Tina and Gordon went down to the occupy LA event on Saturday and it was overflowing with people. I want to thank all our readers and those who passed on our Solidarity Pizza action. We're garnered over 250 donations so far from you guys and the total dollars is close to $8000 and rising. It's amazing. It's what makes the work that we do so fulfilling. We'll have more soon with pictures and videos, but this is a truly grassroots movement. Pizzas went to Boston, LA, SF and New York and we'll continue to deliver more food and drink as the days move along and as the money comes in.
We've also gotten emails from the pizza recipients. From Occupy SF:
He then delivered ~7 pizzas! in the name of crooksandliars.com. Our contingent rapidly devoured the bounty of pizza-y-goodness and walked around the square to round up any other contingents and inform them of the feast. Approximately thirty minutes later the main group had arrived and we distributed the pizza to everyone involved (with a plug that it was from you). No stomach was left behind and no pizza slice was left in a box.
You guys rock, and thank you for your support. I added your website to the bottom of my sign in gratitude and displayed it all day. What you're doing here in informing the populace of the current state of affairs is epic - keep it up.
It's our readers that rock. Another email from Occupy SF:
To the fine folks of Crooks & Liars,
Just wanted to thank you for the pizza's you supplied for the assembly today at Union Square. Not only does it mean a lot that you're supporting the movement... My wife is hypoglycemic and in the final stages of pregnancy. Just as her blood sugar was acting up, and she was starting feeling sick, the pizza's arrived and saved the day.
I've been so busy that I haven't been able to get through all my emails or FB comments, but that's only a sample. Tina's work has been extraordinary and she deserves major props for doing most of the hard parts. She's called in orders to:
I've called all these places and they have no problems getting the food to the protesters:
Al Capone's in Boston:
Escape from New York Pizza in San Francisco
Liberatos Pizza in New York:
Rocket Pizza in LA:
I've been thinking about how the protesters are organizing and of course my control issues kick into play. There will be some out of control stuff, but that's the way it begins. And It's under way without a network like Fox News behind it - it will keep evolving.
Digby has an good post up about the nascent movement:
The New York Times did a halfway decent article today on Occupy Wall Street, refuting some of the images that seem to bother people so much:
For all the bedraggled look of the mattress-and-sleeping-bag-strewn camp, it has a structure and routine. A food station occupies the center of the park, where donated meals are disbursed, especially pizza and Popeyes chicken. Sympathizers from other states have been calling local shops and pizza parlors and, using their credit cards, ordering food to be delivered to the park.
There are information stations, a recycling center, a media center where a gasoline generator powers computers. At the east end sits the library, labeled cardboard boxes brimming with donated books: nonfiction, fiction, poetry, legal. There is a lost and found.
A medical station was outfitted with bins holding a broad array of remedies: cough drops, Maalox Maximum Strength, Clorox wipes, bee pollen granules. The main issues have been blisters, including some from handcuffs, and abrasions.
There are also a few therapists. Some out-of-work protesters are depressed. They need someone’s ear.
Elsewhere is a sanitation station, with designated sanitation workers who sweep the park. The park is without toilets, a problem that many of the protesters address by visiting a nearby McDonald’s.
The encampment even has a post-office box, established at a U.P.S. store, and has been receiving a steady flow of supportive letters and packages. Someone from Texas sent a bunch of red bandanas, now draped on the necks of demonstrators. Others have sent camera batteries, granola bars and toothbrushes.
They still exhibited an air of anthropologists observing some lost civilization, but it was at least less condescending than their last foray into the wilds of Zuccotti Park.
And after tweeting a very provocative note last week about how much this reminded him of Tahrir Square, Nick Kristoff just wrote about it on the op-ed page:
“Occupy Wall Street” was initially treated as a joke, but after a couple of weeks it’s gaining traction. The crowds are still tiny by protest standards — mostly in the hundreds, swelling during periodic marches — but similar occupations are bubbling up in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington. David Paterson, the former New York governor, dropped by, and labor unions are lending increasing support.
I tweeted that the protest reminded me a bit of Tahrir Square in Cairo, and that raised eyebrows. True, no bullets are whizzing around, and the movement won’t unseat any dictators. But there is the same cohort of alienated young people, and the same savvy use of Twitter and other social media to recruit more participants. Most of all, there’s a similar tide of youthful frustration with a political and economic system that protesters regard as broken, corrupt, unresponsive and unaccountable.
“This was absolutely inspired by Tahrir Square, by the Arab Spring movement,” said Tyler Combelic, 27, a Web designer from Brooklyn who is a spokesman for the occupiers. “Enough is enough!”
The protesters are dazzling in their Internet skills, and impressive in their organization. The square is divided into a reception area, a media zone, a medical clinic, a library and a cafeteria. The protesters’ Web site includes links allowing supporters anywhere in the world to go online and order pizzas (vegan preferred) from a local pizzeria that delivers them to the square.
In a tribute to the ingenuity of capitalism, the pizzeria quickly added a new item to its menu: the “OccuPie special.”
He has a few recommendations for "demands" that sound useful, although I'm not sure this is really about specifics at this point so much as it is consciousness raising.
In any case, a ton of good stuff has been written about this in the past week. Matt Stoller had a fine article earlier at Naked Capitalism that rings true. And this new article by Micah Sifry seems completely on point to me:
[S]omething is happening here, Mr. Jones. The protest, or occupation, is now in its third week, and in addition to a steadily increasing level of media coverage, this coming Wednesday a range of local unions and progressive groups are planning to rally their members to join in. Stubborn resilience plus some outraged media attention to police brutality seems to have been enough to light the spark, but beneath that, credit must go to the horizontal adhocracy running the occupation downtown, which has developed its own infrastructure for internal and external communication and social support. And it's doing this without obvious leaders (who could be arrested and held to suppress the movement) or institutional backers (who could be pressured), and with a wide array of networked support that is being marshaled via Internet Relay Chat, blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter, livestreaming, online video and street theatre. Some highlights:
The "Global Revolution" Livestream feed, which has several thousand watching at any given time, even when it isn't bringing live video from downtown, showing short clips from Anonymous, George Carlin and other troublemakers (132,000 likes as of October 1);
The "We are the 99 Percent" Tumblr collection of autobiographical photos from people facing all kinds of economic hardship, which seems to have a lot of stories from the families of American war veterans...
The Occupy Together news hub, which is curating links to Occupy efforts in more than 100 cities across the US, plus two dozen overseas, as of this writing.
This movement is messy and its decision-making process is participatory in the extreme, which some people adore (because it makes room for all to have a say, compared to our elite- and money-driven political system) and others abhor (because ordinary working people typically can't devote the time to long meetings and "structure-less" decision-making usually empowers a few people in unaccountable ways). And while we know how to use networks to develop and support "stop" energy, it's much harder to develop and enact "do" energy around specific demands...
But I think it's time to recognize that we're no longer in a what veteran activist Myles Horton would have called an organizational phase of political activity, where meetings have walls around them, messages have managers, advocacy is centrally paid for and done by professional lobbyists, marches have beginnings and endings, and the story line goes neatly gives from petition to legislation to reform.
Instead, in America we're now entering into a third wave of movement politics (the first being the rise of the "netroots" within the Democratic party after its leadership collapse between 2000-2003; and the second being the rise of the Tea Party after the conservative losses of 2006 and 2008). I don't pretend to know where the "Occupy" movement is going to go, though its main purpose appears to be to show first of all that it is here to stay, and to force a different perspective into a national discourse that up until now has marginalized and ignored grassroots anti-corporate social justice advocacy.
Like Sifry, I don't know where this is going. But it's traveling at light speed --- I haven't seen anything like it online since I started blogging. (I'm fairly tuned in whether I like it or not, as you might imagine, and this is different.)
So, I'm inclined to give it some room to breathe, let go of my preconceived notions of "what has to happen" and see if the new media and communications take us in the direction we need to go. Regardless of the outcome, I think this shows that people are reaching a point where they have to do something. And that's healthy.