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January 13, 2012

Live Blog for #Occupy: Congressman Continues Campaign Against Occupy DC

Posted in: Occupy

10:10 PM Let’s get this straight here: The Washington Post is committed to continuing its coverage of Occupy DC and it thinks it is time for the occupation to come to an end. That is kind of like a husband telling his wife he pledges to keep being faithful to her and it’s time for them to get a divorce.

10:00 PM Patrick B. Pexton, Washington Post ombudsman, on the effort of the newspaper to cover Occupy DC:

Since OWS began in New York in September and came to the District on Oct. 1, I’ve received letters about The Post’s coverage. Those from the right say the coverage has been too fawning, too extensive and too little focused on the fact that, at least at McPherson Square, it is an illegal, rat-infested, messy, eyesore of an encampment. Those from the left say that the coverage has been sparse, hit-or-miss, negative, too much about officialdom and the police’s point of view, and not enough about the issues the campers raise.

The conclusion: Occupy DC is protected under the First Amendment. The newspaper will continue to try to help its readers understand the group in McPherson Square, even if people who read the paper aren’t sure why the group is important.

9:50 PM Editorial from the Washington Post essentially argues Occupy DC in McPherson Square should pack up and go home because the federal government has done a lot for occupiers, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is now getting involved in handling the occupation and—here’s the key sentence that gives one a glimpse into the thought process of the editorial board—”the balance between the rights of protesters and what’s good for the public has tipped.”

But, how are they hazardous to the public? All this editorial shows is federal

7:08 PM Susan Marie at myFDL writes about Occupy Orange County’s decision to move on and resume their occupation in a new location.

5:45 PM Harvard University dismantles a “dome” Occupy Harvard has been using. (h/t @southsouth )

3:08 PM In America, a backlash against capitalism?

2:39 PM From Anna Lekas Miller (a former Nation intern like this writer): Are Nigerian occupiers setting off a sub-Saharan awakening?

1:45 PM Occupy Congress next week

1:40 PM Bruce Springsteen’s upcoming album reportedly has a number of songs that touch on economic justice. The Occupy movement is likely to approve, even though the music was written before the movement ignited in September.

1:05 PM Should Occupy DC just find a way to declare victory and get out of McPherson Square?

1:00 PM Remember the computer security expert who leaked the Occupy Wall Street mailing list to Andrew Breitbart months ago and accidentally revealed he was a “mole” for the FBI and NYPD? Gawker reports he still works for the feds and is teaching cyber security classes.

12:11 PM The Guardian interviews 84-year-old Dorli Rainey on why she has supported Occupy Seattle. In November, she was pepper-sprayed in the face by police.

Rainey tells The Guardian when she was sprayed she thought, “They have just created more people who oppose brutality.” She says of her self, “I just don’t feel like sitting home and let[ting] the world fall apart.” And on the effect she has had on inspiring people to take action:

There is no way that you can speak out and make an impact unless you do something really atrocious that the media finally pay[s] attention. So, I am really happy that I did get pepper sprayed because finally the media are paying attention.

11:53 AM Allison Kilkenny for The Nation reports on the new documentary We’re Not Broke, which is about US Uncut, a group that was protesting how banks in the US weren’t paying taxes before Occupy Wall Street began to take action. The group thinks they helped influence the wider movement that has sprung up in the past months.

Given my understanding of how those involved in organizing Occupy Wall Street were inspired by the “occupations” in Egypt, Spain and Greece, I just don’t happen to think that US Uncut helped provide the spark for Occupy Wall Street. But that doesn’t mean what they weren’t doing wasn’t valuable. US Uncut was an offshoot of UK Uncut, which had been extremely successful in the United Kingdom. The tactics of protest the UK Uncut used to bring attention to corporate tax dodging needed to be shared with Americans. US Uncut, before Occupy Wall Street, tried to turn Americans on to an evolution of protest that carried the potential to really hurt the ability of corporations to escape paying their fair share.

11:36 AM US Coast Guard will be defending a vessel from Occupy protesters that is to come in to the EGT grain terminal at the Port of Longview this month.

11:20 AM Musician Jarvis Cocker, known for his solo work and also for being a member of the band Pulp, shows his support for Occupy in an edition of “The Big Issue,” a street newspaper published in eight countries.

He says, “Much is made of the fact the Occupy movement doesn’t have leaders, and this is sometimes depicted as a failing. It is actually one of its main strengths…We are over leaders. We are not interested in ideology anymore – we just want things to work properly and fairly… Occupy shows a new way. Whether you recognize it or not yet, it’s what you want.”

[UPDATE - 2:24 PM] Had Cocker’s “Running the World” here. A certain word he uses in the lyrics to describe “greedy bastards” of the world is offensive to people. I have opted to replace it so there aren’t any “Further Complications” to my coverage of Occupy.

11:10 AM TSA air marshal is under investigation for stealing the phone of an Occupy Boston “founding member” the night of the eviction. The marshal followed the young woman, Robin Jacks, and some other women she was with to Dewey Square. He began to call them prostitutes and she pulled out her cell phone to record the scene. He grabbed her phone and fled.

Original Post

(photo: martha_jean )

Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), continues to relentlessly pound away at the Obama Administration and the National Park Service for allowing Occupy DC to hold a 24/7 protest in McPherson Square for the past months.

Issa released this statement of condemnation suggesting the Obama Administration is allowing the occupiers to “illegally camp”:

The public health and safety situation is in itself disturbing and the refusal to provide documents about the Park Service’s decision making leaves a lingering perception that long-standing prohibitions against encampments have been ignored to avoid a politically embarrassing situation for the administration.

One of the few congressmen to publicly go after Occupy DC since it began, he was “CC’ed” on a letter written by the DC police union last month that asserted crime had gone up in certain areas of DC because police normally on patrol had been charged with monitoring Occupy DC. Also CC’ed were Jack Evans, a member of the Council of the District of Columbia, Barbara Lang, president of the DC Chamber of Commerce, Barbara Lang, and Jim Dinegar, president of the Greater Washington Board of Trade.

There may have been some legitimacy to the police union’s concern, but it was quite suspicious and seemed like groups most concerned with how the Occupy movement poses a threat to the financial and political status quo were piggybacking on the police union to put DC Mayor Vincent Gray in a situation where he had to demand Occupy DC leave McPherson Square.

The ploy appears to have had some effect. According to The Hill, Gray wrote a letter yesterday urging the Park Service to “take immediate steps” to address what he considers to be a “dangerous situation.” He argued the city of Washington, DC, should not have to cover the costs of the occupation because the National Park Service chose to allow them to remain in McPherson Square.

As a possible solution, Gray suggested the occupiers move to Freedom Plaza, where another group called Occupy Washington DC (originally known as Stop the Machine) has been occupying since early October. The group there has some kind of a permit arrangement with the National Park Service.

News stories about Occupy DC in recent days have increasingly focused on rats at the encampment and the problem of disease, hypothermia and foodborne illness at the occupation. On the whole, those may simply be general concerns that any occupation in the winter has right now (except for the issue of rats).

If rats are a problem, it is tough to tell from looking at the Occupy DC Twitter account or the occupation’s website. There aren’t any posts about rat problems. There do not appear to be any pleas for help getting rid of the rats. There isn’t any indication the local government is exaggerating a problem that is non-existent to get the protesters removed. All the occupation has said is, “If feds evicted us for a rodent problem, they’d have to do the same for Congress.”

Firedoglake’s premier live blog on Occupy Wall Street & all things “Occupy” continues. All times are EST. Updates will appear at the top of the post. Email kevin.gosztola@firedoglake.com with any news tips, questions or updates.


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