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Bank’s leaked email admits ‘Occupy’ movement ‘could impact our industry’

A national effort to reclaim vacant properties has one of the country’s largest lenders scrambling.

The financial website Zero Hedge has allegedly obtained a memo from Bank of America’s field services operation warning, “We need to make sure we are all prepared.”

Vocal New York organizer Sean Barry told that an action known as “Occupy Our Homes” would place foreclosed and homeless families in otherwise-vacant homes. That effort began Tuesday with over 40 events in more than 20 cities.

“On Tuesday December 6th there is a potential nationwide protest planned that could impact our industry,” BofA employee Leonard Pavlov reportedly wrote to BAC Field Services. “We believe the protests will likely take place tomorrow at auction sites, homes that are being foreclosed, homes in the eviction stage and vacant homes.”

Among other things, the memo claims Pavlov called on field services not to engage with protesters, but to ensure that BofA properties are “secured.”

But it will probably take more than a few vigilant bank employees to deter the 99 percent movement.

“When it comes to Wall Street’s control over our economy, our democracy and our lives, there’s few better examples than the housing crisis,” Barry said Tuesday. “Occupy Wall Street is going to continue to support this national Occupy Our Homes campaign, and both defend homeowners who are being threatened with eviction due to foreclosure, and to move families that need homes into vacant buildings that banks are just sitting on.”

Read the entire BofA memo (link).

Bank of America has confirmed the authenticity of the memo.

“As a matter of normal course of business, when we are alerted to activities that may affect our real estate owned properties, we inform our third party contractors,” spokeswoman Jumana Bauwens told Raw Story. “This is standard operating procedure. The safety of our associates and third party contractors is our first priority. It is the bank’s policy to protect and secure our properties for the investors who own them. Bank of America is committed to helping our customers with home retention solutions and other foreclosure avoidance programs. Foreclosure is always our last resort…”

Republished from Rawstory


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Solidarity to Occupy Oakland, from Greece

Below is our solidarity message to Occupy Oakland:

Brothers and sisters in Oakland,

We, from the small country of Greece, would like to express our solidarity to your struggle. We are all in this together, all over the world, for real democracy and dignity, for an egalitarian society!

The way the current political system works, every human value is absorbed by money – the only dominant value that kills our desire for true happiness. Values such as democracy and egalitarianism are fading away day by day, gradually, in a society that produces humans – machines, humans who attempt to disguise their lack of any meaning for their existence by consuming. Even people who live in absolute poverty, identify the probability of (over)consumption, with “success” and personal fulfilment.

Our future is in the hands of an oligarchy. Therefore we demand real democracy, which, to our mind, means equal participation in political power for all citizens. It is time to overcome the inefficient parliamentary institutions, it is time to strengthen our role in society, to understand our power, that together we can find solutions and answers to problems that concern us, rather than a parliamentary group that works for the sake of the elites.

We believe:
• In a society where equality, solidarity and human creativity will be the main objectives of the operation of its institutions.
• In a society where citizens can participate not only in the execution of the decisions, but also in the making and taking of them. We assert, therefore, equality and egalitarianism for all people of this planet, and participation in information and political dialogue.
• In a society without violence and exploitation, without wars and repression, a peaceful society of freedom and creativity.
• This society is not a promise, not a necessity, neither a “sacred duty”. It stems from our desire for a different understanding of things, and the rejection of everyday barbarism that we all experience. We simply do not wish concepts such as democracy and freedom to become forgotten entries in encyclopedic books and dictionaries.

No to restructuring of any debt. Restructuring of our lives above all. It is time to take the squares of the world and win back our freedom.

Nothing is possible without us…
We are ourselves, we are you, we are all …
Together we can!

From Athens, to Oakland and all over the world, unite the fights!

Below is the proposal passed by the Occupy Oakland General Assembly on Wednesday October 26, 2011 in reclaimed Oscar Grant Plaza. 1607 people voted. 1484 voted in favor of the resolution, 77 abstained and 46 voted against it, passing the proposal at 96.9%. The General Assembly operates on a modified consensus process that passes proposals with 90% in favor and with abstaining votes removed from the final count.

We as fellow occupiers of Oscar Grant Plaza propose that on Wednesday November 2, 2011, we liberate Oakland and shut down the 1%.

We propose a city wide general strike and we propose we invite all students to walk out of school. Instead of workers going to work and students going to school, the people will converge on downtown Oakland to shut down the city.

All banks and corporations should close down for the day or we will march on them.

While we are calling for a general strike, we are also calling for much more. People who organize out of their neighborhoods, schools, community organizations, affinity groups, workplaces and families are encouraged to self organize in a way that allows them to participate in shutting down the city in whatever manner they are comfortable with and capable of.

The whole world is watching Oakland. Let’s show them what is possible.

The Strike Coordinating Council will begin meeting everyday at 5pm in Oscar Grant Plaza before the daily General Assembly at 7pm. All strike participants are invited. Stay tuned for much more information and see you next Wednesday.

On October 31st, a press conference was held in Latham Square, at the intersection of Telegraph & Broadway, the epicenter of the Oakland General Strike of 1946.



Video of Occupy Oakland’s General Strike Approval by the GA

Michael Moore speak in Occupy Oakland

Some posters from Occupy Oakland

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New York police arrest hundreds protesters on Brooklyn Bridge

Today, New York witnessed a clampdown on the constitutional right to protest: The NYPD kettled the march on the Brooklyn Bridge, and arrested hundreds of peaceful protesters. Among the 700+ detainees were at least two young children, a photographer, and a freelance journalist.

According to Occupy Wall Street (local times):
5:15PM – Brooklyn Bridge has been shut down by police
5:55PM – At least 50 arrested.
8:17PM – NYTimes reporting hundreds arrested – including a reporter – police appear to have deliberately misled protesters.
8:40PM – Around 400 peaceful protesters arrested.
10/2 2:20AM – Over 700 protesters arrested.

New York City Indymedia reported:

OCCUPY WALL STREET: TODAY’S ARRESTS ON BROOKLYN BRIDGEUPDATE 2-About 400 arrested in Wall Street protest. In addition to what they view as excessive force and unfair treatment of minorities, including Muslims, the movement is also protesting against home foreclosures, high unemployment and the 2008 bailouts. . . . The group has gained support among some union members. The United Federation of Teachers and the Transport Workers Union Local 100, which has 38,000 members, are among those pledging solidarity.

According to the Guardian:

The march ended in chaotic scenes with police buses driving up the bridge to be filled with arrested marchers. The packed buses then drove off to central booking. Meanwhile, other marchers waited at the bottom of the bridge’s Manhattan side and cheered as some released protesters, or those who had escaped being blocked off, came back down. «Let them go! Let them go!» was a frequent chant.

It was a different scene from the night before when an equally large march had ended up at the city’s police headquarters. That demonstration had been against the brutal treatment meted out by some police on protesters on a march the weekend before. Video of one senior police officer spraying pepper spray on female protesters went viral on the internet and drew widespread condemnation.

But the incident did help put the Occupy Wall Street movement into American newspapers and TV shows that had hitherto paid it little attention. The group, drawn from a wide range of backgrounds, say they are inspired by social movements in Spain and the Arab spring. Last week the protesters attracted numerous celebrity visits, including actor Susan Sarandon and film-maker Michael Moore. This week they are expected to get an injection of support from local labour unions.

On its City Room blog, the New York Times reported that:

…many protesters said that they thought the police had tricked and trapped them, allowing them onto the bridge and even escorting them across, only to surround them in orange netting after hundreds of them had entered.

“The cops watched and did nothing, indeed, seemed to guide us on to the roadway,” said Jesse A. Myerson, a media coordinator for Occupy Wall Street who was in the march but was not arrested.

Meanwhile, street protests spread to other cities. «People rallied in Albuquerque, New Mexico … and marched to City Hall in Los Angeles. In Chicago, the crowd outside the Federal Reserve Bank began growing a week ago. People rallied in Albuquerque, New Mexico … and marched to City Hall in Los Angeles. In Chicago, the crowd outside the Federal Reserve Bank began growing a week ago» claims Occupy Together! «The movement has also started to spread in significant numbers to several other major cities. On Saturday in Los Angeles hundreds of protesters marched on the city hall with the intention of starting a similar encampment. In Boston protesters have already started camping out in Dewey square, near the city’s financial district. Unlike in New York, where protesters are not allowed to create shelter in Zuccotti park, Occupy Boston has been able to set up rows of tents,» says the Guardian…

More updates as they come…


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Bolivia: Police Repression of Indigenous Marchers in Yucumo

Written by Eduardo Avila (for Global Voices)

TIPNIS march. Image by Fernando Miranda, copyright Demotix (26/09/2011).

It has been more than a month since a group of indigenous protesters from the Indigenous Territory and National Park Isiboro Sécure (TIPNIS in Spanish) started their 500km march with the goal of reaching the seat of government in La Paz to express their opposition to the planned highway construction through their land.

For several days, the march had been halted by a group of pro-government colonizers, who had blocked the road in Yucumo insisting that the protesters stop and resume dialogue with the government of Evo Morales.

Police intervention

The police also reinforced this blockade saying that it wanted to prevent any confrontation between the marchers and those blockading the road. This stoppage also prevented supplies, such as food, water, and medicine donated by thousands of residents from the cities, from reaching the protests. Tension between the sides continued to climb, and there was a sense that there would be an impending intervention by the security forces.

A little after 5 pm local time on September 25, 2011, right when the protesters were eating a meal, it was reported that approximately 500 uniformed police officers began to use tear gas to disperse the protesters with the goal of rounding them up on buses. The Fundación Tierra (Land Foundation) maintained a live blog, where it published the early actions reported by their communications team on the ground [es].

ES: 17:18 GASIFICACIÓN. En este momento comenzó la gasificación policial a los indígenas en el campamento en el que se encuentran desde ayer.

17:25 RUMBO A LA PAZ. Se informa que en este momento la policía obliga a subir a las mujeres y niños indígenas en camionetas rumbo hacia Yucumo.

17:28 DESESPERACIÓN. En medio de la desesperación los niños lloran y las madres buscan no separarse de sus hijos mientras los efectivos policiales antimotines ingresan en el campamento indígena para desalojará a los marchistas y obligarlos a subir a camionetas que llegan desde San Borja.[…]

17:49 ESTAMOS EN EL LUGAR. Hacemos todo lo posible para actualizar con toda la información posible pero como comprenederán no es una tarea facil y las comunicaciones son intermitentes.»

EN: 17:18 GASIFICATION. Right now the police have begun tear gassing the indigenous [marchers] in the camp where they have been since yesterday.

17:25 DESTINATION: LA PAZ. It is being reported that the police are forcing indigenous women and children to board trucks towards Yucumo.

17:28 DESPERATION. In the middle of the desperation, children cry and the mothers try not to be separated from their children, while the anti-riot police enter the indigenous camp to remove the marchers and force them to board trucks that arrive from San Borja.[…]

17:49 WE ARE ON LOCATION. We will do everything possible to update with all the possible information, but please understand that it is not an e asy task and communication is intermittent.»

Soon after the police repression started, information began to be reported by the media on location, even though there were reports of the police confiscating cameras and cell phones from journalists. There are conflicting reports of the number of casualties, but the television channel Red Uno reported that a 3 month-old baby died [es] apparently from the fumes from the tear gas used by the police.

Media outlet Erbol reported that at least 45 people were being treated in area hospitals, and that the Director of the San Borja hospital. Javier Jiménez, said that police had handcuffed doctors and prevented them from treating the indigenous marchers [es].

The blog TIPNIS Resiste (TIPNIS Resisting) collected a personal testimony from indigenous representative Esther Argollo, who was present at the time of the police intervention [es]. She said:

ES: Había una mujer que estaba con tres bebés, llorando en el camino y estaba entregando sus pequeños y a mí me dijo por favor mi bebé, mi bebé y yo le tuve que socorrer a un niño de tres años que estaba llorando y que rostro estaba lastimado de repente por una caída que ha tenido. Escapamos al monte porque los policías estaban tirando gases por todos lados, no han respetado a nadie, han rodeado el campamento, han tirado las cosas, han agredido a las personas, hay gente que ha sido golpeada.

…Había muchos niños perdidos, las mamás estaban buscando a sus hijos, no se sabe cuántas personas están todavía en el monte porque han corrido, estaban de miedo. Han corrido peladitos, sin nada. […] Todos están dolidos hay mamás que han perdido a sus bebés no se sabe dónde están, hay niños desaparecidos, está oscuro, no se sabe más de la gente, están perdidos, regados por todos lados.»

EN: There was a woman that was with three babies, who was crying in the road and she was handing over the small children and told me, please, my baby, my baby, and I had to help a three year-old child that was crying and had injured his face probably by a fall. We escaped to the bush because the police was launching gas everywhere, they did not respect anyone, they surrounded the camp, threw things, and attacked people, there are people that were hit.

…There were many lost children, the mothers were looking for their children, it is not known how many people are still in the bush because they ran out of fear. They ran naked, without anything […] Everyone is hurting, there are mothers that lost their children and they don’t know where they are, there are children that disappeared, it is dark, and they haven’t heard from them, they are lost, scattered everywhere.»

Check also:
• Bolivia: Mobilization in Support of Indigenous Marchers
• Bolivia: Police Block Indigenous Territory Anti-Highway March
• Bolivia: Child Workers Unionize


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Attempted police crackdown on Wall Street

A week since the occupation started, the protests on Wall Street are only growing stronger. Several thousands marched today. The authorities went apeshit. According to Jérôme E. Roos (Roarmag.org):

       #OCCUPYWALLSTREET keeps on growing. Today marked the largest protest since the start of the movement, exactly a week ago. Signs are mounting that the authorities are starting to get increasingly anxious about the potential of the protests to spin “out of control” and go viral.

And so today, just days after Mayor Bloomberg assured protesters they would be “free to express their opinion”, the NYPD went into Mubarak mode, attacking peaceful protesters and making mass arrests of law-abiding citizens for the sole purpose of repressing political dissent. Undoubtedly, as happened in Barcelona before, the police repression will only further reinvigorate the protests.

Organizers claim that at least 80 were arrested and multiple people maced and kettled by police, including innocent bystanders, a number of photographers and also protest organizers — in direct violation of the constitutional right to the freedom of the press, of popular assembly and of political protest.

Once more, the real face of American democracy is revealed through these powerful images by Paul Weiskel. Not a single banker has been arrested for crashing the world economy in 2008, but by now, dozens of law-abiding citizens are in locked up in police stations around New York simply for expressing their inconvenient opinion.

In pictures (via Roarmag.org)

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Below, a report of Julia Riber Pitt (Return to Wall St):

         93 peaceful activists were arrested, simply for marching in «the belly of the beast». Go figure that the criminals who inhabit Wall St. don’t want that kind of attention by activists.

I was able to get to Wall St. later that afternoon. As I was heading to Liberty Plaza I was informed that the Wall St. metro stop was blocked off, so I had to get off at the Fulton St. stop and walk a little. Lower Manhattan was now the most policed place in the country; everywhere were police barriers, checkpoints, and pigs. The actual Wall St. itself was completely blocked off. Other streets were also blocked but had open sidewalk, though a pig stood before each entrance. Certain sidewalks, such as the ones near the Federal Reserve of NY bank, were blocked off with «detour» barriers. I felt like a Palestinian living in the West Bank sans the guns pointed to my head. To make things even weirder, there were very few others walking around that area, which I found odd for Manhattan on a Saturday afternoon.

When I arrived at the Plaza the first thing I noticed were the cops standing all alongside the Plaza’s periphery. It’s kind of hard to believe why a non-violent demonstration consisting of close to a thousand activists would demand that much «security», especially when there’s no indication that this would be anything but a non-violent demonstration. The activists who were in the plaza were talking non-stop about the brutality from pigs and arrests from earlier that day. The first activist who approached me for conversation handed me a surgical mask and a jar of vinegar to dip it in just in case in the pigs decided to
tear-gas the entire plaza. Some pointed out the fact that the pigs standing around the plaza had put on orange vests, which signifies mass-arrest.

Aside from the feeling of preparedness, everyone at the plaza was doing their own thing. I saw Cindy Milstein was there sitting in a discussion circle with other comrades. Some people were playing music. Some people were already crashing out. Others were making signs using slabs of cardboard and paint. I decided to join in the sign-making.

A short time later we had a general assembly. The people speaking gave us legal advice about what to do if any one of us was arrested sometime later. We wrote down the phone number for the Manhattan branch of the National Lawyers’ Guild on our arms just in case.

I spent most of the night talking with my friends Guy (from Brooklyn) and Nelson (from Boston). Guy was telling us how a group of Black Bloc activists from either Detroit or Miami were supposed to show up. He said they should occupy the Wall Street Journal building in protest of our event’s lack of coverage by the mainstream media (how awesome would that be?). He also gave us the news that all 93 of the people arrested earlier were going to be released without any charges. Such a relief.

The pigs kept watching us into the night. At 3AM there were five pigs watching my area from the sidewalk and even more watching the other sides. Really? Sleeping demonstrators need to be spied upon? I swear, the whole point of the police presence is intimidation. The ruling class who hires these thugs knows they have to install a culture of fear to prevent people from challenging their power. I know, our demonstrations aren’t going the extra mile to do that, but they’re a start. The pigs are going to scare people out of doing something bigger and more effective; after all, if they’re going to engage in brutalizing people engaged in a peaceful march who knows what they’ll do to people doing things far more extreme. Maybe that’s why a lot of frustrated people in this country don’t engage in mass demonstrations and riots like people do in Greece, Spain, the UK, Chile, Argentina, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, etc. etc.; they’re far more afraid of armed thugs sticking guns to their heads than they are of exploitation and poverty because they’ve been conditioned in that way. That and skepticism; people hold that «so what is this accomplishing?» mentality to the point where they’re not going to do anything, because they keep assuming their actions will do nothing (in one of the philosophy classes I took last semester we read an article talking about this very thing; that all the «critical thinking» we’re told to learn has turned us into a «generation of debunkers» who hold skepticism as the highest form of intellect rather than genuine critical thinkers. As a result, a lot of people who would have the urge to do something refrain from doing anything). A lot of times that is the case, but even smaller events can build up to something bigger (though I would hold something like the Occupy Wall St. demonstrations as having a far more impacting effect than, say, the antics of the middle-class, privileged people in Free Keene which are supposed to raise awareness about the drug war).

I barely slept at all that night. When I left my resting area to get coffee the Channel 7 News was already set up next to the plaza. Later on, people were passing around the Sunday issue of the New York Daily News. The events from the previous day had made the cover.

Below: photos taken by Julia Riber Pitt

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