Earlier today, the OWS Arts and Labor working group sent out a press release claiming the Whitney Museum was closing in support of OWS efforts to have a general strike on “May Day”, May 1.
The release claimed the Whitney was a ”wholly changed institution”, and that they had decided to break with their main corporate sponsors, Sotheby’s and Deutsche Bank. It also stated that the Whitney was going to “begin vetting each of its sponsors as part of an ongoing restructuring to respond to the needs of the public it serves instead of the private interests of a small minority who possess a vast majority of the nation’s wealth.”
See a full copy of the fake press release here:
The fake release didn’t fool many, as the Whitney is closed on Tuesdays, so it could not be open on May 1, in any event.
This is not the first ‘fake press release” or fake action precipitated by OWS. They have previously set up a fake Bank of America website, and also claimed that they had successfully lobbied a company to quit ALEC “the American Legislative Executive Council” (when it turned out the company had never belonged to ALEC).
OWS previous actions against museums and art institutions have included a violent confrontation with guards at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington DC and a protest of Sotheby’s in support of a workers’ union lobbying against the company. The protest against Sotheby’s even extended to actually invading a Danny Meyer restaurant in NYC, because Meyer was on the Board of Sotheby’s. According to OWS, Occupy Museums is “an ongoing protest that calls out corruption and injustice in institutions of art and culture” They claim that museums and art institutions are a ‘weapon of the 1%” and they reject using ‘art as a “financial instrument”. They plan on holding their own art fair outside the Frieze Art Fair in May, where “we will not use money but rather search for a value system that empowers everyone”.
It is rather ironic that OWS chastises the Whitney for having Deutsche Bank as a sponsor. Since their removal from Zuccotti Park in November of last year, OWS has held the majority of its meetings in the atrium lobby at 60 Wall Street-the Deutsche Bank building. So, in a very real sense, they indeed are “sponsored” by the Deutsche Bank.
Thought you might like to see some of the “New Propaganda for M1GS” that Occupy the Bay Area is putting out. ”M1GS” is an abbreviation for May 1 General Strike. If you think it was a play on “MIGS”, that was not unintentional, or without purpose. They want to do away with capitalism. And bosses. And work. In fact, they revolt for “a life worth living”. If you will not give them what they want, they are telling you that they will take it.
OWS has been casting around, trying to bring in more people. In so doing, they have tried to pull from anywhere they might collect people with a cause, from “Justice for Trayvon” to the “de-colonization” movement.
One indictment of OWS, which has had the sting of truth, is the overwhelming lack of diversity(translation-no appreciable number of POC) in what is a principally white young male driven effort, at least in so far as the boots on the ground.
As part of the May Day effort to get people out, OWS has been promoting the statement and efforts of the “May 1st Coalition”, which is basically an immigrants’ rights endeavor. OWS makes clear their rationale for doing so in this first paragraph:
This May Day, Occupy Wall Street is rising up in solidarity with the immigrant rights movement. Years before #OWS, May Day was revitalized in the U.S. as a day of mass mobilization against the unjust, racist U.S. immigration system. On May Day 2006, the May 1st Coalition helped organize the largest protest in NYC history, bringing hundreds of thousands of people to the streets in a march stretching over 26 city blocks. This year, as we gather as a unified front for economic justice in a Day Without the 99%, they are leading the struggle to UNIONIZE, LEGALIZE, and ORGANIZE.
OWS then promotes the following statement from the May 1st Coalition:
Dear Brothers and Sisters
We bring you excellent news and a message from the May 1st Coalition.
On this May 1st 2012, there will a unified celebration. We immigrants have united with the most important unions of New York, the working class along with Occupy Wall Street. This has come about after long and intense debates, at which point we concluded an agreement to realize a single act on May 1st in historic Unión Square.
This agreement and example of unity was proposed to all the delegates at the National Conference and to the peoples, States and Counties of this country.
Also, given the incapacity of Congress and its two chambers, the White House and the corrupt political system of the United States, we propose on May 1st to transform our multifaceted forms of organization and struggle into one center of PEOPLE’S POWER, consisting of union power, of social power, including those from the countryside, in the sweatshop factories, and throughout the poor neighborhoods, all as an alternative to capitalist and imperialist power.
We demand LEGALIZATION for the 12 and perhaps 20 million undocumented immigrants which will in turn allow the youth to pursue higher education. Furthermore, no youth should be obliged to enter the Armed Forces and sent to fight imperial wars.
In calling for legalization for all NOW, we are demanding an end to:
deportations immigration raids the fracturing of families We demand debt forgiveness on houses lost and the return of those houses and property of the 15 million families affected by the mortgage crisis brought on by the avarice of the Banks.
We demand immediate employment for the 40 million chronically unemployed, whose ranks are swelling by the prolonged crisis and recession of the capitalist system on an international level. We Occupy to Create People’s Power.
We demand immediate freedom to the thousands of immigrants currently being held prisoner in the jails and concentration camps. We want immediate closure to the Center of Torture and extermination in Guantanamo. MR. OBAMA, ENOUGH OF YOUR LIES AND DEMAGOGUERY. Stop the torture!
We demand a halt to all war preparations against Iran. No to the utilization of nuclear arms against civilian populations. The United States is not the COP of the world. Troops out of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and an end to all imperialist military bases around the world.
As always, we will fight for civil rights and the human rights for education, health and employment without discrimination of any type.
To our friends the people of Iran, we are always with you.
FRATERNAL GREETINGS TO ALL WOMEN WHO STRUGGLE. THEY ARE THE MOST BEAUTIFUL IN THE UNIVERSE.
It is only Revolution that will set us free. It is now time to CREATE, CREATE PEOPLE’S POWER IN THE BELLY OF THE BEAST OF IMPERIALISM.
We will see you on May 1st in Union Square
Occupy: May 1st Blockade Called For New York Bridges, Tunnels, and Ferries — Commuter Delays Expected
Occupy has been trying to ramp up and throw all efforts into their planned May 1 “general strike”.
We wrote of their desire to shut down the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on that date.
They are also trying to blockade transit into and out of New York City on that date, according to a post on their OccupyWallSt.org site:
MAY 1: NEW YORK BLOCKADE ANNOUNCEMENT
NEW YORK – On May 1, 2012, autonomous direct action groups within Occupy Wall Street, as a part of the global mobilizations for general strike and economic non-compliance, will block one or more Manhattan-bound bridges or tunnels to protest the shameful opulence of the 1%. Working and unemployed people across this country have seen no improvement to their lives in spite of all of the chatter about a recovery from the Financial Crisis of 2008. We don’t care what Obama or Romney say because only working people —domestic laborers, rank and file union members, undocumented workers, restaurant, retail and chain-store workers— can solve today’s problems.
Last fall, when Occupy Wall Street blocked the Brooklyn Bridge for several hours, we were acting within a long line of protest in New York City that stretches back to the so-called Fiscal Crisis of 1975, which much like now, was a bank led assault against working people. In the summer of 1975, striking hospital employees, including doctors and nurses, blocked the Brooklyn Bridge. The bridge was even blocked by thousands of laid-off police, the very people who act as the guard dogs of the 1%. More recently, both the Brooklyn Bridge and the Holland Tunnel were shut down during protests of the shooting death of Sean Bell. But this May 1, we will create the biggest shut down the city of New York has ever seen.
We are announcing these blockades now as a fair warning to the rest of the working people of New York and New Jersey who are considering joining the strikes and mobilizations of the day: the city will be shut down, so enjoy the day without the 99%!
Let’s do a little translation.
“Be the crisis” – get people into the streets, doesn’t matter how or why, but get them so we can galvanize them for action
“Autnomous direct action groups” – if anything happens we can disavow it as not an “officially approved” OWS action
“economic non compliance” – you haven’t done what we say (whatever that might be).
“protest the shameful opulence of the 1%” – if you’re rich, you’re evil, because it’s not fair.
“only working people —domestic laborers, rank and file union members, undocumented workers, restaurant, retail and chain-store workers— can solve today’s problems”
-the revolution has to proceed from the proletariat.
“guard dogs of the 1%” – watch those evil guard dogs in action brutally enforcing the dictates of the evil 1% against peaceful OWS protesters:
“the rest of the working people” -we really don’t care if we inconvenience you and any of those other people because what we have to say is much more important than anything you might be concerned with on that day.
So expectant moms trying to get to the hospital, stuff the baby back in and have it on another day. This is our day.
Update: Apparently not quite their day, they’ve allegedly called of the Golden Gate Bridge blockade, because the union isn’t behind the idea(translation: then there wouldn’t be enough people to do it).
Over the Palm Sunday weekend, Occupy San Francisco seized a building owned by the Catholic Archdiocese at 888 Turk .
Calling it the “San Francisco Commune”, about 75 people took over the building, causing thousands of dollars of damage, blockading it and forcing police to have to remove them.
More on the story here: http://citizenjournalistdotorg.wordpress.com/2012/04/07/its-ours-because-we-say-it-is/
Now, they’re at it again.
They have allegedly seized another Church property, noting on their website:
The SF COMMUNE arose from the ashes on Easter Sunday at an undisclosed Church owned property. Less than one week after the Archdiocese commanded SFPD to violently evict and arrest 75 folks from 888 TURK St., a new Collective Housing Community Center has been established. The SF Commune will not tolerate the systems that force 7,000-10,000 San Franciscan’s to remain homeless while over 30,000 housing units are wasting away vacant.
On MAY DAY, the SFC will open it’s doors and conduct another OPEN OCCUPATION in solidarity with the MAY 1ST GENERAL STRIKE. For the next three weeks, the new site will continue to thrive covertly, engaging in mutual aid and direct democracy, in preparation for May Day. The SFC has been initiated to provide a perpetual, autonomous headquarters for the Occupy SF movement.
They are asking for supplies for their “new commune”, the location of which they will formally announce on May 1.
Occupy SF, unlike some other cells, has no problem referring to their actions as “anti capitalist”, calling for all “radicals and anti capitalists” to come out to blockade Wells Fargo on April 24:
We heard from Sage about the “socializers” (anti capitalists) taking over(sage comment, that).
But while the “anti capitalists” have held sway over Occupy Wall St, others have since the beginning been trying to co-opt it.
The drama behind the scenes with all this would make old 80s soap operas look sophisticated by comparison.
Charles Young, who has been involved with Occupy, tells of attending the “99% Spring” training session organized by Move On.org and having the sudden revelation that it was run by the Democrats:
With hindsight gained by googling “MoveOn” and “co-opt” after the fact, I can’t claim that nobody tried to warn me. Many websites with left and even liberal politics had said in so many words, “Be wary of this organization called The 99% Spring. It is a Trojan horse for the Democrats.” I just didn’t read that anywhere in a timely fashion. I’ve had a lot of stuff on my plate lately. That’s my excuse. And in my ignorance, I responded to some spam about “nonviolent direct action training” organized by MoveOn and got invited to this 99% Spring thing on April 10 at the Goddard Riverside Community Center in Manhattan. Somebody even called me all the way from San Francisco to make sure I was a sincere seeker on the left and would be attending, along with 120,000 others in training sessions around the country.
Which I did. The meeting was a few blocks from where I live. The spam said it was “inspired by Occupy Wall Street.” I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I was vaguely hoping that whatever The 99% Spring was, it would start a chapter of Occupy Wall Street on the Upper West Side, conveniently near my abode, and agitate for the Democrats and MoveOn to move left.
The first clue that my evening might go otherwise was the sign-up table, where there were a bunch of Obama buttons for sale and one sign-up sheet for the oddly named Community Free Democrats (are they free of community?), which is the local Democratic clubhouse. That killed the “inspired by Occupy Wall Street” vibe right there. No piles of literature from a zillion different groups, as there had been in Zuccotti Park. No animated arguments among Marxists, anarchists, progressives, punks, engaged Buddhists, anti-war libertarians and what have you. Just Obama buttons, which didn’t appear to be selling.
A large man with long wavy hair combed back started the presentation with a stirring call for…the meeting to be off the record. He didn’t want any stories that would violate anyone’s privacy, and if there were any lurking journalists, they weren’t allowed to use any names and they must see him afterwards for further instruction on the ground rules. This struck an even more dysphoric note with the crowd than the Obama buttons.
WTF thought #1: This was a public event ostensibly to convince members of the public to engage in behavior that challenged the legitimacy of government authority in public and might cause angry police to beat the public crap out of them. Why would anyone risk that without trying to get publicity for their cause? Nonviolent direct action that no one knows about is like jerking off. It might make you feel better, but you’re not changing the world.
Notice Charles in his disturbance, says something quite striking here. The purpose of Occupy is not bailouts, money in politics or whatever was the initial “get” used to draw people. The purpose is to challenge the legitimacy of government authority. Get people in the streets, whatever the issue. Wall St, war, racism, Trayvon, autism, mental illness. Plumb the ranks of people who have an issue and try to bring them to the cause. Once you get them, then you can shape them through training: by marching and chanting together, you build a contingent that will do things that would not have done before.
But I digress, Charles was just discovering that someone else was working him:
WTF thought #5: The name of the large man with the wavy hair was Marc Landis. He is a District Leader for the Democrats, who were paying for use of the meeting room. He is running for City Council. According to his law firm’s website his areas of experience are: “Real Estate, Banking & Finance, Corporate & Business Law, Securities & Private Placement, Fund Formation & Investment Management Group…” His Facebook page, which is geared for his City Council campaign, makes it sound like his specialty is pro bono community work. I don’t know. He might be a nice guy, but it doesn’t take a lot of intuition to wonder if he’s really been finding a lot of inspiration in Occupy Wall Street. He’s a corporate lawyer. I can think of no reason for him to demand that the meeting be off the record other than he and his party don’t want to be publicly associated with anything radical, even it’s a pseudo-radical front group meant to steer people away from the truly radical Occupy Wall Street and into pointless activities that don’t embarrass Obama.
Next they showed a video that invited us “to tell our story” so that The 99% Spring could post us online along with hundreds of other people who had been foreclosed, bankrupted, lost their medical insurance or whatever. It appeared they all wanted to raise taxes, so that the rich would “pay their fair share.”
It was sanctimonious. It was supplicating before power. The audience looked like it wanted to puke.
And I said that the other thing I liked was that it was to the left of the Democratic Party and was pushing it from outside. There had been some mention of “the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act during the 90s” and I pointed out that it was Bill Clinton, a Democrat, who deregulated Wall Street.
“Excuse me,” said Landis. “We have a limited amount of time and a lot to discuss. We need to let everyone speak.”
I’ve thought about that a lot. I don’t believe I spoke for more than a minute, but I habitually obey the rules in a group, so I shut up. In retrospect, I was censored. I should have demanded a discussion of the true purpose of The 99% Spring and why Obama’s Department of Homeland Security orchestrated the violent destruction of hundreds of nonviolent Occupy camps around the country last fall.
As it was, we finished going around the circle. Everyone was a teacher or writer or connected with the labor movement. Wisconsin came up a few times. Landis asked what kind of a world we wanted to see. Someone said, “Socialism” and Landis said the topic for discussion was now how to plan for a “hypothetical direct action.” Every time somebody brought up something that was actually happening, Landis insisted that our agenda was set and we were only discussing hypothetical situations. So we talked about hypothetically withdrawing money from a hypothetical evil bank, or hypothetically stopping the hypothetical fracking in the Catskills that is going to poison New York City’s hypothetical drinking water.
“I heard that Occupy Wall Street was calling for a general strike. They’re planning actions all around midtown and they’re saying that nobody should go to work that day.”
“I don’t know anything about that,” said Landis. “We’re talking about hypothetical situations here.”
And so it went from 6:30 to 9:30 last Tuesday night. Over half the crowd left early. Most of those who stayed appeared to be angry and mystified that they had received no training whatever in nonviolent direct action.
Charles got a lesson, but not exactly the lesson he was expecting. Had he been more aware he would have recognized it in the nature of the organizations and people that were already running actions at Occupy Wall Street. New York Communities for Change and the Working Families Party have been and are actively involved in Occupy. They are the reconstituted ACORN which has close ties to Obama. http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/224610/inside-obamas-acorn/stanley-kurtz . MoveOn and Code Pink have also been involved, Code Pink since the beginning as one of the founding groups of Occupy, along with the Workers World Party and Anonymous.
As much as Charles believes he fled the co-option upon recognizing it, he still hasn’t quite figured it all out.
(The rest of Charles Young’s post may be read here: http://www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/1126)