Category Archives: Media

Lawsuit Press Roundup

A round-up of today’s lawsuit in the news:

As Reuters and the AP have picked up the story, it’s now appearing in dozens of papers and web sites nation-wide. From the Reuters coverage:  “Occupy Wall Street filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against New York City, claiming authorities destroyed $47,000 worth of books, computers and other equipment confiscated from the protesters’ encampment in lower Manhattan last fall.” and includes the case information “The case is Occupy Wall Street et al. v. Michael Bloomberg et al., U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 12-4129.”

The Republic uses the Reuters coverage and writes of  the November raid and today’s lawsuit: “Police conducted a surprise overnight raid at Zuccotti Park . . . clearing scores of protesters who had set up tents at the plaza near Wall Street and dealing a significant blow to the movement’s potency. As part of the sweep, Occupy claims, police officers seized more than 3,000 books from the “People’s Library.” While some of the books were eventually returned, many were in unusable condition, while the rest were apparently destroyed, according to Occupy’s lawyer, Norman Siegel. The lawsuit also questions whether the raid itself was constitutional, Siegel said.”

The Wall Street Journal is using the AP report which says that the “federal lawsuit accuses New York City of violating the Constitution by raiding an Occupy Wall Street site last year and destroying books.”

The Gothamist coverage quotes Norman Siegel, “one of the attorneys who filed the lawsuit says ‘It not only addresses the seizure and destruction of the books, but it also seeks to show why, how, and who planned the raid on Zuccotti Park.’ Siegel adds that the city should have been subject to a court hearing before seizing and destroying the thousands of books that made up the library—including Bloomberg’s own book. ‘Every other city did it before they raided encampments, but not here. The city violated the civil rights of the librarians. The Bloomberg administration had the power to do what they did, but not the right.'”

The NY Daily News reports “The bookworms of Occupy Wall Street have slapped the city with some hefty library fines.

Democracy Now! reports on the lawsuit, noting that “With thousands of books, the library was a proud fixture of the occupation of Zuccotti Park” – video at 11:44.

The Paramas Post covers the lawsuit here.

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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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This is a Thing

Last fall, Edward Winski replaced Tony Bologna as head of downtown state-sanctioned Occupation harassment.  He’s been a pox upon our house tent.

And, despite the opinions of the “get a job!” hecklers, we have a lot of well-read, creative, hardworking folks in the Occupation.  Which means that things like this happen:

Lyrics are here, for those who can’t hear it.

I appreciate stuff like this much more than I do, say, doxing him, which is also a thing that happened.  Though, turns out that he writes his Amazon reviews in all caps with no punctuation, which makes my librarian heart cry.

[ETA: Further, if anyone even tries to give the video’s makers a hard time about copyright, you’ll be facing the wrath of a bunch of folks who really know what they’re talking about, so maybe you shouldn’t even try.  Just sayin’.]

[Additional ETA: I’ve since learned that one of our more fabulous librarians was in on the creation of this gem!  Clearly, one should not fuck with librarians.]

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Protest History: Underground Press Syndicate pt. 3 (of 4)

Continuing Laurie Charnigo’s essay on Protest History, here is part 3 of 4 from Occupy the OccuPAST: Echoes of Dissidence in the UPS Underground Newspaper Collection.

Although newspapers, as shown in the previous examples, varied on issues so widely that any attempt to include them all would be impossible for this piece, they all bonded loosely as a movement through their unified opposition to the war in Vietnam. Many of the issues most widely shared focused on American imperialism, ecological awareness, dismantling the military industrial complex, and the erosion of constitutional rights such as free speech, expression and the right to peacefully protest. Corporate greed, growing commercialism, inequality, distrust of mass media and “The Establishment” were issues all papers had in common. The writings in this collection are echoes of concerns people are now raising in OWS.

Despite their differences, nearly all underground newspapers became the target of censorship and police harassment. We have the Patriot Act. They had J. Edgar Hoover and the Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO). In “Dirty Tricks on the Underground Press,” Geoffrey Rips cites a report from the UPS which indicated that at least 60% of their members experienced “interference” from the authorities. (47) According to Rips, this “interference” included “prosecutions in the courts, official interruption of distribution, bomb threats and bombs by groups with links to the authorities, harassment of customers and printers, wiretaps, and infiltration by police agents.” Trying to publish an underground paper in a place like Jackson, Mississippi left David Doggett, editor of the Kudzu, financially and psychologically crushed. Rips also reports on how the Black Panther Party (BPP), considered to be a terrorist organization by the FBI, was a constant target of harassment. According to Rips, in a particularly absurd memorandum to the FBI, authorities in Newark suggested spraying bundles of the BPP newspaper with a “chemical known as Skatole” which “disburses a most offensive odor on the object sprayed.” (Rips, 48). The object was to spray as many papers with this stinky substance in order to disrupt distribution of the paper. Authorities also harassed underground newspapers by arresting street vendors for such things as “vagrancy” or distributing obscenity. Streitmatter wrote that:

“On the very day that Richard Nixon was elected President, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover sent a memo to his offices coast to coast. The subject of the communiqué was a plan Hoover had developed to halt what his lieutenants were characterizing, with considerable panic, as the ‘vast growth’ of counterculture papers.” (Steitmatter, 214).

It is unnerving to realize that surveillance and erosion of free speech continues under the Patriot Act.

Lest I be accused of over-romanticizing the Sixties Era underground press, I would be remiss not to point out some of its flaws…and there are many. The sixties counterculture papers are often dismissed by scholars as unprofessional, naïve, “hippie,” drivel. It’s certainly true that a forage through the underground papers does turn up its fair share of poorly written news filled with typos, bad artwork, and misinformation. And, heck yeah, there’s a lot of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. So what? One might even argue that liberating sex and legitimizing rock n’ roll were monumental feats in our cultural history.

Even though many of the issues expressed by the counterculture movement were extremely serious there is an ever-present element of humor which runs throughout the underground press. That zany mixture of silliness and seriousness is what is also fun and charming about the writers and artists of the underground press. As Harvey Wasserman (Liberation News Service) wrote in Sean Stewart’s recently-published book On the Ground: an Illustrated Anecdotal History of the Sixties Underground Press in the U. S., “we were not only political activists but comedians…”(Stewart, 180).

All silliness aside, one should not forget that the underground newspaper collection also documents one of the greatest youth movements in U.S. history. The papers are filled with serious and thoughtful discourse concerning the Vietnam War, civil rights, ecology, to the evils of over-consumerism. With gusto and cleverness, articles of sheer brilliance and beauty were published in the underground press. It’s also important to remember that the underground press often broke news on issues before it was deemed appropriate or fitting for mainstream papers. As Rodger Streitmatter suggests in Voices of Revolution: The Dissident Press in America, the underground press was the first to bring forth the truth about what was really happening in Vietnam and why our involvement in it was doomed. Prior to the Tet Offfensive in 1968, Streitmatter reports that all major newspapers supported U.S. involvement in Vietnam, even claiming that the U.S. had almost won. Following the Tet Offensive, mainstream news sentiment quickly flip-flopped to opposition against continued military action. (Streitmatter, 197). Photographs and stories began to expose the extent of the horrors of Vietnam. In their news coverage of the conflict in Vietnam, the newspaper giants were years behind the underground newspapers. (Streitmatter, 199).

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Filed under Betsy, Digital Archive, Ephemera, Literature, Media, Reference, Scholarship, Time Travel

the occupy wall street review

The Fiddler and a banjo beginner play old union songs in the night. And somewhere amidst the Beautiful Chaos of the Occupation comes whispers of what we are doing: “OCCUPY these areas [that we may] carry on [our]festive purposes for quite awhile in relative peace.”

this is a bootstrap operation

It was on October 9th, 2011, that the Temporary Autonomous Zone by Hakim Bey was entered into the People’s Library database on Librarything, making it the first cataloged volume.
It wasn’t too long after that when a few of us huddled under shapeless  structures- makeshift and different everyday, like the rules imposed upon us by the men in dimly lit rooms- listening to the rain on the tarpaulin, discussing the T.A.Z., wondering just how ‘temporary’ our autonomous zone was.

the T.A.Z. must be capable of defense; but both the ‘strike’ and ‘defense’ should, if possible, evade the violence of the state which is no longer a meaningful voice.

the sound cannon, truncheons in gloved hands, the cleaning of pepper from the eyes of my friends, Orwellian visions.

often one returns to Liberty Plaza: vacant; lighted holiday trees; library space sans tombs; police-tape demarcating an unknown crime; strange encounters with uniformed men in mustaches.

there are waves nostalgia of course, but the sentimentalism dissipates, though never entirely; it lingers a safe distance away–never impeding future action– and allows me to somehow safely hold our encampment of guerilla ontologists in unforgettable synaptic locations.

“Why?”  I heard a woman say today, as I rounded the corner to a crowd of hundreds, a march and Solidarity Act, for those immigrated to this country.

must we wait until the entire world is freed of political control before even one of us can claim to know freedom?

the rain fell on tarps that night in october, we huddled and laughed, the Fiddler played from his bivouac, from somewhere under the sky we knew our Zone was temporary, we knew these as processes, and not merely results.

there are those that cling to the space–what we call Liberty Plaza.

But the TAZ liberates an area (of land, of time, of imagination) and then dissolves itself to reform elsewhere, before the state can crush it.

as soon as it is named (represented) (mediated) it must vanish, it will vanish, leaving behind it an empty husk, only to spring up again somewhere else…

follow the seasons

hibernate

educate

[text in bold from the Temporary Autonomous Zone– Anti-copyright, but still… used with permission]

the following precursory text of the OCCUPY WALL STREET REVIEW was made available at the request of Peter Lamborn Wilson for the occupiers on the day of action, D17.

visit

www.theowsreview.org

to read

OWS Act Two

from the author of

the Temporary Autonomous Zone

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Filed under #N17, 11/15 Eviction, Announcements, Art, Digital Archive, Direct Action, Ephemera, Literature, Media, Music, Poetry, Process, Sean, Solidarity

Press Conference on Library Destruction: Full Video



Video streaming by Ustream

Full video of the press conference as recorded by The Other 99 Ustream. The conference starts at about 15 minutes in.

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Packed Press Conference Documents Ruins of Over 3,000 Books

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                          CONTACT: press@occupywallst.org

For this event: Michael Oman-Reagan owspeopleslibrary@gmail.com

Occupy Wall St. Librarians Demand Accountability from Bloomberg for Destruction of Thousands of Books and NYers’ Rights to Free Expression

Packed Press Conference Documents Ruins of over 3,000 Books by Raid

The People’s Library was not only forcibly removed from Liberty Square in the early hours of November 15th and destroyed but – since the raid – has been harassed and prevented from operating in the park by the Bloomberg Administration. Only about 1,300 books – a third of the stock – were returned to them, they said, and around a third of those were damaged beyond repair. Only about 800 are still usable. About 3,000 books are still unaccounted for. Photos of the books are available here http://bit.ly/u4QeTP

Civil Rights lawyer, Norman Siegel, opened today’s press conference, at a table of damaged books, with his statement articulating the demands of the OWS Librarians: “The Bloomberg Administration needs to replace every book missing or damaged. Together about 3,161 books. We have the titles and authors. The Bloomberg Administration needs to acknowledge that a wrong was committed and that this can never happen again. We need a space to recreate the people’s library.”

Hawa Allan, a Fellow of Columbia Law School, added, “the People’s Library represents the town hall spirit of the Occupy Wall Street movement.” Referring to the piles of destroyed books on the table, she also noted “This display is a chilling image of the attempt to destroy free expression.”

13 Librarians from the People’s Library were in attendance, and several spoke, talking about the important role the library played in the movement, as well as their own experiences of the raid and the aftermath. In response to questions from the press, the librarians stressed that their request is not about money, but rather about accountability and that they are asking the Bloomberg Administration to replace the books they destroyed, not write a check.

People’s Librarian, Betsy Fagin, stated, “What’s important isn’t just the cost of the books that were destroyed . . . The People’s Library was built entirely of generosity, of community spirit, of love.” Michele Hardesty described her visit to retrieve some of the seized books, “It was clear from what we saw at the sanitation garage that our books—the community’s books, these donated books—were treated as trash.”

People’s Librarian Danny Norton called the destruction of the library by the Bloomberg Administration a “crusade to destroy a conversation” and People’s Librarian Frances Mercanti-Anthony stated, “You can take our books. You can take our park. But you can’t take our spirit. And we’re not going anywhere.” In closing, Norman Siegel was asked about any planned legal action against the Bloomberg Administration, and he responded that he wasn’t going to answer any hypothetical questions, but said “in the words of Clint Eastwood, make my day.”

Coverage in the Guardian (UK) http://bit.ly/vMOCAD, New York Times http://nyti.ms/ugzNAi, Washington Post http://wapo.st/tF7Ptg, and Associated Press http://on.wsj.com/tnVm1m

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