Monthly Archives: December 2011

Citizens United Resolution

Progressive Caucus Members Brad Lander, Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Steve Levin are sponsoring a resolution in the City Council opposing the Citizens United ruling that corporations share the same constitutional rights as people. The resolution is broadly drafted, although focused on corporate political speech, and endorsing any one pending constitutional amendment proposal, so that it can be used to build support for the amendment proposal that gains the most steam. The resolution has the support of the Speaker, and all of the Progressive Caucus Council Members have signed on as co-sponsors.

The Council’s Gov Ops Committee had a public hearing this afternoon. Only testimony (both in support) was from NYC Campaign Finance Board and Common Cause/NY.

The exciting news: the resolution will be voted on at the City Council’s meeting this coming Monday, December 19 at 2:30pm at City Hall.

We need a strong grassroots showing to support this resolution and help build momentum for a constitutional amendment. We want to be sure that they hear the roar of strong support in Washington, DC (and in Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester, Utica, etc).

-Common Cause New York

Stay tuned for rally details.

Occupy Wall Street: The First Quarter and Beyond – George Gresham

In the world Wall Street has made, quarterly results are the measure of all things. And so, with the three-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street just passed, it is, inevitably, time to take stock of the movement.

Busted for Tweeting

Police escalation in New York as my brother and 17 other people are arrested for observing an occupation

Monday morning marked yet another Day of Action for the Occupy Wall Street movement. Eight cities on the West Coast attempted to shutdown ports. (The hashtag #PortShutdown on Twitter is moving a mile a minute.) In New York City, there was a solidarity march targeting Goldman Sachs that began at 7:30 this morning. The march was well attended, peaceful, and culminated in a street-theater Vampire Squid press conference held in front of the Goldman Sachs building. Everyone was laughing and having a great time, and my brother John and I were there to tweet and take pictures. As things calmed down after the fake press conference, word began to spread that protestors should reconvene at the Winter Garden, a nearby public atrium owned by Brookfield Properties (the same company that owns Zuccotti Park).

John and I walked over with a couple of other media people. He covered the Zuccotti Park eviction for Salon, live-tweets most of the OWS events in the city, and has gotten to know many of the independent journalists who document the movement. We arrived at the designated area, which felt like an enormous common space in a mall. The main floor was decorated with Christmas trees, festive lights, and public tables and chairs, with a wide marble staircase leading up to a balcony that overlooked the space.

The protesters– maybe a 100 or so– had gathered in the center of the floor and were dancing and chanting, “Occupy Brookfield!” A long line of police began to form in the periphery, and John and the other media people dispersed to take pictures. As the police formed an outer circle to surround the large group, the crowd began to disperse. Many of the protestors headed up the marble staircase away from the cops, and a small group bolted up a nearby escalator.

That was when everything escalated completely out of control. The escalator was stopped. Suddenly, the outer circle of cops was swarming in and violently pushing people away. John had been standing near the crowd, taking video. I was about twenty feet from him, and when I looked back in his direction, I saw his blue hood on the ground. I ran towards him and slid to the ground, leaning in between people’s knees to take pictures. John was face down on the ground being handcuffed, his glasses flung across the floor and people screaming, “Stop, stop, he didn’t do anything!”

A cop pulled me up by my shoulders and told me to step back. I said, “He’s my brother.” Several cops pushed me away as I asked, “What is he being arrested for? He was taking pictures.” A cop said, “He didn’t produce an official press pass, so that means he was resisting arrest.” I quite literally didn’t understand, so I said, “What?” At that point, the same cop said, “If you don’t step back immediately, you will be arrested too.”

I was pushed behind a line of police. I stood there, several inches from them, and heard myself saying, “Why are you doing this?”

A protester next to me was yelling at the cops, something about free speech or unnecessary force or any number of logical things to say at a time like this, I was too distracted to pay attention. But then, an officer said to him, “Get out of my face. I have a gun, and I don’t need people up in my face like this.”

I said, “What did you just say?”

“I don’t like people in my face,” he said.

“I just saw my brother thrown to the ground by you guys,” I said.

“That wasn’t me,” he said.

“But it was the police. And now you just threatened to take out your gun?”

Another officer approached me and said, “Stop talking to him that way.”

I turned to him. “I’m talking to him because he told me about his gun. Why did he say that?”

The second officer just said, emphatically, “I don’t know why he said that,” which made me smile for a second.

But that didn’t last long, because all around me, the arrests were still happening. Cops were literally chasing people into corners. I went up to one and again asked, “Why are you doing this?”

“This is private property,” he responded.

“But this is a public area,” I said back.

“Get out,” he told me. Another cop passing by told him, “Stop talking to her, you don’t have time for this shit,” and pulled him towards a group of cops making arrests.

In a massive push, everyone was forced from the building, shoved out the doors by police in riot gear, who seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. In moments, the building was barricaded and anyone left inside was trapped.

Outside, the cops formed a line in front of the glass building, and inside, the arrested were lined up in chairs against the windows, their hands behind their backs. My brother was taken to t the 7th Precinct, along with the 17 others arrested at the Winter Garden. According to his tweets from the paddy wagon, eight out of the ten people in there had had cameras or iPhones out or were livestreaming. To quote his tweet, “Lots of eyes arrested today.”

The role independent journalists have played in documenting and disseminating Occupy is one of the things that makes the movement so powerful and unique. After the media blackout during the Zuccotti raid, the significance of citizen photographers and citizen tweeters became even more clear. Today felt like a blatant crackdown on the individuals who were documenting the behavior of the police. But whether it was a tactical decision or a wild coincidence, the police were unable to silence the cacophony of voices. The entire morning was still captured in pictures, in video, in livestreams. Lots of eyes were arrested today, but thankfully, many more eyes saw it happen.

Article by Molly Knefel

Article source: Salon.

Image source: Salon.

STRONG ECONOMY FOR ALL RESPONSE TO ALBANY TAX DEAL

ALBANY, NY – Michael Kink, Executive Director of the Strong Economy for All Coalition, released the following statement in response to the tax deal announced this afternoon by Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Skelos and Assembly Speaker Silver:

“After months of pressure from hardworking families facing foreclosure, parents and students in our public schools and universities, providers of services for the homeless and those struggling to put food on the table, today’s action in Albany is a good step in the right direction for our state.

The fact that lawmakers came together to take action is a credit to the organizing and advocacy of the community, labor, student, and faith coalitions that have been working tirelessly on these issues for the past year, and to the courageous protesters of the Occupy movement.

“The combination of a more progressive tax structure and investment in real job creation is key to bolstering our state’s economy in the short and long term. Progressive taxation puts more money into the pockets of low-income, working, and middle-class New Yorkers and real job creation programs targeted at inner-city youth will give more New Yorkers the tools they need to survive in this tough economic climate.”

“While today’s deal marks a step in the right direction by rightly asking the 1% to pay more of their fair share, we still have strong concerns about revenue — particularly about adequate funding for the safety net and human services in the coming budget.

Our coalition will continue to work together to close corporate loopholes, support long-term progressive tax reform, and ensure sufficient funding for the schools, services and safety net New Yorkers need and deserve.”

Cuomo’s office announces tax plan

GOVERNOR CUOMO, MAJORITY LEADER SKELOS & SPEAKER SILVER ANNOUNCE COMPREHENSIVE PLANS TO CREATE JOBS AND GROW THE ECONOMY

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver today announced that they have reached a proposed three-way agreement on legislative and executive proposals to create jobs and cut taxes for middle class New Yorkers. The agreement includes support for a comprehensive New York Works Agenda that will create thousands of jobs with new investments in New York’s infrastructure, passing a fair tax reform plan that achieves the first major restructuring of the tax code in decades resulting in a tax cut for 4.4 million middle class New Yorkers taxpayers, approving $50 million in additional relief for areas devastated by recent floods, and reducing the MTA payroll tax to provide relief for small businesses. The leaders will now present the agreement to their members for approval.

CALL ALBANY TODAY TO DEMAND A GOOD DEAL FOR THE 99% IN ANY SPECIAL SESSION

!!!! Call Albany Right Now !!!!

Demand a Millionaires Tax that generates $5 Billion in revenue for the Schools, Services, Safety Net and Job Creation that New Yorkers need.

Call your Assembly Member — Call your State Senator:

877-255-9417

Tell them: “Any deal you make this week on “tax reform” must tax the wealthy, fill the $5 billion hole from the current Millionaires Tax and ensure enough revenue to restore vital services and create good jobs.”

For more information go to: www.99percentny.org – download the fliers below and send to your friends and colleagues!