One Year of OWS – What Has and What Hasn’t Changed in Bloomberg’s NY

NYPD – on S17 (says it all?)

A really good recap of Occupy Wall Street, the unprovoked and needless arrests by Mayor Bloomberg’s NYPD, his “army,” as he (sadly) likes to say), and what OWS means on its one year anniversary which (many) people tend to forget, by Allison Kilkenny of The Nation:

It was one of the largest turnouts since the early days of Occupy, but Monday was also exceptional because of the high arrest figures. More than 180 individuals, including journalists, were arrested, and in at least some of these cases, the police were arresting individuals arbitrarily and without cause.

Protesters reported, and I witnessed first-hand, police dragging individuals off of sidewalks (previously considered the “safe space” of activists who don’t wish to participate in direct action and go to jail) into the street where they were then arrested. When press attempted to rush forth to photograph these arrests, the police formed a wall and aggressively shoved back journalists, making it difficult to document the actions.

At one point, a NYPD white shirt supervising officer told a group of journalists, “You can’t stand and take more pictures. That’s over with.”

“I just got out of jail. Was arrested despite screaming over and over that I’m a journalist,” Chris Faraone, aBoston Phoenix staff writer, tweeted.

Julia Reinhart, a photojournalist, was also arrested even through she was wearing identification that listed her as a member of the National Press Photographers Association.

Another journalist from WPIX was arrested Monday, as was journalist and illustrator Molly Crabapple and independent journalist John Knefel. Knefel’s sister, Molly, described the arrest as “violent and unprovoked.”

Later in the evening, New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams was assaulted in Zuccotti Park by the NYPD. Protester Jeff Rae photographed a NYPD officer jamming his baton into the councilman’s chest.

Reports emerged almost immediately that the anniversary was a flop, or in the words of the New York TImes‘ Aaron Ross Sorkin, the event “fizzled,” a diagnosis preordained by a media that has never been particularly friendly to a movement it failed to understand in the first place. Sorkin is a Times‘ financial columnist who only first checked out OWS “after getting a call from the chief executive of a major bank,” who wanted to know how worried he and his CEO buddies should be about the movement. Sorkin dutifully hurried down to Zuccotti.

To say “Occupy is dead” is to misunderstand everything about the movement. Occupy can’t die as long as the dire conditions that inspired the creation of the movement continue to exist. In speaking with protesters, one can easily see all of their grievances are still real and present. One protester summarized the current state of Occupy nicely as he carried a sign around Zuccotti that read: “Nothing has changed.”

Students are still buried under loan debt. People are still losing their homes. People still can’t afford health care, and they still can’t survive on minimum wage jobs.

… and …

No revolutionary force is without ebb and flows — that is without question — but it’s been interesting to watch the establishment media rush to slap a bow on the “Occupy story” and force a “The End” onto the movement. There is a borderline obsession in the media with numbers, as though there’s a direct correlation between protester turnout and the “seriousness” of a protest — as though small groups of highly dedicated individuals haven’t inspired real, lasting change in the past.

Several media outlets alluded to the “good ol’ days” of Occupy, and how this new Occupy is only a shadow of its former self. As if these aren’t the same media outlets who also dismissed the old Occupy, as well. Hundreds aren’t as important as thousands, who aren’t as important as millions, and the point is Occupy was never, ever going to impress the mainstream media, and so they never aimed to.

What else hasn’t changed? The media and its reporting, its deference to Mike Bloomberg, its ignoring of how the NYPD horrifically treats peaceful protest (and gets away with it), how the other city agencies (City Council? any kind of regulating agency? Public Advocate?) look the other way, the way Mayor Bloomberg acts as if there aren’t real problems in the city while catering to his soft drink obsession. I could go on. I was one of those people who hoped initially OWS would go further but, really, how could it in this climate outlined so well by Allison Kilkenny above?

Occupy Wall Street infused an energy into the idea that the world could and will change, a belief that had been somewhat extinguished or at least was so under the radar amongst any of us who hoped for – and worked for – real change. Many people buy into the media’s characterization(s) of the whole thing and they, and their corporate bosses, who are threatened by it, know this.

This movement speaks to pretty much all of us. Carry on.

Photo: reclaimuc

Also worth reading: Salon.com by David Sirota, Media: Stop Sucking up to Bloomberg August 22, 2012

Union Square Park Site of “New Occupation;” Bloomberg/NYPD Violence as Park Shut Down Last Night; Vandana Shiva to Appear There Thursday Noon

Union Square Park has become the site of the new Occupy Wall Street “occupation.” If you have not been following, here is the OWS primer on it.

After an NYPD crack down at Zuccotti Park this past weekend, Mayor Michael Bloomberg came out with some characteristically bullying, over the top statements – to show he’s in a charge – illustrating both his lack of understanding of what protest means, why people are protesting, and further confirming the fact that this is threatening to him and his corporate cronies if it is actually allowed to happen.

People began moving in to Union Square over the weekend. Last night, the NYPD became violent when more people attempted to sleep overnight. This timeline from OWS is an alarming recounting of the police disruption, violence and ultimate departure as the sun began rising over Union Square. The park was even shut down for a time by Mayor Bloomberg’s “army.”

Gothamist posted this tweet from Twitter:

“I have lived in for 15 years & I have never seen shut down, not even after 9/11. Who is the terrorist now ?

Bloomberg just shows his true colors more and more. Meanwhile, Forbes is salivating over the possibility that Mike might go on to take over Goldman Sachs post the end of his third term as NYC Mayor (will it ever end?) after showing up there recently to give the workers a pep talk.

Vandana Shiva

On to true heroesPeople LOVE Vandana Shiva and she will be speaking at Union Square this Thursday, March 22nd!  It is the OWS Sustainability and the Environmental Solidarity Working Group which is presenting this talk with the “Renowned Physicist and Environmental Activist” on the “Necessity of Taking Back our Food System and the Possibilities for Occupying Global Agriculture.” She will speak at 12 noon at Union Square’s Southern End (14th Street); it’s free.

You might recall there was an attempt to Occupy Washington Square which didn’t quite work out but really Union Square is much better suited.

Vandana Shiva web site

p.s. This video is quite moving and shows what happened on March 17th beginning with the sweet vibe going on at Zuccotti Park and the total contrast once the NYPD moved in:

Worth Checking Out — “The Bloomberg Era” by Photo Blogger Nathan Kensinger

Chez Brigitte, West Village, For Rent

As 2009 came to a close, Photo Blogger Nathan Kensinger put together an excellent photo and comprehensive written essay summing up “The Bloomberg Era.” It is worth a look ! This links to Part I (Part II is coming!).

Note: the photos on this site are not his but he is an excellent photographer and has captured the changing face of NYC and destructive nature of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s policies on the character of our city’s neighborhoods at his blog.

Kensinger writes:

The Bloomberg administration focused on transforming the city’s landscape from its very first days in office. As the NY Times wrote in 2009, “the administration’s economic development policies started with a simple concept: New York must grow to compete with other cities. Development became the means toward that end.” Bloomberg’s pro-development policies created “a historic re-envisioning of New York City, one that loosened the reins on development across the boroughs and pushed more than 100 rezoning measures through a City Council that stamped them all into law... across the city, residential construction doubled under Mr. Bloomberg, to more than 30,000 units a year from 2004 through 2008… Construction spending has also doubled since he took office, reaching a high of $32 billion in 2008.”

Donuts Coffee Shop, Park Slope, No Longer

Not only has the residential landscape changed dramatically under the Bloomberg Administration but the hyper development has led to overarching changes to the type of businesses that can afford to operate – and survive – in the city.

Kensinger’s essay continues:

With the loss of small businesses, the commercial landscape of New York re-oriented towards chain stores – with cookie-cutter exteriors – that could afford to pay exorbitant rents. By mid-decade, New York’s commercial streetscape had become dominated by redundancy. A multitude of sterile bank branches opened, while chains like Duane Reade and Starbucks placed multiple store locations within a few blocks of each other, to monopolize neighborhoods. For the first time, big-box-stores were allowed to enter the city, like Home Depot in 2004 and Ikea in 2008, further endangering small businesses. Virginie-Alvine Perrette’s award-winning documentary “Twilight Becomes Night” (2008) perfectly encapsulated the loss of small businesses in New York, stating that “large chains, public policy and high rents” were putting NYC’s “locally owned stores… on a consistent path towards extinction.”

See the entire essay here.

Photo #1: Jeremoss

Photo #2: Benzado

Why you should not vote for Mike Bloomberg for Mayor Tomorrow Election Day NYC!

Updated 1:53 p.m.

Tomorrow, Tuesday November 3rd, is Election Day for Mayor, City Council, and other races in New York City. The Mayoral election is very important. Please vote! — for anyone but Mike Bloomberg.

Here are some reasons why

* The Bloomberg Administration has shown no regard – or use for – community input, planning, and participation.  In fact, Mayor Michael Bloomberg does not care about maintaining the character and uniqueness of our city. That’s been evident throughout the “process” of the redesign of Washington Square Park and many other places – Yankee Stadium (destroyed parkland and corporation giveaways), Union Square, Willets Point, Atlantic Yards, etc. etc.  His policies are affecting the way NYC actually functions, how we relate to one another and the cultural vibrancy of the city — it goes across the board and into many spectrums.

* Mike Bloomberg has given deals to developers and corporations and in return the city is not affordable and losing its diversity. Mayor Mike’s wealth last year alone increased by $4.5 billion to $16 billion.  He may take a salary of $1 a year but, believe me, he is making it up in many other ways.

* Mayor Mike has bought off any political group, politician or non-profit he can who might dare speak against him and his policies – and unfortunately these groups and people have been easily bought.  Not to mention how the media in New York is largely in his pocketNew York magazine recently reported how the publishers of all three major dailies cater to the Mayor and are often seen at Bloomberg events, sitting together, when he beckons.

* Of course, there’s also his manipulating the overturning of voted-in term limits, but that almost seems mild (and not unexpected) compared to 8 years of the above.

Consider Bill Thompson(Democratic Party), Reverend Billy Talen(Green Party) or the guy from the Rent is Too Damn High Party! (Note: he has his own catchy song at his site! He might deserve a vote for that alone. Jimmy McMillan, Line I. — — oops. 11/6 – they changed the song at the site!) Anyone but Mike Bloomberg.

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For some great reading on why you should not vote for Mayor Michael Bloomberg (the candidate who bought himself many affiliations this election and has, over the years, switched from Democrat-to-Republican-to-Independent, based on whichever ‘served’ him), jump over to Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York Blog where he has a great entry today, “Just Say No”.

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Previous Washington Square Park Blog entry:  The Blanding of New York City: Why It’s Time for Mayor Mike to Go.