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Movin the Masses: Ramblings on political action in the Black Community
Monday, 17 September 2012 23:41

52 Shades of Greed | Occupy.com

cardOriginally published on Occupy.com

A group of illustrators have conceptualized a deck of playing cards, dubbed "52 Shades of Greed," that lambastes Wall Street executives and politicians for their roles in the financial crisis.

"52 Shades of Greed is a deck of playing cards bearing illustrations of the people and financial institutions whose lust for money took the rest of us for a ride toward economic collapse," said the Alternative Banking Group of Occupy Wall Street, which commissioned the project.

"I thought that my collaborator Daniel and I would do some face cards and combine those with a standard deck of numbered cards for a sweet little project," said Marc Scheff, the art director for 52 Shades of Greed. "Then he suggested bringing in more illustrators, so we made some calls. Within a few days, the project snowballed into a massive collaborative undertaking involving 28 artists from around the world. The deck grew to 56 cards - 52 in the deck plus 4 bonus - on an extremely tight deadline. The vision evolved into making a visually dynamic and coherent set of cards with text and illustrations that would give people a snapshot of who the players are in this casino we call the world financial system."

The creators are currently hosting a fundraiser for the project. They hope to cut 1,000 decks to distribute during Occupy Wall Street's one year anniversary on September 17.

See the full deck here.

Published in Article
Wednesday, 25 April 2012 00:00

Making our arrests count

yotamOriginally published on wagingnonviolence.org.

“The Tombs” is the less-than-endearing nickname for New York City’s Central Booking, the jail you get sent to if you are arrested in Manhattan and set to be arraigned before a judge. This spiraling dungeon below the courthouse at 100 Centre Street is about as ominous as it sounds. Above, the court itself is pristine and immaculate, adorned in mahogany and full of quiet, proper, well-dressed people. But all you have to do is open a door to the back of the courtroom to reveal an underground complex made up of filthy jail cells, violent correctional officers and hundreds of (mainly) poor people (mainly) of color, awaiting their arraignment for anywhere between 10 and 72 hours.

Published in Occupy StrategyLab
Thursday, 26 April 2012 21:50

A Practical Guide to Co-option

Gazette-coverAlso published in Occupy! #4. Occupy! is an OWS-inspired gazette, published by n+1.

Almost immediately after a small band of activists first occupied Zuccotti Park in September of last year, many in the movement started expressing concern about potential co-option by more established and moderate forces. These concerns have become more central in 2012, an election year. Wariness is certainly warranted. But angst about an over-generalized sense of co-option may be an even bigger problem. We cannot build a large-scale social movement capable of achieving big changes without the involvement of long-standing broad-based institutions. OWS should actively and strategically forge relationships with many of these institutions, while preserving the role of OWS as an "outsider" force.

Published in Occupy StrategyLab

garveySome Thoughts on What Young Black Activists Should Consider In Creating a Successful Black Movement

Occupy Wall Street’s name is so popular now that it has entered pop culture lexicon and can be referred to by one name only as in “Occupy”, like “Prince” or “Drake”. This speaks volumes to its ability to gain attention and now to be scrutinized by corporate media. This moment that “Occupy” is still attempting itself to occupy speaks to a major breakthrough in the public conversation on uneven wealth distribution and the tactics to confront such. Tactical responses have already stretched the boundaries of the original theme, from worker strikes and port shut-downs on the west coast to adopting the “Take Back the Land” strategy of physically preventing foreclosures and evictions in other areas.

As Occupy continues to shape-shift the question for those intimately involved is what next? How do they create structure and leadership, radical strategic goals and public politics that will define them past this initial burst of action? One prudent piece of advice is to watch out for the Democratic Party and their associates bearing gifts. Ultimately, their goal is to reduce the militancy of Occupy and to squeeze out a few votes for moderate politicians. These politicians will mostly pretend at wanting to change the political and economic order but do little once elected to challenge real contradictions of class and race. Any alliance that is not well prepared will end in cooptation. Despite the impressive beginning of the mostly white-led left leaning groupings important decisions lay ahead on how to move forward and movement build.

Organizing Upgrade interviewed two New York union members about their experiences working with Occupy Wall Street.

Interview with David Martinez, art handler and mover at Sotheby’s auction house in New York City, and member of Teamsters Local 804.

Sotheby’s workers were locked-out from their jobs at Sotheby’s in August 2011, just before Occupy Wall Street began. Throughout the fall, a group of supporters and Occupy activists got involved in activities to support the locked-out workers. Unfortunately, the lock-out continues.

Published in Leftist at Work

wallstMany have questioned the lack of black support for the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) moment. The most clear answer I can give is that when black folks in mass are presented with a choice they ain't about to go sleep in no damn damp park. When for now some still got a roof over our heads. As acts of defiance go, we don’t view it as a visually appealing spectacle, sleeping in the park is identified as an act of desperation that happens when you are at the end of your economic rope. Sleeping tents are usually a valuable commodity at this stage. For black folks I don't think anyone has tried such a tactic on a mass scale since the Poor People's Campaign in 1968 that ended as Resurrection City, in an attempt to pass an economic bill of rights in the memory of Dr. King who was assassinated before being able to complete this campaign.

Last year while at Atlanta encampment there were plenty of black people in the park, they just weren't there by choice. Clearly at first both groups kept their eerie distance, except as a mutual curiosity piece. In my most cynical view it seemed that each side took stock of a possible attempt to engage in a quick hustle. The homeless look to see what the “liberal” park inhabitants would give up, while the OWS folks hope to get some media millage by cozying up to some real poor people.

Organizing Upgrade is excited to repost this Media Mobilizing Project interview with two Pennsylvania organizers about the impact of Occupy on rural Pennsylvania.

Episode Description: In this episode Audra and Miguel speak with Mitch Troutman and Kara Newhouse of PA from Below about the occupations across Pennsylvania sparked by #OccupyWallSt. We also get to see stories from occupiers in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania, a report from the UNITE HERE action against Aramark for fair work conditions, and the recent Working People’s Media and Communications Forum.

Published in Occupy StrategyLab

Marisa Franco interviewed Mohammed Abdohalli and Gopal Dayaneni about direct action and the Occupy Movement in November 2011.

The #Occupy movement has tapped into a collective frustration spanning across the globe.  The rallying cry of 99% and the tactic of occupying public spaces has changed the conversation from one that continues to benefit the 1% to one that questions the political and economic system we live in and ventures to directly practice alternatives.  It’s also a moment that has brought the power of direct action and civil disobedience to the public’s eye.

On Jan 15, SOUL (The School of Unity and Liberation in Oakland) organized a panel and discussion on Occupy with veteran organizers from community and labor organizations who have been deeply engaged in the Occupy Movement. Maria Poblet (of Causa Justa/Just Cause), Shaw San Liu (of Chinese Progressive Association), and Brooke Anderson (of East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy) share lessons from on-the-ground mobilizations in Oakland & San Francisco, and exchange ideas about challenges and opportunities in this new moment in the fight against the 1%.

Published in Occupy StrategyLab

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About the Author

  • Kamau has worked as a community activist and attorney for over fifteen years in New York City and now in the south. He has been a leading member of several grassroots organizations dedicated to human rights advocacy and building grassroots institutions in the black community. Currently he is building a new organization named Amandla Training and Organizing Project. You can follow Kamau on twitter at @kamaufranklin.

Organizing Upgrade 2012 / Built by Union Labor

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