Hypernormalization in a Prismatic reality.

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How to fight it.

There is a popular photo app called Prisma that takes a user’s smartphone photo and passes it through a series of filters and automatic rotoscoping to produce something between a Roman mosaic and a watercolor painting. This manipulation of reality creates works of art from what may otherwise be mundane, poorly composed photos–a boon for those of us who have never taken a good photo in their lives. “Artists beware! AI is coming for your paintbrush too…” warns a Techcrunch review quoted on the app’s website. But far from simply automating the jobs of artisans, something technology has done for centuries under capitalism, Prisma takes our drab reality and makes it appear as an image on a fun house mirror. This isn’t so much a They Live scenario where we are lied to directly (though that certainly happens), as it is a deliberate move on our part. We fracture the image in front of us, preferring a more compelling version, something that is ready made for sharing on the networked world of social media, and the curated lives we offer there.

Adam Curtis’s recent Hypernormalization posits that, more and more, our experiences are becoming uncoupled with the picture of the world that are presented by the media elites and governments and mediated by traditional systems of power. And we know this, but there is little we feel we can do, because any standards of behavior or mechanisms of power checking are completely undermined. Bankers break the law and do horrible things resulting in millions losing their jobs and homes, but they aren’t prosecuted. Cops shoot unarmed blacks in the back and plant evidence, all on camera, but face no jail time. Wars are waged on lies around terror or good western morals, but when the lies are exposed and the reports point to those responsible, the purveyors are let off and hailed as elder statesmen. And to all of us, the results come off as completely expected and normal; to have a chain of cause and effect would be the truly striking thing. Hypernormalization is our individual and collective attempt to make order of the barrage of nonsense–to accept not just the unacceptable, but the impossible.

For Curtis, who released his film in October, a figure like Donald Trump (and his electoral success) fits perfectly into this off-kilter bizarro-world. Trump called the bluff of the traditional elite and their pantomime grasp of power. He used the sheer confusion of the Prismatic apparatus to rise to power, making not a straightforward case for why he should become president, as exemplar of traditional state power Hillary Clinton tried to do, but via misdirection from the linear narrative of the election and sometimes a complete rejection of recent historical facts. Trump is the affirmation of this new disjointed reality, in a Gibsonian sense, he is the living avatar of the Tessier-Ashpool family who sleep while the twin algorithms of facebook and financial capitalism system drive up their profits with credit and clicks.

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Streetvibes – Occupying the rift

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I was interviewed by Cincinnati’s Street Newspaper, Streetvibes, on thoughts on continuing the encampments. Though it does sound like I am endorsing “diversity of tactics” at the end, I think this does a good job of capturing the core of the sides of the “to occupy, or not to occupy question” (which might not actually be a question with a binary answer).

Read the article on Streetvibes’ website. 

By JIM LUKEN

Faithful Streetvibes readers know that the Meetup page offers up a bi-weekly account of an individual’s life story. As you can see, this time, there are two stories, and the focus is on a serious conflict, not so much between the two individuals featured here, but between two sides of an issue that, in a sense, affects the ongoing life of downtown Cincinnati.

Now that the city has granted Occupy Cincinnati (OC) members (as well as  anyone else) permission to  express their first amendment rights at a small area of Piatt (Garfield Park) 24/7, a number of individuals from the movement have chosen to do just that, to re-Occupy the park.

For the past three weeks (as of April 7), individuals from the movement have been at Piatt Park all day long, leafleting, and all night, holding vigil. They are proud to re-Occupy the park again. Others in the local Occupy group feel that what these folks are doing is a waste of time and energy.

Streetvibes Readers: read the two stories and decide for yourselves. Send Streetvibes letters stating your point of view. Should the demonstrators remain there at the statue of Garfield… or not?

Reginald Hill

Meet Reginald Hill. 46. Navy veteran. Native of OTR. 4th of seven children. Father of one, grandfather of three. Long-time independent taxi driver. Grass-roots activist.

“In the middle of the night (at Piatt Park), it is usually pretty calm and dark, of course,” he says. “I often feel lonely and despairing, not knowing if the group as a whole (OC) understands the significance of having a 24 hour space for free speech.”

The protestors are not permitted to lie down, although they often do, catching sleep in snatches as best they can. Hill says that some nights have been very chilly. In the middle of one night, a cold rain fell. The protestors went across the street to stand under the overhang of the library. According to Hill, the police drive by often during the nights. Usually they don’t bother those gathered at the statue, he says. But that night they demanded that the activists return to the park, where they sat for hours in the rain.

Reginald—his friends call him Reggie—has very personal reasons for spending so much time there in the park. “I think it’s important to show that this space is needed, because of all the arrests that happened at this location.” Hill states proudly that he was arrested at both Piatt Park and—two days later—at a middle-of-the night demonstration at Fountain Square [All charges were recently dropped against all the arrestees].

Hill believes that the return of the 24/7 occupation is having a positive effect. He points out that he and his friends have already handed out over 1700 flyers. “It gives us the opportunity to engage by standers, to find out what they think of the Occupation. And it also gives us the ability to have youth become active in the movement.”

Hill expresses no overt anger at the other members of Occupy, who prefer to do committee work and to develop direct actions. But he often feels abandoned by the larger part of the group. He points out that some of those who stand there at the statue leafleting are themselves homeless. They might be described as “ragtag.” Whereas the others, who do their activist work at the OC warehouse facility, or from their computers at home tend to be more middle-class.

“The informational and the technological work to keep our movement alive must be done,” Hill affirms, “But supporting those of us (i.e., those on the street) who support your ideas is also important.”

“All of us,” Reggie avows, “need to be aware of all the people and to be inclusive, and not to exclude anyone because of status or class.” At several OC General Assembly meetings he has begged other members to come to the park late at night, “just to get a feel of what it is like and what we are doing down there.”

Hill has been active in both Occupy Cincinnati and Occupy the Hood, which focuses more on issues relating to foreclosures and the urban poor. Politics and political action is in his blood now. At some point, maybe for the 2014 elections, he hopes to run for city council. In the meantime, he is emphatic. “Occupy has become a family to me, and I would do anything for my family. I’m occupied with the thoughts of Occupy all the time, always ready to create more pressure in order to affect change. Nothing counts,” he concludes, “but more pressure.”

Ben Stockwell

Meet Ben Stockwell. 22. Socialist. Computer programmer for the University of Cincinnati. Second of three boys from a Kings Mills family.

Young Ben Stockwell has been a committed activist for some time now. Already his activist work has had a significant effect on a shadowy, ultra-conservative organization that is only now coming into public view.  A year ago, he and a small group of local friends “outed” this secretive lobbying group known as ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC was holding its national meeting here in Cincinnati. “We felt we had to do something,” Ben said. That “something” brought Ben’s group national recognition, and brought ALEC under media scrutiny at last.

On the day of this interview, Ben and I celebrated the announcement that Coca Cola and Pepsi—under activist pressure—had just then abandoned their connections to ALEC.

Stockwell has been a hard-core member of Occupy Cincinnati from early on. But he is not in favor of the re-occupation of Piatt Park. “I don’t hold any grudge against them or anything,” He says, “But I would like to have conversation about why they think it is so important.”

As Stockwell sees it, the encampments that characterized Occupy Wall Street and its imitators all over the country (and world) were a striking visual symbol of the emerging fight against the ruling class. “Early on I think it was great. It got people excited about what we were doing,” he argues, “but I’m not sure a reoccupation can have the same effect. Before (last fall), people were flocking down to see and support the occupation. Now people are only coming across the occupyers accidentally.”

Ben seems fully appreciative of the value of confrontational, in-your-face, tactics when it comes to activism and movement building. “One of the nice things about the (physical) Occupation is that it did kind-of prefigure the collective spirit, and it drew a core of committed activists.”

Stockwell understands that he was one of those drawn into the Occupy movement by the power of those multi-colored tents and the energy that surrounded them in so many places. He became one of the committed core. He still follows the goings-on of Occupyers in various places.

“Greensboro, North Carolina,” he explains, “voluntarily left their physical occupation, and now they work on issues, like foreclosures and the environment. I don’t think we should be occupying for occupying’s sake.”

There are things Ben Stockwell does believe we should be doing. ‘I’d like to see us turn toward more traditional organizing, like canvassing, holding community meetings, essentially going to the people, instead of requiring the people to come to us.”

Stockwell is readying himself for the long struggle to bring true democracy and a level playing field to our common life. In the fall, he will be matriculating at UC, and seeking a second bachelor’s degree (his first was in computer science), this time in sociology.

In terms of his disagreement with Occupyers like Reginald Hill, he concludes, “We don’t have to resolve this thing tomorrow. I hope everyone who is involved realizes they have to put as much energy as they can into a variety of tactics. Some of these tactics, we haven’t even thought of yet.”

Reform or Revolution in Ohio: A Reflection on 2011

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False Dichotomies in Ohio Politics

In the weeks leading up to the November 2011 election, ads for and against Ohio Issue 2 aired on TV. One shows Republican Governor John Kasich standing at a fork in the road, telling voters they have a choice to make, just like the one he said they had to make in an ad shot in the same location a year ago while he was running for office. In this Frostian dilemma, Ohio voters can continue down his path, and follow as he promises recovery; or go the other way. Jobs or no jobs, those are the options. The ad illustrates the false choice that citizens are given every year when they go to vote in Ohio.

What Kasich should be saying is that he has created the illusion of two choices, two choices that are not that far apart, just like the roads in the background of the ads which only slightly diverge. While the allegory of the roads might have helped Kasich defeat Democrat Ted Strickland and might aid him as he continues to push austerity onto Ohio, the image actually serves both major parties, who create a similar self-serving charade every election season for Ohioans.

When Ted Strickland, treated as a “Governor in Exile” by the newly agitated Ohio progressives, was in office, some of the same measures were imposed on unions. Though teachers, nurses and firefighters never had to fight against the prospect of losing their basic union rights, when the recession hit and funding was cut, they were forced to make massive concessions. They agreed to pay freezes, watched as firings occurred and compromised over some of their benefits like pensions and prevailing wage. All things that the “No on 2” ads say they would be subjected to without collective bargaining. Unfortunately, organized labor did not stand a chance in a state run by a Democrat they supported in the election just a few years before. Indeed, the Strickland years were no springtime for labor.

The false choice pushes other electoral options that Ohio voters have to the fringes and this duality bleeds into the time between elections: youʼre either with us or against us. This year, organizers in the state have been able to mobilize tens of thousands, but the solutions proposed by the major players are not always right. Union officials were at first begging for compromise on SB5 (Issue 2) before it was passed, showing that, after two decades of capitulation, they were willing to sacrifice again. An unprecedented movement took the lead early on while the unionsʼ leadership were lagging behind. And though the unions are to be praised for their work in helping the defeat of the issue during the elections, none should forget that only when angst turned into action, did they start standing firm against the measures. In this new movement, loyalty to the previous administration is clear, but what Ohio needs, just like the rest of the country, is a permanent wedge driven between the major partiesʼ fork in the road.

This wedge needs to be a working peopleʼs movement, and while unions can play a large role, the movement needs to recognize the struggles of all of Ohioʼs workers. The unions are not part of the problem, on the contrary, they can be part of the solution. But their focus must broaden if they are to enact lasting social change, and they should be met by other groups. A successful movement can’t just be a union movement.

Over the past year, labor and student groups have worked together in ways rarely seen before, but questions of environmentalism and imperialism, for example, have yet to be included in the discussion. This movement needs to be radical, permanent and democratic with a healthy dose of internationalism; the movement have a lot to learn from their counterparts in the Arab world. An inclusive movement will focus not only on the issues of jobs and unemployment, but larger questions of inequality and disenfranchisement. It can not preoccupy itself with the reactionism of its origins, or of the republicans.

There has been no room for a broader discussion thus far and the movement itself tends to use slogans with embedded chauvinism, for example “helping middle class families.” A movement that helps all workers can not be successful if it plays into the divisions of class, sexuality, race, gender, or any other bend. It can not risk alienating members of its movement because of rhetoric.

A truly radical movement in Ohio, which there have been glimpses of, will recognize the solidarity of all workers and aim to alleviate all of the problems of the world. It will not focus on electing one of the two parties of business. It will include demands like full employment, universal healthcare, good wages and true democracy. And it will embrace and embolden the institutions that SB5 and other legislative attacks on workers endanger.

Enter Occupy Wall Street

As the seasons changed and the tide of activism ebbed, the makings of a revolution have stepped to the fore. The Occupy movement, with its slogans of “ending corporate greed” and “holding the 1% accountable,” has in it the kernel of something larger. And though the origins lie with the labor movements that raged during the first half of 2011, it exists outside of the realm of party politics. This is its most promising feature.

While labor has played a role in the occupations, from its participation in the Oakland General Strike on November 2nd, to the turnout in force at occupations around the country, the virtue of being a working people’s movement is just one of its advantages. In Ohio, the occupy movement can and must fill the political void left after the defeat of Issue 2, and it must lead the way forward toward changing the system, instead of maintaining the status quo. What Occupy offers is a third way, it illustrates that democracy exists away from the ballot boxes, in the streets and parks of cities across the country.

Labor issues are but one of the focuses of the movement. In Columbus, Occupy the Oval, at the Ohio State University, is a strong student movement with dozens of young, self-described “revolutionaries.” The students have organized marches, walkouts and teach-ins and these activists and are a presence of light that should serve to inspire activists nationwide. The students, emboldened by existing strong movements on campus, like one of the country’s most successful chapters of Students Against Sweatshops, see that a just world is possible and that the institution is where some of the ideas that form that world can be developed.

In Cincinnati, Occupy the Hood, a fraction of the main Occupy Cincinnati is moving to protest against, and protect families from, the foreclosure of homes. These occupations have taken a principled stance in favor of peace, love, justice, equality and international solidarity; hardly a reformist program.

Ironically, in Ohio, the occupy movement needs to improve most in its interactions with labor. While it has postured itself in support of the working class, in this case the broad “99%,” and the local movements have received endorsements and other help from trade unions, the rank and file have yet to put foot to pavement in support of the occupation. What is happening more than anything else is a quid-pro-quo, that is, the unions were looking for something, be it newly registered voters and even de facto endorsements from the occupation (mainly in opposition to issue 2) in return for material support. But what is needed more than anything is warm bodies in the parks and streets.

Looking Forward to 2012

Without the support of the working masses, the revolutionary potential falls short. Just as thousands of new activists were radicalised in the months leading up the occupation, thousands more are needed in order to bring the demands and aims of the Occupy movement to a head. There is no question that the occupiers were among the 61% of voters who said no to the union busting legislation, so maybe a quid-pro-quo is in order after all. If Occupy is the successor of the large movements in the first half of the year, then it’s clear that its members played by the rules of those movements and helped bring a victory. The question now is how the movement can capture the support of those institutions that have historically ended their campaigns on the first Wednesday in November.

This is why many were alarmed at the November endorsement by SEIU, one of the unions that have marched with the occupiers, of Obama for president in the upcoming presidential election. The language of the announcement was the language of Occupy, with officials claiming “We need a leader willing to fight for the needs of the 99 percent.” But instead of working with the occupations to figure out what those needs are, SEIU is providing the marching orders and attempting to take the organizational power of the movement, and use it to “occupy congress” in order “to pressure Republicans to support Obama’s jobs creation proposals” which they claim is a goal of the larger occupy movement. By ignoring the constant claims by occupations across the country that both the Republicans and the Democrats are the problem, SEIU risks losing the support of the first movement in the United States in years that could actually mean working people retaking control of their democracy.

In Ohio, this presidential strategy will surely be applied to state and federal congressional campaigns. Sherrod Brown, the democratic senator, is up for reelection and Ohio’s congressional maps will be redrawn by November, meaning candidates will have to address issues facing constituents with whom they may not have shared a district previously. In Cincinnati, the danger of reductionism to electoral politics is clear. After four members of city council lost their reelection bids, the occupation cheered because of the prior actions of these members in relation with the movement. The defeat of those that the movement dubbed the “un-fantastic four” created an environment where occupiers were unwilling to make strong demands of the new council, such as a reduction in pay of city officials to the average household income in the municipality, for fear of losing potential allies of the now seven Democrat strong assembly.

What Occupy looks like to organizers in the Democratic party, is a group of thousands of activists who so believed in a political idea, that they were willing to sleep on the ground to prove their devotion. Regardless of the content of their arguments, the Occupy movement is on the left of the spectrum, so it’s ripe for co-option by the party where, as the saying goes, “social movements go to die.” Should this happen, the Democrats may win another election, but Ohio’s progressive movement will once again wither away like it did in 2006 and 2008. So, the question is, can the Occupy movement survive the 2012 elections?

The question of Occupy making it through 2012 is a question of participation. What the movement needs more than anything, especially after the encampments in all but a few cities across the country have been cleared, is more people on the streets. These elections will mean competition for the Occupation movement. In communities and neighborhoods across not only Ohio but the rest of the country, where there will be different and opposing forces trying to engage citizens. One will be occupiers, who are generally committed not to a party, but to the idea of democracy. The second group is Organizing for America, formerly “Obama for America,” who registered over a million new voters in Ohio in 2008 and have continuously organized since then. The language that the organizers for OFA and the institutions that, while liberal in their politics, are conservative in their endorsements will use is going to be the language of the Occupation, there is no question. What Occupy needs to offer, while probably not in the form of political candidates, is a political platform that runs contrary to that which the Democrats, who are a party of the 1%, offer.

The End of Reform

Occupation is a revolutionary act and it is an act that needs to expand past the parks into the workplaces of the 99%. In 2008, the workers of Republic Windows and Doors staged an occupation of their workplace after they were told they would be laid off without any of the benefits promised in their contracts. After 2 weeks physically controlling their factory, they won and the factory stayed open. In Wisconsin, activists occupied the capital as union-busting legislation, not unlike SB5 in Ohio, was being deliberated often behind closed doors in the statehouse, these actions gave democrats no choice but to flee the state to deny quorum and delay a vote. At the same time, in Egypt, millions of people occupied Tahrir square and brought about a revolution which toppled a dictatorship.

The Egyptian case is a special one, and it illustrates what is at stake if occupiers go home. After the Mubarak regime was ousted, the military seized power and is very tightly controlling the “transitional” process to a “new” government. As has already been stated, the Democratic party, especially Barack Obama may attempt to seize the rhetoric and the energy of Occupy. Just as the Egyptian revolution must be a permanent one, one that fights against all forms of exploitation and oppression, the Occupy movement needs to be permantent as well. Unions can be allies, but they must not impose their largely top-down power structures on the movement. This method of organizing will stymie progress and attempts to co-opt already threaten to stall things.

This is not to say that Occupy should exist free of outside influence–there are many places where it must improve. Most crucial, as it develops its political makeup, it must recognize the ideas of the libertarian block, who espouse beliefs as reactionary as the Tea Party, as opposed to the basic principles that the movement represents. Occupy must not be afraid to name its enemy: Capitalism. This will not be Ron Paul’s Revolution. Even without having them explicitly stated, the values of Occupy run counter to the values of the libertarian right, namely the value of equality. Libertarians see the the state giving way to the “free” market as the liberating event that will save the 99%. They also espouse anti-immigrant and often nativist viewpoints. And let us not forget that the infatuation with John Galt, of Ayn Rand’s “Atlus Shrugged,” who believes that society owes him nothing and he owes nothing to society, is a selfish position that rejects to the simple idea of collective democracy and collective struggle that define the Occupy movement.

The struggle is real, and the 99% is a revolutionary force. In makeup it is a force of workers and students and it is a force that includes all minority groups and all of the oppressed. It is a force that while addressing the ideas of different identities, sees the struggles of different groups as connected by who the oppressor is. The 1% is everyone’s enemy. 2011 was a year when the working class of Ohio and the world realized that it had the power to fight back. Let 2012 be the year that Ohio and the world win what is rightfully ours: our lives, our freedom and our dignity, and our world.

This post also appeared on the blog of the Cincinnati International Socialist Organization

Arrests and citations will not stop the peaceful Occupy Cincinnati protests.

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Note: This Article first appeared in the October 28th edition of Streetvibes.

by Ben Stockwell and Mark Grauhuis

Occupy Cincinnati is now in its third week. Much has changed since it began on October 8th, but participants are still finding that they have to struggle just to allow their voices to be heard. The amorphous nature of the occupation makes it difficult to for those outside the movement to understand the meaning and goals of the action, though recent General Assemblies have made the state of things most apparent.

Many questions about Occupy Wall Street and the satellite movements have been raised. The claim of the corporate media has been stating over and over that “they don’t know what they’re protesting,” but for the occupiers it’s clear. Tyler Huff, 23, of Clifton, believes that “this is our chance to start fighting back” against the war that is being waged and won by the white wealthy 1%. Since 1987, African Americans have lost more than half of their net worth; Latinos, an incredible two-thirds. Five-and-a-half million manufacturing jobs have been lost in the United Sates since 2000, more than 42,000 factories closed, and an entire generation of college graduates now face the highest rate of downward mobility in American history.

The main themes have been money in politics, the rise of corporate power and the lack of accountability at the top (especially after the housing crisis, the Wall Street Bail-Out and the resulting recession). It is a matter of the 99%, the workers, excluded and the poor, against the 1%, the stockbrokers, business class and the rich. To mention just two examples the movement cites: Bank of America, currently under investigation for its role in the mortgage collapse, gave $14 million to PACs (political action committees); and Comcast pays big bucks to the American Legislative Exchange Council (given national attention following efforts by Cincinnati activists this past year) for the privilege of sitting side-by-side with state legislators to draft bills to protect its media monopoly. The great issue is not raising taxes on the rich or achieving a better regulation of banks, but economic democracy: the right of ordinary people to make macro-decisions about social investment, interest rates, capital flows, job creation, and global warming.

The Cincinnati Occupation adopted “Peace,” “International Solidarity,” “Equality” and “Justice” as some overarching principles that they believe encompass the movement, as well as a commitment to experiment with and further the cause of democracy (especially through collective learning and direct actions). The tactics of the movement itself embodies the change that the protesters want to see: general assemblies, where everyone has a voice and a vote, based on the demcoratic principle of face-to-face, dialogic organizing, take place each day at 6 PM and show a microcosm of democracy that is missing in politics today. The meetings can be long, tedious, frustrating, sometimes foolish, but they are often inspiring, and through the consensus process people from diverse backgrounds develop. During the day, discussions about the occupation, politics, culture and personal life take place among the activists, who have now become friends, and passersby who are trying to better understand what it is about. In addition, the Education Week has featured workshops and teach-ins at the Public Library on topics that include: financial regulation, credit unions, a living wage, a guaranteed minimum income, international conflicts, identity politics, economic inequality, the history of labor struggles in the US, the culture of democracy, poetry, yoga, etc. Many guests have stepped onto the site, including a superb performance by leading protest singer David Rovics, who lead the crowd in a rousing version of ‘Solidarity Forever’ as the police stepped in Monday evening.

The movement has supported several local groups, like those working for affordable housing, and has also spawned new community groups itself. One of those, Food Not Bombs, has served the occupiers each day, and has shared food with not only those most active in the movement, but anyone who is hungry. And some of the most devoted allies have been the homeless population, with whom the occupiers have new-found affinity, having themselves been pushed around from place to place.

The occupiers have been evicted from their location of choice, Piatt Park, on Vine and Garfield. They chose the space for two reasons, first, because it was Cincinnati’s first public park, having been donated to the city over a century ago by the Piatt family. (Piatt also wrote his own attacks on Wall Street — and, by extension, Corporate America – through his independent media outlets, and Garfield called for universal education.) The park is also in a symbolic location, on the northern end of downtown and just south of Over the Rhine. The park sits in a gateway between wealth and poverty, between gentrification and corporate greed. Additionally, the occupiers are proposing and practicing a new form of ’embodied’ organizing that respects no curfews and demands “Democracy never sleeps.”

The city has resisted and outright attacked the occupation since it began. For over a week, occupiers were issued citations totaling over $23,000 for remaining in Piatt park after hours. But the protesters were not budging and even challenged the citations in federal court. They enjoyed a relatively open relationship with police, until the businesses in the area nearby met with city officials to complain about protests.

The elected officials in city hall have also taken a stand on either side of the occupiers. Only two of eleven council candidates polled supported the right of the occupiers to stay in the park. Leslie Ghiz who has been very outspoken advocating the removal of protester, went so far as to post personal information of two constituents who disagreed with her stance on her facebook page. By the end of the first week, it had become clear to the participants that arrests were imminent.

The Occupy movement has been about challenging corporate greed and the existing power structure, so it should not be surprising that the first arrests and forced removal of the tents and other materials came the night before the funeral parade of Carl Lindner, the controversial millionaire and Right-wing ideologue, was set to pass the park. Lindner and his businesses, which over the years included Chiquita, American Financial, the Cincinnati Reds and United Dairy Farmers serve as a local example of the type of institutions that the movement is targeting. Lindner donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to mostly conservative political campaigns over the years.

Since their eviction, the occupation has not stopped. The right to free speech, though codified in our nation’s constitution, is often ignored or not so free. Though the Occupation movement, which has spread to over 1500 cities worldwide after starting on Wall Street over a month ago, is primarily about money in politics, in Cincinnati, the fight has mostly been about how late occupiers are allowed to protest.

Though they are public property, the parks close to the public usually around 10PM. But protest does not end because the parks close. Now, the protesters, who have turned the downtown park into a dynamic public space and catalyst for protest, are employing a new tactic to illustrate this. Roving demonstrations occur past midnight each day to show that they are not going home when they are told to, and that they have things to say all day long. The police cannot arrest these protesters because they are staying on the sidewalks, which are well-defined as “free speech zones.”

In other cities protesters have been violently removed from their occupation, and many instances of police brutality have occurred from New York, to Boston, to Denver to Austin and, most recently, Oakland. These events have only galvanized the movement, showing that the citizens will not stand idle as their rights to freedom of speech and assembly are threatened. The police actions in Cincinnati have not been violent, but they illustrate the same issues that the local government has with first amendment rights.

The arrests and citations that have occurred are also somewhat ironic. Many of those active in the occupation have also been active in the fight against SB5, now issue 2, which would strip public employees, including police, of their rights to collectively bargain and strike. Suhith Wikrema, who was arrested (in his wheelchair) along with ten others on October 21st, reports, “two corrections officers were so excited when they saw my buttons against issue 2.” He said that it illustrates that “they are not in solidarity with the actions, but in the larger scheme, we are in solidarity with them, and they with us… In the larger scheme, their interests and our interests overlap.”

This overlap of interests has not stopped the police from arresting and citing, but it does show a common thread that the protesters have with those that are the enforcers of the 1%’s laws. Those laws and the other gross political advantages of the 1% are what the protesters are fighting to abolish. Many times in casual conversation and during the general assemblies, the word “revolution” has been used to describe the potential of this movement. As recent polls confirm, two thirds of America’s youth think it might be a good idea to jettison the capitalist system before the next crisis cripples the nation and wider world. Given the growth and courage of the Occupy Movement, nothing should be left off the table.