Eulogy for #Occupy: beautiful, brutal postmortem


Quinn Norton's Eulogy for #Occupy is a wrenching, beautiful, long postmortem on the Occupy movement, including an eyes-open (and scathing) critique of what went wrong inside Occupy:

But living in parks, having to rub elbows with the people society was set up to shield from each other, began to stress people and make them twitchy from constant culture shock. Grad students trying to reason with smack addicts was torture for both sides. The GA [General Aseembly] became the main venue for this torture, and sitting through it was like watching someone sandpaper an open wound. Everyone said “Fuck the GA” as a joke, but as time wore on, the laughter was getting too long and too hoarse; a joke with blood in it. The metaphorical pain became less metaphorical with each eviction, with the gnawing feeling that something was coming.

Because the GA had no way to reject force, over time it fell to force. Proposals won by intimidation; bullies carried the day. What began as a way to let people reform and remake themselves had no mechanism for dealing with them when they didn’t. It had no way to deal with parasites and predators. It became a diseased process, pushing out the weak and quiet it had meant to enfranchise until it finally collapsed when nothing was left but predators trying to rip out each other’s throats.

By the time I returned to NY from visiting the camp in DC, exhausted with the pain of six evictions, the NYC GA was a place where women were threatened with beatings, and street kids with calls to the police. All the reasonable people had gotten the fuck out. It had become a gladiator pit no one enjoyed watching. Even Weev, the famous internet troll, didn’t last through the nastiness of the GA I took him to. He left while I wasn’t looking, without saying goodbye. We never spoke about it. I didn’t blame him, and I didn’t have to ask why. It was the tiny, brutal, and bitter politics of failed people.


And some cogent analysis of why the wider world couldn't (or wouldn't) accept Occupy's message:

Standing next to an older officer after one eviction, telling him what I’d seen and listening to him worry about how he was going to send his kids to college, I overheard the police talk to each other. Of the protestors they kept saying the same thing, the same three words to each other and walked away: “They’ll be back.” Some said it with scorn, lips curled. Some said it with fear, some excited for the action. Some said it with the watery voices of drowning hope: “They’ll be back.”

Please, let something matter again, let something change.

The policing of protest in America makes it clear that protest has become mere ritual, a farce, and that, by definition, it becomes illegal if it threatens to change anything or inconvenience anyone. In time, all the police announcements came to say the same thing to me. “You may go through your constitutional ritual,” they intoned, “but it must stop before anything of consequence happens.” We must, above all, preserve everything as it is.

A Eulogy for #Occupy [Wired]

Occupy Sandy doc screened at secret cinema

A documentary about Occupy Sandy was screened at a secret location in NYC last night; it made the connection between Sandy and climate change. People wanting to see the movie were directed to a building whose wall was used as a screen for the premiere.

Now, in what may be the quickest turnaround for a movie in recent memory, the group, Occupy Sandy, will show a documentary Wednesday about its efforts and the contention that the storm was tied to climate change and the fossil fuel industry. In classic Occupy fashion, the screening will not be in a traditional theater, but rather on the side of a yet-to-be-disclosed building in the East Village.

The screening of the film, “Occupy Sandy: A Human Response to the New Realities of Climate Change” (see trailer above or click here), will be at 6:30 p.m.

‘Occupy’ Movement’s Next Guerrilla Effort: A Film Screening [NYT]

OCCUPY SANDY TRAILER IS UP! WORLD PREMIERE NEW SHORT FILM! NYC. NOV. 28th. [Vimeo]

#climatecrime [Twitter]

Occupy Deluxe Tentacles at Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton currently has an awesomely weird Yayoi Kusama "Tentacles and Tongues" display its stores, so Heather and I made an "Occupy Deluxe Tentacles" mask, then set off on a cheeky jape. The folks at the mall were good sports and didn't get in the way of the silliness.

Read the rest

Rolling Jubilee: Occupy raising money to buy up, and wipe out, debts


David "How to Sharpen Pencils" Rees describes the Rolling Jubilee, a project from Occupy Wall Street to buy up, and zero out, other peoples' debts:

Now OWS is launching the ROLLING JUBILEE, a program that has been in development for months. OWS is going to start buying distressed debt (medical bills, student loans, etc.) in order to forgive it. As a test run, we spent $500, which bought $14,000 of distressed debt. We then ERASED THAT DEBT. (If you’re a debt broker, once you own someone’s debt you can do whatever you want with it — traditionally, you hound debtors to their grave trying to collect. We’re playing a different game. A MORE AWESOME GAME.)

This is a simple, powerful way to help folks in need — to free them from heavy debt loads so they can focus on being productive, happy and healthy. As you can see from our test run, the return on investment approaches 30:1. That’s a crazy bargain!

Now, after many consultations with attorneys, the IRS, and our moles in the debt-brokerage world, we are ready to take the Rolling Jubilee program LIVE and NATIONWIDE, buying debt in communities that have been struggling during the recession.

We’re kicking things off with a show called THE PEOPLE’S BAILOUT at Le Poisson Rouge on Thursday, November 15. It will also stream online, like a good ol’-fashioned telethon!

I just put in $100, which will erase $3000 worth of someone's debt.

The People’s Bailout

Oakland's chief of police blackholed all emails mentioning "Occupy," trashed official condemnations and sanctions unread


Oakland police chief told a court that he never saw emails from city officials and a federal court monitor who emailed him about police brutality and other illegal actions by his force in its response to Occupy Oakland. That's because, he says, he used a spam-filter to automatically spam-filter all messages containing phrases like "occupy," "police brutality," "press pass," and "excessive force." More from SFGate's Matthai Kuruvila.

The city investigation found that Jordan had city staff put in the filters on Oct. 27, 2011 - two days after a violent clash between police and protesters that made international news. He had been inundated with anonymous messages, he said in a declaration to the court.

But he forgot the e-mail filter was still in effect.

At least until Henderson gave his order and the city investigated. All messages to Jordan with the once-banned phrases now go to his inbox, as of Oct. 19. In addition, Jordan now has a special folder for messages from the court monitor, Warshaw.

"It was never my intention to ignore the monitor," Jordan said in his declaration.

Oakland chief filtered out Occupy e-mail (via JWZ)

(Image: Occupy Oakland October 11, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from quinn's photostream)

Some highlights from NY Comic-Con

I'm at Comic-Con for the Pirate Cinema tour. Here's some highlights from yesterday's brief excursion on the floor:


An Occupy Ankh-Morpork protester at Terry Pratchett's signing for Dodger.



Star Trek: TOS bathrobes! (Speaking as a serious loungewear enthusiast, I have this to say: PHWOAR). Available from Amazon and ThinkGeek.

Read the rest

Molly Crabapple describes and illustrates her Occupy arrest


Molly Crabapple's brief, illustrated editorial describing her arrest at the one-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street is a tale of police entrapment: petty, punitive justice; solidarity, and resolve.

At one corner, I saw a cop grabbing the arm of a woman in front of me and pulling her into the street. It was the same gesture you might use to escort an old lady, and, when the next officer did this to me, that is what I thought it was. But then, halfway across the street, he cuffed my hands behind my back.

There was no warning. No Miranda rights like in the movies. At first, I was incredulous. It was not until I got my desk ticket that night for blocking traffic that I had any idea what the officer was accusing me of doing.

I was a head shorter than the officer. I said to him, "You know I was on the sidewalk." He wouldn't meet my eyes. I was two blocks from my apartment. But because I was part of a protest, I was no longer a local. I was an obstruction to be cleared.

Going into the police van, they snapped my picture on a Fujimax Polaroid knockoff, hipster party style. I gave them my best grin. A man in a suit passed by, looked us over, and said to the police, "nice work."

My arrest at Occupy Wall Street

One Year of Occupy. One Year of Journalist Arrests.

Josh Stearns has been tracking "press suppression and journalist arrests," which became a regular occurrence since the start of Occupy Wall Street on September 17, 2011. "As press, protesters and police converge in New York City for the one year anniversary, we'll be tracking press suppression here." Sadly, the list has been updated today on the one-year #OWS anniversary with quite a few familiar names: bloggers, artists, journalists. (Storify)

On Occupy's first anniversary, over 180 arrested in NYC

The AP reports that protesters circulated around lower Manhattan this morning, one year after the "Occupy" movement kicked off. "There were a few hundred protesters scattered throughout the city. More than 180 of them were arrested by early Monday evening, mostly on disorderly conduct charges."

Artist Molly Crabapple among those arrested in Occupy one-year-anniversary events

Earlier today, artist Molly Crabapple was one of a number of people arrested at events marking the one-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York. By various estimates, more than a hundred people have been arrested there today. Crabapple tweeted from the police van. Over the past year, she has produced a wide array of work related to #OWS, including portraits, street-art templates, and illustrations for coverage in The Nation and other publications.

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Your cellphone is a tracking device that lets you make calls

Just in case you had any doubts about how much of a security risk your mobile phone presents, have a read of Jacob Appelbaum's interview with N+. Jake's with both the Tor and Wikileaks projects, and has been detained and scrutinized to a fare-thee-well.

Appelbaum: Cell phones are tracking devices that make phone calls. It’s sad, but it’s true. Which means software solutions don’t always matter. You can have a secure set of tools on your phone, but it doesn’t change the fact that your phone tracks everywhere you go. And the police can potentially push updates onto your phone that backdoor it and allow it to be turned into a microphone remotely, and do other stuff like that. The police can identify everybody at a protest by bringing in a device called an IMSI catcher. It’s a fake cell phone tower that can be built for 1500 bucks. And once nearby, everybody’s cell phones will automatically jump onto the tower, and if the phone’s unique identifier is exposed, all the police have to do is go to the phone company and ask for their information.

Resnick: So phones are tracking devices. They can also be used for surreptitious recording. Would taking the battery out disable this capability?

Appelbaum: Maybe. But iPhones, for instance, don’t have a removable battery; they power off via the power button. So if I wrote a backdoor for the iPhone, it would play an animation that looked just like a black screen. And then when you pressed the button to turn it back on it would pretend to boot. Just play two videos.

Resnick: And how easy is it to create something like to that?

Appelbaum: There are weaponized toolkits sold by companies like FinFisher that enable breaking into BlackBerries, Android phones, iPhones, Symbian devices and other platforms. And with a single click, say, the police can own a person, and take over her phone.

You may be saying here, "Huh, I'm sure glad that I'm not doing anything that would get me targeted by US spooks!" Think again. First, there's the possibility that you'll be incorrectly identified as a bad guy, like Maher Arar< who got a multi-year dose of Syrian torture when the security apparatus experienced a really bad case of mistaken identity.

Read the rest

Down in Smoke: through comics, Susie Cagle chronicles the DEA raids on medical marijuana facilities in California

At Cartoon Movement, "graphic journalist" Susie Cagle (Twitter) surveys the impact of recent DEA raids of medical marijuana centers, and legal attacks against Harborside and the like, in 'Down In Smoke'. The work includes sound clips, which is brilliant.

Oakland, California. Ground zero for a medical marijuana fight between states and the federal government that has only been heating up. Incorporating real audio from activists, Cagle portrays what "feels like class war" as local growers, patients and city officials fight against losing their jobs, medicine, and tax revenue.

The whole thing is here, and it's fantastic. Susie has done some of the best reporting I've seen of the Occupy movement and related protests in America—she's been jailed and injured for it. The fact that her reporting is focused through the medium of comics is just so innovative and cool. She takes true risks for her reporting, and what comes out of it is insightful, informative, and funny. I just love her work.

Nine months and $76,000 later, UC Davis's Pepper-Spray Pike is fired

As Rob noted, Lt John Pike, the UC Davis campus cop who attained infamy by casually walking a line of student protesters, pepper-spraying them at point-blank range, has been fired. He has been on administrative leave since the incident since the incident last November, and the university has paid him over $76,000 of his $110,243.12 salary during that period. Cory

Effective and disorganized: a new thing upon this earth

My latest Guardian column is "Disorganised but effective: how technology lowers transaction costs," a piece about a new kind of group that has been enabled by the Internet -- a group with no formal structure that can still get stuff done, like Occupy and Anonymous.

The things that one person can do define what is "human". The things that transcend the limits of an individual – building a skyscraper, governing a nation, laying a telecommunications network, writing an operating system – are the realm of the super-human.

The most profound social revolutions in human history have arisen whenever a technology comes along that lowers transaction costs. Technologies that makes it cheaper to work together lower the tax on super-human powers.

Language (which allowed for explicit communication), writing (which allowed for record-keeping), literacy (which allowed for communication at a distance and through time) and all the way up to assembly lines, telegraphs, telephones, cryptography (which lowers transaction costs by reducing the amount of energy you have to expend to keep attackers out of your coordination efforts), computers, networks, mobile phones and beyond.

Decreasing transaction costs means that the powerful can do more. If you've already organised a state or criminal enterprise or church with you at the top, it means that you've figured out how to harvest and distribute resources effectively enough to maintain your institutional stability.

Disorganised but effective: how technology lowers transaction costs

Corporations are people, Sarah Guthrie paints their portraits


Scott Edelman sez, "Artist Sarah Guthrie (whose work I discovered at the Crystal City, VA art installation Artomatic) believes that since Citizens United grants corporations the same legal status as human beings, they's surely want their own portraits. And so she has painted AT&T, Mattel, General Mills and other corporations in the style of the old masters in a series she calls Corporate Masters. She writes: 'The corporations selected are large multi-nationals that have been highlighted in the news recently: for legally paying less in federal income tax than you and me; for market domination; for bringing the economy to the brink of disaster.'"

3 more reasons to visit Artomatic (Thanks, Scott!)