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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Occupy Wall Street-New Haven CT

From the New Haven Independent

1,000 Launch New Haven’s “Occupation”

BY Thomas MacMillan | OCT 15, 2011
After marching around the center of New Haven, demonstrators allied with the national “Occupy Wall Street” movement gathered on the Green to form a self-governing colony by chanting and singing—and wiggling their fingers in the air.
Finger-wiggling, a sign of agreement, was one of a handful of gestures used by participants at Occupy New Haven, a local branch of the free-form protest movement that is spreading widely from its genesis at Occupy Wall Street in New York City.
The phenomenon is harnessing an outpouring of public sentiment against wealth inequality, corporate power in politics, and economic bailouts for big banks.
The movement took root in New Haven Saturday via the demonstrators who marched around the Green before gathering to establish an “occupation” of indefinite length. Using hand gestures and a crowd-sourced amplification technique of shouting in unison, the protestors held a “general assembly.”
They announced the establishment of 13 different committees, including panels covering sanitation, “direct action,” and sustainability. The occupiers decided to hold at least two assemblies per week, and set up tents and systems for dispersing food and warm clothes to participants.
They were the actions of people who intend to set up camp for quite some time. Todd Sanders, a 20-year-old sophomore at Southern Connecticut State University who helped lead the general assembly, said he plans to occupy the Green for as long as he can. Although he has an apartment in town, he’ll be spending his nights in one of the half-dozen tents pitched under trees in the upper Green, near the corner of Elm and College streets.
Saturday night an estimated 200 or so people were settling in for the first night’s sleep. Police reported no problems.
New Haven’s occupation kicked off at noon with a large march around the Green. Hundreds of all ages turned out for the occasion, sporting signs like “We Are The 99%,” referring to the majority of people not among the wealthiest 1 percent of the population. 
Just past noon, they began to march. Starting at the corner of Elm and College, marchers filled the sidewalk and headed east. The march was so big that as the head of the procession reached Elm and Church, people were just beginning to take up the rear two blocks away.
Mayoral candidate Jeffrey Kerekes and his dog joined the march.
The march headed south, in front of City Hall, then took a right. At the corner of Temple and Chapel, marchers passed hot dog vendor Mike Hardin, who said he hoped to sell some cold drinks.
“Ice cold Snapple!” shouted a marcher.
“Snapple’s not a good company, though. They’re very right-wing!” countered another.
“But it tastes good,” the first marcher replied.

The march took another right and went up one side of Temple and down the other. The chants were pointed: “Banks got bailed out! We got sold out!”
When the protesters got back to the corner of Elm and Church, they took a second, smaller lap, and the chants morphed into songs, led in part by Pastor Scott Marks (at right in photo).
“Nice day for a walk,” said Lt. Rebecca Sweeney, downtown’s top cop, who was heading up a detail of 11 cops assigned to the event.
As the march wound its way back towards the starting point, it was joined by a small counter-protest of about a dozen young Republicans. “What do we want? We don’t know! When do we want it? Whenever!” they chanted, mocking the amorphous nature of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
“A protest without a point is an aimless mob,” said Yale student Michael Knowles (at left in photo), the group’s leader. He said the counter-protesters are all college Republicans from Fairfield, Quinnipiac and Yale universities. The counter-protest was an attempt to highlight the “incoherence” of the Occupy Wall Street movement, he said, which “doesn’t do anything to effect change.”
Marchers gathered around a park bench, near a handful of tents. Protest “facilitators” introduced the concept of a “mic check,” in which the crowd echoes short statements by a speaker—sort of crowd-sourced public-address system.
As they waited for a “general assembly” to begin, Shamayah Grant said she had come out because “I have a child to take care of and I need health care and I don’t think I should have to pay a lot for it.” She held her 8-month-old daughter, Sa’Rye, in her arms.
Facilitators stood on a bench and kicked off the general assembly with an explanation of hand signals, followed by general announcements, interrupted once or twice by a man drinking a can of Natural Light. “You’re on my bench! I sleep on that bench every night!”
Announcements were followed by “Proposals,” of which there was only one: that a general assembly be held every Sunday and Wednesday.
“Temperature check!” called out Sanders, to gauge the crowd’s opinion on the proposal. Hundreds of waggling fingers went up in the air.
Despite the obviously political nature of the event, most of the general assembly was devoted to matters of logistics and the sharing of information. It was only during the “Soapbox” portion of the event that ideologies emerged. One man took the bench to call for an end to all political lobbying, corporate tax breaks, political action committees, and political donations. Pastor Marks tied the movement to the recent sweep of aldermanic elections by union-backed candidates. A man decried outsized CEO salaries; others called for people to pull their savings out of large banks and put them in credit unions.
As the meeting broke up, facilitator Martina Crouch announced the formation of 13 committees covering everything from sanitation to outreach to medical needs and food.
At the “Comfort” station, clothing donations were already accumulating. They were later put into plastic bags and placed under a canopy donated by the Devil’s Gear bike shop.
Chabaso Bakery donated boxes of bread.
The hundreds of people eventually filtered away, leaving the occupiers who plan to spend the night and the coming days operating as a self-governing outpost on the Green.
Previous Occupy Wall Street/ New Haven coverage:


Celebrities That Have Visited Occupy Wall Street


Updated: Thursday, 20 Oct 2011, 9:45 AM CDT
Published : Thursday, 20 Oct 2011, 9:38 AM CDT
(EndPlay Staff Reports) - Count writer and activist Naomi Wolf among the thousands of protesters howling about financial reform during the ongoing Occupy Wall Street campaign in New York City.
According to reports from The New York Post , the Huffington Post contributor and social critic was arrested Tuesday evening after leaving the Huff Po's annual Game Changers Awards, which she attended as a guest. Apparently, she was arrested with about 50 protesters who were infringing on the ceremony and crowding a sidewalk which Huffington Post had a permit to occupy.
Reports suggest that protesters were contesting the fact that New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was honored at the event as the Game Changer of the Year.
Wolf wrote on her Facebook page that when she was arrested, she was "standing completely still and speaking very calmly to the officer, on a sidewalk that the permit specified protesters could march if they did not obstruct foot traffic which they were not; they were in single file and there was about twelve feet on either side of them/us."
She was charged with disorderly conduct, according to reports.
Wolf isn't the only celebrity who has made an appearance with the Occupy Wall Street protesters. Actor Alec Baldwin joined arms with the activists Wednesday night.
"One thing I would like to see is all student loans forgiven," Baldwin told The New York Daily News .
Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Michael Moore, Penn Badgley, Yoko Ono and Salmon Rushdie have also been spotted among the protesters camped out at Zuccotti Park.
Actor and comedian Mike Meyers has also joined forces with the activists. He told the Daily News that, "I hope that the system changes towards inclusion and that's it."
Musicians including Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, Jay-Z and Ted Leo have also made appearances with the Occupy Wall Street protesters.
Ironically, many of the famous faces joining the group who's slogan clearly states, "We are the 99 percent," are among the richest 1 percent.
According to information from Celebrity Net Worth , Yoko Ono has a net worth of $500 million; Kanye West is worth approximately $70 million; and actor Tim Robbins has a net worth of nearly $50 million.