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What Has Occupy Done?

99 To 1: Those Are Great Odds

The National Conversation

The refrain "We are the 99 percent," now pervades the American consciousness.

"Income inequality" and "corporate greed" have become mainstays of the mainstream media's lexicon (and even the formerly taboo phrase, "wealth redistribution" gets an occasional mention.)

According to a Pew Research Poll, just a few months after Occupy Wall Street began, about two-thirds of Americans now believed there are "strong conflicts" between rich and poor in the United States -- compared to just half in 2009. That's important.

International Momentum

We took inspiration from the uprisings from North Africa and the Mediterranean, to Wisconsin, and we kept the momentum going. From the railroads of India, to the rivers of the Amazon, to the streets of Spain, we inspired dozens of other revolutionary occupations worldwide!

As Adbusters' put it: "Look at what's happening in Quebec ... the boldness of the media democracy movement in Mexico ... the teenagers leading an education revolt in Chile ... the Pussy Riot inspired art war unnerving Putin in Russia ... and the new post-capitalist ways of living being forged in Greece and Spain. Witness the growing tempo of green riots across China, the South African miner strikes, the corruption protests of India, the freedom fight in Bahrain, the tremors of dissent in Saudi Arabia."

A New Generation of Activists

After about a decade of stagnation, a new generation of young activists has arisen, committed to civil disobedience and mutual aid. They have garnered experience with direct democracy through a form of consensus decision-making pioneered by anarchists (yes, anarchists).

Movement Against Racial Profiling Nationwide & Especially New York City

Occupy Wall Street played an important role in creating the space for media attention to the question of racial profiling and Stop and Frisk in the weeks surrounding Trayvon Martin's and Ramarley Graham's murders and the beatings of the likes of Jatiek Reed.

Says DecolNYC: "One of the most exciting recent developments has been the proliferation of new projects, groups, and alliances dedicated to building power among people of color. Since the summer of 2011, New York has witnessed the birth of numerous collectives and initiatives, including Occupy the Hood, Take Back the Bronx, Native Resistance Network, Mothers Resisting Racist Policing, Stop Stop + Frisk, Families Against Stop & Frisk, Campaign to End the New Jim Crow, Occupy Sunset Park, and DecoloNYC.

Meanwhile, longstanding racial justice organizations and groups are also experiencing a burst of energy, and many are pursuing new lines of action: for example, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project recently established a Movement Building Team; Anarchist People of Color (APOC) convened their first national gathering since 2003; and La Unión, CAAAV, La Casita Comunal de Sunset Park, and the Arab American Association of New York have partnered up to plan a block party in Sunset Park that will bring together Latino, Asian, and Arab communities around music and shared issues."

Police Suppression of Free Speech and Assembly

Occupy Wall Street and our allies have made visible the invisible, revealing the rapid militarization of local police forces and raising awareness about the surveillance activities sanctioned by the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) Obama signed into law.

With the National Lawyer's Guild, Occupy Wall Street challenged police repression and entrapment, and in some cases, we won. In the case of the mass arrests at Brooklyn Bridge -- which catapulted the nascent movement into the media spotlight – Judge Jed S. Rakoff ruled, in our favor. His judgement began, "What a great debt this nation owes to its 'troublemakers...'"

Money In Politics

Following a coordinated nation-wide series of actions against ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council), a number of their corporate sponsors and legislators dropped their support faster than a sack of potatoes. 28 legislators quit ALEC in just one month!

Regulation: Accountability

Occupy the SEC submitted a 325-page letter to the SEC, FDIC, the Federal Reserve and the OCC, to comment on the notice of proposed rulemaking for the Volcker Rule. In their comment letter, they answered 244 out of 395 questions asked by the Agencies.

Millionaire's Tax

Despite the fact that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo campaigned on the promise that he would not enact a "millionaire’s tax," protesters hounded him at every single stop in NYC, and set up an encampment across from the capitol in Albany. New York State now has a millionaire’s tax. You’re welcome. 

Housing

Simply by breaking into song, hundreds of everyday citizens across the country have interrupted and stopped numerous foreclosure auctions.

Occupy Our Homes, a national coalition of Occupy-affiliated groups, has stopped numerous illegal foreclosures across the country.

VICTORY! Monique White Wins Negotiation to Save Her Home!

VICTORY! Marine Veteran Bobby Hull's Home Saved from Foreclosure

VICTORY! Occupy Atlanta "Occupy Our Homes" Turning Point

VICTORY! Occupy Atlanta and HGEC Strike a Win for the 99%

VICTORY! St. Paul Lawyer Saves Own Home from Foreclosure with Occupy Homes MN

VICTORY! Formerly Homeless Suburban MN Couple Wins Loan Modification to Stay in Home

VICTORY!: North Minneapolis Woman Wins Home from Bank of America After Five-Year Foreclosure Battle

VICTORY! Tacco and Family Find Secure Home in Atlanta

VICTORY IN 11th HOUR! Citibank Cancels Foreclosure Auction of Minneapolis Mom’s Home; Commits to Loan Modification With Reduced Payments

VICTORY!: Dexter Cato Gets His Home Back, CA

VICTORY! Eviction order against Scott Binkley has been suspended, MI

VICTORY! The Ward Family & Occupy Birmingham Stop a Bank of America Foreclosure

VICTORY! With Support of Thousands, Occupy Nashville Saves 78-Year-Old Civil Rights Activist's Home

VICTORY! 1515 Broadway, Detroit, is saved

VICTORY! For Lesliane Bouchard

VICTORY! Occupy Miami's Miss Angela Samuels

Various occupations around the country managed to raise awareness that the problem of homelessness has not gone away. Occupy Providence struck a deal with the city to open a homeless shelter during the winter that would also provide social services.  

Education

The Occupy movement has brought attention to rapidly ballooning student debt, expected to reach $1 trillion during Spring 2012. Dozens of student groups have confronted their chancellors in suit.

The Occupy movement has set up camp (and bad puns) in university course catalogs, syllabi and classrooms across the country.

Critiquing by Creating the Alternative

Open Universities and Free Schools advocating free quality education keep springing up everywhere in New York City, from high schools like Brooklyn's Paul Robeson Free School, to the CUN Student Union's Open University.

Occupy the Farm and Occupy Berkeley have created a farm from vacant land, allowing previously unused space to be accessible and beneficial to the local community.

Encampments across the country developed a host of "mutual aid" projects, housing, feeding, and clothing local homeless populations despite scant resources.

Interest in worker-owned enterprises – cooperatives – has grown, and successful co-ops have been formed, such as Occupy Wall Street's printing press, Occucopy.

Street fairs in New York City have become kind of droll and generic, taken over by chain street vending companies, believe it or not! Occupy Town Square puts together mobile occupations all over the city, working with the neighborhood assemblies inspired by Occupy Wall Street. In every borrough, Occupy Town Square is bringing back the "block party"-style street fair.

Banking

On Bank Transfer Day, launched by the Move Your Money outgrowth of Occupy Wall Street, credit unions added over 650,000 new members in one month (as opposed to 80,000 in a regular month), resulting in more than $4.5 billion in new deposits.

"What’s remarkable" says David Williams, a spokesman for Santa Rosa-based Community First Credit Union, "is that every single month for us has been as good as last October."

In New York State, Occupy Buffalo successfully lobbied to have the City of Buffalo move $45 million out of an account with JP Morgan Chase, and to transfer the money to a smaller regional bank.

"Nov. 5, 2011 -- 'Bank Transfer Day:' Touted as a call for consumers to move their checking and savings accounts to small banks and not-for-profit credit unions, ditching commercial megabanks like Wells Fargo (WFC) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) en masse, Bank Transfer Day, or BTD, seemed by some measures a resounding success:

  • It was credited with helping to force Bank of America (BAC) to ditch its plan to impose a $5 monthly fee on debit card users.
  • A Facebook page dedicated to the movement generated 58,153 'likes.'
  • According to the Credit Union National Association, or CUNA, some 40,000 consumers opened new accounts at credit unions on November 5, 2011 -- a rate at least 18 times above normal.
  • Over the course of five weeks leading up to BTD, CUNA says American depositors moved $4.5 billion from big banks to credit unions."

Making Space For Creativity: Culture-jamming

The Tax Dodgers – a direct action street theatre project of Occupy Wall Street -- grabbed enough notice to garner inclusion in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Sounds crazy, but it's true. One of their uniforms is now displayed in the museum in Cooperstown, NY, a site with over 300,000 visitors a year that will now see a description of the Tax Dodgers' mission (to give big banks awards for all their hard work dodging taxes, taking bailouts, and committing mortgage fraud).

A group of individuals dressed as the 1% erected a mock occupation on the grounds of the United Nations during the final meeting leading up to the Rio+20 Climate talks. They got the 1% "arrested" at long last.

After the Lincoln Center premier of Philip Glass' "Satyagraha," about the early life of Mahatma Gandhi, Glass announced he was joining Occupy Wall Street and greeted opera patrons outside the Metropolitan Opera with a mic check: "Tickets are for the 1%," "Revolution for the arts" and "Opera belongs to the people!" Many onlookers joined in.

In November of 2012, a massive "99% bat signal" appeared on the side of the Verizon building across from the Brooklyn Bridge. Soon after, a mobile projection van called the "Illuminator" started beaming the "99%" signal all over New York City, calling the people to be their own heroes, come to their own rescue. Soon, similar projections started showing up everywhere from Boston to Chicago.

Branding

It's been kind of hilarious to see big corporations attempt to capitalize on our successful media campaigns. Before the day-in day-out 24-hour occupation of Wall Street, would Duracell have created the "24-hour Power Campaign", with advertisements that read: "Never be powerless," and "Take back the power (wireless energy revolution call to action)"?

And the security system that advertises: "We're not for everyone. Just the 1% that matters."

And then there's the television show "Revolution", premiering on September 17th.

Occupy took off in the trendosphere. Just one month after Occupy began, twitter saw 794,066 Occupy-related tweets.

Even some of the world's biggest CEOs were forced to pay lip service to Occupy Wall Street. As soon as Occupy Wall Street got off the ground, everyone from Jamie Dimon to an early founder of the Tea Party to Barack Obama agreed that our message about economic injustice was right on. They were tripping over one another to demonstrate their "understanding" of our frustrations, their admissions of guilt, and their full-on support.

  • "I understand," said Pandit, Chief Executive of Citigroup.
  • "I certainly understand the frustration," said Dalio, founder of the world's largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates.
  • "I think we have to be empathetic," said Immelt, CEO of General Electric.
  • "They're right," said JP Morgan's Dimon.
  • "They have legitimate complaints," admitted a reluctant Mayor Bloomberg.
  • El-Erian, the co-CEO of the investment firm PIMCO, said people should "listen to Occupy Wall Street".
  • And Gross, manager of the world's largest mutual fund, PIMCO Total Return Fund, went so far as to say, "Class warfare by the 99%? Of course, they're fighting back after 30 years of being shot at."
  • Some of them were called fakers by the peers. Most of them were called fakers by us. Anyway, it was an "interesting" PR strategy on their part.

Scaring the Shit Out of Rich People

It’s hard to think of any superrich person as vulnerable, just as it’s hard to think that a bear with outstretched claws and giant teeth is more afraid than you are. But over the past few months, it’s become clear that rich people are very, very afraid. Sometimes it feels like this was the main accomplishment of Occupy Wall Street: a whole lot of tightened sphincters

Alienating the American public isn't good for one's public image, and that means it's not good for business. All we know is that a rash of resignations transpired – by bankers all over the world – in the 6 months between late Sept 2011 and February of this year. We saw 9 resignations of major "players" in eleven days (between February 6th and 17th, alone) – including the President of the World Bank himself. These were followed by still more prominent resignations in March and July. Such as that by the repentant Greg Smith, Goldman Sacks executive director and head of the firm's United States equity derivatives business (March 2012). And the kicking and screaming resignation of Chief Executive Officer of Barclays, Bob Diamond (July 2012). Through mid-May of this year, overall CEO turnover went up about 5% as compared with 2011.

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