Category Archives: Michael

Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts

For those looking to help in the recovery after Hurricane Sandy, here are a list of resources. I’ve worked with the Red Cross disaster relief operations here as well as doing social media work to promote Occupy Sandy so feel free to post questions about the aid situation on the ground. The most important thing to know is that the best way to direct your time, donations or resources are where they are needed. You might be tempted to put some canned food together or some clothing and bring it to an affected area, but that often causes more challenges for relief work. Instead, look carefully at what is needed and contribute based on need. If you want to donate goods, keep in mind that organizations like Red Cross do not accept such donations, the Occupy Sandy web site has many lists of donation drop offs. Please post comments with links to other organizations. If you would like to donate large quantities of goods, go to VOAD: http://www.nvoad.org/

New York Area:

Occupy Sandy:  http://interoccupy.net/occupysandy

NYC Service: http://www.nycservice.org

Community Food Bank of NJ: https://community.njfoodbank.org/

Red Cross: If you are medically credentialed, email HealthServices@nyredcross.org to volunteer

Adopt NY: http://www.adoptny.org

National:

Serve.gov: http://www.serve.gov/sandy

Habitat for Humanity: http://www.habitat.org/

ASPCA: http://www.aspca.org

American Red Cross: http://www.redcross.org

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Occupy Goldman Sachs: Night 8

An occupation outside of Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein’s house is in progress in New York City at 61st and Broadway. So, head on down and show your solidarity!

Join and support online as well here: Occupy Goldman Sachs.

 

From the Facebook page:

Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. is a multinational investment bank founded in 1869 and headquartered at 200 West Street in Lower Manhattan. Leading up to the 2008 financial crisis, Goldman Sachs engaged in some of the worse financial fraud the world has ever seen, including packaging and selling billions of dollars in subprime housing derivatives and other worthless securities to small and mid-level investors while hiding the fact that they were simultaneously betting against these same securities. Through such fraud Goldman Sachs decimated the 401(k)s, pensions and mutual funds of thousands of Americans.

Despite blatantly vilating the Securities Act of 1933, which “prohibits deceit, misrepresentation, and other fraud in the sale of securities,” and despite a 650-page Senate subcommittee investigation report accusing them of defrauding clients, not a single official of Goldman Sachs has been prosecuted. Rather, the corporation was rewarded, receiving more government bailout funds than any other investment bank. Goldman Sachs then used this taxpayer money to give its senior executives a staggering $44 billion in mega-bonuses between 2008 and 2011.

While Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein makes an estimated $250,000 a day, regular Americans are losing their jobs and homes at the highest rate since the 1930s. The real unemployment rate (in 2012) is almost twenty percent, far higher than the official number of nine percent, which intentionally factors out workers who have exhausted their unemployment benefits and those working temporary or part time jobs. The so-called “jobless recovery” means that speculators like Lloyd Blankfein can get richer even during a recession. As one private trader, Alessio Rastani, candidly told the BBC in Fall of 2011, “Most traders don’t really care about fixing the economy. If you know what to do, if you have the right plan set up, you can make a lot of money from this [recession].” He continued with another dose of frank cynicism, “This is not a time right now for wishful thinking that governments are going to sort things out. Governments don’t rule the world. Goldman Sachs rules the world.”

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Neil Smith, NYC Occupy History and the Political Geography of Revolt

I’ve wanted to mark the recent sudden and tragic death of radical geographer Neil Smith, but wasn’t sure quite how. Just now, as I was re-reading his book “The New Urban Frontier: Gentrification and the Revanchist City” I realized that I could do this in two ways. First by sharing some passages from the first chapter, which contains an account of the eviction of the Tompkins Square Park occupation in 1988 (and again in 1991) echoing the eviction from Liberty Plaza of the Occupy Wall Street encampment, and second by sharing a link to the entire book in PDF form, which is available free online from the National Technical University (NTUA) in Athens.

Neil Smith’s account of the occupation and eviction, as well as his analysis of urban class struggle are vital texts for occupiers to understand the history of resistance in the city. For those who haven’t read them, or aren’t familiar with the occupation of Tompkins Square, they will be eye-opening:

On the evening of August 6, 1988, a riot erupted along the edges of  Tompkins Square Park, a small green in New York City’s Lower East Side. It raged through the night with police on one side and a diverse mix of anti-gentrification protesters, punks, housing activists, park inhabitants, artists, Saturday night revelers and Lower East Side residents on the other. The battle followed the city’s attempt to enforce a 1:00 A.M. curfew in the Park on the pretext of clearing out the growing numbers of homeless people living or sleeping there, kids playing boom boxes late into the night, buyers and sellers of drugs using it for business. But many local residents and park users saw the action differently. The City was seeking to tame and domesticate the park to facilitate the already rampant gentrification on the Lower East Side . . .”Whose fucking park? It’s our fucking park,” became the recurrent slogan . . .

. . . In fact it was a police riot that ignited the park on August 6, 1988. Clad in space-alien riot gear and concealing their badge numbers, the police forcibly evicted everyone from the park before midnight, then mounted repeated baton charges and “Cossacklike” rampages against demonstrators and locals along the park’s edge:

‘The cops seemed bizarrely out of control, levitating with some hatred I didn’t understand. They’d taken a relatively small protest and fanned it out over the neighborhood, inflaming hundreds of people who’d never gone near the park to begin with. They’d called in a chopper. And they would eventually call 450 officers… The policemen were radiating hysteria . . .’ (Carr 1988:10)

. . .In the days following the riot, the protesters quickly adopted a much more ambitious political geography of revolt. Their slogan became “Tompkins Square everywhere” as they taunted the police and celebrated their liberation of the park. Mayor Edward Koch, meanwhile, took to describing Tompkins Square Park as a “cesspool” and blamed the riot on “anarchists.” Defending his police clients, the president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association enthusiastically elaborated: “social parasites, druggies, skinheads and communists” –an “insipid conglomeration of human misfits” –were the cause of the riot, he said. . .

Smith, N. 1996. The New Urban Frontier: Gentrification and the Revanchist City. Routledge.

First photo from Ángel Franco of The New York Times. Additional images are from Q. Sakamaki‘s book Tompkins Square Park.

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Filed under 11/15 Eviction, Announcements, Michael, Privatization, Public/Private Parks, Reference, Scholarship

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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#OccupyThought: First papers online, reviewers invited.

The following is an update on the #OccupyThought project. They are seeking Occupiers and others for feedback on this first round of papers.

“We have released our first dozen papers, and are seeking comments, critiques, and responses from theorists and activists. Please join the conversation here: http://mediacommons.futureofthebook.org/tne/cluster/occupythought

Additional submissions are also welcomed, both from concerned scholars and from theoretically-minded activists. The extended deadline is March 20th. Address inquiries to d.e.wittkower at gmail dot com, or stay informed about the project here: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/occupy-thought

#OccupyThought: First papers

Welcome to the #Occupation - Steven Michels

Whiteness and the 99% - Joel Olson

Lessons from Occupy: Name the enemy - Linda Alcoff

The “Occupy” Movement and the Politics to Come - Paul Livingston

Is Occupy Wall Street Communist? - Stephen Tumino

Hannah Arendt on Cairo and Occupy - Anthony Boese

Aesthetic Theory, Aesthetic Praxis: The Poetics of Activism - Josh Robinson

What is your Occupation? - Miles Kennedy

Occupy the Future: Occupying the US Higher and Secondary - Angelo Letizia

Becoming Revolution - Benjamin Schrader

Democracy: A Work in Progress - Philip Goff

Practical solutions and a Comprehensive vision for America - Henckel Miranda

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Elitist Vandam club “Work in Progress” kicks The People’s Library out of our own party.

After inviting the People’s Library to set up in their nightclub and using our name and graphics in their advertising, WiP’s creative director, Stuart Braunstein decided that the 99% weren’t up to his standards. The Village Voice reports:

More than 50 library supporters were kept outside in the pouring rain and ultimately turned away as bouncers determined they didn’t fit the look the club was going for.

“Some of your people my door is telling me haven’t taken a shower and smell and look homeless we can’t let them in cause this is a business,” WiP’s creative director, Stuart Braunstein, told Boyer in an email when Boyer asked that why library supporters were being turned away from what was promoted as a library event.

Relations deteriorated from there. A club manager brusquely told the librarians to get their table of books out of the club’s main space, where they had been set up for several hours. “I need this all out of here, now,” he said.

“Wow — that whole exchange felt exactly like a lot of our interactions with the cops,” said librarian Darah McJimsey afterwards, as behind her a heavily feathered burlesque dancer began to strip down for the club’s growing crowd.

After Miller intervened on behalf of the library, they were allowed to keep their table, albeit in a hallway outside the event space. But at that point, the librarians weren’t clear why they were even there.

“I want to give a shout out to the People’s Library!” Miller said as he took the DJ’s podium a few minutes later. “Who brought books to donate tonight?” The audience barely looked up from their cocktails, and Miller launched into his set. Out in the hall, the last occupiers pushed past the bouncers and out into the rain.

“The club failed us,” Boyer said as he left. “We had an understanding. Our name and our imagery are all over the flyers for this event, we promoted it, and now they’re not letting us in. We feel used.”

Good riddance, said Braunstein afterward. “I found them fucking ungrateful. I did them a favor, and it wasn’t the favor they wanted, so they threw a little fit. A bunch of them tried to get in, and they probably hadn’t showered in days. All of a sudden I’m supposed to change my rules for them? It’s a night club!

“I’m not about dividing people into the 99 and the 1 percent,” Braunstein said. “But honestly, the Wall Streeters inside are a lot nicer than those guys, and at least they pay some of my bills.”

Continue reading…

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People’s Library @ CUNY

People's Library at Occupy Hunter

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