Catching up with Occupy Boston

If you really want to know what’s going on with Occupy Boston, then you have to check in with my friends at the Boston Phoenix. Anchored by the redoubtable Chris Faraone, the Phoenix has been providing non-stop coverage of the burgeoning protest movement for the past week. You’ll find the latest here, and a link to past coverage here. Essential stuff.

Meanwhile, there’s a fascinating story in the New York Times on the growing alliance between organized labor and Occupy Wall Street, of which Occupy Boston is a part. Things should start to get interesting right about now.

18 thoughts on “Catching up with Occupy Boston

  1. This comment has nothing to do with the content of your post except to say well done with the last sentence. I love that line and every other line of that song. Always relevant but particularly given the day the album was released.

  2. Well I haven’t been keeping up after I ripped the short film from opening night hosted at the Phoenix:

    I’ve been busy winning my Free Press case in NH against Kelly Ayotte, NH GOP and Nashua PD. I have not “won” per se but I did force two judges to recuse, and the others followed suit rather than get their names dragged into this clearly illegal beat down.

    It gets deeper yet: All NH District Federal Judges recused themselves rather than keep covering up the abuse:

    http://christopher-king.blogspot.com/2011/10/more-nh-federal-judges-recuse-from.html

    Peace guys.

  3. Matt Kelly

    I see the Occupiers are publishing their own newspaper. My question is whether any of the hedge funds are placing ads there, ‘We’re hiring financial analysts and data statisticians– English & poly-sci majors need not apply.’

    I watched the Boston contingent yesterday. They looked like a bunch of scruffy Che Guevera wanna-be’s, and I’m hard-pressed to be symaphetic when I don’t know a software firm in Kendall Square that isn’t hiring right now. Even later that day, I met a PR & marketing firm– you know, where English majors actually would stand a chance– that’s hired 12 people this summer. Every local CEO I know is worried about finding good labor, which none of us can do.

    Meanwhile, these folks are protesting Bank of America (and doing so at the wrong end of the Financial District for it). Switch banks, shave, get a job and be done with it.

  4. Dan Storms

    Matt, I was wondering how to let you know gently that you have apparently missed the point of the demonstrations, which go far beyond the need for work (you might actually go to one of the demonstrations, or at least one of the web site, and read their manifesto). But Prof. Krugman nails it:

    “There will, of course, be the usual attempts to dismiss the whole thing based on trivialities. Look at the oddly dressed people acting out! So? Is it better when exquisitely tailored bankers whose gambles brought the world economy to its knees — and who were bailed out by taxpayers — whine that President Obama is saying slightly mean things about them?”

  5. Matt Kelly

    I see the point they’re trying to make, as vague and unfocused as it is. I understand that they are the mirror image of the Tea Party– that both of them do grasp that society isn’t really structured in a left-right political spectrum, but an up-down influence ladder. And whether they’re a crabby white retiree in the Tea Party, or a biracial 22-year-old anthropology major wandering near South Station, they’re both on the bottom rung. I see that clearly.

    I just don’t think that point is very relevant to those people and companies that are the economic engines of today. If you want to move up that ladder, there are still plenty of ways to do that, even today, if you pay attention to what’s going on and hustle.

    And apparently you did miss my point, that I did go watch one of their demonstrations two days ago.

  6. Dan Storms

    Apologies, Matt,

    I should have said “listened” rather than “go” to a demonstration. The point I think they are trying to make, judging from the 20-odd indictments made in their manifesto, is that even if they could get a foot on the economic ladder in one of those “companies that are the economic engines of today,” the system is gamed against them. The corporate interests will use economic and political (and sometimes police) muscle to suppress their wages; eliminate their jobs on the whim of a quarterly balance statement; steal their retirement; buy their representatives; deny them the right to organize; subvert the laws meant to protect them; water down or repeal regulations that are supposed to guarantee an unpoisoned air, water, and food supply; bathe in public largesse while paying as little back as possible; and generally make life more and more miserable for the poorest and difficult at best for the vast middle, so that the 1% can revel in their excesses. Given that the U.S. is falling down the scale of economic mobility, can you say that they have no legitimate cause?

  7. Nancy Mades

    What is it, specifically, that the protesters want to happen? What is the new policy that needs to be adopted? I can’t figure it out and I’m uncomfortable with the instances of anti-semitism and homophobia that have been popping up. I feel like this whole thing was triggered by Bank of American charging $5 to use their ATM card. If you don’t like BOA’s corporate policies, can’t you just bank somewhere else?

    1. Dan Kennedy

      @Nancy: I have not been entirely on top of what’s going on, but I did hear that the LaRouchies have landed, as they do whenever there’s a large gathering. That, I would imagine, is the source of the anti-Semitism and homophobia.

  8. Matt Kelly

    And while everyone says this is not about jobs, I’m hard-pressed to believe that if unemployment were at 4 percent, these folks (or the Tea Partiers) would be out there.

    I did read their demands. I have listened, or gone, or whatever verb you’d like to use to get at the point that I’m ignoring your point– I’m not. I get their point. I just don’t see how it’s relevant to the real world I see and experience, or the world my fellow managers around Boston experience either.

    1. Dan Kennedy

      @Matt: The antiwar movement of the ’60s and ’70s was completely inchoate and, at times, dangerously nutty. And yet it played a large role in stopping the war.

    1. Dan Kennedy

      Deb: I had not heard about it until Nancy posted her comment, but I had read that there were LaRouchies on the scene. Anti-Semitism is one of their stocks in trade.

  9. Thanks Dan. I’m asking because, er, um, looks like I’m an editor of their newsletter/website now. Disorganization I can tolerate, prejudice I will not. If it’s a few fringe people like the LaRouchies, I’ll let it go because they’re so hard to get rid of.

  10. Christian Avard

    I wrote this at “Beat The Press” and figured I’ll crosspost it here with some minor changes. Hope this answers some of the concerns people have about Occupy Wall Street.

    * This is an uprising, not a movement. It’s growing and evolving into something bigger. In terms of good coverage, it would help the media and viewers and readers if they actually were part of the demonstrations. The mainstream media embeds journalists with the military to get more accurate pictures on the ground. Why not do it with demonstrators? I think readers and viewers would have lots to gain. Plus, it would be cheaper to embed journalists in protests then it would sending a journalist into a war zone.

    * I often hear this is the left-wing’s version of the right-wing’s Tea Party movement. I don’t necessarily think this is akin to the Tea Party movement. The Tea Party movement was a well-funded operation. It was not necessarily a grassroots movement. We know that to be true now. On top of that, when was the last time you saw an Occupy Wall Street carry a racist caricature of Barack Obama or one that evokes Obama and Nazi imagery? We saw a lot of Tea Party folks engage in those kinds of behaviors. I don’t have an opinion of Obama one way or the other. But you don’t see that level of “racism” (not hatred) being portrayed by the Occupy Wall Street toward those they disagree with or don’t like. Dan, I understand there are “Larouchies” and other like-minded nuts out there but I think they’re demonstrating to promote themselves, not Occupy Wall Street.

    * One of the things I think reporters need to do less is going directly to media contact liaisons. I know it’s the easiest way to get an official word before deadlines but I think compromises their stories to an extent. They need to dig deeper to learn more about the issues and what the demonstrations are about. IMO, today’s journalists are trained to report stories at the expense of understanding what the heck they’re reporting about in the first place. I feel like this is the case with Occupy Wall Street.

    Most of all, just because activists are in the streets doesn’t mean they’re supposed to have demands! That’s a myth about activism I wish journalists would stop perpetuating. A demonstration of power is a primary factor. That’s what this is about. Then it changes.

    Angus Johnston of the website Student Activism perhaps provides the best perspective on why demands aren’t all that necessary … yet.

    If you happen to be fighting a narrow, single-issue, clearly-defined campaign, then by all means articulate what you’re looking to get. But if you’re not — and Occupy Wall Street isn’t — then any demands you put forward should serve a tactical purpose, and the question of what to demand has to be preceded by a discussion of whether it serves your interests to make any demands at all

    The [Occupy Wall Street] critique of our current national (and global) crisis will continue to unfold. Those discussions are ongoing, in a zillion venues. And I’m not convinced that this movement is any less coherent right now than the suffragists at the turn of the century or the lunch-counter sit-in crowd in the spring of 1960 or the London demonstrators over the last few months.

    And at any rate the crucial task for Occupy Wall Street right now isn’t coherence, any more than it’s the articulation of specific demands. It’s resonance as an idea, as a movement.

    You don’t win by making demands. You win by taking power or by forcing power to bend. Either way your stated demands are peripheral to the outcome — what you demand has only the vaguest relationship to what you win.

    To read more of Angus Johnston’s post click here.

    Journalists need to have some perspective on crowds and power. They need to learn about it. Not just report on it by afar. It compromises readers and viewers understanding of what meaningful activism is.

  11. Christian Avard

    Not to belabor the media’s coverage of Occupy Wall Street but here’s another myth-breaker (of sorts) that Occupy Wall Street lacks diversity. I’m sure there are other examples to prove this point. But again, media needs to dig deeper about what Occupy Wall Street really represents. Not just report on it by afar.

  12. thomas atkinson

    “My question is whether any of the hedge funds are placing ads there, ‘We’re hiring financial analysts and data statisticians– English & poly-sci majors need not apply.'”

    Matt, you ignoramous, many equities analysts and portfolio managers–who read and write analsys about companies, markets, industries, and economics all day –were liberal arts and social science majors. Furthermore, most hedgies abhore politics and ideology of any stripe, so as long as a leftist or right-winger could keep their mouth shut about their idealistic worldview, they might be able to not piss anyone off. Finance has been poaching the best students from top-tier universities and liberal arts schools for years. Look at the top fund managers and you’ll find many of them studied history, philosophy, and political science. Engineers and mathemeticians, in general, are not always the best writers, salespeople, creative thinkers.

  13. C.E. Stead

    DK – Liberals can’t have it both ways. Christian Avard says this – “On top of that, when was the last time you saw an Occupy Wall Street carry a racist caricature of Barack Obama or one that evokes Obama and Nazi imagery? We saw a lot of Tea Party folks engage in those kinds of behaviors.”

    You and he are careful to state that the LaRouche people are at the Occupy gatherings, and that is the source of THAT racism/homophobia, but Christian insists that the same LaRouche demonstrators are bona fide TEA Party activists. It simply isn’t true.

    For YEARS, the TEA Party was vilified as racist scum and protests that the LaRouche people were there with their own signs and agenda were dismissed. But now, people with the same signs and agenda are to be carefully excised from the Occupy movement? It’s just bad and discriminatory journalism. If there is exculpation for one, there needs to be for both.

    As far as not being real grass roots – “We know that now”, says Avard – I would submit that the AFL-CIO and SEIU are a LOT more directly involved with Occupy (with greater and more immidiate political motivation given the recent changes in government labor negotiations) than the Kochs EVER were with the TEA Party and THAT needs mentioning in the ‘astroturf’ debate as well.

Comments are closed.