Occupy Shines a Light Amidst Ongoing Sandy Disaster

Damage from Hurricane Sandy to the New Jersey coast, Oct. 30, 2012. Photo: US Air Force/Wikimedia Commons

“Thank God for Sandy!” said Leviticus Sumpter, a supervisor of a mold clean-up team in New York City, to The Brooklyn Bureau.

“I’m not going to say that,” said Albert Gibbs, Sumpter’s nephew and also part of the crew. “I’m going to say, ‘Thank God for employment.’ […] One person’s mishap is another person’s blessing.”

The tragedy of thousands of lives overturned in the wake of Hurricane—later superstorm—Sandy has become a success story for the Occupy movement, bringing the group national recognition for its efforts to help their fellow man recover from a disaster with a far-reaching level of destruction (somewhat less than the infamous Hurricane Katrina).

Occupy Eyes the Drones

In Front of the Left Forum
In front of the Left Forum. Photo: World Can’t Wait/flickr.

A hallmark of U.S. President Obama’s foreign policy has been a scaling down of troop presences in conflict areas, but without scaling down efforts in the War on Terror. Obama has pursued this as vigorously as his predecessor, but he has more strategically come to rely on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)–commonly referred to as drones–to target individual terrorists and terrorist camps.

From the beginning of this program, some groups have expressed concerns over the civil liberty implications of the use of UAVs. Privacy concerns, since UAVs are largely used in reconnaissance, were forefront in the minds of activists–until Anwar al-Awlaki.

Occupy’s Middle East Potential

Occupy Wall Street demonstration in Seattle
Occupy Wall Street demonstration in Seattle. Photo: tofuguns/flickr.

On September 17th, Occupy Wall Street will celebrate one year of protests in a National Day of Action, dubbed #S17. That this date also happens to coincide with Rosh Hashanah is symbolic of the relationship Occupy has had with American and Israeli Jews since the first days of the movement.

The Jews of Occupy Wall Street and side group Occupy Judaism were extremely energetic and involved during the Zuccotti Park era, when Jewish protestors celebrated the Occupy version of the High Holidays in the open space. Although Occupy Judaism has waned since the evictions, organizers are hoping to see a resurgence in activity with the one-year anniversary.

Occupy the Hood: Leveraging Occupy in Minority Communities

Occupy The Hood
Occupy The Hood. Photo: democapitol/flickr.

In the first days of Occupy Wall Street’s Zuccotti Park phase, the protest was overwhelmingly homogenous. The movement was originally so dominated by white men that women in the group felt the need to form their own meetings—Fem GAs—in order to create a safe environment and open space for their concerns. Minority activists in New York City shared the concerns that the Occupy protests were ignoring crucial differences in the experiences of their audience, choosing instead to label all with an overwhelmingly white interpretation of “the 99 Percent.” African American and Latino activists were particularly worried about that organizing around the right to overtake a public space for long periods of time would detract from more sober public discussions of urban poverty and the effects of deepening austerity, while rhetoric surrounding police brutality towards protestors would distract from the daily trials minorities face in interactions with the police.

Occupying the Patriarchy: Women Seek to Remake Occupy in their Image

Women say no to war
Women at Occupy Wall Street, New York, 30 September 2011. Photo: Cedrus.k/flickr.

Since its inception, feminism has sparked controversy, and eventually developed an image of militancy and extremism. As a result, women who may otherwise agree with feminism’s goals shy away from adopting the label, leading some to argue that feminism was no longer a relevant school of thought for young women. And yet, issues important to the lives of these young women only grew in importance during the recession: gender disparities in wages continue, while women’s unemployment rate stays stubbornly higher than men’s; controversy over the Affordable Care Act targeted women’s basic health care. Suddenly, something changed. Feminism was no longer about burning bras and unshaved legs; young women began rallying—against victims of rape being called sluts, against the scorn of the political right and the savior complex of the political left, and for a complete systemic re-analysis.