Tag Archives: Occupy Wall Street

Is Moral Monday the Tortoise and Occupy the Hare?

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The Moral Monday protests have developed from years of coalition building by the NC NAACP

If you haven’t heard of the Moral Monday Movement, stay tuned. One year ago, on April 29, 2013, 17 people, including ministers, academics and workers, were arrested in the North Carolina legislative building in Raleigh. The 2012 general election ushered in a conservative take-over and super majority of the North Carolina General Assembly and a new Republican governor, resulting in a deluge of legislation that curtailed voting rights, refused federal Medicaid and unemployment funds, and restricted reproductive health services. A broad coalition of organizations responded with non-violent civil disobedience at the capital with weekly Moral Monday protests, which are led by the state’s chapter of the NAACP. The initial 17 arrested grew into about 1000 by the end of the summer’s legislative session, and thousands showed up for each protest. Moral Monday has not only grown and spread throughout the state to other North Carolina cities but also to other states, such as Georgia and South Carolina.

On this one year anniversary of the Moral Monday movement, I can’t help but think back on the first anniversary of Occupy Oakland, in particular, and Occupy Wall Street, in general. Both Moral Monday and Occupy directly challenged social class inequality and their ties to corporate America. Yet they are different – one survived and thrived and the other, well, had a boom and bust (though is not completely dead). Continue reading

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How Occupy Influenced the Election – Beyond the Pepper Spraying Cop

Postcard for recent Occupy the Regent actions with student and labor activists across the state of California.

With all of the Monday morning quarterbacking after the election, what is often left out of the equation is the Occupy factor. Many dismissed Occupy this past year as ineffective, disorganized and, well, dead. Many asked why Occupy wasn’t working within existing political structures to effect change. But like many social movements before it, working “within the system” can mean something broader than running candidates or lobbying legislators.

On November 6, Californians voted to approve Proposition 30. This is a tax on the rich to fund public services. Californians making more than $250,000 are now required to pay extra taxes to fund public education, as well as other societal needs. Think about that. Taxing the 1% to support the 99%. Hmmm…now where did that come from? Continue reading

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WTF M1GS? Occupy May Need to Separate to Unite

“Where’s the Fairness?” chanted about 300 striking Summit Medical Center nurses and other supporters on May 1 in front of Alta Bates Hospital on the Berkeley/Oakland, California border. This California Nurses Association (CNA) event was part of a string of events for the Occupy movement’s call for a May Day General Strike (M1GS). Reporters, tweeters, and bloggers converged in downtown Oakland to report on more tear gas and arrests, but a broader analysis of May Day in the Bay Area conveys a different story.

Historically, successful political movements have a broad-based alliance of distinct groups          engaged in their own struggles but which also come together under a common cause. On May Day, labor and community-based organizations, along with Occupiers, participated in a series of events which demonstrated the potential for this unity.

Yes, potential. When I mentioned this observation to some Occupy and labor activists, the reaction was that I was being, well, Pollyannaish. Indeed, two key actions that day created movement schisms. Nonetheless, it is because more organizations want to participate in this broader movement that these inevitable debates occur. Indeed, the organizing of diverse semi-coordinated actions that day by a variety of groups – Occupy, student, labor, immigrant, etc. – was a sign of the possibility of an alliance, however tenuous. Continue reading

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Reinvigorating Labor Day? “A day for migrant rights, labor rights, human rights”

Many television news segments, newspaper articles and blog posts have, of late, asked what’s  next for the Occupy movement. With spring in the air, apparently much of the Occupy movement’s strategizing has gone into claiming Labor Day as a way to express contemporary discontent and possibly mobilize new participants particularly in smaller cities.  According to Alan Farnham of ABC News, “It’s shaping up to be a busy spring for Occupy.”  Because of its cultural significance, or that it presents a perennial opportunity to raise awareness and promote Occupy goals, May Day might get a makeover in becoming the day for the 99%.

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Reactions to Mobilization: Framing Occupiers, Environmentalists and Anti-Regime Protesters

For those who study and teach about social movements and collective action, the last year has provided us with numerous cases. From OWS, environmental activism, the Arab Spring, and the Tea Party, we have compared and contrasted these cases, often seeking to find common themes across these, using existing theoretical frameworks to shed light on contemporary cases, or alternatively, use what’s going on out there as a way to reevaluate existing theories of social movements and collective action.

One important and emerging theme is the way in which people – from the public, to the media, to political elites – react to social movements.  Scholars have shown how positive and negative reactions, especially by elites, have important consequences for subsequent mobilization. Of course, elite responses to protesters vary; by no means is government surveillance (as is the case with environmental groups in Canada) equivalent to the brutality faced by activists and bystanders in Syria. Yet, there is a common theme when it comes to elite framing of challenges as illegitimate and depicting challengers as radicals and terrorists. Continue reading

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“Lessons” from OWS inside and outside the classroom

On her CNN Newsroom morning show (Feb 7), Kyra Phillips set up a segment about college courses on OWS saying that OWS “is not just in the streets but in the classrooms” and that “kids are writing papers about it.” She interviews Roosevelt University professor of political science, Jeff Edwards and a graduate student in his course, Ameshia Cross. Edwards, who is a social movement scholar, says it is worth having a course about the Occupy movement because it has changed the discourse of American politics and has “staying power.”  It also appeals to students because it is “youth led.” Cross, his student, is reminded of a comment a professor once made when she was an undergraduate – that the new generation is not interested in social movements. The discussion then moved to a comparison of OWS with “classic” social movements. All agreed that the Occupy movement is comparable to the civil rights movement and women’s movement. As Cross says, the Occupy movement “lives up” to that kind of comparison.  Phillips then asks Edwards whether a course on the OWS movement would be taught in 5 years. Edwards says yes. He suggests that effective movements last a long time, and presumably, the goals of the Occupy movement– no matter how loosely defined – will not be met any time soon and thus will have to play out over an extended period of time (see also The Occupy Movement Is Now Being Offered As A Political Science Course). Continue reading

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Where is Wall Street? Let the Crowd Tell Us

Map of locations of sit-ins in southern US cities, from Kenneth Andrews and Michael Biggs' 2006 American Sociological Review article "The Dynamics of Protest Diffusion."

Recent efforts to add a geo-spatial dimension to studies of protest have given social movement scholars the chance to draw some really interesting conclusions. Dan Myers and Beth Caniglia found how close your protest needed to be to New York City to have a hope of appearing in the New York Times. Kenneth Andrews and Michael Biggs determined how sit-ins rapidly diffused from city to city in the south in 1960. And Robert Sampson, Doug McAdam, Heather MacIndoe, and Simon Weffer-Elizondo established what neighborhood characteristics really mattered in where collective action occurred over 30 years in Chicago. While these studies asked different questions and focused on different places, they had one major component in common: they hinged on the painstaking collection of data from a variety of sources to identify the location and characteristics of large numbers of protest events. Continue reading

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