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September 26, 2011

Occupy Wall Street: Day 10 - Legal Cloud Over Occupation Remains

By Chaz Valenza

Those arrested on Saturday reported the following: Innocent bystanders were caught in the police drag net and detained. Employees and owners of several businesses harbored marchers to save them from arrest. And, a number of sympathetic NYPD officers treated those arrested with respect and extraordinary leeway, some expressing support.


Teamsters supporting spread of Occupy Wall Street nationwide.  They report locals involved in Occupy efforts so far in the following states: CA,IL, WA, OR, GA, MA, OH, LA, TX, MN, AZ, NJ, CO, FL, PA and VA.

LINK: Teamsters Blogg Spot

Occupy Wall Street reports they have raised over $25,000 from poeple all over the United States and around the world.  The funds will make their indefinite stay possible for some time.  Currently the General Assembly for the occupation is spending approximately $500 per day.

Micheal Moore takes the People's Mic at Occupy Wall Street at 7:20 PM:  Video Clip Link

"I am so impressed by what I'm seeing here. You have done something very important and very historic.  It had to happen somewhere it might as well has been here.

"Millions of Americans have suffered as a result of the decisions made by the people in these buildings.

"My own personal two cents.  I want to see the people responsible for destroying the lives of millions of people in handcuffs.

"It time to make them pay.  Tax them.  How much?  Still not enough. 

"They are trying to take our democracy and turn it into a kleptocracy.

"The 400 riches Americans own more then the bottom 250 million Americans. They're afraid of one basic thing...

"There are only 400 of them.  There are 250 million of us.  What happens when 400 people are pitted against 250 million people?  You don't have to follow sports to understand that game.

"I just got back to NY 12 hours ago and I wanted to get down here as soon as I could. It warms my heart to see all of you here!

"I know each and every one of you represents another thousand and another thousand more.

"Do not be scared because there only a few hunderd here right now.

"This month for the first time 54% of the American public is with you.

"This is the hard part right now.  But everyone will remember.  Three months from now, six months from now, one hundred years from now that you came down to this plaza and you started this movement.  I am honored to be in your presence."

LINK: NBC Nightly News OWS Story

September 26, 2011: There were no marches yesterday.   There was housekeeping and organizational work to do after more than a week of occupation that has put Wall Street Banksters, among other parties to the economic calamity, on notice.

Silent Protester at OWS by Valerie B. Taylor 9/25/11 Attribution for Use

Box Score:

OWS Protesters Arrested: 121 - 200 (?)

Wall Street Banksters Arrested: 0

People Power Hours since Day 1 (NYC only): 349,000

LINK: People Power Hours explained Page 3

Facilitators reported that approximately half of those arrested during the Union Square march had been released and were back at the occupation.   Others were being held on more serious charges were waiting to have bail set.  

(Send donations, money orders only: The UPS Store, Occupy Wall Street, 118A Fulton St. #205, New York, NY 10038)  

Ketchup, her name, addressed the General Assembly
(Image by Valerie B. Taylor 9/25/11 Attribution for Use)
  Permission   Details   DMCA

Ketchup, her name, addressed the General Assembly by Valerie B. Taylor 9/25/11 Attribution for Use

LINK: 13 Things You Can Do to Support Occupy Wall Street Now!

Those arrested who did return reported the following: Innocent bystanders were caught in the police drag net and detained.   Employees and owners of several businesses harbored marchers to save them from arrest.   And, a number of sympathetic NYPD officers treated those arrested with respect and extraordinary leeway, some expressing support.

"The police officer told me he was going to cuff me very loosely so it wouldn't hurt," said one woman arrested Saturday.   Waiting in the bus she found the plastic strap cuffs were so loose her hands were not bound and she could freely take one out to use her cell phone.

On Sunday, occupiers cleaned up Liberty Plaza a.k.a. Zuccotti Park.   Trash was moved to the proper place for sanitation department pick-up.  

Thorin works in the OWS media center

Spitting your toothpaste just anywhere after brushing was banned by the occupation's General Assembly as was casual disposal of cigarette butts.   The Sanitation Working Group said they would be providing pails for both types of disposal.   As a member of the group announced, "We are not your Mother!"

A heavy throng of Sunday visitors to Ground Zero consistently made Liberty Plaza a second stop.   They were welcomed by occupiers celebrating the positive outcome of Saturday's actions that resulted in well over 100 arrests.

The general public, most unaware of the Occupy Wall Street action, asked questions, read the plethora of picket signs splayed on the granite floor of Liberty Plaza, enjoyed the music, ate lunch and signed a petition in support of the occupation remaining in the park.

A much decreased police presence was calming. A smattering of two to four NYPD officers on each side of Liberty Plaza was unobtrusive.   The NYPD surveillance crow's nest was up, and several police vehicles were parked across the street, but all streets leading to Liberty Plaza were open and all of the police barricades around the park had been taken down.  

Legal issues that continue to hinder the security, activities and longevity of the occupation remained ambiguous as of yesterday.  

Bullhorns and public address systems are banned.   Amplification over a certain volume requires a police permit.   The permit process is detailed, requires a fee and can be drawn out.   The occupation gets around this impediment by using the "Peoples' Microphone."

It works like this: A speaker or facilitator yells, "Mic check!" and the crowd response in same.   This may be repeated until they are in sync.   The speaker than yells out his/her message in up to 5 word phrases.   The crowd that can hear the speaker yells the same words so that all can hear.   It's laborious, fun, some speakers are better at it than others but it works.

The park's owners, Brookfield Properties, are tacitly letting the occupation stay.   Under a NYC building code arrangement there are several such private parks in New York City, mainly in Manhattan. 

Prior to construction, building owners agreed to provide additional open public space, which they maintain, in exchange for the right to increase the number of floors they can build.  

But, over the years buildings that committed to additional public open space have been making them less and less accessible by adding fencing and limiting the hours they are open.  

Someone circulated unsigned eviction notices at Liberty Plaza on Saturday.   Under advice of their legal counsel the occupiers did not handle the eviction flyer. Someone scooped them up and returned them all to the person passing them around.  

That such "private" parks are, in fact, contracted to be fully available public spaces may be an issue left to the courts to decide.  With the Occupy Wall Street action,  Zuccotti Park may become the test case.

At yesterday's General Assembly the legality of sleeping in the park was raised with the suggestion that the occupiers should be sleeping on the sidewalks, which is legal.  

The speaker's point was "tabled" and ignored.   By not sleeping in the park the occupiers might be de facto surrendering the park.   This reporter wondered if the speaker was an operative of the police or park owner as the comment was not germane to the discussion of the meeting at the time.

Many of the police bans are still being disputed including those on tarps, tents, umbrellas, etc.   Those who have been staying over night told me there was not a ban on camping equipment per se, contrary to previous reports.   The umbrella bans seem to be on again, off again, though the media team was hopeful they could use theirs in times of rain.  

There seems to be deliberate ambiguity. "Yeah, the police are screwing with us, pretty much," reported a media working group member.

Private Profits Picket Sign

Occupy Wall Street's legal counsel, Wylie Law of NYC, is continuing to contest the ban on tarps and tents.

According to Gawker today: " Brookfield never wanted the protesters there in the first place but apparently NYPD convinced them to. Now Brookfield's patience is finally running out: The WSJ reports they just posted a bunch of new rules aimed squarely at the protesters: No camping gear or putting "personal property on the ground."

NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne says he's wary protesters are editing video to make police look bad. 

Several websites are now publishing contact information for Brookfield Properties and urging the public to politely contact them in support of OWS and request that they let the protesters remain in the park.

Submitters Bio:

Chaz Valenza is writer and small business owner in New Jersey. He earned his MBA from New York University's Stern School of Business. His current feature film project is "Single Point Failure" an insider's account of how the Reagan Administration caused the greatest tragedy of the space age based on Richard C. Cook's book "Challenger Revealed." He is a former Director of Public Information for Planned Parenthood of NYC. His website is: www.WordsWillNever.com