Tag Archives: Protests

A Lovely Day For An Occupation


As of 5:15 pm there were lots of people, marching and carrying signs and chanting in unison, headed for Legislative Plaza. Looks like there will be a lot of people occupying Legislative Plaza tonight.


It’s a gorgeous, crisp fall day in Nashville today. I stopped by Legislative Plaza this afternoon and snapped a few quick shots of the Occupy Nashville protest. They were in the middle of demonstrating the “human microphone” made famous by Occupy Wall Street. Throngs of passers-by were headed across the street to the Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s run of the musical “Wicked,” which I believe is a wonderfully ironic juxtaposition of messages. It’s been a few years since I saw the show but I seem to recall heroine Elphaba being a rabble-rouser for the oppressed animals of Oz.

Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?

A Lovely Day For A Protest

Today’s Tennessean has a message from Ken Locke, pastor of the Downtown Presbyterian Church, a place active in social justice and a congregation Mr. Beale and I have visited many times. Locke writes:

While many have been quick to jump in and either support or condemn the movement, I have noticed that voices from the church have been rather quiet. My belief is that this is because it is embarrassing, especially for my fellow clergy. Frankly, they are making us look bad. With little organization and no training, they are doing something we Christians are clearly not doing very well.


As a Christian in the Reformed Tradition, I believe very strongly that God is able to use non-Christians to spread God’s message of caring for the oppressed. By the power of God’s Holy Spirit, God is able to use anyone God pleases to spread the message of liberation.

My firm conviction is that these Occupy movements, touched by the Holy Spirit, are powerfully drawing the world’s attention to the growing disparity between the rich and the poor. On behalf of the powerless, they are speaking truth to power: It is obscene that only a small number of people control such vast sums of wealth. It is wrong that our legal and economic system is making it possible for a small number to continue getting richer while more and more are finding themselves unemployed, uninsured and foreclosed on. It is indefensible that for lack of relatively small funds, the price of a pair of shoes, children have to sleep in the family car and then get up and go to school the next day.

In other words, they are spreading the message that we, the church, should be spreading.


So I say to the Occupiers, you have my blessings and my prayers. If I can offer you support please let me know. Thank you for shouting out the message much louder than I have ever been able to. And please forgive me, forgive us all, for letting things get so out of hand that you have had to take up the message yourselves. You are unlikely prophets, yet nevertheless, may the Lord bless your ministry and show me a way to be a part of it.

Well said, Pastor Locke.


Filed under Nashville protest

The Embarrassment Of Gov. Haslam

Gov. Haslam has truly shown his ignorance with the ridiculous “curfew” he imposed on Legislative Plaza to quash Occupy Nashville. When even the former spokesperson for the Tennessee Republican Party says your actions are unconstitutional, you know you’ve stepped in, eh Governor?

Last night Occupy Nashville protestors were arrested again, and early this morning they were released … again. Metro Night Court Judge Tom Nelson told the state troopers who made the arrests that

… the curfew being enforced at the Capitol had no constitutional grounds whatsoever.

“I have reviewed the regulations of the state of Tennessee, and I can find no authority anywhere for anyone to authorize a curfew anywhere on Legislative Plaza,” Judge Nelson told a grimacing trooper, before ordering the immediate release of everyone arrested.

Hear that, Governor? You can’t arbitrarily impose a rule, pretend it’s a law, have state police enforce it, and then expect it to hold up in court. In fact, I wonder if there won’t be a wrongful arrest action or two as a result of Haslam’s embarrassing lack of knowledge about the limits of his power.

Sorry, but this ain’t Italy and you’re not Il Duce.


Filed under Bill Haslam, Nashville protest

Freedom Isn’t Free It’s $65 A Day

… and proof of $1 million in liability insurance.

That is the new rule for exercising your Constitutionally-protected right of free speech at Nashville’s Legislative Plaza. The Haslam Administration has unabashedly changed the rules at the 11th hour in an effort to crush the Occupy Nashville protest. And yes, it’s an astonishingly blatant government overreach from our so-called “small government” Republican governor. Wake up and smell the hypocrisy:

The state curfew bans anybody from being on the plaza from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Protests would be allowed by permit between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Those permits would cost $65 a day and groups would also be required to buy $1 million in liability insurance coverage.

An ACLU spokesperson said they are monitoring the situation and are drafting a lawsuit. Changing the rules in the middle of a protest to crush that protest “raises constitutional questions,” they say. Yes, I think so.

So at around 3 a.m. this morning the protestors were arrested. This morning a judge ruled there was no probable cause for the arrests and ordered everyone released.

I just wonder where all of those Teanuts so in love with our Constitution are? This isn’t the first time our baby-faced Republican governor has crushed a civil right. Back in June he signed a law making it a crime to display or transmit “distressing images” online. He’s blocked our access to the courts with his “tort reform.” We have our new Tennessee Voter ID law, which stands ready to disenfranchise thousands of people who don’t meet the state’s arbitrary Voter ID requirement (gun permit yes! Student ID, no!) Once again, these “small government” Republicans show themselves to be hypocrites, perfectly happy to let the government’s long arm reach in and silence a protest they don’t agree with, but calling it gross overreach when we try to protect our air and water.

These chickens will be coming home to roost for years to come. Tennessee will be paying for this in some unexpected ways, methinks.

And I want to raise some awareness about the people participating in Occupy Nashville. It’s not all DFH’s and college kids. Let’s give some mad props to 71-year-old Rip Patton:

“If you don’t hear from me, call the city jail,” 71-year-old Rip Patton told his friends. A veteran of the civil rights struggle, Patton was one of the students who braved arrest and worse to desegregate Nashville’s lunch counters and to bring voting rights to blacks in the Deep South as one of the Freedom Riders.

More on Rip Patton here. And thank you to The Tennessean for taking the time to interview this social justice veteran. It’s a great interview.


Occupy Nashville is baaaaaack….


You can’t possibly get more conservative than Bill Hobbs: he was, after all, once the spokesperson for the Tennessee Republican Party. And yet, I’m getting the warm fuzzies reading his Twitter stream.

When even Bill Hobbs agrees the Haslam Administration has overreached and is stifling dissent, you know you’re talking about an issue that is way beyond partisanship.


Filed under Bill Haslam, free speech, Nashville protest

Suffering Succotash!

Warning to all teachers: apparently grading papers in public is now a subversive act.


As we left we stopped by a group of teachers who were doing a grade-in in an open plaza across from the park.

Grade-ins have become common in cities across the country as teachers gather in public spaces to do work that usually gets done at home, off the clock and unrecognized: prepping for classes, grading papers and doing the unending paperwork that the school bureaucracies demand.

Since there was no open space in Liberty Square, this group of teachers gathered across the street. A few minutes later two uniformed New York cops arrived on the scene.

“What’s going on.”

“We’re grading papers.”

“Can’t do that here.”

The cops disappeared for a few minutes and suddenly there were a half-dozen more New York cops.

“Can’t do that here,” they repeated.

“Thank you, officers,” one of the teachers politely said. And the teachers gathered their tests, folding chairs and hand-made cardboard signs and moved across the street, disappearing into the crowd.



Filed under education, protests

Occupy Everywhere

This photo made me laugh:

The Occupy protests have truly gone worldwide, now on every continent: including Antarctica! There’s just something about this message — no to oligarchy, no to income inequality, no to corporate hegemony and a broken, bought governance — that resonates with people everywhere:

Looking at the images of the protests that occurred in 81 countries around the world Saturday, the visuals are strikingly similar. In Tokyo, cardboard signs read “We are the 99 percent.” The tent cities look the same in London, Toronto and Washington. U.S. dollar bills cling to a man in Stockholm.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I’m trying to remember all of those Tea Party protests in the UK, Europe, Japan, Australia, etc. Oh right, they didn’t happen. Oh I know, there were a handful of people in London in September 2010, but the UK events were all astroturfed by the same right-wing think tanks and dirty Koch money that flogged the big U.S. events. They went away pretty fast, too. I guess “protesting” to support the ownership class just doesn’t seem to be a winning message with the masses.


Filed under protests, Tea Party

Liberal Media Still Not Liberal: Occupy Wall Street Edition

New CNN anchor Erin Burnett has been getting a lot of heat for her snide, sarcastic take on the Occupy Wall Street protests, and rightfully so. Eric Boehlert had the definitive retort, which was basically, just apologize, already.

But if you thought Burnett’s take on the protests was bad, get a load of Kristina Wong’s commentary. Wong contributes “humor” pieces over at American Public Radio’s Marketplace; her Occupy Wall Street item was so patronizing, obtuse, and uninformed, she made Erin Burnett look like a member of Code Pink. And as for the humor part, let me just say: referencing all of the different major corporations that are important to your daily life as a means of pointing out the futility of an anti-corporate protest is not funny. It’s sad. No, it’s tragic.

And it’s also kinda the point of the entire protest. Corporate hegemony is not cute or funny. It’s a big problem not just for our country but our world. Get a fucking clue, already.

Let me also point out that the piece leading into Wong’s talked about how the protests are in their 20th day and have spread across the country. So a humorous look at Americans’ lack of protest seems a tad … odd. Maybe she needs to get out more. Might I suggest Los Angeles’ City Hall?

And finally, if Kristina Wong doesn’t think Americans are angry, she needs to read a newspaper. Or something. Because for crying out loud if there’s one thing Americans both right and left have agreed on for the past 10 fucking years is that we’re pissed off! I mean cripes, Toby Keith had a hit song with that title.

Of course, what do I expect from a commentary on Marketplace? So what if it’s NPR, it still caters to a mainline, establishment audience. And ditto CNN. Erin Burnett’s dismissal of the activists was arrogant and embarrassing but she’s a Wall Street insider — a former Goldman Sachs and Citigroup employee — so water’s still wet and all.

It’s interesting to watch the business press’ reaction to these protests. I suspect there’s a good bit of nervousness here; perhaps the media is trying to assuage everyone’s fears by offering a reassuring “don’t worry it’s just some damn kids” message. The relationship between the two is awfully cozy; I think the most startling thing to me about this Andrew Ross Sorkin piece in the New York Times was this admission:

I had gone down to Zuccotti Park to see the activist movement firsthand after getting a call from the chief executive of a major bank last week, before nearly 700 people were arrested over the weekend during a demonstration on the Brooklyn Bridge.

“Is this Occupy Wall Street thing a big deal?” the C.E.O. asked me. I didn’t have an answer. “We’re trying to figure out how much we should be worried about all of this,” he continued, clearly concerned. “Is this going to turn into a personal safety problem?”

Wow. Here I thought as a business and finance editor at the Times, it was your job to cover stuff like this. So now we know who your real assignment editor is: the CEOs of major banks. I think this is the kind of stuff that has people pissed off.

As for whether this will become a personal safety problem, well, no fears: if you listen to CNN, NPR’s Marketplace and the other business media, it’s just a few college kids out there. Nothing to worry about, it’s not like it’s anything serious! Certainly not a growing, nationwide movement! Just some stupid hippies trying to destroy jobs.

What’s that Gandhi quote? Oh yeah: First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win? Get ready to fight, folks.


Filed under Media

The Shocking Interview Fox News Refused To Air

The great irony is that this Fox News reporter defends the media to Occupy Wall Street protestor Jesse LaGreca by telling him that,

“We’re here giving you an opportunity with On The Record with Greta Van Susteren to put any message you want out there you, to give fair coverage, and I’m not going to in any way be biased about it. So that is the exception to the case. Because you wouldn’t be able to get your message out without us, yes?”

… and then promptly left that message on the cutting room floor. Gee, I wonder why? Perhaps because LaGreca pretty much handed this reporter his ass and shamed the network — and the fact that they refused to air this interview is only further embarrassment for the Republican Party’s propaganda machine. Watch for yourself:

And I have a special wag of the finger to my liberal friends who keep saying the Occupy Wall Street protestors don’t have a clear message. I’m not sure which protest you’ve been watching but the message seems very clear to me. The bottom 99% want to have their needs addressed. They want to be heard. They’re tired of lower wages and fewer benefits and outsourced jobs so the folks at the top can take home bigger bonuses. They’re tired of a rigged casino where lobbyists make sure the house always wins, paid for by everyone else. They’re tired of being told they don’t matter.

It’s all very clear to me. Rock on.

(via New York Observer…)


And speaking of news media, I’m not sure the New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin should admit he only went down to Zuccotti Park to cover the protests because the CEO of a “major bank” called him and asked him what the protest was about.

Gee, I wish we all had our personal New York Times reporter to ask about current events! Oh wait, I thought that’s what subscriptions were for …


Filed under FOX NEWS, media, protests, Wall Street

There’s Something Happening Here

For all that talk we’ve been hearing about an “enthusiasm gap,” I have to think that’s right-wing wishful thinking. Because liberals, Democrats, progressives, unions, and working people are taking it to the streets. From coast to coast, people.

This doesn’t look like an enthusiasm gap to me:

The Transport Workers Union Local 100 unanimously voted to join the protesters, the Huffington Post reports. The union boasts a membership of 38,000 people.

The protestors will reportedly march to the NYPD headquarters Friday.


Meanwhile, similar protests seem to be spreading to other cities.

In San Francisco, several hundred people gathered in the city’s Financial District on Thursday to protest the banking system, the Examiner reports. Six people were arrested after staging a sit-in at a Chase bank, according to the Bay Guardian.

The DCist reports that hundreds of people in the nation’s capital are planning to protest in McPherson Square on Saturday. Protests will be held in Boston on Friday.

Here are some scenes and links from around the country:

• Firefighters in Ohio protest job cuts:

Postal workers in Michigan march to save their jobs:

But union leaders say that if the 2006 austerity measure hadn’t been put into place during the ’06 “lame duck” session of Congress, the Postal Service would have posted a $611 million profit over the past four years.

“They want us to pay for retiree health care now for the next 75 years, for people who haven’t been born yet,” said Mike Sheridan of the South Macomb Letter Carriers union.

No representatives from Miller’s district office ventured outside to face the crowd of about 200 – nearly double the attendance that was expected. The postal workers gathered at the curb on Van Dyke near 22 Mile Road, waving pro-union signs and American flags, and urging supporters of the cause who were driving by to honk their horns. Many emphatically complied.

• Postal workers also take to the streets in Maryland:

• Hundreds of union members in Washington State rallied to support longshoremen at the Port of Longview, “one of the area’s largest labor demonstrations in recent memory”:

They’ve been occupying Chicago in front of the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank for a week now (first I’ve heard of this, too. Um, media?)

• They’re getting creative in Boston :

• … Even a little devious in Washington:

At sunrise, each member of the Association of Washington Business Policy Summit received a call in their plush suite at Suncadia. When they picked up the phone, this is the message they heard:

“Good morning! This is a wake up call. While Wall Street Bankers, corporate CEOs and their lobbyists go to wine tastings, play golf and plot how to maintain special interest tax breaks, middle class and poor families are struggling to make ends meet. Today, you will notice hundreds of community members here to protest at the Showdown at Suncadia. Our message: It’s time Wall Street Banks and wealthy CEOs pay their fair share.”

Showdown activists also delivered an “agenda” for the day to each room, prior to the wake-up call. You can download the agenda here.

And let’s not forget the tens of thousands who rallied in Wisconsin all through the winter and spring.

Enthusiasm gap? Naah. That’s just a meme the media has co-opted, hoping if they repeat it often enough it will become fact. Hasn’t happened yet. I predict we’ll be hearing that the left is “too angry” is 5… 4… 3…


Filed under protests, unions

Too Big To Fail

What started as a couple hundred DFH’s with their puppets and drum circles looks poised to explode into a major movement that the mainstream media can no longer ignore. Yes, the Wall Street protests are growing, with New York unions and progressive organizations joining forces with the students. Reports are that the demonstration is expected to swell into the thousands:

On Tuesday, over 700 uniformed pilots, members of the Air Line Pilots Association, took to the streets outside of Wall Street demanding better pay.

On Wednesday night, the executive board of the New York Transit Workers Union (TWU Local 100), which represents the city’s all-important train and bus workers, voted unanimously to support Occupy Wall Street. TWU Local 100 counts 38,000 active members and covers 26,000 retirees, according to its website.

The Union on Thursday used Twitter to urge members to take part in a massive march and rally on Wednesday, Oct. 5. That effort is being co-sponsored by another eight labor and community outreach organizations.


The other eight organizations expected to join in the October 5 rally, based on its Facebook page, are United NY, Strong Economy for All Coalition, Working Families Party, VOCAL-NY, Community Voices Heard, Alliance for Quality Education, New York Communities for Change, Coalition for the Homeless, which have a collective membership of over 1 million.

Kay at Balloon Juice linked to this Daily Mail piece with some amazing photos of the pilots marching. All of those suits and ties sure must make the suits and ties on Wall Street nervous.

Here’s my favorite photo, the same one Kay posted:

The media attention on this protest, now in its 11th day, has been piss-poor, especially considering the non-stop, wall-to-wall coverage they gave Tea Party gatherings. I don’t know if it’s cluelessness on the media’s part (liberal protests are a dog-bites-man story, conservative protests are man-bites-dog) or intentional (liberal protests challenge the power elite, conservative protests support the establishment); evil or stupid, it always comes back to that, doesn’t it?

Anyway, good for the hippie kids for lighting this spark. There were a lot of folks on the internet mocking the Occupy Wall Street idea — I’m talking liberal, progressive types, who said the protestors lacked a coherent message, drum circles are stupid, etc. And yet, the protest is growing. Unlike the Tea Party “protests,” this did happen without benefit of a major news outlet endlessly flogging it, a major personality like Glenn Beck spearheading it, or a corporate-funded group organizing and paying for it. Maybe that’s why the news media is so scared.

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Filed under protests, Wall Street

Maybe They Should Have Worn Tricorn Hats

Amazingly, the national news media which flocked to cover every second of the “balloon boy” story and offers minute-by-minute coverage every time three Teanuts gather together has almost completely ignored this story. Even more amazing is that it’s happening in New York City, right under their noses. Every time something happens in New York — an insignificant earthquake, or an overblown ego like Donald Trump running for president — the New York-based media treats it like the most important thing in the world. But a peaceful protest of Wall Street greed enters its fifth day and they can barely be bothered to cover it.

I wonder why that is? Obviously, the media is too “liberal.”


Filed under Media, protests, Wall Street