No One Famous Ever Came From Here: Joe Paterno in State College

No One Famous Ever Came From Here: Joe Paterno in State College

Novem­ber 8, 2011. I was shoot­ing pool at State College’s best dive bar when the bouncer came run­ning in, his face flushed with excite­ment. Accord­ing to TV news, he told us, the Penn State Board of Trustees had just fired foot­ball coach Joe Paterno. Though Paterno had already declared his inten­tion to retire at the end of the sea­son, after alle­ga­tions that he had con­doned an ongo­ing pat­tern of child molesta­tion by assis­tant coach Jerry San­dusky, the trustees decided they couldn’t wait. Paterno would not be coach­ing that Saturday’s home game.

A House Is a Home (with the help of bolt cutters): on occupation and its potentialities

A House Is a Home (with the help of bolt cutters): on occupation and its potentialities

Occupy-related protests have steadily increased in num­ber and mil­i­tancy, and so has the result­ing police repres­sion. This has only made it more urgent to to iden­tify and under­stand recent impor­tant steps in the trans­for­ma­tion of the move­ment. These steps were most vis­i­ble in the gen­eral strike in Oak­land, and the later occu­pa­tion of the Traveller’s Aid build­ing, and they have begun to expand through­out the coun­try.

Occupy Franklin and Never Give it Back

Occupy Franklin and Never Give it Back

A week ago, may­ors across the coun­try, work­ing with shad­owy law enforce­ment orga­ni­za­tions, coor­di­nated a crack­down on the occu­pa­tions in their respec­tive cities. Wash­ing­ton DC’s own occu­pa­tion was untouched. As cops cleared parks and trashed tents and famil­iar cities made it into the head­li­nes – Den­ver, Oak­land, Man­hat­tan – DC, yet again over­looked, felt like it hadn’t been asked to the dance. My feel­ings were com­pounded when a few days later, on Novem­ber 17 – a day of action in response to the crack­down, with thou­sands march­ing on Wall Street – Occupy DC marched in sup­port of a jobs bill with the SEIU, who that day had endorsed Obama for pres­i­dent. As police beat jour­nal­ists in New York, DC pro­tes­tors tweeted pho­tos stand­ing with arms around cops, wav­ing. As 30,000 peo­ple took over the Brook­lyn Bridge, Occupy DC boasted of barely imped­ing the flow of rush-hour traf­fic over the Key Bridge in George­town.

Strike, Take Over, Occupy Everything! The Story of the Bank of America 95

Strike, Take Over, Occupy Everything! The Story of the Bank of America 95

Get­ting arrested, at least in my case, was slow and phys­i­cally drain­ing. Before con­tin­u­ing, I should note that I draw no anal­ogy between my expe­ri­ence of polit­i­cal arrest and the con­stant harass­ment and deten­tion that accom­pany life on the mar­gins. I am not one of the men­tally ill who are removed from pub­lic sight to make com­merce safe; one of the drug addicts who some­times pound their heads against the paddy wagon walls until blood flows; one of undoc­u­mented immi­grants who now pop­u­late bank-owned, for-profit pris­ons; or one of those who attract the police because of the color of their skin. I was also not beaten by the police or held with­out charges. Arrest for polit­i­cal offense, in my case, meant sit­ting for a long time in Bank of Amer­ica on Novem­ber 16, hav­ing ABC Live lit­er­ally watch my back, and wait­ing in a cold seat in an impro­vised pen for two hours. That day-after sore­ness from hav­ing my hands cuffed behind my back was my biggest phys­i­cal or emo­tional com­plaint tes­ti­fies to this dif­fer­ence.

Phase Two: Occupy Wall Street on November 17

Phase Two: Occupy Wall Street on November 17

Even if it were to dis­ap­pear tomor­row, Occupy Wall Street would have already scored a mas­sive vic­tory. It has fun­da­men­tally altered one of the dom­i­nant nar­ra­tives that under­lies the major­ity polit­i­cal and eco­nomic thought in this coun­try: that as much as Amer­i­cans might be dis­sat­is­fied with politi­cians, they have no real com­plaint with inequal­ity, or the eco­nomic sys­tem that makes it pos­si­ble and per­pet­u­ates it – namely cap­i­tal­ism. Occupy Wall Street rup­tured this nar­ra­tive through the occu­pa­tions and mas­sive pop­u­lar sup­port. Before Sep­tem­ber the sen­tence, “Amer­i­cans are dis­sat­is­fied with social inequal­ity” would have been debat­able to say the least, per­tain­ing only to a small fac­tion of left­ists and aca­d­e­mics. Now it can be stated as fact, a fact that the exist­ing forces and pow­ers do not know what to say about.

Occupy Philly is Dead! Long Live Occupy Philly!

Occupy Philly is Dead! Long Live Occupy Philly!

The emer­gency ses­sion of the Occupy Philly Gen­eral Assem­bly this past Thurs­day decided, at around 10PM, to imme­di­ately move from Dil­worth Plaza, where Occupy Philly is cur­rently grounded, to Thomas Paine Plaza. When the pro­posal passed, every­one broke into smaller groups, rushed to grab what­ever was around, and began mov­ing to the other side of the street. Soon after, the police arrived, con­fu­sion descended, and, not hav­ing decided on any plan ahead of time, we spon­ta­neously broke into three groups: the first regrouped back at Dil­worth, the sec­ond was left at Thomas Paine, and the third decided to storm City Hall. At the end of it all, we were forced to aban­don our objec­tive, with­draw back to the orig­i­nal encamp­ment, and rethink the whole affair.

The Night in Which All Cows Are White

The Night in Which All Cows Are White

Philadel­phia has a large pop­u­la­tion of black, dis­af­fected youth. It also has a black mayor. But when some of these young peo­ple began to spon­ta­neously protest the obscene level of urban seg­re­ga­tion and sys­tem­atic poverty of the city with “flash mobs,” it was Mayor Michael Nut­ter who launched the coun­ter-attack, impos­ing the dis­ci­pli­nary mea­sure of an ear­lier cur­few in wealthy white areas. Cur­fews, as George Cic­cariello-Maher points out, “have his­tor­i­cally served as a racist weapon for the con­tain­ment of Black bod­ies” – but Nut­ter him­self made the point by accom­pa­ny­ing this mea­sure with an ide­o­log­i­cal assault on black Philadel­phi­ans in gen­eral.

All Power to the General Assemblies? Or, the Strange Case of Take Artists Space

All Power to the General Assemblies? Or, the Strange Case of Take Artists Space

After the raid on Zuc­cotti Park early this morn­ing, what remains of Occupy Wall Street? The library was destroyed and thrown in the garbage; the kitchen and com­mune that fed and housed hun­dreds now gone. But what about the gen­eral assem­bly? The police vio­lence demon­strates that the rel­e­vance of Occupy Wall Street as a polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion is by no means in its attempts, fail­ures and very real suc­cesses at direct democ­racy. It is instead a ques­tion: what is beyond democ­racy in the spirit of Occupy Wall Street?

Is the Party Over?

Is the Party Over?

The occu­pa­tions move­ment is highly struc­tured, and this struc­ture is a focal point for polit­i­cal debates. Deci­sions are made by the gen­eral assem­bly (GA) through a process of demo­c­ra­tic delib­er­a­tion; it also serves as the basis for the del­e­ga­tion respon­si­bil­i­ties and tasks, which are required both to keep peo­ple par­tic­i­pat­ing and to orga­nize polit­i­cal activ­ity.