fresh voices from the front lines of change







U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone used to say "sometimes you have to pick a fight to win one."

Now Occupy Wall Street has picked one, right in Jamie Dimon's backyard.

But it won’t stay contained in Zuccotti Park. While Brookfield Properties called the park a "public sanctuary" in 2005, they have apparently changed their minds. Mr. Zuccotti wants his park back and the police may be preparing to clear it with new rules barring camping, sleeping and breathing.

They are too late. The train has left the station and the Occupation is on the move. From Manhattan to Hawaii big bank protests are planned. Everyone who cares about creating an economy that works for working people should get on board. See list below.

“We are the 99%”

As the Occupation of Wall Street enters its third week, the group has been criticized by the media as not having a coherent message, as if a PR firm was a precursor to membership in our democracy. But from out here in Wisconsin, their message rings clear and true. The 99% percent has been shafted, our economic system is broken, and we need an economy that works for all.

The hopeful nature of the message, that change is possible when the monied elite have a stranglehold on our economy and our democracy, is itself remarkable and revolutionary. Too many Americans are ground down by opaque forces and feel powerless to change anything.

Messages like this one on the Occupy website resonate: "On September 27th, 2011, we marched on the Financial District's Luxury Night Out, where couples wore outfits that cost more than we will ever make in a month and looked at cars that cost more than we will ever make in a year, afterward, they went back to one of their many houses that cost more than we will make in our lifetime."

But for those who need a concrete list of demands, a working draft was produced though a consensus process on September 29.

Lesson from Wisconsin: Pizza and Pizzazz

As someone who participated in the Seattle 1999 WTO protests and in the WI uprising, I offer a few observations as the “American Autumn” gets underway. The Occupiers have already learned a key lesson of Wisconsin, the physical occupation of a space can’t be beat. When folks are sleeping, eating and strategizing together, a lot of quality communication and consensus building gets done fast. New alliances can be forged. And quality pizza can be delivered from supporters across America.

Another important lesson from Wisconsin, don't forget to put the classy in class warfare. We learned that fun is essential to turning out large crowds. Only in a safe peaceful space will your supporters feel comfortable bringing kids and grandma, and your numbers can grow day by day, week by week. If the police give you trouble, as they have in NYC, try not to rise to the bait.

Lessons from Seattle: Big City Police Are Not Your Friend

Although Wisconsin protesters were able to forge solid relationships with police and firefighters who saw they were next in the collective bargaining firing line, this was a rare occurrence. Police in big cities, whose entire careers have been spent protecting private property, will not be your friend.

This weekend, there were 700 arrests in Manhattan as occupiers took to the streets stopping traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge. Protesters charge that the police encouraged the march as a way of emptying the park and rounding up a large number of protesters and their leadership. This video shows police leading protesters onto an on ramp on the Brooklyn Bridge where they were later corralled and carted away. Over the weekend news broke that the New York Police Foundation received an unprecedented $4.6 million from JP Morgan Chase. “These officers put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe," chirped Chase CEO Jamie Dimon.

Protesters from the global justice movement, which staged the successful 1999 WTO protests in Settle and forced the end of the “Millennium Round” of global trade negotiations, can give you some advice based on subsequent battles. Police will infiltrate you by the dozens. They will identify and arrest your leaders without cause and hold them for as long as it takes.They will lure groups of you away for the sole purpose of corralling you and arresting you.

Stay calm and protest on.

Find a Protest Near You

A season of “Pay U.S. Back!” actions are planned for October under the banner of the "New Bottom Line" coalition, which is demanding an end to the foreclosure crisis and a financial speculation tax on the big banks. Find updates here.

Plus, the Occupation is spreading fast, you can find updates on many of the actions listed below here.

In San Francisco, hundreds of protesters took to the streets targeting Bank of America, Charles Schwab and Wells Fargo.

In Seattle, hundreds of people shut down a Chase bank branch and 11 were arrested.

In Suncaidia, the Washington Community Action Network infiltrated the annual policy summit of Association of Washington Business, sponsored by Chase bank.

In Boston, 3,000 marched on Foreclosure King, Bank of America, to present their demands to stop foreclosures.

In New York, Occupy Wall Street, Move On and organized labor are joining forces for a major march planned for Wednesday, October 5.

Occupy LA is underway at City Hall.

Occupy Chicago is underway at the Federal Reserve bank.

Occupy DC starts on October 6 in Freedom Plaza.

Refund California is planning a “home visit to a Wall Street executive" October 4 in Los Angles.

Chicago is planning a Pay US Back Action October 9.

Minneapolis is planning a Pay US Back Action October 10.

New York City is planning a Pay US Back Action October 11.

Occupy Milwaukee starts October 15.

Denver is planning a Pay US Back Action October 25.

Honolulu is planning a Pay US Back Action November 5.

Keep us posted on the actions planned for your neighborhood on Facebook and Twitter.

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