Category Archives: Direct Action
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.”
British and American suffragettes did it in the early 20th century, with Marion Wallace Dunlop leading off in Britain 1909 and Alice Paul a few years later in the U.S. Many were force-fed while in prison. They considered force-feeding to be torture, and some died of it.
Gandhi and others did it as part of the Indian movement for independence from Britain.
Irish republicans did it, too, throughout the 20th century. Like the suffragettes, they were subject to force-feeding, and some died of it, while others died of starvation.
Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners had been at it for weeks this spring, in response to being indefinitely detained without charges or trial under the Israeli government’s policy of “administrative detention” (to which NYC’s own stop & frisk policies targeting young men of color could be considered a little brother), as well as the conditions under which they are held. The first two strikers, Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh, stopped eating on February 27, with at least 1500 more later joining. Just last Monday, as the longest strikers were close to death, Israel conceded to some of the strikers’ demands, and almost all the strikers have lifted their strikes.
This Tuesday prisoners at the Red Onion State Prison in Virginia refused their first meal. They are striking in response to inhumane conditions and treatment inside the prison. “Phil Wilayto, of the Richmond Defenders, said “The most important thing about the prisoners’ demands is that Red Onion need only follow their own regulations with regard to meals, medical care, sanitation, grievance procedures, and humane treatment of prisoners. In order to press these demands the prisoners have to take the extreme step of risking their health and even lives.”” There have been several hunger strikes in the U.S. in recent years, such as those by prisoners in Georgia, Ohio, and California.
And last night I saw that my buddy Jack has begun a medication and hunger strike here in New York.
Trinity Church, located on Broadway at Wall St. in Manhattan, dates from the late 17th century — it received a charter from the King of England in 1697. The current building was consecrated in 1846. It is an Episcopal church. It owns a shit-ton of very valuable land in Manhattan, and since its inception has been frequented by wealthy and influential locals. Like all religious institutions in the U.S., it is tax-exempt, in exchange for being supposedly non-political and due to the separation of church and state, which usually seems to all boil down to nothing more than not explicitly endorsing political candidates. (If we’re demanding a restructuring of tax law in the U.S., changing that exempt status is one of my demands, let me tell you.) As is also common among religious institutions, especially large, wealthy ones, they give a lot of lip service to serving humanity, but when presented with the nitty-gritty of it tend to balk.
Back in December, OWS attempted to occupy Duarte Square, a vacant, gravel covered lot on Canal Street that is owned by Trinity Church. It was well-publicized beforehand, as were attempts to negotiate with Trinity for use of the space without interference by the NYPD. It didn’t work, on both counts. Several hundred people showed up, but so did the cops. After folks went over the fence, about 50 were arrested and charged with trespassing. The most iconic images from that day are of George Packard, a retired Episcopal bishop (yes, same branch of Protestant Christianity as Trinity), in his scarlet robes climbing over the fence and subsequently being arrested. (He was also arrested on May 1 at 55 Water Street at the end of our May Day activities.) It is now nearly six months later, and those folks are going to trial on June 11.
In response to the complete shit-fuckery of a church charging members of an economic justice (among other things) movement with trespassing on an empty lot, Jack is going on a medication and hunger strike. Jack is 57. We’ve done a bunch of jail support work together. He helps keep some of the other middle-aged white men in line. Pertinent to his strike, he is HIV+. He won’t be taking medication or eating until Trinity drops all charges. (He is an occupier, though, so cigarettes and coffee are still in!) Today is day 5 of his medication strike and day 2 of his hunger strike. I’m sure Trinity has heard by now, but you might want to contact them in support of Jack and in support of our comrades who will shortly be in court.
ETA: 5/30/12. Via Facebook, Jack asks, “[P]lease send Rector Cooper, email@example.com, an email in support of my medication/hunger strike. Today is the 11th day I have been without my lifesaving medications and the 7th day without food and necessary nutrition. I am deadly serious about this strike…”
Four day, folks, just four days until May Day! Are you excited? I’m excited. The weather is projected to be mixed sun and clouds, with temperatures in the mid-60s.
In the meantime, the street medics could use a boost. Remember, the ass they save could be yours. Kitchen could also use a little help from their friends, but I can’t seem to find the WePay link for them at the moment. Anyone? If you can’t spare the cash, in-kind contributions can be brought in on May Day; there will be oodles of mutual aid going on at Bryant Park from 8am to 2pm.
And, as mentioned in my last post, keep us on the streets with the bail fund.
As many of you may have already heard The People’s Library in solidarity with Occupy Tucson recently launched an action called Operation Book Bomb Tucson. In response to the disgraceful decision of the Tucson Unified School District to end the ten-year old Mexican-American Studies program, and to ban books from the school curriculum The People’s Library is holding a series of teach-ins/book drives to support the Mexican-American community both in Tucson and throughout the U.S. We are collecting copies of the seven banned texts as well as Spanish language books, books on Mexican history, and books on Latino culture to ship out to the students and teachers of Tucson. We want to let the Mexican-American community know that we are not indifferent to their struggles, and to let the Tucson Unified School District know that a threat to educational freedom somewhere is a threat to educational freedom everywhere. Here is how you can help us.
We have received some generous donations of books from publishers throughout the U.S. including Arte Público Press, NYU Press, and The Southwest Organizing Project. Follow these links and you can ship us copies of the seven banned books to add to our book bomb. We want to ship as many copies of them as we can out to the students and teachers of Tucson. The first two books listed can be purchased at 50% off thanks to the good people at Arte Público. Just let them know you are purchasing books for Operation Book Bomb Tucson! We encourage you to support publishers and your local independent bookstores with your purchases, but if you need to shop elsewhere online, we’ve also provided some links to Powell’s Books. Click the links below to purchase any of the titles below.
Message to Aztlán by Rodolfo Gonzales
Chicano! The History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement by F. Arturo Rosales
Critical Race Theory by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic
500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures by Elizabeth Martinez
Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire
Rethinking Columbus by Bill Bigelow and Bob Peterson
Occupied America: A History of Chicanos by Rodolfo Acuña from Powell’s Books
All books can be shipped to:
The UPS Store
Re: Occupy Wall Street
Attn: The People’s Library/Operation Tucson
118A Fulton St. #205
New York, NY 10038
Additionally we will be holding book donation drives and teach-ins here in New York City. Our first book donation event will be held at the next Occupy Town Square on Sunday, February 26 in Tompkins Square Park from 11AM to 5PM.
Our second event will be held at Word Up Community Bookshop, 4157 Broadway @ 176th St in Washington Heights on Thursday, March 1, from 7PM-9PM
featuring special guest speaker Chris Hedges. Please bring any books to these two events that you would like to donate to Operation Book Bomb Tucson. Keep those books coming and we will update you on our progress here. Thank you for supporting us and for supporting educational freedom everywhere.