Unhappy anniversary: Occupy Movement marks still hard times

By News | Last updated: Sep 26, 2012 - 6:13:34 PM

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The one-year anniversary of the Occupy Movement came, went, and left a lawsuit in its wake. There were more than 180 arrests in mid-September as demonstrators took to streets in New York City in efforts to revive a movement that started in Zuccotti Park near Wall St., highlighted the thievery of banksters ripping off the country and declared it was time to overthrow the One Percent who control the majority of U.S. wealth and impact the destiny of the vast majority of Americans.

Instead of offering balloons or a big birthday cake, the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of demonstrators “falsely arrested on September 24, 2011 in the first week of the Occupy Wall Street movement, including one plaintiff who was subject to Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna’s notorious pepper spray attack on peaceful demonstrators.”

The lawsuit wants an end to arrests of “people lawfully present on city sidewalks and the use of orange netting and police lines to conduct indiscriminate group arrests. The lawsuit also seeks compensatory and punitive damages against NYPD officers,” said PCJF.

“It is evident from the mass use of illegal sidewalks arrests executed yet again this weekend during OWS demonstrations that this is an unlawful tactic the NYPD will use over and over again until a judge declares this tactic to be unconstitutional,” argued PCJF legal director Carl Messineo on the Occupy protest anniversary. 

“People in New York City are entitled to engage in dissent without having to fear that they will be subject to the NYPD’s illegal arrests and brutality,” added Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, PCJF executive director.

The plaintiffs were among a large number of people arrested on an East 12th Street sidewalk following a peaceful Occupy Wall Street rally in Union Square, according to the complaint, Sterling, et al. v. City of New York,

Three-hundred and sixty five days after the largest sustained public protest in recent memory to denounce a lack of freedom, out of control corporate power, and a game tilted toward those already have, not much has been learned and certainly no appreciation for the right to dissent or free speech has developed.

But the lives of millions remain desperate with homes lost, and dreams of higher education crushed by high costs and debt. One in six Americans is now living in poverty. One year later and two major political conventions completed, it is hard to find any reference to the poor, poverty or alleviating or even addressing poverty by Democrat Barack Obama or Republican Mitt Romney. Before a Romney gaffe, a declaration that 47 percent of freeloading Americans will vote for Mr. Obama because they love living off of government, “poor” seemed a word banned from presidential hopeful vocabularies.

A Sept. 21 CNN report noted that unemployment has risen in 26 of America’s 50 states. In addition, 636,017 people are officially homeless while another six million Americans spend more than half of income for a place to live. Labor unions are clashing with employers. Schools are failing. Patience with divided government run by politicians awash in special interest money is nearly gone.

“In our bipartisan system, when the two candidates for president are doing everything to kneel down to the corporations and banks and turn against the people, it doesn’t matter who you vote for, because the war machine will continue,” said Kim Fraczek, a handbag and jewelry designer, NBC News reported Sept. 17. The 37-year-old, wearing an Obama mask, was with a man wearing a Romney mask at the New York Occupy protest to show the Democratic and GOP presidential candidates are controlled by money.

Things don’t look much better overseas: In Afghanistan, Afghan soldiers turned on and killed their American and Western trainers and the Muslim world was aflame with rioting and attacks ignited by an American movie that denigrated the holy prophet of Islam. In Benghazi, Libya, where a U.S. diplomat was killed in uproar following the initial unrest about the movie, battles started Sept. 21 between different factions in the city. It was reported that the groups were battling over “the revolution.” Gunfights between militias leaning to the West and others deemed Al-Qaeda style militants had reportedly broken out.

A report by United for a Fair Economy exposed continued concentration of U.S. wealth and the lie that somehow merit alone pushed ascension into the stratosphere of the super-rich. “Born on Third Base” showed how the classic Forbes 400, which lists the country’s wealthiest people, was almost a sham. “Forbes claims that their list of the 400 richest Americans is ‘the definitive scorecard of wealth in America,’ but the Forbes 400 does not tell the whole story,” said United for a Fair Economy. “Forbes understates the impacts of birthright and family privilege. Roughly 40 percent of the 2011 list received a significant advantage by inheriting a sizeable asset from a spouse or family member. More than 20 percent received sufficient wealth to make the list from their inheritance alone. Forbes ignores the other side of the coin—that the opportunity to build wealth is not equally shared. The net worth of the Forbes 400 grew fifteen-fold between the launch of the list in 1982 and 2011, while wealth stagnated for the average U.S. household. The racial wealth divide is starkly apparent from the overwhelming Whiteness of the list. The 2011 Forbes 400 had only one African American member,” the Boston-based organization found.

In addition, “tax policy is tilted in favor of the wealthy members of the Forbes 400 list. Tax rates on capital gains have been slashed, which especially benefits members of the Forbes list. The richest 0.1 percent receive half of all net increases in capital gains,” United For a Fair Economy said.

Anniversaries are a time look back and reflect, but there is little to celebrate, and growing pain and rising anger are representative of not only the Occupy Movement but the mood of the country.