Behind the scenes with rogue drummers, homeless, liberals and the black bloc as OWS grapples with self-government
Occupy Wall Street protesters demonstrate on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 17. (Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite)
The panicked emails and texts sounded like a prank worthy of the Yes Men. Occupy Wall Street — which like some comic book character only grew stronger after each attack by nefarious forces, whether pepper spray, mass arrests or New York mayor Michael Bloomberg’s threat to close the park for cleaning – had finally been brought to its knees.
What was about to kill the most successful American activist movement in decades? The drum circle.
Drummers possessed with a Dionysian fervor were demanding that they be allowed to pound their bongos and congas late into the night because they were the “heartbeat of this movement.” In response, a letter circulated with the dramatic warning that “OWS is over after Tuesday.” With equal doses of Middle East diplomacy and Burning Man theatrics, the writer explained that weeks of negotiations between a drummers’ working group called Pulse, the OWS General Assembly and the local community board had collapsed.
The protest movement is appropriating the names and logos of corporate-owned publications. Is it copyright infringement or satire?
- Courtesy of Scott Johnson
“I think it is great how it became a meme so quickly,” says Arun Gupta, one of the founders of The Occupied Wall Street Journal. “Like many other aspects of Occupy Wall Street, this idea just spread rapidly across the country.” The Occupied Wall Street Journal, a project originally put together by Gupta and a collective of other Occupy Wall Street activists, raised more than $75,000 in a Kickstarter campaign.
“It’s direct action — another form of occupying,” says Gupta of the newspapers — physical protest objects, and historic artifacts. “They make the movement real in a way digital media never can.”
To Gupta’s knowledge, The Occupied Wall Street Journal hasn’t received any complaint — or praise — from the original Wall Street Journal. “In fact, all the media reports would actually say the WSJ declined to comment,” says Gupta.
“This is why I say it’s political,” says Gupta. “Occupy Wall Street had such a huge kind of ideological and political presence that to go after them this way actually validates everything the movement is talking about: that the 1% is trying to use their power and wealth against the 99%.”
“Because they’re on such weak legal ground, to bring suit would come across as a case of bullying. They have nothing to gain from it,” says Gupta. “I think, though, when you get into other cities, people freak out when they’re being approached by lawyers with intimations of legal action.”
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