Occupations take root across the country, attract growing support

By LeiLani Dowell , NYC FIST

Following the lead of Occupy Wall Street, occupations are growing in size and number across the country, with actions taking place in hundreds of cities. The following reports from Workers World correspondents give a flavor for some of those demonstrations.

Boston: More than 100 arrested

Philadelphia
WW photo: Joseph Piette

At 2:30 a.m. on Oct. 11, hundreds of state, transit, city and riot police tore into the second campsite of Occupy Boston, dragging and handcuffing participants and arresting 100 of them. The cops also stole tents and removed them from the site.

The previous day an estimated 10,000 union members, students, veterans, fami­lies, women and men of all ages had marched from the Boston Common to Dewey Square, and then to the North Wash­ington Bridge, to demand economic justice. Police stopped these protesters at the bridge, and one person was arrested. Later the demonstrators joined Occupy Boston, which expanded to fill the second site.

Rochester, N.Y.
Photo: Josie Clancy

At the General Assembly the evening before the arrests, Pat Scanlon of the Smedley Butler Brigade of Vets for Peace received a big ovation after offering words of encouragement and a brief history of the Vietnam War movement. The Brigade has been critically supportive of Occupy Boston.

The crowd was also responsive to a solidarity message from Workers World Party, which saluted participants for the struggles against racism, war and anti-LGBTQ bigotry being waged through their presence. The many hundreds of youth, including an increased number of youth of color, are receptive to anti-capitalist ideas and proposals for militant action aimed at abolishing capitalism.

Mayor Tom Menino told reporters that he would remove the original campsite at Dewey Square “very shortly.” (WBUR, Oct. 11)

Atlanta: Troy Davis Park

More than 700 people launched Occupy Atlanta on Oct. 7 in Woodruff Park — which they renamed Troy Davis Park. On Oct. 10, word came down that the police intended to clear the park, which was surrounded by dozens of squad cars, police wagons and mounted police, that night at 11 p.m. At least 150 people prepared to be arrested, while many other supporters joined them around the park. However, the state forces pulled back, and as of 1 p.m. on Oct. 11, all the tents are still up, and the occupation goes on.

Some of the many participants in Occupy Atlanta include Black and Latino/a students from Emory University, a Georgia State University student whose first demonstration was the Sept. 16 march for Troy Davis, and an Afghanistan war vet.

Among other Occupy Atlanta activities, a march to Bank of America is scheduled for Oct. 11.

Detroit: date set
for occupation

About 1,000 people attended a planning meeting Oct. 10 to plan for Occupy Detroit, which is now scheduled to begin on Oct. 14. The event had to move from the Spirit of Hope Church to an adjacent playground after the church was filled to capacity.

On Oct. 14, protesters will gather at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center at 4 p.m. for a march through the financial district and ending at Grand Circus Park, site of the occupation.

Abayomi Azikiwe of the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice summed up the motivations of Occupy Detroit as he opened the meeting. “Are we tired of unemployment? Are we tired of being robbed by banks? Are we tired of being forced out of our homes? Are we ready to draw the line?” Azikiwe asked. The crowd responded to each question, “Yes!” (The South End, Oct. 11)

Philadelphia: occupation grows

An increasing number of people of color, including Palestinians and Latinos/as, are now joining Occupy Philly and actively playing a stronger role. A powerful intervention came when Pam Africa took the mike at a General Assembly meeting on Oct. 10, challenging the assembly to get behind a campaign to deal with the crisis caused by the lack of jobs.

At the International Action Center table, a Jobs Campaign meeting turned into a street rally on Oct. 10 when Africa and Ron Whyte, another Unemployment Campaign organizer, began a people’s speak-out on unemployment and racism. For the next hour, more than 50 people gathered for a spirited impromptu protest, giving their views and life stories. Dozens of people committed to take fliers to their communities and schools for an Oct. 17 rally for jobs and a march to the U.S. Dept. of Education local office to demand student loan debt forgiveness.

On the way back from an Oct. 10 march to City Hall, workers began chanting a new slogan on their own — “The working class is under attack, stand up, fight back!” — loudly and strongly. Socialism is also being discussed more at Occupy Philly.

Rochester, N.Y.

The Occupy Rochester group has been conducting support activities for the Occupy Wall Street Movement by having a demonstration every day from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Liberty Pole in downtown Rochester. Turnout has ranged from a dozen to over 90. At the weekly planning meeting on Oct. 9, a proposal for a campaign for Jobs and Forgiveness of Student Debt was raised. Also raised was a proposal to occupy a bank owned vacant property with the idea of turning it over to the homeless.

The Lead Field Organizer for the AFL -CIO announced that the union federation supports the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the Occupy Rochester group will march on Oct. 11 from the Liberty Pole to the County Office building to join county workers who are rallying there.

Dianne Mathiowetz, Betsey Piette, Joe Piette, Gerry Scoppettuolo and Lydia Bayoneta contributed to this report.

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