Latest developments in the Occupy protests

AP News
Posted: Nov 24, 2011 6:51 AM
Latest developments in the Occupy protests


During the first two months of the nationwide Occupy protests, the movement that is demanding more out of the wealthiest Americans cost local taxpayers at least $13 million in police overtime and other municipal services, according to a survey by The Associated Press.

The heaviest financial burden has fallen upon law enforcement agencies tasked with monitoring marches and evicting protesters from outdoor camps. And the steepest costs by far piled up in New York City and Oakland, Calif., where police clashed with protesters on several occasions.

The AP gathered figures from government agencies in 18 cities with active protests and focused on costs through Nov. 15, the day protesters were evicted from New York City's Zuccotti Park, where the protests began Sept. 17 before spreading nationwide. The survey did not attempt to tally the price of all protests but provides a glimpse of costs to cities large and small.

Broken down city by city, the numbers are more or less in line with the cost of policing major public events and emergencies. In Los Angeles, for example, the Michael Jackson memorial concert cost the city $1.4 million. And Atlanta spent several million dollars after a major snow and ice storm this year.


Protesters want shoppers to occupy something besides door-buster sales and crowded mall parking lots on Black Friday.

Some don't want people to shop at all. Others just want to divert shoppers from big chains and giant shopping malls to local mom-and-pops. And while the actions don't appear coordinated, they have similar themes: supporting small businesses while criticizing the day's dedication to conspicuous consumption and the shopping frenzy that fuels big corporations.

Nearly each one promises some kind of surprise action on the day after Thanksgiving, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season.

Some business experts note that trying to shop exclusively local neglects economies of scale, job specialization and other benefits that big, multi-state corporations can bring. They also say small businesses aren't necessarily better employers in terms of wages, benefits, opportunities for advancement and other measures.


Occupy Wall Street has a benefit album planned with Jackson Browne, Third Eye Blind, Crosby & Nash, Devo, Lucinda Williams and even some of those drummers who kept an incessant beat at Manhattan's Zuccotti Park.

Participants in the protest movement said Wednesday that "Occupy This Album," which will be available sometime this winter, will also feature DJ Logic, Ladytron, Warren Haynes, Toots and the Maytals, Mike Limbaud, Aeroplane Pageant, Yo La Tengo and others.

Activist filmmaker Michael Moore is also planning to sing.

Jason Samel, a musician who is putting together the disc, said the goal is to raise $1 million to $2 million to help fuel the movement.



The New York Police Department's commissioner on Wednesday sent an internal message to officers ordering them not to unreasonably interfere with media access during news coverage and warning those who do will be subject to disciplinary action, after several journalists were arrested covering Occupy Wall Street demonstrations last week.

A reporter and a photographer with The Associated Press were among those arrested while on private property covering a rally by protesters Nov. 15 in Manhattan. Police made the arrests after the demonstrators clipped a chain-link fence and entered a vacant lot owned by a nearby church.

The police department message notes that officers should not restrict media access on private property "to the extent it is feasible to do so."

A coalition of media outlets, including the AP, sent police a letter protesting the treatment after at least half a dozen journalists were arrested. The media also argued police wrongly blocked reporters from seeing when authorities cleared out the Occupy camp in lower Manhattan's Zuccotti Park. The letter suggested the police roughed up some journalists.

Commissioner Raymond Kelly's letter makes clear that journalists are entitled to cross police and fire lines, unless it is unsafe or a live crime scene, and officers have a duty to provide access and information to the extent they can.



The first female chancellor of the University of California, Davis, has found herself in the middle of a national debate over police use of pepper spray to subdue protesters and the way colleges balance free speech and public safety.

Linda Katehi, 57, has come under intense pressure after viral online videos showed police officers dousing a row of protesters with pepper spray as they sat passively on the ground with their arms linked.

Eleven students were hit by pepper spray, including two who were treated at a hospital and later released, university officials said.

Katehi has placed the campus police chief and two pepper-spraying officers on administrative leave. She also asked prosecutors to drop charges against nine students who were arrested and said the school would reimburse students for medical expenses.

She has publicly said she was horrified when she watched the videos. Even so, she is fighting calls for her resignation.

Occupy UC Davis protesters, meanwhile, have ignored a camping ban. The encampment went back up Monday night, and campus officials said it included as many as 80 tents Wednesday.



Dozens of people linked to the Occupy Wall Street movement have held a protest at the offices of U.S. Rep. Fred Upton.

The Republican was among 12 lawmakers on the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction that failed to reach agreement by Wednesday's deadline.

WSJM-AM says 30 to 40 people from Occupy Southwest Michigan demonstrated Wednesday in St. Joseph, Upton's hometown.

The protesters say they oppose America's growing income inequality and Upton's economic policies.

Leo Javonovic says Upton is "part of the gridlock" in Washington and a defender of the interests of the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans.

In an opinion article in the Kalamazoo Gazette, Upton says good ideas for fundamental change emerged from the committee. He says they could bear fruit down the road.

Why is Anyone a Socialist?
John C. Goodman



Anti-Wall Street protesters in Minneapolis will be able to affix signs and posters to the plaza outside the Hennepin County Government Center but cannot use tents or sleep on the plaza, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

The protesters argued that the county's rules against having tents, using electricity, writing with chalk, or posting signs were unconstitutional and violated their free speech rights.

But except for the ban on posting signs, Senior U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle sided with the county, saying the restrictions were reasonable. The judge granted the protesters' request to block the county from enforcing the ban on posting signs but denied their other requests.

Kyle also ordered both sides into settlement talks. He noted that the protesters, who have been at the downtown Minneapolis plaza since Oct. 7, were unlikely to leave anytime soon and that the county has recognized that the demonstrators may assemble in the plaza "during any hour of the day."



The City of London corporation took a step Wednesday to evict protesters camped outside St. Paul's Cathedral, insisting in court that the issue is not about protecting banks but protecting the rights and freedoms of others.

The organization _ which controls the area around St. Paul's _ says the ongoing Occupy London protest camp is harming nearby businesses. It also says protesters are drinking late into the night and creating an unpleasant atmosphere. It wants Britain's High Court to issue an eviction notice to force the protesters to move.

Protesters have camped outside St. Paul's since mid-October and say they will fight any legal bid to evict them.

Their proximity to Christopher Wren's 300-year-old icon has embroiled the church in a conflict between bank-bashing protesters and the city's finance industry. The church's position on the protesters has shifted several times, and the cathedral's dean and a senior priest have both resigned over the crisis.



Several Occupy Columbia protesters arrested last week for refusing to leave the Statehouse grounds sued South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and state public safety officials, saying their First Amendment rights were trampled when they were arrested for demonstrating on public property.

The suit alleges that Haley blames the protesters for damage to Statehouse grounds because she doesn't agree with their message. A spokesman for the Department of Public Safety had no comment, and Rob Godfrey, a spokesman for Haley, said the governor would fight the lawsuit.

The seven people who brought suit were among 19 protesters arrested Nov. 16 after Haley said anyone attempting to camp out on the Statehouse grounds after 6 p.m. would be arrested for trespassing.