– Workers’ World Party, Socialist Party USA, and Communist Party of Canada Join Communist Party USA and Occupy Movement Founder—Vancouver’s Adbusters—in Demanding More “Militance” against the Rich
– Class Warfare: United Auto Workers, Service Employees International Union, and International Brotherhood of Teamsters Join the AFL-CIO in Supporting “Occupiers”
Frustrated by the public hygiene, access, and image problems presented by hundreds of anti-capitalist protesters encamped in urban financial districts across North America, municipal authorities in the USA and Canada have ordered police to break up tent cities in New York, San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland, as well as in Calgary, Regina, Victoria, and Vancouver. In the last city, home to Adbusters, the activist group that conceived the movement, Mayor Gregor Robertson has demanded that “Occupy Vancouver” be torn down before Canadian Football League fans descend for the Grey Cup game.
On Thursday, two days after the New York Police Department dismantled the original Occupy Wall Street encampment in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, anti-capitalist demonstrators marched through New York’s financial district, promising a “Day of Disruption” there and in other cities. About 500 protesters were met by a line of police in riot helmets one block from Wall Street. “Whose street? Our street!” protesters chanted. Police using bullhorns informed the “Occupiers” they did not have a permit to march.
Occupy Wall Street (OWS) had announced that it would rally near the New York Stock Exchange, then “fan out” across Manhattan and head to the subways, before marching over the Brooklyn Bridge. “The protesters are calling for a massive event aimed at disrupting major parts of the city,” Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson said. “We will be prepared for that.” The “Day of Disruption” had actually been planned before the city and park owners dislodged the two-month-old encampment in Zuccotti Park, but the “action” acquired added urgency afterwards.
Pictured above: OWS protesters and NYPD scuffle in Zuccotti Park on November 17, 2011.
Later, after massing in Foley Square, thousands of protesters, their ranks swelled by the presence of union activists, flooded across the Brooklyn Bridge. Police arrested up to 300 people. Anti-capitalist/anti-bank protests also took place in Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, Las Vegas, St. Louis, Dallas, Chicago, Detroit, Boston, Miami, and elsewhere. “Scores” of arrests were made as police removed tents in Oakland, California and Burlington, Vermont. However, evictions occurred peacefully elsewhere, including Atlanta, Portland, and Salt Lake City.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, the Mercury News reports, “Occupy Cal” cadres clashed with police in Oakland and at the University of California at Berkeley (go figure), before regrouping in San Francisco’s financial district. There they stormed the lobby of the Bank of America on California Street:
The relative quiet in San Francisco comes a after displaced Occupy protesters from Oakland and Berkeley funneled into the city, clashing with police as they stormed a downtown bank and upsetting a fragile deal brokered by Mayor Ed Lee to allow the encampment along The Embarcadero to remain in place.
As the protesters marched into the heart of San Francisco’s financial district Wednesday afternoon, managers of several banks quickly locked their doors and posted security guards out front. But protesters were able to rush into the Bank of America branch as panicked employees ran to the back office and shut the bank safe.
Police in riot gear demanded the roughly 100 protesters leave the lobby of Bank of America on California Street or be arrested. But protesters continued to chant “Whose bank? Our bank!” as they danced on desktops and scribbled “Occupy Bank of America” on office calendars.
One protester pitched a tent — a symbol of the Occupy movement and a scourge of city officials — inside the bank lobby. Police pushed back protesters with their batons — witnesses reported seeing at least two people struck. By the end of the night, 95 protesters had been arrested, and no one was injured.
In San Jose, campers were given a warning late Tuesday evening that police planned to clear away their tents overnight. Protesters decided to voluntarily pack up, said Shaunn Cartwright, an unofficial spokeswoman for Occupy San Jose. “We’re occupiers, not campers,” Cartwright complained, promising further marches.
Vincent Schiavone, founder and chairman of ListenLogic, a company that monitors social and business trends, believes that OWS is “not going away anytime soon” and, in fact, is becoming better organized and more radicalized. “There’s increased activity on campus. They had live blogging of Tuesday night’s New York City police action, minute by minute.”
“There’s an increased truculence,” Schiavone adds, referring to protest signs that threaten: “Rich, beware. Your days are numbered.” “The words and images are darker, more violent. You see protesters covering their faces now, which they didn’t do before. There’s more talk of revolution. Increasingly, the targets are conservative political figures.” Herman Cain, for example, cancelled an appearance in Iowa when his campaign learned that Occupy protesters had targeted him. Cain is a Republican candidate for the 2012 presidential election.
The better organization and increased radicalism of the Occupiers may be attributable to the fact that Big Labor, the Communist Party USA, and other far-left groupings hijacked the movement within weeks of its inception at Wall Street. We have already mentioned the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations’ support for the Occupy movement, but now the United Auto Workers, Service Employees International Union and International Brotherhood of Teamsters have lined up behind this assault against capitalism.
Meanwhile, reports ABC News at the link above, “the movement’s system for self-governance has been evolving, and its character has grown ‘more militant’ in the words of Adbusters, the Canadian magazine and activist organization that originally gave rise to Occupy.” A recent survey of OWS participants by Professor Hector R. Cordero-Guzman, who teaches at the School of Public Affairs at New York’s Baruch College, discovered that 64 percent are under 34 years old, well educated, white (81 percent), and male (67 percent). Only one half are employed full time. Over 70 percent of OWS protesters say they are independents politically, 27 percent are Democrats, and three percent are Republicans. No one apparently admitted to being a communist.
However, after the NYPD cleared away the OWS camp this past Tuesday, North American communists went ballistic. On November 16, the New York-based Stalinist outfit Workers’ World Party ranted against “billionaire” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, claiming the movement for itself:
Our movement is under attack. We must mobilize to defend it.
The Occupy Wall Street movement seemed to spring up from nowhere. Its program was unclear. But its very existence was a thorn in the side of world capitalism, angering the super-rich on their own turf, and making OWS a pole of attraction for the other 99 percent.
Starting Nov. 11, local governments in Oakland, Calif.; Chapel Hill, N.C.; Portland, Ore.; Denver and other cities had their cops clear the encampments. Then billionaire Mayor Mike Bloomberg struck at the movement’s heart at Zuccotti Park near Wall Street itself. Hundreds were arrested as cops tore apart the park after 1 a.m. on Nov. 15 and trashed the tents, books and belongings of the campers/protesters. And the courts have ruled against Occupy Wall Street, blocking the right of the protesters to set up tents, proving once again that the courts work hand-in-hand with the police and super-rich politicians like Bloomberg.
The anti-Semitism implied in the WWP’s attack against New York’s “super-rich, billionaire” Jewish mayor was obvious.
In like fashion, the Socialist Party USA condemned Mayor Bloomberg for ordering the dismantling of OWS:
The Socialist Party of New York City (SPUSA) condemns the police action taken against the months long occupation of Zuccotti Park in New York City. Under the cover of dark, the NYPD cowardly entered the park and forced hundreds of protesters out. The power of our Occupation is demonstrated by the fact that the police had to shut down all subway and car traffic to the Park because they feared solidarity demonstrations. In the end, about 70 demonstrators refused the police orders despite the overwhelming force and were arrested.
We strongly condemn the NYPD, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and all other parts of the political establishment and law enforcement who were involved in this raid.
The SPUSA wrapped up its rant with the cry: “Occupy Everything!” “As Socialists,” they explain, “we are permanent resisters. We stand in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street. We will continue to spread the powerful message of OWS that we are the 99% and that we are no longer willing to quietly accept the economic inequality, the war and the environmental destruction that the capitalist system is based upon. Occupy Everything!”
For its part, the Communist Party of Canada enjoins cadres to unreservedly support the Occupy movement in that country. The CPC does not hesitate to characterize Occupiers as “anti-capitalist.”
Starting without a declared political aim, the Occupy Wall Street movement combines rage against oppression and poverty with hope for a better world. These sentiments are moving millions into the streets, and Occupy is spreading like wildfire.
The challenges faced by this openly anti-capitalist but extremely diverse crusade are enormous. But the decision to rise up together against corporate domination is a powerful and liberating act, with enormous potential. Through their bold attempt to defeat the system, the “99 percenters” will learn more about social change than any textbook could teach.
This movement deserves the unhesitating support of all progressive activists. More “occupations” will begin in cities across North America in mid-October. We urge our readers to jump in and help build these struggles, taking People’s Voice and socialist ideas into the debates. Our next issue will report on the progress of this unique political development.
If the Occupy movement in the USA and Canada truly becomes “more truculent, violent, and revolutionary,” then statements from prominent foreign communists—like former Soviet dictator Mikhail Gorbachev, who has already expressed sympathy for the Occupiers, Russian Communist Party boss Gennady Zyuganov, and Latin American dictators like Raul Castro and Hugo Chavez—should be carefully examined for cues.