Occupy Wall Street – for Real This Time

by Pham Binh on April 13, 2012

Armed with nothing more than sleeping bags and revolutionary spirit, dozens of occupiers have slept on Wall Street for the past few days. Under a recently uncovered 2000 federal court ruling, protesters have a right to sleep on the sidewalk in New York City provided they only take up half of it and do not engage in disorderly conduct.

The real-deal occupation of Wall Street is an outgrowth of the Union Square occupation where occupiers recently conducted a teach-in aimed at the New York Police Department (NYPD).  David Graeber read off from an enlarged copy of the 2000 federal court ruling to the NYPD (you know the country is in trouble when anarchists are schooling cops on court rulings), occupiers showed the NYPD a large map of the Union Square area, explained where they intended to lawfully sleep, and did so without evictions or mass arrests.

Turns out that Clay Claiborne of Occupy LA was right that using existing laws against state repression is the way to go.

With this in mind, Occupy Wall Street decided to occupy Wall Street, minus the tents and the baggage that came with them. Occupation 2.0 is lighter and more mobile, able to move off the sidewalk when necessary and back on when the danger of arrest passes. The People’s Library is back and a makeshift kitchen will probably soon follow.

The Spring of Assemblies, the weekly marches on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) starting in Zuccotti on Fridays at 2 p.m., and the new and improved Wall Street occupation are part of the American Spring grand strategy building up to the May 1 general strike.

If this occupation reaches critical mass, with hundreds or even one thousand to join the re-occupation of Wall Street with sleeping bags, the sidewalks around the New York Stock Exchange and the New York Federal Reserve will be lined with people from all walks of life, creating a dramatic visual contrast between the well-dressed con men who work there and the 99% who are literally sleeping on cardboard to make their voices heard just in time for May 1. “A day without the 99%” could mean the 1% and 99% staring each other down in the Financial District. Luckly for them, we don’t have torches or pitchforks.

Yet.

So if you spent any time in Zuccotti Park during its glory days, come down to Wall Street and Nassau or join the Friday marches on the NYSE.

Welcome to the post-post-eviction phase of Occupy.

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  • RED DAVE

    There are more mistakes in this piece than I can shake a stick at. I’ll post more on this later, but just for openers, it confuses a tiny diversion for the main thrust of Occupy Wall Street. Right now, the main elements of OWS are preparting for (1) a gathering of all of OWS tomorrow, April 14, starting at 12 noon at the south end of Central Park, And (2) the massive May Day march, which has already enlisted the participation, along with OWS, of the Central Labor Council of New York, District Council 37 of AFSCME, the Transit Workers Union, 1199, etc., plus major Immigrant Rights Groups.

    • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street

      (1) and (2) are not counterposed to the Wall Street occupation.

    • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street

      Furthermore I never said a word about this action being the “main thrust” of anything. I’d like to hear why you think actions (1) and (2) are “the main thrust”. If it’s about one-off turnout numbers a la the pre-Barnes Socialist Workers Party mass action orientation during the anti-Vietnam war in which big, legal demonstrations trumped any or everything else, then that would explain where you are coming from on this.

      That kind of rigidity is why the Marxist left continues to remain marginal rather than being central to Occupy as a whole. If it weren’t for the encampment in Liberty Park (much derided by the Marxist left for being “prefigurationist,” utopian, etc.), 30,000 people would not have marched from Foley Square on October 5, 2011.

      Let’s try to learn something from all of this instead of repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

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  • http://thecahokian.blogspot.com/ ish

    I dunno, Binh, I think you’re the one kinda contrasting these things.

    To me, it seems like the real opportunity for leftists to exercise leadership right now is in all the ongoing campaigns and especially neighborhood assemblies; and both upcoming big events will show how well (or not) Occupy folks have been doing at maintaining or deepening the movement over the winter months since the home base of Liberty Plaza was taken away. Over the winter months at 60 Wall Street or in groups meeting elsewhere lots and lots of movement building and strategizing has been going on.

    I’m all for this Wall Street Action and for whatever that is ongoing at Union Square, but I think neither of those are central to the Occupy movement at this moment in time, though there is no denying that having a new base like Zuccotti would be a great thing should we be able to maintain one.

    • http://www.planetanarchy.net Binh

      “…the real opportunity for leftists to exercise leadership right now is in all the ongoing campaigns and especially neighborhood assemblies; and both upcoming big events will show how well (or not) Occupy folks have been doing at maintaining or deepening the movement over the winter months since the home base of Liberty Plaza was taken away. Over the winter months at 60 Wall Street or in groups meeting elsewhere lots and lots of movement building and strategizing has been going on.”

      As I have argued previously (http://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=303):
      “The evictions decentralized Occupy by force, spreading us thin on the one hand but giving us the opportunity to build bases where the 99% naturally reside instead of having them come to us. Take Back the Bronx (formerly Occupy the Bronx) has led thousands to protest the murder of unarmed teenager Ramarly Graham in his own home by the NYPD after a stop and frisk encounter. Occupy Atlanta saved a black lesbian Iraq war veteran’s home and a local black church from foreclosures and occupied AT&T’s corporate office with Communication Workers of America in response to hundreds of planned layoffs. The specter of Occupy has haunted the docks since the November 2 general strike in Oakland and the December 17 West Coast port blockade and spooked grain hauler EGT into giving up on breaking International Longshore Workers Union Local 21 using Coast Guard ships.

      “We lost our encampments just as we were finding our voices and taking our first steps after a long slumber, but we have only begun to sing and dance.”

      Again, I don’t see how I am contrasting these actions or initiatives, nor have I argued that one is more central than the other.

      • RED DAVE

        Unless you can make a case that a meaningful reoccupation of a physical space is possible, ‘one is more central than the other.” The few (5, I think, were arrested today) who tried to “occupy” Wall Street were, to be honest, a pathetic remnant.

        The real work of Occupy goes on in the committees, especially those oriented towards labor. On Saturday, April 14, people from 5 labor-oriented committees at OWS met, in tandem with the Spring Awakening in Central Park, to begin to build the new Labor Cluster.

        • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street

          Wonderful news re: the Labor Cluster.

          Again, you have yet to show where I argued where “one is more central than the other.”

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  • RED DAVE

    The cops evicted the Wall Street sleepers today with nary a peep out of various OWS committees. The only reason that OWS stayed in Zuccotti Park as long as it did was that organized labor in New York prevented the first attempt at eviction by mass protests. That was never followed up with defense guards or at least an organized snoop squad, so the next eviction was successful.

    As Marx said, quoting Hegel, “the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.”

    • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street

      They’re still there.

      Organized labor was important but not decisive. Bloomberg made the mistake of announcing the first eviction well in advance, creating a tense showdown atmosphere before he blinked. The second time around he didn’t do that. They were organized to stop a second eviction, but not organized enough for a better-planned attack. Organized labor wasn’t organized to stop it either. Hell, the CWA and TWU don’t even have contracts in NYC.

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