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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Occupy Wall Street and the sad state of American protesting (Page 2)

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Author Topic: Occupy Wall Street and the sad state of American protesting
fugu13
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How on earth did they get several thousand? They're going by a (probably high, because almost all estimates of crowds are) estimate of 300 spending the night in a park, then "several hundred" joining them. 300 + "several hundred" != 5000. What's more, the most I see protesting on any single video so far has been maybe 100, even panning shots.

Could you link me to the videos suggesting more than 300, Lyrhawn?

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Shanna
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Long shot of police aggression

At the three minute mark, the crowd reacts to a young man being physically thrown to the ground by an officer. Seconds later, a white-shirted cop lunges across a plastic fence at a woman who is on the sidewalk. He grabs ahold of her backpack and drags her on the ground into the street.

Just after the six minute mark, an officer is seen with his knee on the throat of a protestor being arrested. Similar restraint is used by another officer on another protestor just after the seven minute mark.

The majority of officers seem to be behaving and following orders. And I'm sure none of them look forward to a day spent dealing with angry protestors. But that's the job they are paid to do. To be role models of a civil society. If they can't stay calm in the face of a few unarmed, chanting young people, then they should find another job.

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by fugu13:
How on earth did they get several thousand? They're going by a (probably high, because almost all estimates of crowds are) estimate of 300 spending the night in a park, then "several hundred" joining them. 300 + "several hundred" != 5000. What's more, the most I see protesting on any single video so far has been maybe 100, even panning shots.

Could you link me to the videos suggesting more than 300, Lyrhawn?

Sure thing. I'll link you when I get back from class tonight.

It may also be that I'm terrible at determining crowd sizes. We'll see later!

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Blayne Bradley
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
quote:
Originally posted by beverly:
I can see that there is abuse going on.

No. You're not there. Videos can be edited very easily -- even unintentionally.

There may be abuse, and it certainly should be investigated. But to have decided that there definitely is at the very least premature.

It's the police, at a protest of course they're using excessive force.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Blayne Bradley:
quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
quote:
Originally posted by beverly:
I can see that there is abuse going on.

No. You're not there. Videos can be edited very easily -- even unintentionally.

There may be abuse, and it certainly should be investigated. But to have decided that there definitely is at the very least premature.

It's the police, at a protest of course they're using excessive force.
Exhibit A for the defense, every single police officer not using excessive force.
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Blayne Bradley
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However they collectively are a negative force of oppression in serving their capitalist masters. While some are merely using excessive force the remainder are still working to hinder the efforts of progress.
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Rakeesh
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That was almost a decent pivot away from your initial point being totally invalid, Blayne.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Blayne Bradley:
However they collectively are a negative force of oppression in serving their capitalist masters. While some are merely using excessive force the remainder are still working to hinder the efforts of progress.

Really? Would you say this of every police officer categorically serving at the area of the protest?
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Blayne Bradley
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Depends on how you define "area" and your experiences with police tactics in recent riots, for example "kettling" tactics. I'ld argue that every police officer on the scene, is only one step away from committing acts of police brutality ala the G20 Toronto summit. They cannot help it, they are not able to refuse these orders if and when they come. Right now they're appears to be two categories, higher ups who are on the scene under immense pressure from Wall Steet to clear the protest and more regular officers milking the protest for unlimited overtime to supplement their meager salaries. The latter can be to an extant individually praised for their "silent" protest at the system, but if push comes to shove they'll be forced to act by the higher ups, especially if the movement looks like it may gain enough support and traction that it might achieve something.

The biggest problem though, in my view, is that it could reach the size and mass and anger of the anti war demonstrations which had hundreds of thousands and still achieve not only absolutely nothing but not even succeed in getting an anti war candidate on the ticket of the opposition.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
Hey, I haven't been following the media's coverage of the occupy wall street stuff at all, but I'm curious: Did anyone make a big stink about all of the Obama-as-Hitler posters the way they did when those posters showed up at Tea Parties?

I'll take the lack of response as a no. Okay, I'll be honest, I was taking it as a no before I even asked.

What gets me about this is, I'm not even trying to imply that the protesters at this thing were "uncivil" or using violent rhetoric or bad or whatever. Because nearly all of the stupid Obama-Hitler posters at both leftist and tea party protests are all uncannily similar. They're done by LaRouche, who is a certifiable nutbag and neither Democrat nor Republican.

I do find it frustrating that nobody is reporting on LaRouchers at the Wall Street protest, but they leap all over them at tea parties, but... that's the extent of it. And that's not a criticism of the protesters.

PS: Lyrhawn, you're in good company. Most people are terrible at estimating crowd sizes, including members of the press. Once a crowd starts approaching 100 people it basically moves into the uncountable stage, and you start seeing wildly differing estimates from various sources.

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Lyrhawn
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fugu -

This video appears to show a fairly large crowd during the march phase of the protest

When the camera pans forward and back and shows people stretched out to a vanishing point, it looks like a lot to me. I don't know about thousands though. It's hard to tell if there are cars or more people further back, so that's throwing off my estimate.

Like I said before though, I'm not entirely sure how much I trust my own guesstimate on this one. Is that 300 or so people?

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The Rabbit
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I used to work as an organizer/peace keeper for rallies and marches in Salt Lake. We would estimate the crowd at a march by counting the number of people in a block and then multiplying by the number of blocks from the beginning to the end of the march. We also managed street crossing for smaller marches and I'd count the number of people crossing the streets between lights. I'm confident that our numbers were reasonably accurate (± 25%). The numbers given by the police and the newspapers were typically 1/4 to 1/10th what we counted.

In the video in Lyrhawn's link at ~ 58 seconds, there are ~ 15 - 20 people across the street and roughly 1 row of people every 10 feet. There are about 300 - 500 people visible in the in the frame. Based on my experience managing similar crowds, the march is likely several times longer than what's visable in a single frame. If the march extended 5 blocks or so at that density (no idea if it did), a few thousand people is a very reasonable number.

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SenojRetep
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Erika Fry on whether the OWS crowd is a "social movement". She applies some criteria from the sociological literature to what's going on, and concludes that:
quote:
[M]aybe Occupy Wall Street is a social movement in the making—as the start-up of satellite efforts like this might indicate—but it’s not one that deserves the national media spotlight, or to be the “lead story on every nightly newscast,” as Olbermann imagines would be the case with Tea Party occupiers, just yet. OWS has some things to prove and figure out about itself. It’d be irresponsible for the national media to give it attention that overstates its influence.
(h/t Monkey Cage)
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
I do find it frustrating that nobody is reporting on LaRouchers at the Wall Street protest, but they leap all over them at tea parties, but... that's the extent of it.

The LaRouchites were getting more attention than the Anarchists, despite being a smaller portion of that ridiculous crowd.

Trust me, people were making fun of this because initially it was as completely ridiculous as if it had been a tea party protest. The LaRouchites weren't getting a free pass, they were just no longer that noteworthy compared to a bunch of babby Anarchist nerds holding even dumber signs.

It took the cops being idiots to change that and turn this into a different issue altogether.

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Samprimary
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quote:
[M]aybe Occupy Wall Street is a social movement in the making—as the start-up of satellite efforts like this might indicate
ughhhhhhhh

Won't that be special, if the counter-movement ends up being formulated on this template. Can't wait to have a bunch of people wearing Black Flag and Cho tees waving Reddit memes around and having the message underlying their official mantras and slogans be essentially be 'hurrrrrrr end capitalism!'

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Lyrhawn
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CNN reported yesterday or the day before that at least one NYC Local union has voted to join the Occupy Wall Street protests, and several other Locals are voting soon as well to join.
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
[M]aybe Occupy Wall Street is a social movement in the making—as the start-up of satellite efforts like this might indicate
ughhhhhhhh

Won't that be special, if the counter-movement ends up being formulated on this template. Can't wait to have a bunch of people wearing Black Flag and Cho tees waving Reddit memes around and having the message underlying their official mantras and slogans be essentially be 'hurrrrrrr end capitalism!'

I'm for it.

PS: Did you mean Che tees, or does Margaret Cho have some special significance with the left anarchist set that I'm unaware of?

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talsmitde
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I saw this on a friend's Facebook page this morning, it's a movement to occupy Freedom Plaza in D.C. beginning October 6th.

Link

The website has a list of 15 demands, including universal healthcare and ending of "corporatism," but seems to be predominately a protest against the continuation of the Afghan war.

quote:
I pledge that if any U.S. troops, contractors, or mercenaries remain in Afghanistan on Thursday, October 6, 2011, as that criminal occupation goes into its 11th year, I will commit to being in Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., with others on that day with the intention of making it our Tahrir Square, Cairo, our Madison, Wisconsin, where we will NONVIOLENTLY resist the corporate machine to demand that our resources are invested in human needs and environmental protection instead of war and exploitation. We can do this together. We will be the beginning.
I'm not in the D.C. area, but it'll be interesting to see what comes of this and how it differs from Occupy Wall Street.
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Lyrhawn
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Boston Herald reports two dozen peacefully arrested at Bank of America HQ, and 3,000 protesters last night. How many of them are angry Sox fans is unknown. [Wink]

Back in New York.... It appears the police guided several hundred protesters onto the Brooklyn Bridge and then cut them off halfway across, possibly as an excuse to arrest many of them for impeding the flow of traffic. Seems pretty underhanded to me, why not block them before they got there? Or let them across and free up the bridge? Many settled in for a sit-in once the police blocked the road.

Mayor Bloomberg had this to say about the protest:

quote:
“The protesters are protesting against people who make $40,000 to $50,000 a year who are struggling to make ends meet. That’s the bottom line,” Bloomberg said.
I don't really think that's fair or accurate, but whatever helps get you reelected I guess.

Very small numbers have also been reported in Chicago and Los Angeles.

There are also reports that in addition to a PBS journalist being arrested in NYC, a NYT reporter has also been arrested. No word on if these arrests were justified, whether or not the journalist showed credentials and if arrests took place because of or in spite of those credentials.

ABC news seems to have the best coverage of events so far. Still somewhat lacking in details, but many others are barely mentioning New York, let alone other cities.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
The protesters are protesting against people who make $40,000 to $50,000 a year who are struggling to make ends meet.
I'm so confused. Which stockbrokers does Bloomberg think are making $40-$50K a year?
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Lyrhawn
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Bloomberg must be so rich that he thinks of everyone with less than a billion dollars as middle class.
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Shanna
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Just found out that some local organizations are meeting tomorrow in New Orleans to plan for a protest on the 6th. I am actually off work on the 6th so I think I'll be going.
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Lyrhawn
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Local organizers are planning something in Detroit for the 21st, which I'll miss by a couple of days or I'd go.

There's also something a little closer to me in Omaha, but they're calling it the "End the Fed" rally. Something small is just starting here in Lincoln, but, it has a ways to go yet I think.

Can't find anything about the protest in LA. Organizers are saying a lot of people showed up, and there's a livestream feed that does show a nice crowd, but even the LA Times isn't reporting it. Maybe it's smaller than it looks.

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fugu13
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. . . I'm really wondering how they think ending the Fed would interact with their stated goals (btw, the "we are the 99%" slogan is pretty funny considering most of their other statements about who they are apply to a much smaller percentage of the populace).
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Lyrhawn
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Yeah I don't much care for that either. Sounds like they've been drinking the Ron Paul koolaid.
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Lyrhawn
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And I forgot to add. 700 protesters that were corralled at the Brooklyn Bridge were arrested.

One way to get accurate crowd numbers is to arrest them all.

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Lyrhawn
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Video of the bridge protesters and them being arrested.


A couple notes on this. 1. You can clearly see the police leading them down to the bridge, leading them across the bridge, and then forming a line to block them off. That looks pretty damned fishy to me.

2. It looks like a disproportionate number of those arrested, at least as shown in this video, had cameras on them.

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Mucus
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quote:
As police clamped down on anti-Wall Street protesters over the weekend, Toronto activists said they are planning similar demonstrations against corporate greed later this month.

Organizers from a group called Occupy Toronto plan to descend on the city’s financial district on Oct. 15 at 10 a.m. The event is inspired by Occupy Wall Street, a group of demonstrators which has camped out near New York’s Financial District for two weeks.
...
“We also have focus on the Canadian issues,” he said. “Our banks didn’t get bailed out, but there are a lot of things that our banks do that harm the environment, culture and society of the Canadian people.”

Hum.
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BlackBlade
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No way Canada! Our bankers are the most evil!
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Blayne Bradley
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I found this tid bit to be absolutely awesome.

quote:

Another example of criticism comes from the Debate and Discussion forums of the Something Awful message board:: [15]

I honestly think we passed the point of no return on restoring the middle class with this recession and the insane economic priorities shown afterwards. It's inevitable now, to my mind: the American Empire is dying, and one day Rick Santelli III will be hanging from a meat hook in the bombed-out remnants of Manhattan.

-Courtesy of Wikipedia your open and free encyclopedia.
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talsmitde
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This video has been making the rounds today. The New York Observer reports that this interview of an Occupy Wall Street protestor was filmed for Fox News, but somehow they never got around to airing it.

I think in terms of articulating a simple, articulate message that breaks us out of our 30-year madness, this guy's comments are right on the mark.

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Blayne Bradley
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I love how the reporter is like saying "Without us your message wouldn't be getting out."

Title of the video? "Unaired video."

[Wall Bash]

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
I'm for it.

Congratulations, you get your wish

Occupy movement > tea party

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Lyrhawn
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There's at least one video out there of police beating demonstrators with night sticks, and several accounts of excessive police violence while handling protesters.

Thus far all the violence seems to be in New York.

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Dan_Frank
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By ">" I assume you mean "is even more crazy and unable to present a cohesive, valuable message"

Are we... are we surprised? Maybe I've lived too long near Berkeley, but I don't really expect much high-value content from protests. Productive discussions don't usually fit on posterboard, or rhyme with "Hey hey, ho ho."

PS: Still not seeing many Cho T-Shirts in the crowd.

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Lyrhawn
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Here's a question for you Dan:

Do protesters have to have an answer in order to make having a problem a valid complaint?

Are they allowed to say "we don't like the status quo" unless they present a concrete alternative?

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Orincoro
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No, because not liking the status quo is more difficult to dismiss than any concrete alternative would be.

There are talking points for dismissing every solution to the current problems. There is no talking point that dismisses the problem. If you just raise hell about the conditions, there's no way to dismiss you. There are also few productive responses to protests of that kind- but I think the positive thing here is that these protests are addressing even more than a systemic problem of ineffective or wrong-headed policy: they are actually bemoaning the moral decay that greed has wrought on our country.

I've often said I'm not an activist, nor am I in favor of most activism- as it is usually intended more for the edification of activists themselves. I think this may be a sign of something different- people are distressed and they don't find comfort in pithy "solutions" that hold little water. It indicates that the stress is real enough, and deep enough that people are not fooled into thinking there are answers already available to them.

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Dan_Frank
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Dude, a concrete alternative?

I'd take a consistent thing they are protesting. Can you give me that? Because I sure can't tell from reading their own website.

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Orincoro
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I don't think there is one. I think the protests are an expression of general distress, aimed at what people believe the source of their woes to be.

I'm not one of the protesters, I couldn't tell you what each or even most of them imagines that they are addressing. But I do think that the impetus to protest comes from feeling out of control, and feeling that there is no force in society, other than their own, that is focused on their problems.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
I'd take a consistent thing they are protesting

Incidentally, the most focused answer to this question that I could detect from news reports (which admittedly were themselves slightly unfocused and unclear as to where the story wanted to go), was "greed."

The indignity felt by people who are being fleeced and soaked for every penny they have by their banks, their local parking enforcement, their insurers and their employers (work furlows, reduced benefits, etc), is difficult to aim at a single source. Who do you blame concretely, and what specific policy do you decry, for a system wherein banks are increasing their profitability while refusing to lend money? And where that problem of corporate confidence in the American people is freezing the joints of our economy at every level? What do you call that impulse, and who do you blame for it?

As for banking, the fact that banks indulged in excessive risk, and are now adversely affecting the economy by being overly risk averse, is hard to protest in any other way. We can protest them being free with our money.... until they aren't free *enough* with our money (and after we've ponied up the cash to bail them out). We can free them being too risk averse, but what do we want- we don't want them to be reckless. No, the issue has been, and is, greed. Banks were too willing to risk money at the opportunity of enormous profits, and they are to willing to sit on money now that they have it in such large liquid amounts. Millions of people have lost their jobs, and the money that would have payed them is sitting in banks- and that money is not being put to work, by anyone.

How would you protest the mentality behind the series of decisions that brought us to this impass?

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Lyrhawn
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They're actively trying not to list specific demands, or specific problems because they don't want to alienate people, but it's not hard to find a lot of common complaints.

They're mad at the alliance between politics and corporations, they want campaign finance reform (for a start there), they want to know why corporate bosses weren't investigated and tried for wrecking the economy, they want the environment protected, they want the income inequality gap lessened, they want the middle class protected, they want quality health care for everyone.

All of those pretty much fall under the umbrella of a major revision in the relationship between corporations and government.

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Shanna
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Just getting ready to head off to bed so I can get up early for the march tomorrow.

On an interesting note, the legal advisors for the groups here in New Orleans actually received a permit for the protest tomorrow. It rubs me wrong that people need a permit when we have right to free assembly, but having heard seen quite a few stories of local police shutting down decades old parades for not having the right paperwork, this should help keep the NOPD off everyone's back. They may even be providing escorts.

I'm totally okay with attending tomorrow without a THIS IS WHAT WE WANT statement. While there is common ground stand against corporate greed and current unemployment, I've also seen anti-war, pro-equality, pro-choice, etc. demonstrators attending. For me, I'm starting to feel as if my vote is counting less and less. It becomes difficult to trust politicians who are funded by only a handful of very rich donors And if I can't trust them, how can I expect them to accomplish the things that I elected them to do? And that's where it opens up for ground for any minority group to stand up and say "Hey, we may not have deep pockets but our voice matters too."

I'm actually interested to see if protestors in different cities focus on different issues. Poverty, crime, our poor schools, police and political corruption, and environment are all likely to make an appearance on signs.

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Dan_Frank
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While that's great for you, and some of the other protesters, this scattershot approach to protesting can also turn off people who might have actually agreed with a more focused message.

The times that Tea Parties went off their core message of fiscal conservatism... that is, the times I saw people with socially conservative signs (anti-gay marriage, etc.) or with very off-the-reservation signs (LaRouchers and other conspiracy nuts)... were the times that I felt like I was in the wrong place.

From what I've seen of the Occupy Wall Street stuff, I know I'd be horrendously out of place. This despite the fact that (as far as I can tell) some of their core values, like being against crony capitalism and greed dictating government policy, I'm actually totally in favor of.

[ October 06, 2011, 02:29 AM: Message edited by: Dan_Frank ]

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Lyrhawn
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I'm okay with it for now. It's not even a movement yet, it's just a bunch of pissed off people gathering together and voicing their anger.

And frankly, if I'd been co-opted the way the Tea Party has been, I wouldn't be looking down my nose at a new protest movement in the making that specifically wants to avoid that fate.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
I'm okay with it for now. It's not even a movement yet, it's just a bunch of pissed off people gathering together and voicing their anger.

And yet you wonder why they're getting less media coverage than an actual, you know, organized protest?
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
I'm okay with it for now. It's not even a movement yet, it's just a bunch of pissed off people gathering together and voicing their anger.

And frankly, if I'd been co-opted the way the Tea Party has been, I wouldn't be looking down my nose at a new protest movement in the making that specifically wants to avoid that fate.

Co-Opted? Man, I know we disagree, but do you really need to make controversial statements as if they're obvious, undisputed facts? It seems kind of rude.
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Lyrhawn
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Yeah, I do. Because while they might not be organized like a political party, they clearly have some organization. They're communicating with each other, planning rallies across the country, documenting their actions, talking with each other on a daily basis to exchange ideas, and there are very clearly commonly recurring themes in the protest.

So they haven't decided, en masse, what they all specifically want, I'm not really sure that matters at the moment. Maybe we need to challenge our ideas of what a traditional movement looks like, and what a movement NEEDS to look like.

When it first started? I could see why it would be so easy to ignore (though given how early Tea Party rallies were covered is a stark contrast). But once the police brutality issues started (and have continued), and now that the protests have grown to thousands of people with a very distinct anti-corporate message, I don't see how that doesn't qualify as newsworthy.

Isn't a bunch of pissed off people gathering together to voice their anger a pretty accurate description of ANY organized protest? How is that a poor representation of, for example, the union protesters most recently in Wisconsin?

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
I'm okay with it for now. It's not even a movement yet, it's just a bunch of pissed off people gathering together and voicing their anger.

And frankly, if I'd been co-opted the way the Tea Party has been, I wouldn't be looking down my nose at a new protest movement in the making that specifically wants to avoid that fate.

Co-Opted? Man, I know we disagree, but do you really need to make controversial statements as if they're obvious, undisputed facts? It seems kind of rude.
Apologies if I offended you. It wasn't meant to be a personal attack. If you require a qualifier, you can feel free to add an "I think," or "I feel" wherever appropriate in that statement.

And speaking of rude, thanks for editing your original post. [Smile]

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:

The times that Tea Parties went off their core message of fiscal conservatism... that is, the times I saw people with socially conservative signs (anti-gay marriage, etc.) or with very off-the-reservation signs (LaRouchers and other conspiracy nuts)... were the times that I felt like I was in the wrong place.

Getting everybody on the same page, no matter how ridiculous that page becomes, is not a liberal trait. You could get Republicans to do that- Democrats don't even really try. But when you're trying to get people together who are in favor of the government, like, *working* and all of that stuff- you're also dealing with the reality that one single message is not going to accomplish that. If you're interested in destroying and dismantling national institutions, then one message will do.

You cut with a scalpel, you don't build with one. And it's a simpler matter to tear something down, than it is to build something you've never seen before. That's something I think the American conservative movement forgot a very long time ago.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
I could see why it would be so easy to ignore (though given how early Tea Party rallies were covered is a stark contrast).

Well, to be fair, left-wing protests are much more common, as a general rule, and nothing about OWS initially indicated that it was different or more noteworthy than your typical run-of-the-mill protest.

By contrast, early Tea Parties were covered, certainly, but not it wasn't usually positive coverage. Conservatives don't usually protest, so it was a surprising thing to most people, and especially early on they were covered only to be dismissed, and/or relentlessly and mercilessly mocked, by nearly every major news outlet.

quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
But once the police brutality issues started (and have continued), and now that the protests have grown to thousands of people with a very distinct anti-corporate message, I don't see how that doesn't qualify as newsworthy.

This evolution would be what made it qualify as newsworthy, in my opinion.
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