By Caleb T. Maupin
Published Nov 2, 2011 10:08 PM
Occupy Wall Street, the 24/7 encampment of thousands of people in lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, most of them youth, has become a center of countless acts of resistance to capitalism and its crimes.
As Workers World Party First Secretary Larry Holmes put it in a recent speech: “It’s like a neon sign has been put up proclaiming to the people everywhere: ‘Rise up!’”
Almost every day there are different marches and demonstrations, all focused on a particular crime or outrage committed by Wall Street bankers and the capitalist class. Unions such as the Communication Workers and the Teamsters hold rallies against cutbacks, bringing out their rank and file to parade through the streets. The Verizon workers, still struggling for a contract, have marched into the park on numerous occasions and been greeted with applause and support.
Organizations demanding a single-payer health insurance program march with the slogan: “Health care for the 99%!”
On Oct. 21, a contingent of youth from Occupy Wall Street joined the October 22nd Coalition in a Harlem rally against the “stop and frisk” practices of the New York Police Department. The rally ended as Dr. Cornel West and countless others engaged in civil disobedience, blocking the doorway of the 28th Precinct on Frederick Douglass Boulevard, where 30 were arrested.
In response to the horrific assault on Occupy Oakland, hundreds of youth held a rally and then took the streets in solidarity with those thousands of miles away who had joined them in rising up and occupying public space.
The militancy of the marches continues to escalate. Police barricades are almost routinely pushed aside and unpermitted conquests of streets by crowds of students, union members and other activists occur frequently, despite the obvious anger of the NYPD over its failed efforts to prevent them.
In some instances the police are even taunted with chants of “Tony Bologna! Tony Bologna!” the officer who brutalized demonstrators and bystanders with pepper spray and demonstrators with pepper spray. He was docked 10 vacation days and reassigned after a public outcry.
A Jobless Working Group now militantly fights on behalf of unemployed workers as an official section of the General Assembly at Zuccotti Park. The demand of “No fare for the unemployed!” was raised by the Jobless Working Group as they marched into subway stations, exposing the role of Wall Street in robbing workers with high public transportation fares.
Marches against the growing energy corporation practice of hydraulic fracking take place quite frequently. Banks that profit from this environmentally harmful practice are targeted.
‘Wall Street is war street’
“Wall Street is war street!” is the rallying cry of countless anti-war marches.
No march is complete without the staple chants of “All day! All week! Occupy Wall Street!” and “We are the 99%!” which have been the rallying cries since the beginning of this mass people’s uprising on Sept. 17, a month and a half ago.
The NYPD banned all tents and structures from the gathering, but the ban was defied. The first tent to go up was in honor of the traditional Jewish harvest festival of Sukkos. It displayed a placard with the First Amendment of the Constitution and its reference to religious freedom. The tent remained standing.
This set the precedent for more tents in the park. Now it is filled with them.
On Oct. 28, the police forcibly removed all power generators, which could be used for space heaters, computers and other electrical equipment. The following day was a mess of rain and snow. Press pundits talked as if this would be the end of the occupation.
However, on the evening of Oct. 30 the square was full of several thousand people once again. They awaited an address by former political prisoner and communist, Dr. Angela Davis, after the snow had cleared.
To any regular at Zuccotti Park, the role of Workers World Party cannot be missed. On a daily basis, a table is set up by party members and supporters, decked out with Marxist-Leninist literature such as Fred Goldstein’s pamphlet, “Capitalism at a Dead End”; the booklet, “Wisconsin: Lighting the Fires of Class Struggle”; and printed copies of Larry Hales’s “Letter to the Occupy Wall Street Movement.” Thousands of copies of Workers World newspaper have been distributed in the park, where many willingly give donations for the latest issue.
Many demonstrators have signed up for more information on Workers World Party and the struggles it engages in. Conversations at the table often delve directly into the burning issues of the day, such as Libya and NATO’s murder of Moammar Gadhafi, the history of the Soviet Union, Cuba and other struggles for socialism, the struggles of the Palestinian people, as well as the bank bailouts and the capitalist roots of the current economic meltdown.
This mass, popular uprising against capitalism and its symptoms remains strong. The crowds each day consist of several thousand, rarely less and often more, especially during a specific march or rally.
The gathering is continuing to resist police repression and hostile weather conditions with more strength than ever, causing the Wall Street class to tremble in fear of this mass, broad movement that it has not been able to squelch.