Tuesday, October 11, 2011
After First General Assembly, Occupy New Jersey Decides to Launch Occupy Jersey City at Journal Square
By Adam Robb
Oct 11th, 2011
Monday’s first Occupy New Jersey general assembly at the Grove Street PATH plaza was more subdued and more productive than last week’s attempt at an occupation of the Goldman Sachs building at 30 Hudson Street, which brought out hundreds of police, private security, protestors, and media, and ended the same day with a brief march on City Hall. Yesterday’s gathering attracted none of the media and less than a dozen Jersey City and Port Authority police officers, who observed the 40 protesters from an area cordoned off between the PATH station entrance and farmers’ market.
There were no public statements, no orchestrated sign waving or proclamations from racing scooters. Instead it was an opportunity for the protestors to turn inward – but with total transparency in the public eye – and work out the logistics of implementing their agenda, the who, what, when, where and how; the why could wait.
In many ways it was a success.
The crowd expanded rather than contracted, benefiting from curious passersby waiting for a bus or exiting the train station. Charles O’Keefe, Sherry Johnson, and John Turlington ascended from the PATH on their return from Zuccotti Park, home of the Occupy Wall Street protest, shouting their support for the protesters and receiving applause in return as they crossed the plaza. The three Scotch Plains postal workers used their work holiday to lend their voice to the union workers at the park.
“I’m glad to see people coming out in droves like they are,” O’Keefe, a resident of South Plainfield, told us. “We didn’t support the bailout of Wall Street, but then all of a sudden Congress gave them all this money, and they’re up to the same old crap.”
“They want to privatize us,” O’Keefe said, listing his fears for the future of the postal service. “Cutting out Saturday service will hurt a lot of jobs. They want a part-time workforce with no benefits, to pay them minimum wage,” he added, describing the direction in which he already sees the postal service moving.
They shared their feelings with Alexander Waight as well. Waight, who created the @OccupyNJ Twitter feed which ultimately led to the Goldman Sachs protest, ran from his gathering as the postal workers passed by, engaging them in discussion, as the Cinnamon Snail truck attempted to back up past them, into the farmers’ market, and through the fleet of police patrol cars and trucks flanking the north side of Christopher Columbus, filling the bus stop and lining the sidewalk from Grove Street to Marin Boulevard.
Shortly after parking he tweeted his support to the protesters, offering them free organic fair trade coffee while they were gathered there.
Another observer, a retired local resident, stopping to lean on the gate as he listened to the gathering, supported their actions though admitted he was too old to protest.
“I save my fight for my disability check,” he said. He told us he couldn’t understand why the protesters chose to occupy Goldman Sachs or Grove Street. “They should be down in Journal Square where no one has a dollar in their pocket.”
A common theme among occupations around the country is how protesters see themselves as the 99% making their voices heard to the 1% who have the most wealth in the country. As the main goal of Monday’s meeting was to determine a meeting place, a majority of the debate focused on where the voice of the Occupy New Jersey protest could make the greatest impact.
“One of the advantages of Journal Square is that people there aren’t doing well economically,” one protester said. “There are cities without a 1%, where people have never met a one percenter in their life, but they are still occupying those cities.” Another noted how it offered greater potential for growing the movement fast and strong as they wouldn’t experience the apathy they faced Downtown at Grove Street and Exchange Place.
The debate, which shifted between occupying outside an army recruiting station to using Grove Street as a base of operations and protesting daily at different locations throughout town, ended with Kat Odenthal, a protester who led much of Monday’s meeting, taking a headcount. Twenty-six votes, the majority, raised their hands for a continuous occupation of Journal Square. Four votes went to Grove Street.
It was a decision that had the vocal support of Erik-Anders Nilsson, the founder of the Jersey City Peace Movement, who saw Journal Square as their best bet for a place to use the restroom at 3 am and which had accessible electric outlets for charging phones and laptops.
Then it was only a matter of when they would occupy.
The first suggestion was October 15, a day scheduled for a planned International Call to Action, but Odenthal disagreed.
“Personally, we should occupy as soon as we possibly can, and have a strong showing on the 15th, rather than occupy then and have people wandering by asking if this is the same occupation that didn’t work last time,” she said.
Another protester suggested they don’t wait any longer to act on their enthusiasm. “Let’s not waste the opportunity, let’s go to Journal Square after the meeting.”
The group then voted again, this time agreeing to hold their general assembly tonight, Tuesday at 7pm, at the Freedom Fountain at Journal Square. Then, after discussing the division of responsibilities, from media outreach to kitchen duty, and to create a new Facebook page specifically for the occupation of Jersey City, more than two dozen protestors decamped for Journal Square.
Waight set up the Occupy Jersey City Facebook group last night, and produced a video to explain the new direction deeper into town.
In the video, Waight revealed a particular drama from earlier in the afternoon that appeared in stark contrast to the majority vote the group easily made for a move to Journal Square.
“I had a person come up to me today saying that at the farmers’ market area, a lot of businesses that have the tents felt they didn’t want us there because of the cops being there, and they’re afraid it’s going to deter customers from wanting to step in that area because they think something bad is going to happen,” Waight spoke into the camera.
Unconvinced of this, he asked for signatures from the vendors indicating that sentiment, concerned it may have been one person’s tactic to get them to vacate what could have been an ideal occupation area. Only then did he add: “we did a consensus that people wanted to occupy Journal Square so that’s why we picked it.”
Video: Occupy Wall Street protesters speak out in Jersey City
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Following the example of the Occupy Wall Street movement, demonstrators took to the Grove Street PATH Station and later to Journal Square last night for what they said was a “general assembly” to plan their indefinite occupation of Journal Square.
“We’re really trying to influence people’s minds . . . we dream about having a world where everybody’s equal and working together. Well, let’s do it right now,” said Alexander, 24, a Newark-area resident who helped organize protesters both last night.
"The cops and the city of Jersey City are making it hard for everyone, not just to occupy but to express our opinion, our issues, our stand on what's happening in society right now," said Yves, an occupy New Jersey protester. "They're basically curtailing our rights to express what we feel are the burning issues of the day."
Occupy Wall Street Backs a Nationwide Boycott Against Banks
By: Cadie Thompson
Friday, 7 Oct 2011
In an effort to send a message to big banks, some organizers, who are supported by the protestors of the Occupy Wall Street movement, have organized an event to remove all funds from banks and into credit unions.
Organizers are calling the event "Bank Transfer Day" and are encouraging people nationwide to participate November 5.
The Facebook page for the event states the following:
"Together we can ensure that these banking institutions will ALWAYS remember the 5th of November!! If the 99% removes our funds from the major banking institutions on or by this date, we will send a clear message and give the 1% a taste of the fear that we experience every day when we aren't able to pay for our rent, food, medication, utilities, student loans, etc."
So far over 6,500 people have RSVP'ed for the event.
The participants of "Bank Transfer Day" take issue with the response of big banks' to the Durbin Amendment, which is an addition to the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that caps the debit interchange fees banks can charge merchants.
The organizers claim the banks will begin to charge their customers $3-$5 fees to off-set the money they will lose because of the interchange fee cap.
The event's Facebook page states:
WHY ARE WE BOYCOTTING?
The Durbin Amendment is an add-on to the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Public Law No. 111-203), signed into law by President Barack Obama on July 21, 2010. The Act allows the Federal Reserve to regulate debit card interchange fees of banks with over $10 billion in assets. Over the summer, the Fed released the final rule on the matter by limiting debit card interchange fees to a maximum of 21¢ per transaction. In response, these "major banks" have decided that beginning early 2012 any consumer with less than $20,000 in combined accounts will be charged a monthly $3-5 fee if they use their debit card at any point during the month. This is a blatant attack on the 99% that cannot & will not be tolerated. In a stand of solidarity, on November 5th we will transfer our money & close our accounts with these major banking institutions to take our business to credit unions (or local banks if a credit union isn't available). Since #OccupyWallStreet began, these banks are donating our money (and money they've made with our money) to law enforcement agencies to heap abuse on our brothers & sisters. NO LONGER.
Bank of America has already announced it will start to charge customers $5 a month for using their debit card starting next year.
100 Arrested at Occupy Boston Protest
By Kevin Dolak
Approximately 100 demonstrators gathered as part of the Occupy Boston protest were arrested early Tuesday when they moved into an area outside of the designated space, according to Boston police.
Police said that the protested moved from an area of Dewey Square to another section of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway near Pearl Street near downtown Boston. Officers say they repeatedly warned the protesters they would be arrested if they moved to the new section of the Greenway because they did not have permission to be there.
The protesters will likely be charged with trespassing, according to Boston Police, who added that for safety reasons they could not say how many officers were at the scene.
Since beginning the “Occupy Boston protests have not led to the violence or mass arrests similar to what was seen in New York last week, with police swinging batons and acting aggressively toward the protesters.
Still, the Occupy Boston organization insists police are being violent and dragging protesters away.
“Eye witness reports have come in stating that police dealt violently with members of Veterans for Peace who had come to support Occupy Boston. Other reports are still coming in regarding other instances of police brutality, but remain unconfirmed,” a posting on the group’s website said.
The Occupy Wall St. movement is now officially in its fifth week, and protests have spread to 150 U.S. cities and into parts of Europe. The Occupy Boston group began loosely organizing in late September and has scheduled several demonstrations and protests, and has planned assembly meetings every day throughout October.