A Week’s Worth of Occupy Wall Street

I’ve not commented on Occupy Wall Street because there has been no shortage of coverage, and WitnessLA’s focus has been elsewhere.
However, after the events of this week—in particular Tuesday’ night’s Occupy Oakland situation—it seemed a bit nuts not to spend some time on the 99 percent movement.

On Thursday in California, the OWS news was moving quickly: Talk of a general strike was floated. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan apologized via video—albeit, awfully late, and not very eloquently. After, a scary 36 hours, word was released that Iraq war Marine Scott Olson—who was life-threateningly injured by some kind of allegedly police fired projectile Tuesday night in Oakland—would likely make a total recovery.

Then Friday morning, the LA Times editorial board advised Occupy LA that soon it should stop occupying LA—or LA’s City Hall, in any case:

....It would be best for everybody, including the demonstrators, if the impasse could be resolved without resorting to police in riot gear. Another location for the protest should be found, and if the participants are organized enough to put out a joint statement, they’re organized enough to negotiate a peaceful departure.

(Yeah. Good luck with that one.)

To catch you up on the rest of the week, I’ve gathered a shortlist of OWS news and commentary that you might have missed.


Slate’s whip smart legal writer, Dahlia Lathwick rants satisfyingly about the TV pundits increasingly weak attempts to dismiss Occupy Wall Street.

Here are some clips:

I confess to being driven insane this past month by the spectacle of television pundits professing to be baffled by the meaning of Occupy Wall Street. Good grief. Isn’t the ability to read still a job requirement for a career in journalism? And as last week’s inane “What Do They Want?” meme morphs into this week’s craven “They Want Your Stuff” meme, I feel it’s time to explain something: Occupy Wall Street may not have laid out all of its demands in a perfectly cogent one-sentence bumper sticker for you, Mr. Pundit, but it knows precisely what it doesn’t want. It doesn’t want you.

What the movement clearly doesn’t want is to have to explain itself through corporate television. To which I answer, Hallelujah. You can’t talk down to a movement that won’t talk back to you.


Think, for just a moment, about the irony. We are the most media-saturated 24-hour-cable-soaked culture in the world, and yet around the country, on Facebook and at protests, people are holding up cardboard signs, the way protesters in ancient Sumeria might have done when demonstrating against a rise in the price of figs. And why is that? Because they very wisely don’t trust television cameras and microphones to get it right anymore. Because a media constructed around the illusion of false equivalencies, screaming pundits, and manufactured crises fails to capture who we are and what we value.


It must be painful for the pundits at Fox News. The more they demand that OWS explain itself in simple, Fox-like terms, the more cheerfully they are ignored by the occupiers around the country. As efforts to ridicule the protesters fail, attempts to repurpose the good old days of enemies lists falter; and efforts to demonize the occupiers backfire, polls continue to show that Americans support the protesters and share their goals. The rest of us quickly cottoned on to the fact that the only people who are scared of the “violent mobs” at Occupy Wall Street are the people being paid to call them violent mobs.

Interestingly, Russia Today, which has been doing cogent reporting on the protests, has no trouble getting it.


For those of you who, like me, sadly missed this moment, Rolling Stone describes it. (Morello didn’t sing for the crowd, but did hand out 175 free tickets for his show at the Troubadour.)


Late Tuesday night, after a nearly six-hour marathon meeting, the normally hyper-controlling Irvine City Council voted unanimously to let the Occupy group camp in front of Irvine’s city hall for an extended period—and, by all accounts, seemed pleased about doing so. The mayor even rather solicitously offered to gather blankets for the Occupyers.

Here’s a clip from the report at Occupy OC.

The council members each spoke in turn to the civility, articulateness and peaceful process represented by the Irvine Occupation at contrast with the
several other Occupational Villages in California, which were, at that
very moment being tear-gassed. The general sentiment being: “This is quite
clearly the model. And the occupation most in tune with city needs.”

One councilman stated clearly, “I disagree with most of what you’re
But you’ve clearly shown that this is an issue of free speech. So
if you need to sleep on our lawn… by all means… sleep on our lawn.”

It’s not 100 percent clear how long the Council’s welcome mat will be out, but for the moment, the coming together of the two groups is weirdly heartening.


After Marine Scott Olson, who served two tours of duty in Iraq, was hit in the head and critically injured allegedly by a police-fired tear gas canister in Oakland Tuesday night, a fellow Marine who signed in as aburger, posted his commentary in photo form on Reddit, and Marines and others streamed in to respond.

When I last looked, the comments were at around 1800 and climbing.

Here are a couple of examples:

Semper Fi. This event, on top of the unprovoked attacks on non-violent protesters, is a game-changer. I look at my local news here in NC, and absolutely no mention of this. There should be outrage, and immediate reaction from civil authorities. While a civil suit is inadequate to address the situation in SF, I hope one is filed immediately in order to assign some accountability to those involved.

long time reddit lurker here…and 3x army veteran who was privileged to be attached to the 1st Marine Division during the invasion of Iraq. This incident really spooked me…gave me “that” feeling, you guys know what I’m talking about.

But this picture, aburger, it sent shivers down my spine. There is so much pain and betrayal in those eyes…and so much power. I have seen an angry Marine NCO before, I know those eyes. Thank you for sharing with us; you are not alone, he is not just a Marine brother- he is a brother of all of us veterans.


Tina Dupuy has an interesting commentary about how Americans see themselves. and why OWS is resonating.

Here’s the heart of it:

There’s a bastardized quote attributed to John Steinbeck that says socialism never took root in America because we all think we’re just temporarily embarrassed millionaires. The actual quote, which Steinbeck wrote in America and Americans, is more pointed, “I guess the trouble was that we didn’t have any self-admitted proletarians. Everyone was a temporarily embarrassed capitalist.”

We’re not really a culture of delusional dreamers who all believe someday we will be wealthy. There are some, sure. Their escapist fantasy involves a windfall and a secluded island. There are also those who (still) actually become rich. But for the vast majority of Americans — the myth is less we are going to be rich — the myth which led us to the extreme wealth distribution debacle we’re now in — is that we’re all homesteaders.

You don’t have to grow your own food, build your own house or “paint your own wagon” To believe you could if you really wanted to. And really, did in some indirect way.

We’re a society full of pioneers, pilgrims and immigrants.


So when things don’t go our way, we don’t blame outside factors. When we fail, we don’t see that the game is fixed. We tug at our bootstraps and feel anguish at our own deficiencies.

The reason why Occupy Wall Street is resonating still with Americans is because there are those who’ve been living with shame for what they see as not being self-sufficient…enough.


Occupy Wall Street is letting people who’ve been in the shadows know that they’re not alone and they didn’t cause this. It’s something Americans at their core don’t usually believe….

1 Comment

  • As I’ve mentioned on my own blog, I work right across the street from Zucotti Park. I walk by it on my way to and from work as well during lunch. i have yet to see anything untoward taking place. I have never been yelled at, harassed or otherwise annoyed but what’s taking place there.

    That doesn’t surprise me, but it should be noted.

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