Where Will The Next Phase of Occupy Wall Street Take Us?

Occupy All Streets?A week ago, I produced a TV documentary on inside the Occupy Wall Street encampment in New York.

It was already somewhat obsolete by the time it aired.

The Park, once a buzzing center of debate and open-air meetings has gone residential in the sense that virtually every square inch of what was a half-acre political terrarium is now dominated by tents, an effort to insure more protection from the elements and some better level of personal security. As private spaces proliferated, public space shrunk.

Now, public health officials are raising the prospect of the spread of germs while violent incidents in other cities have police nationwide threatening to shut down the occupations in the name, of course, of preserving public safety.

The first happened in Oakland, a town with a long history of police violence that was on display when cops overran the camp, seriously hurting an Iraq veteran, and triggering a call for a General Strike. Now the gendarmerie are hoping to shut it all down. The Digital Journal reports:

Police warned that the camp was illegal and that protesters face arrest if they did not break up the camp. Police have lately been complaining about the presence of the camp, saying it was drawing needed personnel from policing crime in the city. An open letter the Oakland Police Officer’s Association issued after the shooting, said:

“With last night’s homicide, in broad daylight, in the middle of rush hour, Frank Ogawa Plaza is no longer safe … Please leave peacefully, with your heads held high, so we can get police officers back to work fighting crime in Oakland neighborhoods.”

There followed two more tragic events that Occupy organizers deny they had anything to do with:

On the same day the Oakland shooting occurred, a military veteran from Chittenden County committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. The incident occurred in an Occupy tent in City Hall Park, Burlington, Vermont …. A similar tragic event occurred at the Salt Lake City Occupy encampment on Friday. A man was found dead in his tent. Police suspect he died from a combination of drug use and carbon monoxide.

These incidents are being blamed on the occupations and may become the pretext for another effort to crush the movement. That could lead to bloody confrontations that the movement may not be able to win. Already, police are infiltrating, as this video makes clear.

At the same time, Occupy Wall Street may be facing a fork in the road as the protest movement wrestles with how to become a more effective political force.

The tension between achieving reforms through protests and promoting a deeper revolution is evident in intense debates and discussions that take place outside the park in churches and at a atrium at 60 Wall Street, a public space next to the Deutshe Bank building,

So at various points in the days, bankers leaving their offices unknowingly walk by intense circles of people in far funkier and more practical clothing huddled into circles to discuss strategies and tactics in work groups operating on principles of open discussion an effort to find consensus.

Some activists are critical of too much internal discourse and not enough external outreach, especially to the communities hardest hit by the economic crisis. There are many meetings about coordination, facilitation and a ‘spokescouncil’ that could supplant their open-to-all General Assembly,

Many are aware that the movement’s current base may not be more than 1% of the 99% they march in the name of.Maybe even less. They know that their chances of securing the changes they want are tied to creating campaigns and organizing strategies that are less counter-cultural and more political, campaigns that can mobilize workers,  communities of color and campuses struggling under the weight of student debt and beak futures in the job market.

This takes toning town some of the rhetoric political style that drives the movement.

Can this movement go beyond using the digital technologies that appeal to the young and the hip, and, also, shape a communications campaign with ads in newspapers and PSA’s and even political infomercials on Cable TV. This will be needed if the movement is to penetrate deeper into small towns, the suburbs and the “fly over” regions of Middle America.

Can it build organizations that people can join — and identify with?

At the moment, these “leaderless” activists see this approach as more manipulative that participatory but how else can they convince people unlike themselves — people without histories of radical political activism or union militancy to feel comfortable in a youth dominated harder-edge movement with its unique mix of direct activism and small “d” democratic idealism?

Occupy is very strong when it comes to creative tactics, but what is the longer-term strategy? How will it have a change to shape and implement one?

I picked up a copy of scholar Gene Sharp’s how to make a non-violent revolution manual called “From Dictatorship To Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation” at the People’s Library in Zuccotti Park. Now published in 34 languages, it offers a detailed primer on how people’s movement’s can topple tyrannies. It itemizes the ideas and techniques that powered movements in many countries including Egypt. Tunisia and Serbia. You can get it online from Gene Sharp’s Albert Einstein Institution at www.aeinstein.org.

The Serbian movement OPTOR that helped overthrow the Milosovic regime with protests in Belgrade have since become specialists in training activists and orchestrating uprisings. They have advised movements in Egypt, and some of their key people have had conversations and perhaps more interaction with Occupy Wall Street. (The General Assembly of Occupy is now sending one of its activists to Egypt.)

They do have a lot to teach using print, video and video games. Their work has raised eyebrows and led to suspicion, and even conspiracy mongering with “revelations” that their actions, which have included aiding the “Color Revolutions” in Ukraine and Eastern Europe are funded or directed by the CIA. As a veteran CIA investigator, I am not persuaded by the “evidence” since  Washington more often resembles “the gang that can’t shoot straight”  than effective non violent change-makers.  Their dismal failures outnumber their few successes (which doesn’t mean they don’t cause harm or negatively affect political outcomes.)

There is a British-made film, The Revolution Business (Journeyman Pictures), with an unmistakable anti-American orientation that stirs fears of devious covert scenarios all made in the USA. You can watch it on YouTube here.

Be mindful that all movements for social change have their own internal contradictions and rivalries, and that when movements develop traction, many forces want to use and manipulate them, including governments, and groups with every point of view. Most don’t succeed. You have to be careful about connecting dots that may seem to connect but in reality don’t. As critics of Freud said years ago, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

The question is: Can Occupy Wall Street, with all its dynamism and commitment find ways to sustain itself and gain new momentum? I am betting that they will — but movements can move on more than one track at the same time without compromising their integrity. There is so much to do and so many people with whom to win over and engage.

Danny Schechter writes about Occupy Wall Street on Al Jazeera, Progressive Radio Network other outlets and his News Dissector blog. He made the film Plunder the Crime Of Our Time. Please email comments to dissector@mediachannel.org.

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  • http://www.sacredgeometryinternational.com/ Camron Wiltshire

    Easy Answer.
    Building 7 this weekend in NYC.  If you want to make a real change and really upset power.  Start talking about Building 7.  Otherwise I would say the Federal Reserve.  The powers that shouldn’t be are losing their chokehold on the spectrum of allowable opinion or knowledge.  Oh also how about we occupy coffee shops, cafes and have real conversations about the real state of affairs.  Tomorrow in Tennessee I suggest everyone within range Occupy this event  ”The Science of 9/11″
    http://timesfreepress.com/news/2011/nov/05/5e-panel-to-discuss-the-science-of-911/

    If there are images in this attachment, they will not be displayed.  Download the original attachment What is the forensic science of investigating a disaster? Why did the World Trade twin towers collapse? Who is the “Falling Man” of the North Tower? The Science of    9/11TuesdayNovember 15, 20117:00 PMUC AuditoriumUniversity of Tennessee at ChattanoogaRichard Drew, 2001 (AP) A VIDEO PRESENTATION & DISTINGUISHED PANEL DISCUSSIONArchitects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth Video PresentationJim Hall, former National Transportation Safety Board DirectorDavid Johnson, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Planning, UT-KnoxvilleEdwin Foster, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering, UT-ChattanoogaTom Junod, Journalist, Esquire magazineFelicia McGhee Hilt, Department of Communications, UT-Chattanooga, Moderator[Refreshments will be served.] We will have a moment of silence for the families & victims of 9/11. The Science of 9/11 
     
     Tuesday, November 15, 2011, 7:00 – 9:30 PMThe Auditorium, University Center, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga615 McCallie Avenue, Chattanooga, Tennessee 37403 
     The Program 7:00 PM   Moment of silence for 9/11 victims & families7:05 PM  Moderator Felicia McGhee Hilt, Welcome & Panel Introductions7:15 PM  Architects & Engineers 9/11 Truth Video (edited by Dr. Matthew Hine)8:00 PM  Panel discussion, followed by audience questions9:15 PM  Refreshments in the lobby 
     The Sponsors Sociology, Anthropology & Geography (SAGA) Student Club, Clifton Burris, PresidentLorraine Evans, Ph.D., Faculty AdvisorLambda Alpha, The Anthropology Honorary Society, Samantha Elliot, PresidentH. Lyn Miles, Ph.D., Faculty AdvisorAlpha Kappa Delta, The Sociology Honorary SocietyShela Van Ness, Ph.D., Faculty AdvisorUTC Office of Equity & DiversityBryan Samuel, DirectorMatthew Hine, M.D. 
     
     THE DISTINGUISHED PANEL Jim Hall, former National Transportation Safety Board DirectorJim  Hall is an international expert on crisis management and government relations. He served in Washington and Tennessee in several staff positions before being appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993 to serve on the National Transportation Safety Board where he became chair from 1994-2001 (just before 9/11). He fostered landmark safety studies on airlines, airline crashes, railways, busses and automobiles, and also served on the National Academy of Engineering Committee on Combating Terrorism. His firm Hall & Associates LLC consults with governments, nonprofits, and corporate clients on security issues. David Johnson, Ph.D., Professor emeritus of Planning, UTKDr. Johnson is Professor Emeritus of Planning at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. He received a masters degree in architecture and city planning from Yale University and a doctorate in regional planning from Cornell University. He was a Fulbright Scholar in India, Thailand, the Soviet Union, and Cyprus. He currently researches the development of the New York Metropolitan Region, and scientific issues related to 9/11. He is the author of Planning the Great Metropolis (Chapman & Hall, 1996). Edwin Foster, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering, UTCDr. Foster is Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. He received his doctorate in engineering from Vanderbilt University, gave distinguished service on the UTC engineering faculty for several decades and directed the Engineering graduate program from 2002-2006. He also has experience in analysis of material structure failures in aerospace, industry, and highway accidents. He is listed inWho’s Who in Engineering. Tom Junod, Journalist, Esquire magazineMr. Junod is an award-winning American journalist and Esquire magazine writer known for his controversial profiles of Steve Jobs and other celebrities, and The Falling Man–the story of his search for the identity of the worker who fell to his death from the North Tower. Theologian Mark D. Thompson said, “perhaps the most powerful image of despair at the beginning of the twenty-first century is not found in art, or literature, or even popular music. It is found in a single photograph.” Junod won the James Beard Award for his Esquire essay My Mon Couldn’t Cook, and is the author of a new cookbook, Eat Like A Man. Felicia McGhee Hilt, Lecturer in Communications, UTC, ModeratorMs. Hilt has a distinguished career in broadcasting as news anchor at WQBH Radio in Detroit, news reporter at the ABC Affiliate in Montgomery, Alabama, news anchor at WTOK, ABC affiliate in Meridian, Mississippi, and news reporter at Chattanooga’s WTVC Channel 9. She is a lecturer in the Department of Communications, and is a doctoral candidate in communications at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.     

    • HoboDeiter

      Clearly talking about Building 7 will gain the support of the general public.

      • http://www.sacredgeometryinternational.com/ Camron Wiltshire

        Clearly ignoring reality is a good long term plan for sanity and positive societal transformation… 
        Sorry I can’t help but interject real issues.  Perhaps if the general public actually new about Building 7 than maybe things would change for the better much quicker.  Starting with arresting the war criminals responsible for engineering the societal meltdowns we are faced with now.  I think it’s interesting they crack down before the Occupy Building 7 campaign is set to launch this weekend.  See what happens when you actually scare your opposition rather than bark at there feet asking for everything and nothing at once?  See you at Building 7 Saturday and Sunday Folks.  Let’s let Larry Sliverstein shake in his OldGolemGators.  Or you can be like HoboDeiter here and do nothing but take pot shots from the safety and anonymity of a comment on a blog.  So sick of Internet retards with nothing intelligent to offer whatsoever.  I feel like Bill Hicks going off on that freebird dumbass right about now but hey I digress. Ignorance is Strength!  Meek Internet Cowards are Ironically Hip and SMART!   Wow, let’s all go read Wired and Huff each others Farts at Starbucks!!! FUCK YEAH!!

        • http://www.sacredgeometryinternational.com/ Camron Wiltshire

          Cue the Know Nothing Bottom Feeders!!  You know who I’m talking about!

    • http://www.sacredgeometryinternational.com/ Camron Wiltshire

      Oh also you can Occupy this Discussion with Professor Niels Harrit discussing WTC7. 
      That is two American Universities talking about the Science of 9/11 in one week.  Hold on to your hats gents and ladies, it’s gonna be a bumpy and interesting ride.  Our Grandparents could talk about WW2.  We are seeing the age or Revelation (To Reveal not fire and brimstone, I hope) and will have stories for our Grandkids, well some of us will, others will only have vague synthetic memories of random facebook posts they made that day….

      Here is the article
      Check that Shit out!
      http://www.wearechange.org/?p=10687

  • Camron Wiltshire

    Easy Answer.
    Building 7 this weekend in NYC.  If you want to make a real change and really upset power.  Start talking about Building 7.  Otherwise I would say the Federal Reserve.  The powers that shouldn’t be are losing their chokehold on the spectrum of allowable opinion or knowledge.  Oh also how about we occupy coffee shops, cafes and have real conversations about the real state of affairs.  Tomorrow in Tennessee I suggest everyone within range Occupy this event  ”The Science of 9/11″
    http://timesfreepress.com/news/2011/nov/05/5e-panel-to-discuss-the-science-of-911/

    If there are images in this attachment, they will not be displayed.  Download the original attachment What is the forensic science of investigating a disaster? Why did the World Trade twin towers collapse? Who is the “Falling Man” of the North Tower? The Science of    9/11TuesdayNovember 15, 20117:00 PMUC AuditoriumUniversity of Tennessee at ChattanoogaRichard Drew, 2001 (AP) A VIDEO PRESENTATION & DISTINGUISHED PANEL DISCUSSIONArchitects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth Video PresentationJim Hall, former National Transportation Safety Board DirectorDavid Johnson, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Planning, UT-KnoxvilleEdwin Foster, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering, UT-ChattanoogaTom Junod, Journalist, Esquire magazineFelicia McGhee Hilt, Department of Communications, UT-Chattanooga, Moderator[Refreshments will be served.] We will have a moment of silence for the families & victims of 9/11. The Science of 9/11 
     
     Tuesday, November 15, 2011, 7:00 – 9:30 PMThe Auditorium, University Center, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga615 McCallie Avenue, Chattanooga, Tennessee 37403 
     The Program 7:00 PM   Moment of silence for 9/11 victims & families7:05 PM  Moderator Felicia McGhee Hilt, Welcome & Panel Introductions7:15 PM  Architects & Engineers 9/11 Truth Video (edited by Dr. Matthew Hine)8:00 PM  Panel discussion, followed by audience questions9:15 PM  Refreshments in the lobby 
     The Sponsors Sociology, Anthropology & Geography (SAGA) Student Club, Clifton Burris, PresidentLorraine Evans, Ph.D., Faculty AdvisorLambda Alpha, The Anthropology Honorary Society, Samantha Elliot, PresidentH. Lyn Miles, Ph.D., Faculty AdvisorAlpha Kappa Delta, The Sociology Honorary SocietyShela Van Ness, Ph.D., Faculty AdvisorUTC Office of Equity & DiversityBryan Samuel, DirectorMatthew Hine, M.D. 
     
     THE DISTINGUISHED PANEL Jim Hall, former National Transportation Safety Board DirectorJim  Hall is an international expert on crisis management and government relations. He served in Washington and Tennessee in several staff positions before being appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993 to serve on the National Transportation Safety Board where he became chair from 1994-2001 (just before 9/11). He fostered landmark safety studies on airlines, airline crashes, railways, busses and automobiles, and also served on the National Academy of Engineering Committee on Combating Terrorism. His firm Hall & Associates LLC consults with governments, nonprofits, and corporate clients on security issues. David Johnson, Ph.D., Professor emeritus of Planning, UTKDr. Johnson is Professor Emeritus of Planning at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. He received a masters degree in architecture and city planning from Yale University and a doctorate in regional planning from Cornell University. He was a Fulbright Scholar in India, Thailand, the Soviet Union, and Cyprus. He currently researches the development of the New York Metropolitan Region, and scientific issues related to 9/11. He is the author of Planning the Great Metropolis (Chapman & Hall, 1996). Edwin Foster, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering, UTCDr. Foster is Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. He received his doctorate in engineering from Vanderbilt University, gave distinguished service on the UTC engineering faculty for several decades and directed the Engineering graduate program from 2002-2006. He also has experience in analysis of material structure failures in aerospace, industry, and highway accidents. He is listed inWho’s Who in Engineering. Tom Junod, Journalist, Esquire magazineMr. Junod is an award-winning American journalist and Esquire magazine writer known for his controversial profiles of Steve Jobs and other celebrities, and The Falling Man–the story of his search for the identity of the worker who fell to his death from the North Tower. Theologian Mark D. Thompson said, “perhaps the most powerful image of despair at the beginning of the twenty-first century is not found in art, or literature, or even popular music. It is found in a single photograph.” Junod won the James Beard Award for his Esquire essay My Mon Couldn’t Cook, and is the author of a new cookbook, Eat Like A Man. Felicia McGhee Hilt, Lecturer in Communications, UTC, ModeratorMs. Hilt has a distinguished career in broadcasting as news anchor at WQBH Radio in Detroit, news reporter at the ABC Affiliate in Montgomery, Alabama, news anchor at WTOK, ABC affiliate in Meridian, Mississippi, and news reporter at Chattanooga’s WTVC Channel 9. She is a lecturer in the Department of Communications, and is a doctoral candidate in communications at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.     

  • Andrew

    Occupy everywhere.  Occupy wherever you go.  Occupy yourself.  Occupy your daily life.

  • Andrew

    Occupy everywhere.  Occupy wherever you go.  Occupy yourself.  Occupy your daily life.

  • Anarchy Pony

    Land of the free? Whoever told you that is your enemy.

    • Jasonisafucktard

      wish rage against the machine would occupy the airwaves again

  • Wanooski

    Land of the free? Whoever told you that is your enemy.

  • HoboDeiter

    Clearly talking about Building 7 will gain the support of the general public.

  • Camron Wiltshire

    Clearly ignoring reality is a good long term plan for sanity and positive societal transformation… 
    Sorry I can’t help but interject real issues.  Perhaps if the general public actually new about Building 7 than maybe things would change for the better much quicker.  Starting with arresting the war criminals responsible for engineering the societal meltdowns we are faced with now.  I think it’s interesting they crack down before the Occupy Building 7 campaign is set to launch this weekend.  See what happens when you actually scare your opposition rather than bark at there feet asking for everything and nothing at once?  See you at Building 7 Saturday and Sunday Folks.  Let’s let Larry Sliverstein shake in his OldGolemGators.  Or you can be like HoboDeiter here and do nothing but take pot shots from the safety and anonymity of a comment on a blog.  So sick of Internet retards with nothing intelligent to offer whatsoever.  I feel like Bill Hicks going off on that freebird dumbass right about now but hey I digress. Ignorance is Strength!  Meek Internet Cowards are Ironically Hip and SMART!   Wow, let’s all go read Wired and Huff each others Farts at Starbucks!!! FUCK YEAH!!

  • Camron Wiltshire

    Cue the Know Nothing Bottom Feeders!!  You know who I’m talking about!

  • Camron Wiltshire

    Oh also you can Occupy this Discussion with Professor Niels Harrit discussing WTC7. 
    That is two American Universities talking about the Science of 9/11 in one week.  Hold on to your hats gents and ladies, it’s gonna be a bumpy and interesting ride.  Our Grandparents could talk about WW2.  We are seeing the age or Revelation (To Reveal not fire and brimstone, I hope) and will have stories for our Grandkids, well some of us will, others will only have vague synthetic memories of random facebook posts they made that day….

    Here is the article
    Check that Shit out!
    http://www.wearechange.org/?p=10687

  • Jasonisafucktard

    wish rage against the machine would occupy the airwaves again