Update: Bloomington activists on Jan. 5 released a video of the New Year's Eve arrests, which can be linked to here. The Bloomington Alternative has requested copies of all visual and audial recordings made by police during the confrontation.
If mainstream media reports on a New Year's Eve demonstration in downtown Bloomington are given any credibility, the only crimes committed that evening were perpetrated by a couple protesters, and the city's lightweight mayor may take away Occupy Bloomington's tents for their indiscretions.
But mainstream media reports on social justice issues, especially on the police, have little to no credibility. By institutional design, they are propaganda for the economic elite, managed by law enforcement to shock the masses (and produce profits for media companies). The real news from Bloomington is that the "noise demo" that took place along its streets as the year turned was part of a coordinated, ongoing, global struggle against the corporate police state.
While Occupy protesters nationwide occupy presidential headquarters, take over foreclosed homes and reclaim their encampments, Occupy Chicago has turned to the stage in their efforts to engage citizens in the grassroots’ struggle against corporate elites.
Occupy Chicago organizers produced a show based on a Charles Dickens classic titled Occupy My Heart to celebrate the movement and bring its spirit and message to a broader audience. The premiere was on Dec. 23 outside at the Lincoln Memorial in Grant Park. On Dec. 24, it was broadcast as a radio performance during Marshall Stern’s Awakened America. The play was also performed indoors for free at the Prop Theatre on Dec. 26 and at Studio BE on Dec. 27, according to Occupy Chicago’s website.
“It's a great vehicle to get people interested and to bring more people into the conversation who might not come out to a protest — but who might come to a play," Hannah Friedman, director of “Occupy My Heart: A Revolutionary Christmas Carol,” said in a Dec. 24 Chicago Tribune article about a staged Christmas Carol-esque protest show put on by the Occupy Chicago activists.
Seven weeks before Jill Stein declared her candidacy for president, the Lexington, Mass., physician outlined her priorities in a plan she called the "Green New Deal" – jobs, climate change, universal health care and peace. When she announced her bid for the Green Party nomination on Oct. 24, 2011, the Chicago native presented herself as an alternative to the two "Wall Street parties.”
“They’re privatizing education, rolling back civil liberties and racial justice, plundering the environment and driving us towards the calamity of climate change,” she said in a news release accompanying her announcement. "… We need people in Washington who refuse to be bought by lobbyist money and for whom change is not just a slogan.”
With images of mass demonstrations and police brutality gripping the world, the Occupy Wall Street movement marked its three-month anniversary on Dec. 17. Skeptics have questioned the movement’s momentum since its beginning and have claimed it wouldn’t last long enough to deliver any significant message. But protesters around the nation are feeling stronger and more united than ever, attracting more participants and expanding their confrontations with corporate greed and influence.
“This movement has been built on the need of the working class and the middle class,” New York City Council Member Ydanis Rodríguez told marchers during a daylong protest in Lower Manhattan. “This movement is not going anywhere, is not leaving this city, unless we take particular initiatives to close the gap between the 1 percent and the 99 percent."
Americans who feel betrayed by timid, capitulatory leadership from Democrats like President Barack Obama and Indiana Senate candidate Joe Donnelly now have a candidate to consider at the presidential level. On Dec. 12, 2011, former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson announced his candidacy on the Justice Party ticket and the next day laid out a cogent progressive agenda on Democracy Now!
"Although hailing from a solidly red state, Anderson has been known as one of the most progressive mayors of any major U.S. city in recent years," host Amy Goodman said in her introduction to the report. "During his two mayoral terms from 2000 to 2008, Anderson was an outspoken champion of LGBT rights, environmental sustainability and the antiwar movement in opposition to the Iraq War."
Protesters around the country are diversifying their efforts to highlight major economic issues facing the nation, such as the home foreclosure crisis. After several weeks of authorities dismantling major Occupy encampments throughout the nation, grassroots organizations, such as Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (ICCI), are standing in solidarity with struggling homeowners.
"Officials from the Obama Administration need to hear from homeowners in crisis and realize that their failure to control the big banks is having devastating consequences for everyday people," Chris Neubert, an organizer with ICCI, said on Dec. 6 in the Huffington Post.
How does the Occupy Wall Street movement move from "the outrage phase" to the "hope phase," and imagine a new economic model? In a Democracy Now! special broadcast, we bring you excerpts from a recent event that examined this question and much more.
"Occupy Everywhere: On the New Politics and Possibilities of the Movement Against Corporate Power," a panel discussion hosted by The Nation magazine and The New School in New York City, features Oscar-winning filmmaker and author Michael Moore; Naomi Klein, best-selling author of the Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism"; Rinku Sen of the Applied Research Center and publisher of ColorLines; Occupy Wall Street organizer Patrick Bruner; and veteran journalist William Greider, author of Come Home, America: The Rise and Fall (and Redeeming Promise) of Our Country."
The two-month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement took me back to the summer of 2008, when I had an opportunity to ask author Bill Moyers about civil disobedience in 21st century America. Bloomington was abuzz at the time with an emerging direct-action movement against the greedy, antidemocratic forces driving the I-69/NAFTA Highway through Southwest Indiana. But the PBS journalist wasn't optimistic that "a great rolling movement of civil disobedience," as he described the 1960s, was imminent.
"At this moment, I can't say that civil disobedience has a promising future," he said after a book reading at the Union Square Barnes & Noble in Manhattan. "... But you never know when a tipping point is coming." Among the "deteriorating" forces that the winner of more than 30 Emmys and three George Polk Awards said could tip the balance were infrastructure, mortgages, home foreclosures and stagnant wages.
About 75 protesters gathered at IU's Sample Gates on Nov. 17 for a solidarity march on the two-month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. A mix of students and local residents, the demonstrators condemned corporate influence and the social ills it perpetuates.
As they marched down Kirkwood to the Monroe County Courthouse, the protesters chanted, "The people, united, we will never be defeated" and sang, "Everybody pays their tax, everyone but Goldman Sachs!"
The Bloomington rally and march were coordinated with similar events from New York to Berkeley, during which almost 300 protesters were arrested nationwide.
Peter Seybold might have been born and educated in the Northeast, but the Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI) sociology professor found the Hoosier state's labor movement intriguing from the dawn of his political awakening back in New Jersey.
"When I became interested in politics I didn't know much about Indiana," he said during an interview in late October 2011. "But I thought, 'Wow, this must be an interesting place. Vance Hartke and Birch Bayh as senators – this must be a pretty interesting place.'"