As Republicans wrapped their time at the Republican National Convention, protesters, including Occupy, also were ending their time in Tampa. Protesters seemed sad and disappointed at the small turnout, blaming it in part on the fears of Hurricane Issac. “I think the rain really discouraged a lot of people. We lost sixteen buses that were going to come down here”, one occupier named Mike remarked. ”I think we’ll have a lot more people in Charlotte.”
They also claimed to be upset that they were unable to have any dialogue with leaders at the RNC. One protester named Lash said, “I love that we have an anarchist forum here, and I really love us, but I hate that our forum can’t even talk with their conservative forum,” he said. “The police just silence us, the Republicans just silence us. We are just getting silenced everywhere we go. It’s like no one wants to even hear what we have to say.”
Occupiers had several marches over the time in Tampa, although they seemed mainly rambling and lacking in direction. At one point, on Monday, as they got stuck in the rain, they had an “Anarchy Dance”.
There were other protesters there as well, including the Dancing Vaginas of Code Pink and Vermin Supreme. Supreme, who is commonly dressed with a rubber boot on his head, runs for President every four years and has promised every voter a pony.
Citizen Journalist noted one protester there appeared to be Nkrumah Tinsley who seems to be one of the Occupiers making a career of traveling to all the various events in different parts of the country. Tinsley was arrested in NYC in November for threatening to “burn [Macy's] to the ground”. He was charged with a felony terroristic threat. See more on his case here. When asked about Tinsley in November, Occupiers disavowed him. Ed Needham, a spokesman for Occupy, said “We wouldn’t have anything to do with this guy. Certainly everything we do is centered around us being a peaceful and nonviolent movment”. But despite this statement, OWS coughed up $7,500 for his bail. He still seems to be in their company for someone disavowed. Somehow he also manages to have been at at the NATO protest in May.
Since most of the protesters have few funds and are bused in, it would be interesting to find out who is funding the buses and the ability of some of the occupiers to travel.
There was no major incident during the event. Prior to the start of the RNC, there had been bricks and pipes found on a roof of a building tagged with an Anonymous and Occupy graffitii. Two people were also arrested on another roof for carrying weapons including a bb gun and a knife. One man was arrested in the event zone for carrying a machete strapped to his leg. One man was arrested during the event for wearing a mask, which is against the law.
A Facebook post on the Occupy Tampa Facebook page has been burning up the social media lines.
According to Haaretz:
The cartoon, shown below, depicted a Jewish man with a big nose and large beard driving a car with the symbol of the United Nations as the wheel and U.S. President Barack Obama’s head as the stick shift.
On Holocaust Remembrance day, this cartoon was particularly offensive and engendered 400 comments in protest. ”Putting this on Holocaust day just makes it even more sickening than it already is,” one user said. ”This is an outrage. All OWS sympathizers must be disgusted by this vile act of hatred,” said another user. Despite the fact that most of the commentors were furious over the cartoon, 54 people “liked” the image.
Haaretz noted users who claimed the Occupy Tampa page was “not affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement”, that the movement has no official leadership so anyone can post under the “occupy” name. However, the Occupy Tampa Facebook page has more than 25,000 followers, and has been active since September 25, the beginning of the Occupy Wall Street protests.
All the occupations are technically “autonomous”, so each could disavow the other. Invariably, when there is a crime or something unpleasant done by an Occupier, the “official” word is that the actor is “not really an Occupier” or one cannot ascribe his actions to everyone else.
Much has been said about anti semitism in OWS already; it is usually met with “we cannot control what individual people say” or as with Occupy Tampa, it is not “official” part of OWS.
It is however important to understand there is a large anti-Israel component to OWS. For example, some of the founding boots on the ground for OWS – Code Pink, Worker’s World Party and Anonymous-all have made pro Palestinian, anti Israel pronouncements. While there is certainly a distinction that one can make between objecting to actions of a country-Israel-and being anti-semitic, these statements have sometimes crossed the line, and make one wonder.
In October in Melbourne, Occupy had a large protest, part of which marched on a mall against a chocolate shop owned by Jews, which Occupy said had somehow supported Israel. In the process of the march, one member ripped an Israeli flag out of the hands of a man silently protesting them on the side of the road.
In November, Occupy Boston, led by Code Pink and Communications Workers of America VP Dennis Trainor, led an “invasion” of the Israeli consulate in Boston. While short, the invasion chanted slogans such as, “Viva la Intifadah” and waved Palestinian flags.
Occupy DC protested the alleged influence of Israel by “Occupying AIPAC” during the AIPAC conference in March. This was posted in support by @Anon_Central, an anonymous twitter account that has also declared war on the US:
Historically, of course, pogroms against Jews would begin with cries against the evil “bankers” and their ability to control the world (translation: Jews controlling the world). So when the rhetoric is of the “evil banksters” controlling the world, it understandably makes some nervous.
Anonymous has actually declared war on Israel in the following video in quite virulent terms, vowing to destroy Israel in three steps:
When we asked @OccupyWallSt (as much of an “official” twitter account as you probably will get) about the above cartoon, they denounced it as hate speech, but did not respond when we asked if they would denounce Anonymous for declaring war in such terms on Israel. This declaration has taken the very real shape of online hacks against the Israeli government as well as hitting a variety of other Israeli websites, some with no relation to the government. However, that is just the “first step”. Anonymous promises two more steps, ”suprises” for Israel.
Anonymous has also computer attacked various law enforcement agencies in defense of Occupy for alleged police brutality against them. The FBI has arrested several Anonymous members recently for some of these actions.
When you demonize a group of people, to the point of making up names about them-the 1%, “banksters”, “vampire squids”-you create an environment in which such sentiments can flourish. Why do you not succeed? Nazis told the people it was the evil money grubbing Jews, Occupy Wall Street tells you it’s the evil “banksters”.
Occupy appears to believe in collective guilt of the imagined evil 1%, yet not in collective responsiblity of their members who commit offensive acts. In so doing they engage in dangerous, divisive and harmful rhetoric. People need to call it out for what it is, to put a stop to it.