Monroe County social service agencies are seeking alternative ways to raise revenues as private and public support for their missions decreases and the need for assistance increases. As bleak economic times cripple the impoverished community, agencies are turning to collaboration and merger to increase efficiency.
Local agencies receive public funding from two City of Bloomington sources – Jack Hopkins Social Service Program grants and Community Development Block Grants (CDBG).
“The Hopkins fund is named after a city council member named Jack Hopkins who had this vision that this fund, completely independent of any state or federal influences, would be started locally, from our local tax base,” City Council and Hopkins Committee Member Andy Ruff said in an interview in his office in Sycamore Hall on July 22.
Occupy Chicago and other social justice groups have developed a coalition-built People’s Summit that will be held in the city the week before the May 19-21 NATO meeting. The summit is organized to educate the public about the NATO and Group of Eight (G8) summits, develop workshops for actions of dissent for the weekend and mobilize a mass march and rally on May 19.
“The People’s Summit is an opportunity to participate in education, democracy and debate that is missing from our political system and from NATO,” said Coalition Against NATO/G8 (CANG8) spokesperson Jesse McAdoo. “… While NATO meets behind closed doors, surrounded by riot police, the People’s Summit will be open to everyone.”
Last November's pepper-spray attack on nonviolent University of California Davis (UCD) students resulted from poor leadership and lack of communication among campus police authorities and university leaders, according to a University of California task force report released on April 11. The report condemned the actions of the campus police officers and their use of excessive force against student demonstrators.
According to an April 11 KTVU article, Lt. John Pike and other campus police authorities who doused a line of seated student protesters with pepper spray used canisters larger than campus police officers were authorized and trained to utilize. The incident drew widespread public condemnation, and many called for UCD Chancellor Linda Katehi's resignation. The report provided findings about the incident along with a set of recommendations to prevent future clashes.
"Our overriding conclusion can be stated briefly and explicitly," wrote former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso and the report's co-authors, according to an April 11 Chicago Tribune article. "The pepper-spraying incident that took place on Nov. 18, 2011, should and could have been prevented."
Occupy Wall Street groups across the nation are joining forces for a Spring of Discontent despite skeptics’ expectations that the cold winter months would diminish the movement’s passion and momentum. Occupy Chicago organized a day of action on April 7, the official kickoff of Chicago Spring, including rallies, marches and other events intended to educate, inspire, unite and mobilize the 99 percent.
Despite persistent pressure from the city and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s efforts to impose tighter fines and restrictions to scatter Occupy Chicago protesters from the downtown area, the movement has only grown stronger, Calumet College of St. Joseph Assistant Professor of English Mark Cassello wrote in an April 5 Huffington Post article. In fact, he said the mayor’s actions have “helped forge a highly organized and nimble agent of social protest.”
"It's important to let the 1 percent know we have gone nowhere and gotten stronger (since) the winter," Occupy Chicago protester Mike Ehenreich said in a April 7 ABC7 article.
Evidence that Occupy Wall Street (OWS) has reshaped the discourse in the national financial sector is ample, as working groups continue to organize events to recreate a new kind of banking system.
Most executive directors at major financial services firms say that OWS has made a mark on their businesses, according to a study conducted by a financial services research firm Echo Research and Makovsky.
"Banks and financial services firms have now shifted their focus from liquidity and financial performance to customer satisfaction and their own employees," Makovsky executive Scott Tangney said in a March 27 Huffington Post article. "The Occupy Wall Street Movement has indicated to firms where they need to be focusing."
While commemorating the six-month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement at its birthplace in New York City's Zuccotti Park on March 17, dozens of occupiers endured beatings and arrests during a violent eviction by the New York Police Department.
Hundreds of OWS supporters celebrated the anniversary with an afternoon march around the Financial District in lower Manhattan, as observers and curious bystanders joined them in an attempted 24-hour reoccupation of Zuccotti Park.
After a day's worth of peaceful protesting, occupiers set up tents in the re-named Liberty Plaza around 10 p.m., according to a March 18 Waging Nonviolence article. Within about half an hour of the protesters settling into the park, more than a hundred NYPD officers and Brookfield Properties private security officers forcefully evicted them.
St. Louis police authorities attacked and arrested a group of protesters on March 15 during the first day of the Occupy the Midwest regional conference. Police used batons, tasers and pepper spray in an unprovoked attack on the protesters as they were gathering their belongings and leaving the park.
Occupy the Midwest is a conference aiming to connect demonstrators around the country and to elevate the movement to the next level. Planned events include four marches, workshops, a general assembly and a march to the famous Gateway Arch on the Mississippi River, according to the conference’s website.
"Occupy the Midwest is an example of the escalation people are expecting," said protester Mike Hipson, 19, in a March 15 Columbia Daily Tribune article. "These groups are getting bigger and getting better organized."
A working group of Occupy protesters is planning a conference in Philadelphia during the week of July 4 when elected delegates from across the country will gather to draft and sign a petition for a redress of grievances against Congress.
Michael Pollok, an attorney who advised the Occupy protesters arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge last October, co-founded the working group called the 99% Declaration Working Group.
A working nonprofit Occupy group, Occupy the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), has submitted a 325-page letter to agencies involved in the rulemaking process for the Volcker Rule. Formulated by experts in corporate law and finance, the letter provides public comment on regulations proposed by a subsection of the 2010 financial reform Dodd-Frank Act.
Known collectively as the Volcker Rule, the regulations put limits on financial companies by prohibiting speculative bets with shareholder money that could put the banks and taxpayers at risk. The SEC has proposed methods of implementation for the measure and has requested public comment.
More than 400 Occupy Oakland demonstrators and a number of journalists were arrested in a violent confrontation on Jan. 28 when protesters attempted to convert a vacant building into a community center. Several hours later, a group of protesters separated from the crowd and entered City Hall, allegedly vandalizing the inside of the building.
The events were part of a demonstration called "Move-In Day," a plan to use the indoor base of Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center as headquarters for Occupy Oakland protesters to hold General Assemblies and for shelter during the winter, according to occupyoaklandmoveinday.org. The police response to the protesters' efforts entailed using tear gas, bean bag projectiles and flash grenades to disperse the crowd, according to a Jan. 30 Democracy Now! article.
"They are more interested in protecting abandoned private property than they are the people," Occupy Oakland member Maria Lewis said on Democracy Now!