The earliest evidence that federal authorities in the United States were aware of Occupy Wall Street and preparing to squash it comes from a September 1 Department of Homeland Security briefing. Warning of an upcoming protest on Wall Street, the leaked memo explained that the unique conjunction of culture jammers with politicized hackers was cause for alarm. “The ideologies set forth by Adbusters seem to align at a basic level with the stated intent of Anonymous’ newly adopted Hacktivist agenda … These protests are highly likely to occur,” the report declared. We also know now that the FBI was investigating Occupy at least two days before occupiers seized Zuccotti. In a leaked chat log Sabu, an FBI informant and prominent member of LulzSec, a hacktivist affinity group, pumped for information about Anonymous’s plans for Occupy. He is recorded asking: “Lets talk about OpWallStreet. I plan on going to Wall Street, do we have anything planned?” Shortly after, despite these counterintelligence efforts, Occupy Wall Street was born and Zuccotti Park became the spiritual center of an international movement.
Now, as the international movement gears up for a major escalation in May with myriad big bangs – a May Day General Strike, anarchic swarms in #OCCUPYCHICAGO, an international blast on May 12 and an effort to retake the squares on May 15, a #LAUGHRIOT on May 18, #OCCUPYCAMPDAVID the next day along with major protests against NATO on May 20 and 21 – stories of aggressive intimidation tactics are beginning to emerge from New York City. In a recent article in the New York Times, occupiers described frequent harassment and interrogation by NYPD intelligence and FBI: “police officers or detectives have been posted outside buildings where private meetings were taking place, have visited the homes of organizers and have questioned protesters arrested on minor charges … one protester says he was questioned by a police detective and an agent from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.” Meanwhile, authorities are demanding access to the Twitter accounts of prominent occupiers like Jeff Rae and logs of occupy websites. And in Florida, Occupy Miami was raided without cause by paramilitary police on March 13.
On reddit, one activist argued the situation is far worse than is being reported in the news, claiming to have encountered:”DHS bugging of common meeting grounds; DHS paying individuals to attend our meetings and cause disruption; police breaking into property, creating fire hazards, then getting protestors living there evicted for said fire hazard; police breaking into private property and installing surveillance equipment in people’s homes. In at least one instance they left it obvious enough to leave a message; police arresting individuals solely to have them identify photographs of other occupiers; manipulating our personal bank accounts, such as canceling our access to our own accounts.”
Taken together with news of the authoritarian new law H.R. 347, these sinister stories suggest that authorities in the United States are preparing to aggressively disrupt Occupy’s May spring offensive.
Weigh in below and tell us how you think the movement can outmaneuver these authoritarian efforts to shut down our people-power.
Here’s the Occupy movements attempt to get some sanity into the Middle East. Read Chris Hedges’ most recent thoughts on #occupyAIPAC and beyond.
The battle for justice in the Middle East is our battle. It is part of the vast, global battle against the 1 percent. It is about living rather than dying. It is about communicating rather than killing. It is about love rather than hate. It is part of the great battle against the corporate forces of death that reign over us—the fossil fuel industry, the weapons manufacturers, the security and surveillance state, the speculators on Wall Street, the oligarchic elites who assault our poor, our working men and women, our children, one in four of whom depend on food stamps to eat, the elites who are destroying our ecosystem with its trees, its air and its water and throwing into doubt our survival as a species.
What is being done in Gaza, the world’s largest open-air prison, is a pale reflection of what is slowly happening to the rest of us. It is a window into the rise of the global security state, our new governing system that the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls “inverted totalitarianism.” It is a reflection of a world where the powerful are not bound by law, either on Wall Street or in the shattered remains of the countries we invade and occupy, including Iraq with its hundreds of thousands of dead. And one of the greatest purveyors of this demented ideology of violence for the sake of violence, this flagrant disregard for the rule of domestic and international law, is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC.
The Showdown in Chicago has turned into a G8 Backdown. In a stunning about-face, the Obama administration has moved the Chicago G8 summit to Camp David, an ultra-secure military base in rural Maryland. Despite the tough talk of anti-Occupy technology, ordinances and paramilitary preparations, this is perhaps the first time that a major world summit has been relocated due to anticipated protests. And with only two months left before the summit was to begin, the change of venues is clearly a humiliating decision and a surprising victory of the Occupy movement. The specter of 50,000 nonviolent occupiers flooding the windy city with a list of demands for the world’s political elites was apparently too powerful. The NATO summit will still be meeting in Chicago… for now at least.
Check out this take by Occupywallst.org on what could be the movement’s next steps and weigh in below on how you think Occupy should react to the G8 backdown.
The Group of 8 Summit, a meeting of the governments of the world’s eight largest economies, was supposed to convene in Chicago this May. For months, Occupy Chicago, international anti-war groups, Anonymous, and hundreds of allies have publicly planned to shut it down. Now, only two months before the meeting is scheduled to begin, U.S. President Barack Obama is moving the assembly of over 7,000 leaders from the world’s wealthiest governments to the Camp David presidential compound, located in rural Maryland near Washington, DC, one of the most secure facilities in the world. The Chicago Tribune reports that summit organizers are “stunned” by the news.
The G8 retreat from Chicago to Camp David brings a new tactical dilemma to Occupy. Do we carry on with the old model, locating contested space and establishing a physical encampment? Or do we sojourn into an uncharted vector of resistance where symbolic space is transient, fluid and less-significant? Here’s the view of Occupier Sean Nolan. Have a read and weigh in.
After months of gestation, confusion, internal conflict, regrouping and rethinking, the Occupy movement has come through the winter, in my mind at least, for the better. Those of us who are focused on changing the way that this country’s “elected” (or shall I say, bought and paid for) officials do business are more focused than a diamond cutting laser. Those of us who are focused on making a true American Spring are prepared.
As many of you now may very well know, the G8 meeting in Chicago that was scheduled for the 18th of May, has been moved to Camp David, a secure military compound guarded by US Marines that houses the President for private formal or informal occasions. Now let me be clear, the G8 is a meeting between the eight most powerful leaders in the world to discuss “key issues” facing the geopolitical sphere. There is a G12 meeting, a G20, and so on.
Ever since the rise of Occupy, corporatist authorities have been trying to figure how to squash our emerging social movement. First they tried a media blackout, but when over 700 nonviolent meme warriors were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge our Gandhian ferocity catalyzed a thousand encampments and the 1% could ignore us no more. Next elites tried the Bloomberg model of midnight paramilitary raids backed up by excessive force and sometimes-lethal munitions. That worked well to evict encampments in New York City, Oakland and nationwide … but it backfired when occupiers became diffuse, appearing at scripted events and interrupting the spectacle of corporate-funded politics with mic checks of truth. Now they are trying the new tactic of “lawfare” – using draconian laws to squash free speech in a last ditch effort to put an end to people power.
A week before the G8 Backdown, the US House of Representatives voted in near unanimous consensus in favor of an authoritarian law, H.R. 347, that makes it a federal crime to disrupt “Government business or official functions” or to enter any building where a “person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting.” In other words, to mic check Obama is now a federal crime punishable by a year in prison. And so too is the banner drop if it takes place in any building that a “protected” person might be visiting in the future, even if jammers don’t know it. And so is the anti-globalization tactic of blocking road access to a meeting of world elites, there is a special clause about that too. Obama signed the bill into law on March 9.
History shows that using authoritarian laws to silence the authentic, legitimate concerns of the people always boomerangs into a fatal loss of legitimacy. Governments derive their authority and right to exist from the people and when the people are ignored and beaten back regimes fall.