The coordinated effort to kill the Occupy movement began this morning

As you all know, riot police descended on New York City’s Zuccotti Park at about 1:00 AM this morning, forcefully evicting Occupy Wall Street protesters, and destroying their possessions. There have been reports of pepper spray and billy clubs having been used, but there’s little documentary evidence, as police sealed the area off to reporters, and confiscated cameras before throwing the tents and other belongings of the protesters into waiting garbage trucks to be crushed. Among other things, it’s being reported that over 5,000 books, that had been publicly-available through the OWS library, have been destroyed. (As someone who values the open access of information, and very much appreciated the fact that one of the first things OWS participants did was create a library, I found this purposeful destruction of books to be particularly loathsome.)

As I mentioned, few images of what happened this morning exist. Not only did the police in New York shut out reporters on the ground, but it’s been reported that they also closed down the airspace over Wall Street, in order to ensure that news helicopters couldn’t shoot footage. And I think that’s what I find most chilling about this. I knew that a coordinated crackdown would come – I even noted it last night – but I didn’t think that it would be this efficient, and I didn’t think that they’d be able to keep it this hidden from the American people. Naively, I thought that what’s left of our nation’s free press would document the whole thing. I’m not sure how they justified turning reporters away, but that’s what they did. (I suspect they claimed it had something to do with terrorism, or national security.)

It’s worth noting that mention of the crackdown got little play on tonight’s television news. The Penn State pedophilia case, it would seem, is far more important.

Speaking of reporters being shut out, the Twitter comment shown above comes from Village Voice reporter Rosie Gray. We can debate all day as to whether the protesters in the park had the right to camp on this particular piece of land, but I don’t think there’s any getting around the fact that keeping the press away from the park this morning was a clear violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Bloomburg says the decision to send riot police in was his decision, and his alone. His objective, he said, was to “minimize destruction to the surrounding neighborhood.” The legal aspects still aren’t quite clear to me, but it would seem that, in the immediate aftermath of the eviction, a court order was issued stating that OWS protesters had, at least for the time being, the right to return, with their tents. Just recently, however, it was reported that the Manhattan Supreme Court had sided with Bloomburg. The following comes from the New York Daily News:

…Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Michael Stallman said the city can enforce “reasonable” rules to maintain safety and hygiene at the encampment that has become the epicenter of a nationwide movement.

The protesters have a right to free speech but they “have not demonstrated that they have a First Amendment right to remain in Zuccotti Park, along with their tents, structures, generators and other installations,” he wrote…

I don’t know Stallman’s politics, but it’s been pointed out to me that Lucy Billings, the judge who earlier in the day had issued that temporary restraining order in favor of the protesters, had, prior to becoming a judge, spent 25 years as an attorney for the ACLU. I’m not suggesting that the courts are necessarily being used by those for and against the occupation, but I suppose it’s possible that pressure was put on Stallman and others to overrule Billings. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what comes out.

It’s not clear to me who the final arbiter will be on this. As Zuccotti Park is technically “privately owned public space,” there apparently isn’t a lot of precedent. The property, for those of you who are unaware, was apparently given over for public use by the owner in exchange for certain zoning considerations. And, as part of the deal, the City stipulated that the park had to offer 24 hour access to the public. This, as you might imagine, has since led to some confusion. Speaking to this point, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, not too long ago, had stated that, “neither police nor executives from Brookfield Properties, which owns Zuccotti Park, have the authority to kick the protesters out at this point.” But, apparently Bloomberg interpreted things differently this morning.

Personally, I think this is a good thing for the Occupy Wall Street. With winter coming on, it’s very likely that their numbers would have visibly dropped in Zuccotti Park, giving the impression that the movement was dying. Now, thanks to Bloomburg, they have an opportunity to regroup and evolve into something else – something better suited for this stage of the battle. While the campsites were great for generating press, and capturing the attention of the nation, I suspect that there might be better ways to engage now that they’ve got our attention. And, with that in mind, I’d like to share a little something from Bill Moyers, who was recently interviewed on the subject of Occupy Wall Street.

MOYERS: I know a lot of tea partiers. I was out listening to them and talking to them. They had a half-truth. Why do I want to put more of my taxes into a government that was serving special interests? They understood that. The other side says we have to have a safety net. The two sides can’t get together. The populist movement (of the tea party) was taken over and co-opted by corporate interests. It’s hard to retain fiery indignation and independence when that happens. I don’t think Occupy Wall Street will have the influence they want unless they do what the tea party did and take over the nominating process. Unless they do, they will never have the satisfaction that they want and that the civil rights movement, say, had back in the 1950s and ’60s. These people are not going to have long-ranging effect unless they have a party to act on their interests. They need to become a political movement instead of a grievance committee.

So, how does OWS make the transition away from tents, and into politics? That, I suspect, is what a lot of people are wondering tonight… How do we channel all of this energy and momentum into an actual political movement that can bring new people to elected office, and change those laws that don’t presently serve the 99%?

One thing, I think, is certain. And that is, this movement isn’t just going to crawl away and die. It can’t be crushed, at least not like this. If anything, Bloomburg, in my opinion, made the movement stronger… I hate to use Star Wars analogies, but it’s like when Darth Vader struck down Obi-Wan Kenobi. The force is just going to grow stronger. And Bloomburg should have known that.

For what it’s worth, OWS forces are already planning something big for Thursday. “We will shut down Wall Street,” says the announcement on the OWS Facebook page. “We will ring the People’s Bell, and initiate a street carnival in which we rebuild and celebrate the neighborhoods that the Wall Street economy has destroyed.” Word is, they’ll start with the subways.

Oh, and the crackdown isn’t likely to stop in New York. The Mayor of Oakland, Jean Quan, let it slip today that 18 American cities have working together to bring this movement to an end. This crackdown is going to be national, and it’s going to be ugly.

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37 Comments

  1. Edward
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    Confirmation of what Quan said about the coordination of the crackdowns.

    Over the past ten days, more than a dozen cities have moved to evict “Occupy” protesters from city parks and other public spaces. As was the case in last night’s move in New York City, each of the police actions shares a number of characteristics. And according to one Justice official, each of those actions was coordinated with help from Homeland Security, the FBI and other federal police agencies.

    The official, who spoke on background to me late Monday evening, said that while local police agencies had received tactical and planning advice from national agencies, the ultimate decision on how each jurisdiction handles the Occupy protests ultimately rests with local law enforcement.

    According to this official, in several recent conference calls and briefings, local police agencies were advised to seek a legal reason to evict residents of tent cities, focusing on zoning laws and existing curfew rules. Agencies were also advised to demonstrate a massive show of police force, including large numbers in riot gear. In particular, the FBI reportedly advised on press relations, with one presentation suggesting that any moves to evict protesters be coordinated for a time when the press was the least likely to be present.

    Continue reading on Examiner.com Update: ‘Occupy’ crackdowns coordinated with federal law enforcement officials – Minneapolis Top News | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/top-news-in-minneapolis/were-occupy-crackdowns-aided-by-federal-law-enforcement-agencies#ixzz1dqASmHcw

  2. People of America
    Posted November 16, 2011 at 5:19 am | Permalink

    So since these kids and hippies are an occupying force, could we call the cops insurgents? Freedom fighters? Revolutionaries?
    The cops are starting to sound cool.

  3. Tommy
    Posted November 16, 2011 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    Moyers, as usual, is spot on. This movement is going nowhere until it gets organized and focused like a laser on something more specific. For starters, Wall Street is the wrong place as a rallying point. It is the Washington D.C. and state politicians that are to blame for allowing this form of corpoarate greed to flourish. Occupying the Capitol in D.C and State Capitols everywhere would be more effective. If they are naive enough to believe that hanging out in a park is going to change corporate behavior, they are misguided. Corportaions don’t give a damn and their current form of bad behavior is enabled by politicians everywhere including the ones that are supposedly on their side. Where is Mr. Kucinich, Mr. Sanders, Mr. Conyers, Ms. Waters, Mr. Feingold, Mr. Grayson, etc.? Why aren’t they screaming right now?

  4. Posted November 16, 2011 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    American police are really good at this kind of thing, now. I couldn’t find anything in the news even at 9:00 yesterday, and had mostly concluded that not much happened. After I found out the truth, a horrible chill overcame me.

    It makes one wonder how future movements will fare, if they even get a chance to take the first step.

  5. Mr. X
    Posted November 16, 2011 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    I disagree, Tommy. I think they were spot on when they picked the big bands to go after. It resonated with people, and they had the numbers in New York to make their presence known. I don’t know that they would have had the people to occupy DC this summer. Now, though, maybe they might. I’m sure it’s an option being considered – moving all of the occupy encampments to DC. I’d love to see it. I agree, though, that the time for living in camps spread out across the U.S. is over. It’s time to evolve into something new, like local working groups supporting a clear agenda, and a national fundraising organization putting money into a DC presence. I’d like to see the Congress surrounded when they return from the holidays.

  6. Meta
    Posted November 16, 2011 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Pete, that was a nice piece on your blog this morning.

    For those of you who didn’t catch it, here’s a taste.

    One doesn’t have to agree with anything the OWS protesters say. I think we can all agree that the stifling of the press on any subject is a bad thing for the US and a bad thing for democracy around the world. This isn’t what we’re supposed to be, though it is certainly what we are. The events yesterday are actually more represetative of oppressive Latin American countries, China, and worse yet, backward and despotic countries such as Yemen. The only difference (or similarity in the case of China) is the vast and insidious nature of American technological and strategic sophistication.

    What happens from here out is anyone’s guess. My feeling is that the storyline will become too complex for America to handle. A collection of freaks in a NYC park make easy television interviews and good fodder for rightist smears. The vast suppression of a populist political movement by police and government bodies adds far too many loose ends to the narrative for the sound bite to handle and unfortunatley, I think that OWS will be marginalized to only occupy an active fringe on the internet. That’s the pessimist in me speaking but let’s hope this doesn’t happen.

    Fortunately though, some of the major liberal news outlets have attempted to keep up, though I feel that the timing is far too slow.

    http://peterslarson.com/2011/11/16/the-war-will-be-won-through-the-shutting-down-of-the-presses/

  7. Eel
    Posted November 16, 2011 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Meanwhile, in Seattle…..

    What do a priest, a pregnant woman, and an 84 year old school teacher have in common?

    They all get pepper sprayed in the face.

    http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2011/11/84-year-old-woman-becomes-pepper-sprayed-face-occupy-seattle/45035/

  8. Andy C
    Posted November 16, 2011 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    This is all such fucking bullshit. There is nothing anyone can do but stand around with signs saying “we know what you’re doing and we have no way to stop it”. Seriously turn political? How? It takes millions to run a campaign and only millionaires, and people with the support of millionaires, will ever be able to run for any high level of government. You just get to vote for their top picks.
    We all know the Tea party was easily bought out, maybe OWS should go up for sale too. You know, “get a leader”. Nothing will change. It’s like trying to change the sheets when their is 10 people laying on the bed.

  9. j
    Posted November 16, 2011 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Awful advice. DC dances, but Wall Street pulls the strings. Anyway, DC is already full of thousands of young people trying to change the world, all completely coopted and impotent. Our political process is a large part of the problem. It cannot be changed by cooperating with it. “In every truth, the beneficiaries of a system cannot be expected to destroy it.”

    As for the raids, I think they are a gift to the movement. It frees them from the dirty hippie camp to experiment with other tactics. In a few weeks, I suspect Bloomberg will regret his decision.

  10. Mr. X
    Posted November 16, 2011 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    From my friend Jean.

    ‎”Perhaps the press management had its effect. Certainly, there was little video taken by journalists to show on the evening news programs, and, as Rick Klein of ABC News noted via Twitter, ‘Sandusky speaking out #PennSt leads all three broadcast newscasts tonight.'”

    — NY Times calls a complete shut down of coverage and the arrest of reporters at the OWS crack down “press management.” We have to be outraged because the established press is so bought in that they won’t anymore.

    http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/16/breakfast-meeting-nov-16/

  11. j
    Posted November 16, 2011 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    “I don’t think Occupy Wall Street will have the influence they want unless they do what the tea party did and take over the nominating process.”

    If we are so beneficent to grant them the legitimacy of being earnest libertards rather than simple Koch whores, the Tea Party has proven to be totally ineffectual in the political realm. The Tea Party affiliated congress critters are largely ignored and unable to advance their agenda past the Republican/Democratic establishment. Worse, the Republican nominee will almost certainly end up being Mitt Romney. The Tea Party has been reduced to serving as the useful idiot bloc of the Republican party. “Let’s be useful idiots for the DLC,” is not the type of slogan that steels the nerves in the face of a police beating.

  12. Watching Laughing.
    Posted November 16, 2011 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    Hey Mr. X, any more word on what Dave Curtis has been up?
    You seem to have some info on him at times?

    Thanks,

    Watching Laughing.

  13. Tommy
    Posted November 16, 2011 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    What is it that ‘the movement’ wants? Specifically? This is what needs to be figured out – and soon. I’m a 99% er. The rich need to do more. Corporations are greedy. Corporations get breaks and the masses get none. No shit – been that way forever. When shit got real is when people did more than talk – but all of the movements had someone as a point person. Maybe Bloomberg’s actions yesterday were a gift. Maybe things will get ugly and cops and National Guard troops will storm in a take care of business. Maybe people will die. Maybe then someone will begin to listen. But there still has to be a leader!

  14. Andy C
    Posted November 16, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    What are the credentials for a “leader”? What will the leader do? Run for office? Go on news show? Negotiate with the Mayor? or just get beat up and arrested?

  15. Tommy
    Posted November 16, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know what specific credentials should be Andy. What were the credentials of MLK, Malcolm X, Bobby Seale, EugeneDebs, Susan B. Anthony … Ghandi. what were their credentials. They took the reins and they led. Someone has to be the mouth piece, the straw that stirs the drink, the head of the beast. what should the leader do? Perhaps all of the above. Best advise the the leaderless group? Find a leader whose first act is to disrupt some big Thursday morning event next week.

  16. Mr. X
    Posted November 16, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Leaders get assassinated, like RFK. Leaders get thrown in prison, like Nelson Mandela. If you go back to that video of Hedges, he points out that the brilliant thing about OWS is that there is no leader. There’s no one for the media to make up stories about. There’s no one to trump up charges against. And, it’s purely democratic. Yes, there’s a down side. People like charismatic leaders, and those people may arise, but I think we should let it be organic. Let’s see what develops. In the meantime, there are a lot of good people out there, and we should support them. (I don’t buy Andy’s comment about how it’s useless to work within the system. It worked in 1964, and it can work again. Sure, the cards are stacked against us, but we’ve got the numbers on our side. And there are good people who can run for elected office.) Let’s fight for Elizabeth Warren, Russ Feingold, Dennis Kucinich, Robert Reich, and anyone else who’s proven themselves to be honest, and above being bought off. It will take time. We need to get new people into local government, and build from there. But it will work. It has to.

  17. Mr. X
    Posted November 16, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    As for Curtis, the last I heard, he was running a piano bar in Jackson.

  18. Posted November 16, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    I don’t buy Andy’s argument, either. OWS protesters are voters. Elected officials are beholden to voters. If you have enough of them, campaigning candidates will listen.

    It might not result in a Presidential or a Senate seat, but its clear that populist movements can elect local officials and representatives that do have influence on what happens in politics.

  19. Meta
    Posted November 16, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    More on the involvement of the FBI and Homeland Security in coordinating these attacks.

    Over the past ten days, more than a dozen cities have moved to evict “Occupy” protesters from city parks and other public spaces. As was the case in last night’s move in New York City, each of the police actions shares a number of characteristics. And according to one Justice official, each of those actions was coordinated with help from Homeland Security, the FBI and other federal police agencies[…]

    According to this official, in several recent conference calls and briefings, local police agencies were advised to seek a legal reason to evict residents of tent cities, focusing on zoning laws and existing curfew rules. Agencies were also advised to demonstrate a massive show of police force, including large numbers in riot gear. In particular, the FBI reportedly advised on press relations, with one presentation suggesting that any moves to evict protesters be coordinated for a time when the press was the least likely to be present.

    http://wonkette.com/456282/surprise-homeland-security-coordinates-ows-crackdowns-nationwide

  20. Tatersalad
    Posted November 16, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Hey, this is great! Imagine the odds of this happening.

    Do you know the park in NYC that the Wall Street protesters are occupying?
    It’s Zuccotti Park. Did you know this park is not owned by the city of New York?
    It is owned by Brookfield Properties. Who was just hired by Brookfield Properties as an attorney?
    Vice President Joe Biden’s son. Who sits on the board of Brookfield Properties?
    Mayor Bloomberg’s live in girlfriend. Now, guess what company just received some of the last of the
    Obama Stimulus $$$$$$$. Thaaaaaaaaaaaat’s right, Brookfield Properties. Isn’t life great in America!

  21. Andy C
    Posted November 16, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Tater, I was waiting for you to link it all to Kevin Bacon. What’s your point? Is it Obama and Biden hate OWS?

  22. Eel
    Posted November 16, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Do you know where they all buy their groceries?
    Whole Foods.
    Do you know who supplies scarves to Whole Foods?
    Maggie’s Organics.
    Do you know where Maggie’s Organics is located?
    Ypsilanti, Michigan.
    Do you know who pulls the strings in Ypsilanti, Michigan?
    Mark Maynard!!!!!!!

    Mark Maynard is behind Occupy Wall Street!!!!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8Kyi0WNg40

  23. Posted November 16, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    Andy,

    Actually, that’s the third time that Tater has posted that.

    I guess the guys in riot suits don’t really register with him.

  24. Posted November 16, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    I came across this comment in a TPM comment section.
    “Mr.Banana Hammock

    Hang tough Sheriff Joe. You can put those anchor babies and freaky demoRAT libtards in PINK UNDERPANTS! When they’re in PINK UNDERPANTS they won’t be able to vote for their Communistic, Collectivistic, Utopianistic, PIPE DREAM. HEY DEM RETARDS, if you want to live in a Socialistic paradise, why not put on your MAO jacket and move to ANN ARBOR!

    LOSERS”

    If Ann Arbor is a Socialistic paradise, what does that make Ypsilanti?

  25. Andy C
    Posted November 16, 2011 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    Hey Peter, I don’t read every post here but I’m not surprised it’s been repeated. I bet if we googled it we’d find it on several blogs. It does kind of show how small of a scene runs things.

  26. Posted November 16, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    The news here in NYC is that the OWS library folks were allowed to retrieve the stolen books, but that many are damaged or missing.

  27. Oliva
    Posted November 16, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    Ironic (or something) that the powers that be are now seeking to dismantle the growing movement when a man as “mainstream” (yet brilliant, kickass, so hardly ordinary) as Jeffrey Sachs pens a NYT op-ed on 12 Nov. with the title “The New Progressive Movement” and concludes the piece with these lines:

    Those who think that the cold weather will end the protests should think again. A new generation of leaders is just getting started. The new progressive age has begun.

    You can read the entire heartening piece at:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/13/opinion/sunday/the-new-progressive-movement.html?_r=2

    and can read about his stellar background at:
    http://www.earth.columbia.edu/articles/view/1770

  28. Posted November 16, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    Andy, it’s even on snopes:

    http://www.snopes.com/politics/business/zucotti.asp

  29. Andy C
    Posted November 17, 2011 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    Golden.

  30. Mr. X
    Posted November 17, 2011 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Doesn’t prove a thing. Snopes is probably owned by someone who went to school with the sister of someone who once donated to the ACLU or some other terrorist organization.

  31. Posted November 17, 2011 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Actually, I think that George Soros funds both the ACLU and snopes at the same time.

  32. Meta
    Posted November 17, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Rachel Maddow on the history of the OWS library, and where the books are now. (They weren’t all destroyed, and the city says protesters can have them back.)

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/45316274#45316274

  33. Posted November 18, 2011 at 12:40 am | Permalink

    If you can get to the 2:40 mark of this video, you’ll see the delightful Victoria Jackson explaining how Snopes is owned by George Soros.

  34. Edward
    Posted November 18, 2011 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Holy God. Is this video for real? Are people really watching this shit?

    I’d love to have a review from someone who finds this compelling. EOS? Tater?

  35. Eel
    Posted November 22, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Did anyone happen to catch this story on Democracy Now?

    Washington Lobbying Firm Offers to Undermine Occupy Movement on Behalf of Wall Street

    A newly leaked memo reveals a high-powered Washington lobbying firm has offered to help key members of the banking community undermine the Occupy Wall Street movement. According to MSNBC, the lobbying firm Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranford sent the memo to the American Bankers Association and offered to conduct “opposition research” on Occupy Wall Street in order to construct “negative narratives” for a fee of $850,000. The memo advises the ABA to take the movement seriously, writing: “It may be easy to dismiss OWS as a ragtag group of protesters but they have demonstrated that they should be treated more like an organized competitor who is very nimble and capable of working the media, coordinating third party support and engaging office holders to do their bidding. To counter that, we have to do the same.” The memo goes on to warn the ABA that Democratic victories in 2012 would be detrimental for Wall Street and suggests the financial industry focus its energy on specific races that would lead to Republican elections. The ABA has confirmed that it received the memo, but says it chose not to act on the advice in any way. Two of the memo’s authors, partners Sam Geduldig and Jay Cranford, previously worked for Republican House Speaker John Boehner.

    http://www.democracynow.org/2011/11/21/headlines/washington_lobbying_firm_offers_to_undermine_occupy_movement_on_behalf_of_wall_street#

  36. Eel
    Posted November 22, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Of course, if I know that $850,000 could be had, I probably would have done it myself.

  37. Meta
    Posted November 25, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    Naomi Wolf has a piece worth reading in the Guardian.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/nov/25/shocking-truth-about-crackdown-occupy

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