Not only does the anthology consist of poems from all over the world, it also has drawings, paintings, and other ephemera from Zuccotti Park. It is simultaneously a beacon for free speech and a time capsule for future generations, so they may examine the hearts and minds that comprised and supported the Occupy Movement in its early stages. All submissions were accepted, so there are also entries that are critical of the Occupy Movement as well as poems in dialogue with subject matter contingent to the direct act of protest/occupation. After speaking with several publishers whose demands to print a consolidated version of the book [highlighting mostly its more noted contributors] were clearly not in keeping with the inclusive tone of the Occupy movement, the decision to self-publish became imperative. The document, in its entirety, is already print-ready. The ultimate goal of this edition is to ensure that the anthology remains in circulation by distributing copies to major libraries and literary institutions on an international level, as well as providing copies to each contributor and enabling us to give the book, free of charge, to as many people as possible.

By supporting the campaign to fund the printing of the anthology, you are ensuring copies get to occupations, library systems and special collections around the world. By the end of May, it is entirely possible for every occupation to have a few copies of the anthology to show passersby that don’t necessarily understand the gravity and global scope of the movement, or how such a movement could be made up of no demands. Also–if enough money is raised, individuals, as well as libraries and special collections, will be able to own a copy. Those that donate $50 or more will be able to not only support the printing of copies that will go to the public domain, but will also receive their own copy. You can check out the indiegogo campaign here.

And a photo Eliot Katz sent me, to share with everyone::

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Filed under Announcements, Party time!, Poetry, Stephen, Time Travel