Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Occupy Wall Street Calls for An "American Spring"

Over the March 24 weekend Occupy Wall Street activists held a "Let Freedom Spring" march to protest police brutality and call for the resignation of NYPD commissioner Ray Kelley. The march started in Zuccotti Park, swelling in size as it made its way to One Police Plaza. Councilmen Jumaane Williams and Ydanis Rodriguez were out in front, holding a Stop Violence banner. The crowd grew from a few hundred to close a thousand as they made their way to Union Square, chanting anti- police slogans. The mood sea-sawed from playful to hostile, heating up in the narrow streets of NOLITA where protesters took to the streets. There were over a dozen arrests including that of 16 year old, Mesiah Burcuaga who was arrested, then in her own words "de-arrested when the crowd pulled her from police custody pushing her down the block" to then find herself violently re-arrested. (Here is a video clip or her recounting her arrest) She was thrown to the ground and then hauled off by her shoulders while protesters yelled at the police to stop hurting her.
Mesiah Taken Away by the NYPD

At Union Square all was calm until shortly before midnight, the time when police and protesters have a been having a nightly showdown. Since March 17, the six-month anniversary of OWS has made the park its' base of operations. The police have been enforcing a new midnight curfew to make sure another Zuccotti Park-type encampment cannot be established. The protesters have turned the curfew into street theater, taunting the police with donuts, and playing cat and mouse with them. Saturday night, once temperatures dropped and the crowd thinned, the police used barricades as shields as they charged the protesters, moving them off the sidewalk and further away from 14th Street. The massive show of force seemed less effective as crowd dispersal than the cold rain that ended the confrontation.

Occupy Wall Street's winter hibernation is over. But last weekend, its' message against corporate greed and social injustice was drowned out by an anti-police sentiment.

Check out my latest story/slide show on Occupy Wall Street's Spring Training on the Atlantic's site.   To see more images from this series check out a set on Flickr 

Occupy Wall Street March on March 23rd

Also please watch video clips from the weekend-
Street theater in Union Square Park- Dicey rapping to police  
Protesters take the street in NOLITA during an anti police brutality march  
Police pushing protesters off sidewalk with barricades at Union Square  
Spring Training in Zuccotti park:
Love is the Answer
Civilian Technique 
Nicole Carty Teaching the Group 

Spring Training in Zuccotti Park
OWS Protester

Protester wearing a hoodie honoring Trayvon Martin

Anti- police sentiment at Union Square 

Thursday, March 01, 2012

New Orleans Corporate Day of Action Focuses on BP as the BP Oil Spill Trial Is Postponed

On February 29, 2012, the New Orleans contingent of the Occupy Wall Street movement participated in the nationwide Corporate Day of Action by protesting against a possible BP settlement in front of the Federal Courthouse. Activists joined in a mock funeral for the Gulf. The trial, scheduled to begin on February 27th, was delayed by Judge Carl Barbier for a week in hopes a settlement can be reached. If a trial comes to pass, it could take over a year to complete since there are multiple plaintiffs suing BP after the largest oil spill in American history. The protesters are against a settlement. They want the case to be heard in court so it will be public record. Cherri Foylin, a Plaquemines Parish environmental activist, thinks Gulf Coast residents need a seat at the table or at least in the courtroom and doesn't trust that an equitable settlement can be reached behind closed doors. Darla Rooks, a shrimper who came to the protest in her fishing boots, fears that the the real damage done to the environment and the health of Gulf Coast residents will never be known if there is a settlement. Protest organizer Elizabeth Cook said she believes all settlements made under the Obama administration have favored corporations and that everyone needs to see and hear the evidence prepared for this trial. During the protest, Kindra Arnesen held up pictures of people and animals sickened since the spill, a man dressed as tent monster danced in front of the courthouse entrance and others made sure those who drove down Poydras Street knew the Occupy movement's presence in New Orleans hasn't gone away. To see more pictures check out a set on Flickr