Friday, September 30, 2011

Wall Street Occupation Gains Support: Join Transport Workers Today at 5:30

Growing labor union support for  Occupy Wall Street. Let's have an Educators Contingent on Friday.
Demonstration in Solidarity with Occupy Wall Street

                                   Fri, September 30, 5:30pm – 7:00pm, One Police Plaza

I hope you are rooting for the gang involved in the Wall St. occupation. Some are even comparing it to the Tea Party with a left twist. It is beginning to get mainstream media attention, a lot of due to FAIR - see the posting between the 2 events - one today and one Weds. - I can't go then because I'm going to the matinee of Spiderman.

Also - tonight Patrick Walsh - a UFT Chapter Leader in Harlem is doing a talk on the lower easr side:

Hello all,
On September 30, 2011, I will be speaking again as part of the Friday Night Meeting series of  The Catholic Worker in the Lower East Side.   My talk is titled The Intellectual and Spiritual Price of Corporate Education Reform, a subject of tremendous import not only for the future of education in America but for the survival of our already enfeebled democracy.   
Friday Night Meetings are held at Maryhouse located at 55 East Third Street between First and Second Ave very close to the 2nd Ave F subway stop. ( 212 777 9617) The meeting will begin at 7:45 and will be followed by a question and answer period in which all are encouraged to participate. Please try to attend.
The corporate cancer that is devouring our country and insidiously extinguishing all forms of public life can only be stopped by the building of community, community awareness, community resilience and community resistance. 

Here are 2 upcoming actions with a FAIR media watch posting in between. I'm heading to Wall St. to do some video.

NYC Transit Union Joins Occupy Wall Street 

New York City labor unions are preparing to back the unwieldy grassroots band occupying a park in Lower Manhattan, in a move that could mark a significant shift in the tenor of the anti-corporate Occupy Wall Street protests and send thousands more people into the streets.

The Transit Workers Union Local 100's executive committee, which oversees the organization of subway and bus workers, voted unanimously Wednesday night to support the protesters. The union claims 38,000 members. A union-backed organizing coalition, which orchestrated a large May 12 march on Wall Street before the protests, is planning a rally on Oct. 5 in explicit support. And SEIU 32BJ, which represents doormen, security guards and maintenance workers, is using its Oct. 12 rally to express solidarity with the Zuccotti Park protesters.
"The call went out over a month ago, before actually the occupancy of Wall Street took place," said 32BJ spokesman Kwame Patterson. Now, he added, "we're all coming under one cause, even though we have our different initiatives."
The protests found their genesis not in any of the established New York social action groups but with a call put out by a Canadian magazine. While other major unions beyond the TWU have yet to officially endorse Occupy Wall Street, more backing could come as early as this week. Both the New York Metro Area Postal Union and SEIU 1199 are considering such moves.
Jackie DiSalvo, an Occupy Wall Street organizer, says a series of public actions aimed at expressing support for labor -- from disrupting a Sotheby's auction on Sept. 22 to attending a postal workers' rally on Tuesday -- have convinced unions that the two groups' struggles are one.
"Labor is up against the wall and they're begging us to help them," said DiSalvo, a retired professor at Baruch College in her late 60s who has emerged as a driving force in the effort to link up labor and the protests. DiSalvo is herself a member of the Professional Staff Congress, which represents teachers at the City University of New York.
Recent anti-labor actions like Scott Walker's in Wisconsin "really shocked the unions and moved them into militant action," DiSalvo said, and the inflammatory video of a NYPD deputy inspector pepper-spraying several protesters on Saturday also generated union sympathy.
"There's a lot of good feeling. They've made a lot of friends," said Chuck Zlatkin of the postal union.
When a band of about 100 protesters showed up at a postal workers' rally featuring Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday, complete with purple hair and big drums, "they went a long way towards touching people and making connections," Zlatkin observed.
If unions move to support the protests in a major way, that could mean thousands more people marching in Lower Manhattan. Thus far the protesters have not managed to come near the 10,000 or so who attended the unrelated May 12 march on Wall Street. The Strong Economy for All Coalition, which receives support from the United Federation of Teachers, the Working Families Party, plus SEIU 32BJ and 1199, previously helped put together that demonstration. Now they will be rallying for the grassroots group.
"Their fight is our fight," director Michael Kink said. "They've chosen the right targets. We also want to see a society where folks other than the top 1 percent have a chance to say how things go."
Asked if the union support could dilute the message of the Occupy Wall Street protesters -- which has itself been dismissed as incoherent -- organizer DiSalvo said the rag tag group's stance would remain unchanged.
"Occupy Wall Street will not negotiate watering down its own message," she said, union support or not.

Activism Update

Some Breaks in the Blackout of Wall Street Protests


After a FAIR Action Alert (9/23/11) criticized the virtual media blackout of the Occupy Wall Street protests, corporate news coverage has increased--sparked largely by the escalating police brutality at the ongoing demonstration. (See FAIR Blog, 9/23/11, for a sample of the messages sent by FAIR activists to the network nightly news shows.)

On ABC World News Sunday (9/25/11), anchor David Muir read this short item while playing footage of cops assaulting protesters:

And here in New York, protests continued against the big banks and the bailout that helped the banks, Wall Street, they say, not Main Street. It turned ugly this weekend when protesters marching through Lower Manhattan clashed with police. One man right there brought down forcefully by an officer. About 80 people were arrested, in fact. The protesters posted this video on the Internet.
NBC Nightly News aired a somewhat longer report the next day (9/26/11), with correspondent Ron Allen actually traveling downtown to the protest encampment in Liberty Plaza. His report included this "he said, she said": "The protesters charge that the police used excessive force. The police say that anyone who resists arrest can expect to encounter some level of force, but nothing excessive." The following morning's Today show (9/27/11) briefly aired footage of a police official pepper-spraying nonviolent demonstrators in the face, noting that "the NYPD calls the officer's actions appropriate."

Some journalists seemed strikingly reluctant to take videotaped evidence of police violence at face value. CNN anchor Ali Velshi (9/26/11) introduced footage of a police assault by dismissively saying that protesters were "now screaming abuse after they were arrested over the weekend." After the footage of a cop violently subduing a protester, co-anchor Carol Costello noted, "Of course, what you can't see is what came before the fight"--a disclaimer that could be made of every single piece of videotape that CNN runs.

A September 27 New York Times piece (FAIR Blog, 9/28/11) seemed to defend the police force's brutal response, with reporter Joseph Goldstein depicting a police department concerned about "terrorism" and the "destruction and violence" that supposedly accompany "anticapitalist demonstrations." Such police worries, according to Goldstein, "came up against a perhaps milder reality on Saturday, when their efforts to maintain crowd control suddenly escalated"--an oddly passive way to introduce the use of pepper spray and body slams against nonviolent demonstrators.

"Even as the members of Occupy Wall Street seem unorganized and, at times, uninformed, their continued presence creates a vexing problem for the Police Department," Goldstein wrote--though his acceptance of media myths about violent demonstrators (Extra!, 1-2/00, 3-4/00; FAIR Action Alert, 7/25/00) makes the reporter seem less informed than the protesters he patronizes.

Similar condescension was on display in another New York Times piece ("Gunning for Wall Street, With Faulty Aim," 9/25/11), with reporter Ginia Bellafonte deriding the "intellectual vacuum" of the protests, with "its apparent wish to pantomime progressivism rather than practice it." Bellafante described one protester as a "half-naked woman... with a marked likeness to Joni Mitchell and a seemingly even stronger wish to burrow through the space-time continuum and hunker down in 1968.
The Times did, however, print a column by Jim Dwyer (9/28/11) that grappled seriously with the police brutality on display in the videos of the march. "If a nightstick were substituted for pepper spray, a conventional weapon instead of an exotic one, the events on 12th Street would bear a strong resemblance to simple assault," Dwyer noted straightforwardly.
Perhaps the harshest critic of police violence in corporate media was MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell, who devoted a remarkable segment to the issue on September 26. Pointing to footage of police tackling a person carrying a video camera, O'Donnell noted:

The reason that man is being assaulted by the police is because of what he has in his hand. He's holding a professional grade video camera. Since the Rodney King beating was caught on an amateur video camera, American police officers have known video cameras are their worst enemy. They will do anything they can to stop you from legally videotaping how they handle their responsibility to serve and protect you.
Another outstanding moment in corporate media coverage was filmmaker Michael Moore's appearance on CNN (9/26/11). Host Piers Morgan gave Moore a rare opportunity to actually articulate some of the grievances that have prompted the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in the first place:

The main thing is, number one, is that the rich are getting away with a huge crime. Nobody has been arrested on Wall Street for the crash of 2008. They're not paying their fair share of the taxes. And now with the Citizens United case of the Supreme Court, they get to buy politicians up out in the open....
It all points to, are we going to live in a democracy that's run by the majority of the people, or are we going to be living in a kleptocracy, where the kleptomaniacs down on Wall Street, who have stolen people's pension funds, they've wrecked people's lives, millions have been thrown out of their homes, millions are without health insurance, millions have lost their jobs?
Still, as late as this week, some in the media establishment were continuing to debate whether the Occupy Wall Street protests were worth covering at all. NPR ombud Edward Schumacher-Matos devoted a column (9/26/11) to the network's decision not to air any reports on the demonstration:

We asked the newsroom to explain their editorial decision. Executive editor for news Dick Meyer came back: "The recent protests on Wall Street did not involve large numbers of people, prominent people, a great disruption or an especially clear objective."

The next day, the previously unimportant non-news was worth covering after all, as Schumacher-Matos wrote (9/27/11):
The Occupy Wall Street protests have persisted into this week, so the newsroom has decided to include a segment on tonight's All Things Considered.
FAIR thanks all media activists who wrote to news outlets and helped to change their minds about the newsworthiness of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. There's still a long way to go. 
What do we do? Stand up, fight back!
& JOIN #OccupyWallSt !
The wealthiest NY'ers are getting richer, while our schools are losing teachers, school employees, art, music, essential services, after-school programs, tutoring, guidance counselors...
It's TIME parents, students, teachers and community stand up to the big banks, corporations and millionaires that crashed our economy.

Join the Alliance for Quality Education, the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice, community groups, and unions (sponsors below) to ask Wall St. and the wealthiest NY'ers to pay their fair share.

=> 233 Broadway, at 4:30pm<=
Wednesday, October 5th
4,5,6 to Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall, 2,3 to Park Place, A, C, E to Chambers, R to City Hall
Others will meet at 250 Broadway & we will all march to Zuccotti Park

Let's march down to Wall Street to join protesters who have been there for weeks and show the media the face of New Yorker's hardest hit by corporate greed.

Sponsored by: United NY, Strong Economy for All Coalition, Working Families Party, VOCAL-NY, Community Voices Heard, Alliance for Quality Education, Coalition for Educational Justice, New York Communities for Change, Coalition for the Homeless, Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project, TWU Local 100, The Job Party
Click HERE to tell your friends about the march to occupy Wall St.

Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: And make sure to check out the side panel on right for news bits.

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