‘Another World Is Happening’ – Occupy Wall Street Anniversary Interview
Cenk Uygur, host of The Young Turks, interviews David DeGraw about the birth and evolution of Occupy Wall Street on its one year anniversary: "This is about empowering a new generation to be leaders, to be engaged.... We have millions of people engaged in creating change that were not engaged and creating change a year ago.... Occupy globally is the big bang of humanity's next phase of evolution. It created this wild new ecosystem of mass transformation. Millions of people turned on, let out of the propaganda cage. The first step is that you have to open the prison door so people can come flying out and realize that we can change things. You say another world is possible. Now, another world is happening."

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Happy 1 Year Anniversary to Anonymous 99 #OpESR, End the System of Political Bribery
Cross-posted from MoneyOutPack.org, June 14, 2012

Here's a little Occupy history for you... Today, June 14th, Flag Day, marks the one year anniversary of A99 #OpESR. On this day last year, Anonymous and the 99% Movement launched a collaborative effort in Zuccotti Park, and 22 other locations nationwide, to announce the birth of a "decentralized non-violent resistance movement to end the system of political bribery (campaign finance and lobbying) and break up the big banks centered at the Federal Reserve.” In what was called "A99 Operation Empire State Rebellion," they set out to "restore the rule of law and fight back against the organized criminal class" and called for people to "occupy public space.” For a detailed look back, including links to the original documents and videos, here's a summation excerpted from, Economic Elite Vs. The People: 99% Movement Call to Action. This excerpt begins at the point in which Anonymous and the 99% Movement first began collaborating:

IV: Decentralized Global Rebellion

We were now focused on building the 99% Movement into an online army. We began to build an online network dedicated to creating a “decentralized global rebellion against neo-liberal economic domination.” After beginning to help organize people in the US and throughout Europe online, our attention shifted to Tunisia and Egypt where we first made contact with a “subgroup” within Anonymous that was helping revolutionaries organize online free from government surveillance and censorship.

In early January 2011, our site started to get hit by distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks and got knocked offline. The attacks kept escalating and on January 7th an attack took out our entire ISP network, which affected many other sites as well. Our hosting company was helpful at first, but as the attacks kept coming, they made it clear that they couldn’t host the site anymore, unless we moved to a very expensive system, which we couldn’t afford. In complete desperation, we put out a call for help. Several Anons (“members” of Anonymous) then stepped up and helped us out. Once we were back up and running, I released another extensive report in February 2011 titled “Analysis of the Global Insurrection Against Neo-Liberal Economic Domination and the Coming American Rebellion – We Are Egypt [Revolution Roundup #3].”

Here’s the introduction to that report:

“If you think what’s happening in Egypt won’t happen within the United States, you’ve been watching too much TV. The statistics speak for themselves.

In previous Revolution Roundups, before we were knocked offline, we featured mass protests by the people of Ireland, Italy, Britain, Austria, Greece, France and Portugal, as the Global Insurrection contagion spread throughout Europe. And now, as we have seen over the past month, North African and Middle Eastern nations have joined the movement as the people of Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Morocco, Gabon, Mauritania, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, Palestine, Iraq, Sudan and Algeria have taken to the streets en masse.

The connection between this latest round of uprisings and the prior protests throughout Europe is one the mainstream media is not making. We are witnessing a decentralized global rebellion against Neo-Liberal economic imperialism. While each national uprising has its own internal characteristics, each one, at its core, is about the rising costs of living and lack of financial opportunity and security. Throughout the world the situation is the same: increasing levels of unemployment and poverty, as price inflation on food and basic necessities is soaring.

Whether national populations realize it or not, these uprisings are against systemic global economic policies that are strategically designed to exploit the working class, reduce living standards, increase personal debt and create severe inequalities of wealth. These global uprisings, which have only just begun, are the first wave of the inevitable reaction to the implementation of a centralized worldwide Neo-Feudal economic order.

The global banking cartel, centered at the IMF, World Bank and Federal Reserve, have paid off politicians and dictators the world over – from Washington to Greece to Egypt. In country after country, they have looted national economies at the expense of local populations, consolidating wealth in unprecedented fashion – the top economic one-tenth of one percent is currently holding over $40 trillion in investible wealth, not counting an equally significant amount of wealth hidden in offshore accounts.

IMF imperial operations designed to extract wealth and suppress populations have been ongoing for decades. As anyone researching economic imperialism will know, a centrally planned Neo-Liberal aristocracy controls the global economy.”

Section seven of the report, “A Recipe For Revolution: Tax Breaks for the Rich, Budget Cuts for the Poor,” stated:

“Republicans and Democrats, along with their Wall Street masters, are so arrogant, deluded with wealth, completely lacking perspective, shortsighted and, quite frankly, ignorant.

As the economic top one-tenth of one percent has more wealth than they have ever had, the middle class is quickly disappearing and poverty is soaring. As politicians ignore the needs of the suffering masses in favor of a Kleptocratic Oligarchy, which operates above the law, it is only a matter of time before an uprising takes hold.

After analyzing societal and economic indicators within the US, in comparison to rebelling countries, it is not a matter of whether people will revolt or not, it’s a matter of when.”

V: A99 Operation Empire State Rebellion

Section eight of the “Analysis of the Global Insurrection” report was titled “The Empire State Rebellion.” In that section, we posted a map of New York’s Financial District and called for millions of people to flood into lower Manhattan and camp out “from Wall Street to the NY Fed, spilling over to the corporate offices of JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America.” As the report stated:

“Given all the data, due to New York’s geographical layout, population size and proximity to power, it is a prime candidate for insurrection…. One million people gathering in Cairo, Egypt sent shock waves throughout the world, and rightfully so, but just wait until millions of Americans begin flooding the streets. The revolution contagion will spread throughout the world like a category five hurricane.”

Several Anons loved the idea. Having just helped Egyptians Occupy Tahrir Square, they felt it was time to Occupy Wall Street.

The Anonymous subgroup and the 99% Movement then formed a collaborative effort called A99. On March 12, 2011, A99 issued their first video and announced “A99 Operation Empire State Rebellion, #OpESR, Communication #1.” As the video declared:

“We are a decentralized non-violent resistance movement, which seeks to restore the rule of law and fight back against the organized criminal class.

One-tenth of one percent of the population has consolidated wealth in unprecedented fashion and launched an all-out economic war against 99.9% of the population.

We are not affiliated with either wing of the two-party oligarchy. We seek an end to the corrupted two-party system by ending the campaign finance and lobbying racket.

Above all, we aim to break up the global banking cartel centered at the Federal Reserve, International Monetary Fund, Bank of International Settlements and World Bank.

We demand that the primary dealers within the Federal Reserve banking system be broken up and held accountable for rigging markets and destroying the global economy, effective immediately.

As a first sign of good faith, we demand Ben Bernanke step down as Federal Reserve chairman.

Until our demands are met and a rule of law is restored, we will engage in a relentless campaign of non-violent, peaceful, civil disobedience.”

The video ended with the famous Mario Savio quote that was used at the end of the “Second American Revolution – 99% Movement” call to action. That video instantly went viral and tore a hole through cyberspace with hundreds of thousands of views within a few days. Also on March 12th, to coincide with the A99 video release, I did an interview with Max Keiser to discuss the video and call for an occupation of Wall Street. An Anonymous member then released a rough edit dubstep music video of that interview and called it “Empire State Rebellion: An Idea Whose Time Has Come.” Here are some excerpts from the transcript:

“Mainstream media in the United States is the most efficient weapon of mass oppression….

… there is so much divide and conquer rhetoric – it goes from the mainstream media and it filters all the way down into independent media.

So it’s a matter of finding that place where you can overcome the divide and conquer propaganda. And where we can find that place is on Wall Street….

How would a million people clogging lower Manhattan’s financial district play out in the global media?

If we came down there and said: ‘We’re not leaving until we have commitments to break up the banks and end the campaign finance racket.’…

We have the highest, most severe inequality of wealth we have ever had, unlimited campaign spending, budget cuts for the poor, tax breaks for the rich – this is the ultimate recipe for revolution…

Decentralized global rebellion.
Decentralized resistance.
Decentralized revolutionaries.”

It was at this point where I learned from various Anons about their strategy of operating in three-month cycles. With the first video announcement in mid-March, it was then announced that on Flag Day, June 14th, 2011- three months later – they would launch their first offline US operation by holding protests in 23 cities. On June 1st, a call to action titled “Acts of Resistance: What Are You Going To Do To Rebel Against Economic Tyranny?” was released. It stated:

“The big banks have sold us out.
Democrats and Republicans have sold us out.

No one is defending our interests.
Our future is going up in flames.

It’s time for us to stand up and defend ourselves….

#OpESR is a decentralized non-violent resistance movement to end the system of political bribery (campaign finance and lobbying) and break up the big banks centered at the Federal Reserve…”

They were calling for people across the country to “Occupy Public Space.” Being that it was their first day of offline operations, we weren’t expecting much of a turnout, but as the 14th approached, there was an inspiring amount of online attention. On June 9th, I wrote, “Economic Rebellion Update – This Is What Decentralized Resistance Looks Like.”

“Exciting times over here, to say the least! The June 14th Flag Day Rebellion against economic tyranny is growing much stronger and more rapidly than anticipated. As a small part of a decentralized movement, it’s hard to measure the overall impact, but my email inbox is exploding with support and interest. This movement is definitely succeeding in uniting people from all over the political spectrum. Hardcore progressives and libertarians have found common cause. Liberals who are sick of ‘spineless Democrats.’ Conservatives who have had enough of ‘crony-capitalist and imperial Republicans.’ Apolitical people who are sick and tired of living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to get by. The foreclosed upon. The unemployed. People desperately surviving off of food stamps. And especially people who have been impoverished by medical bills. I’ve heard from so many people with horror stories from financial ruin as a result of health problems who are ‘ready to fight back.’ The anger throughout the population is much more intense than even I thought it was.

People who spent their career working on Wall Street are ‘done sitting idle while the market is rigged in favor of a handful of politically connected global banks and firms.’ The people who are taking it upon themselves to take action and spread the word come from all walks of life. Emails have come in from people in the military, veterans, police, firefighters, real estate brokers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, construction workers, accountants, Wal-Mart workers, union members, union haters – they’re all coming together on this. Teachers and students have been strong supporters. College students and recent graduates are feeling completely trapped in debt. Their awareness of their limited opportunities and lack of financial security moving forward is very evident. And, of course, the activists and hacktivists are coming out in force.”

On June 11th, A99 released “OpESR Communication #2: Ctrl+Alt+Bernanke.” This video stated:

“US Politicians have not taken action to break up the Federal Reserve and the ‘Too Big To Fail’ Banks.

US Politicians have not taken action to prosecute the people who caused our economic crisis.

US Politicians have not taken action to end the system of political bribery, the campaign finance and lobbying racket, which allows global bankers to control our political process….

We cannot remain passive while our future is going up in flames.

It is time for us to stand up for ourselves.
It is time for you to stand up for yourself.

We must restore the rule of law and fight back against the organized criminal class.

We must now launch Operation Empire State Rebellion.

The operation will commence on June 14th.

As a first step, we are calling upon you to occupy a public space…”

Once again, that video also instantly went viral and got hundreds of thousands of views. Once that happened, I thought we were on the verge of something big.

VI: Occupy Wall Street 1.0

A member of A99, going by the name of Gary Roland, researched potential Wall Street occupation sites. He told me that he thought a public-private park on Broadway, named Zuccotti Plaza, which was strategically located near the New York Federal Reserve building and Wall Street, was legally the best shot we had at holding a space. I said to him: “Zuccotti Plaza? You mean Liberty Park. I know that park very well. I used to live around the corner from there and go there all the time.” I immediately felt like it was destiny and fate: the very park that I spent my last depressing night at home as an NYC resident would be the place where we would return and the Empire State Rebellion would begin.

With only one day to go before the June 14th launch date, we put up a call for the protesters to “Occupy Liberty Park.” Not wanting to give the police too much lead time, it wasn’t until June 13th that we announced “Activists to Occupy Financial District’s Liberty Park Until Demands Are Met.” The release stated:

“On June 14th at 1pm EST, a group of activists will begin occupation of Liberty Park (recently renamed Zuccotti Park) in lower Manhattan’s Financial District, a few blocks from Wall Street (14971 Broadway, 10007)….

Gary Roland, an organizer of the action, says they will occupy the park ‘indefinitely, to express non-violent dissent to the further consolidation of wealth into the hands of international corporations by the corrupted two-party oligarchy. This is a non-violent action that seeks to express dissent and raise awareness of the failures of our current political discourse, until our demands are satisfied.’…

There are public protests taking place in at least 22 other cities on June 14th to help launch this movement…. This movement has inspired and united supporters from across a broad range of political opinion.”

On the night of June 13th, I packed a bag and sleeplessly waited for the sun to come up on Flag Day, June 14th, 2011. After originally thinking it was going to be a small turnout, I kept thinking: If only 300 people show up, given the attention we were getting throughout the media and the solidarity actions happening in 22 other cities, we might actually pull this off.

However, despite hundreds of thousands of people engaged online and the excitement buzzing around the day’s actions, with such little lead time in shifting the focus to our attempt at occupying Liberty Park, our first occupation attempt was a failed one. We ended up having just as many media cameras there as protesters. Only about 16 of us showed up. It was a humiliating and depressing disappointment. With our bags and folding chairs, we looked pretty pathetic sitting there surrounded by news reporters and cameras. As time went by, the occupation was quickly down to just four of us and one documentary filmmaker. The news crew from Al Jazeera was the last news outlet to leave, giving us a pat on the back, but shaking their heads while saying that they were not going to run a report on our actions. I was extraordinarily frustrated after all the hard work we put in and the attention we got online and throughout the media. I felt as if we just squandered a major opportunity to spark a “relentless nonviolent civil disobedience movement against the organized criminal class.”

Going into June 14th, we were already facing a lot of criticism and ridicule for calling for protests. A prominent journalist that I have a lot of respect for told me I was committing career suicide. People online were mocking us and saying that Americans were too propagandized and passive to take action. However, by the evening of June 14th, reports from protests in the other cities were coming in and people seemed excited. By this time, Gary, Kevin, Oren, me and the documentary filmmaker were the only people left in Zuccotti Park. Disappointed, but still determined, the five of us decided to march down to Wall Street. Standing across the street from the stock exchange, we began to strategize our return. Given the commitment to three-month cycles, mid-September would be the time to try it again.

After having a long discussion on Wall Street, Gary said that he was going to check out the protest that was happening that same day down the road by City Hall. They were calling their protest site Bloombergville. We were hoping to get them to join us at Liberty Park, but they wanted to be closer to City Hall and keep the focus on Bloomberg and his budget cuts. I told Gary that I had to go home to help recap the day’s actions in an online report. We discussed the importance of convincing the Bloomberg protesters that their real enemy is Wall Street. Gary gave his word that he would recruit them for our future actions. He spent the next two plus weeks occupying Bloombergville, spreading the message and rallying the troops for a return to Wall Street. As it turned out, the Bloombergville protesters didn’t need much convincing. They were ready to take on Wall Street next.

While Gary went to help start Bloombergville, I went home on the night of June 14th feeling very depressed, but determined as ever, and posted the following statement to the A99 social network:

“Back home from Liberty Park. It is nice to know that I will be sleeping in a comfortable bed tonight, but pretty depressing that we didn’t get enough people willing to stand up and occupy the park. Despite thousands of emails, tweets, comments and a video that already has 200,000 views, only four people in NYC were ready to put serious action behind their words. (At this point, I don’t know how all the other actions went, so I’ll hold off on commenting on them.)

It seems everyone is content just tweeting and writing strong comments, passively waiting and hoping that other people will do the hard work for them. Unfortunately, as most of you already know, we don’t have much time left to turn things around, some think it is already too late.

Hopefully, now that we have brought a lot of much needed attention to these issues and this movement we can keep building and most of the people who just found out about this, and sat on the sidelines this time, will realize that they actually need to take action next time.

The most frustrating part is that we had so much media attention on this, if only a few hundred people were willing to occupy the park this would have quickly escalated.

I would like to thank Gary Roland, Oren Clark and Kevin Dann – the only other people in all of NYC who were ready to answer this call today and take a stand. It was great spending time with you guys. I’m sure we will meet again very soon.

As disappointed as I am now, given the attention we were able to get online, which obviously doesn’t translate into action, I know that we are building awareness. Americans may not be ready yet, but it is just a matter of time before that awareness grows into the action we need. After all, this was just the first day of the Empire State Rebellion. That’s what we need to keep in perspective. Rome wasn’t built in a day and Rome will not be conquered in a day. We’re getting there, I just hope we can get there before it’s too late.”

The next morning, I posted a recap of #FlagDay actions to AmpedStatus that several A99 Anons wrote, “OpESR Status Update: Empire State Rebellion Day 1.” Here are some excerpts from their report:

“While we have launched this movement beyond expectations throughout Media and Online Operations, and have achieved success in Phase 1 of Cyber Operations, our first step in Ground Operations has been insufficient…. If we are to achieve success, you must take your own action and be a leader. We are confident in our numbers and strength online, but we must urgently evolve into a much stronger offline force as well….

The most ambitious ground operation launched on Day 1 was in New York City’s Financial District, just a few blocks from Wall Street, at Liberty Park. The protest only attracted 16 people in total, with only 4 people ready to occupy the park indefinitely…. Getting people to stand up in this way requires a very strong commitment that most people have not yet realized will be necessary and in their best interests. As we continue Awareness Operations and build momentum, we will reactivate this part of our Ground Operation at a future date. We have set up a social network group dedicated to planning this operation. If you are ready to peacefully occupy a public place, please join the planning group here.”

... after the June 14th actions we picked up a significant amount of help, both online and offline. Sure enough, after we spent another three months organizing people to Occupy Wall Street, we ended up back at that park in Manhattan across from the Federal Reserve building and Stock Exchange – exactly where I was on my last depressing night at home and had a humiliating failure in our first attempt at occupation. It was time for some redemption. And this time, on September 17th, 2011, thanks to the leadership, hard work and inspiring commitment of hundreds of others, including many of the people who occupied Bloombergville, the occupation of Wall Street was a success and the 99% Movement soon became a household name.

~~ End of excerpt. You can read the full report here. ... Read More >>



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