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By Andy Bichlbaum on Nov 19 2011 - 3:48pm Tagged: Project: Occupy Wall Street actions

Now, finally, a drum circle you don't have to be high to enjoy: this Sunday at 2pm, for 24 hours, bring the love to Mayor Bloomberg's personal townhouse: 17 East 79th Street.

Tie-dye, didgeridoo, hackeysack welcome! No shirt, no shoes, no problem! And if you don't have talent, don't worry: FREE DRUM LESSONS offered! Also on offer: collaborative drumming with the police!

Even though this is a 24-hour drum circle, don't be late! The mayor loves evictions. Who knows what'll happen? But no matter how long it lasts, there'll be an afterparty and love-in in world-famous Central Park just next door.

Please spread this announcement (www.yeslab.org/drumcircle) as far and fast as you can!

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Nov 15 2011 - 1:10pm Tagged:

Thanks to Bloomberg's insane attempt at eviction, things have heated up very dramatically in advance of this Thursday's mass non-violent direct action in New York City. This Thursday was already going to be epic—now, we can only expect the mindblowing. Visit http://occupywallst.org/action/november-17th/ for the partial schedule of events.

Towards the end of the day, if you need a short break to discuss what's happening, come see former Weather Underground member Mark Rudd, live, in "GRAMPA WAS A TERRORIST," at NYU's Steinhardt Auditorium, 34 Stuyvesant Street, Room 105, at 7:30pm. Then head back into the fray, together with Mark.

Mark Rudd led the legendary 1968 occupation of five buildings at Columbia University, a dramatic act of protest against the university's support for the Vietnam War. As charismatic chairman of the Columbia chapter of Students for a Democratic Society, the largest radical student organization in the United States, Rudd became a national symbol of student revolt, and went on to co-found the Weathermen faction of SDS, which helped organize the notorious Days of Rage in Chicago in 1969 before going underground. Mark will speak about the intended and unintended humor of '60s activism.

Mark's talk is part of the "Revolutionaries Live!" lecture series, that examines both the successes and failures of revolutions and moments of social change by speaking with those in the thick of it. (RSVP on the Facebook page if you like.)

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Nov 13 2011 - 9:18am Tagged: Project: Occupy Wall Street actions

November 13, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

APEC World Leaders Dinner Gets Occupied
Within secure zone, musician sings on behalf of the many

Video and photos below
Lyrics

Honolulu - A change in the programmed entertainment at last night's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) gala left a few world leaders slack-jawed, though most seemed not to notice that anything was amiss.

During the gala dinner, renowned Hawaiian guitarist Makana, who performed at the White House in 2009, opened his suit jacket to reveal a home-made “Occupy with Aloha” T-shirt. Then, instead of playing the expected instrumental background music, he spent almost 45 minutes repeatedly singing his protest ballad released earlier that day. The ballad, called “We Are the Many,” includes lines such as “The lobbyists at Washington do gnaw.... And until they are purged, we won't withdraw,” and ends with the refrain: “We'll occupy the streets, we'll occupy the courts, we'll occupy the offices of you, till you do the bidding of the many, not the few.”

Those who could hear Makana’s message included Presidents Barack Obama of the United States of America, Hu Jintao of China, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada, and over a dozen other heads of state.

“At first, I was worried about playing ‘We Are The Many,’” said Makana. “But I found it odd that I was afraid to sing a song I’d written, especially since I'd written it with these people in mind.”

The gala was the most secure event of the summit. It was held inside the Hale Koa hotel, a 72-acre facility owned and controlled by the US Defense Department; the site was fortified with an additional three miles of fencing constructed solely for the APEC summit.

Makana was surprised that no one objected to him playing the overtly critical song. “I just kept doing different versions,” he said. “I must’ve repeated ‘the bidding of the many, not the few’ at least 50 times, like a mantra. It was surreal and sobering.”

Makana’s new song is inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has taken root in cities worldwide. Last Saturday, eight protesters were arrested when they refused to leave the Occupy Honolulu encampment at Thomas Square Park. Occupy Honolulu has joined other groups, including Moana Nui, to protest the APEC meeting, and while Makana performed, hundreds of people protested outside.

After facing large-scale protests in South Korea, Australia, Peru, and Japan, APEC moved this year's event to Hawaii, the most isolated piece of land on earth. In preparation for the meeting, homeless families were moved out of sight and millions of taxpayer dollars were spent on security—including over $700,000 on non-lethal weapons for crowd control. In a bitter twist, the multi-million dollar security plans backfired when a local Hawaiian man was shot and killed by a 27-year-old DC-based federal agent providing security for dignitaries.

Makana’s action was assisted by the Yes Lab and Occupy the Boardroom. In recent weeks, Occupy protesters have been showing up at corporate events, headquarters and even on the doorsteps of those in power. “Makana really raised the bar by delivering the Occupy message inside what is probably the most secure place on the planet right now,” said Mike Bonanno of the Yes Lab.

“My uncle taught me to feel out the audience and play what my heart tells me to,” said Makana. “That’s what I did tonight.”

Contact:
    Mike Bonanno: music@yeslab.org, 917-209-3282
    John Sweeney: hawaii@yeslab.org, 808-230-0799

 

Video:

Photos (click some for high-res):

 

Lyrics to "We Are the Many":

Ye come here, gather 'round the stage
The time has come for us to voice our rage
Against the ones who've trapped us in a cage
To steal from us the value of our wage

From underneath the vestiture of law
The lobbyists at Washington do gnaw
At liberty, the bureaucrats guffaw
And until they are purged, we won't withdraw

We'll occupy the streets
We'll occupy the courts
We'll occupy the offices of you
Till you do
The bidding of the many, not the few

Our nation was built upon the right
Of every person to improve their plight
But laws of this Republic they rewrite
And now a few own everything in sight

They own it free of liability
They own, but they are not like you and me
Their influence dictates legality
And until they are stopped we are not free

We'll occupy the streets
We'll occupy the courts
We'll occupy the offices of you
Till you do
The bidding of the many, not the few

You enforce your monopolies with guns
While sacrificing our daughters and sons
But certain things belong to everyone
Your thievery has left the people none

So take heed of our notice to redress
We have little to lose, we must confess
Your empty words do leave us unimpressed
A growing number join us in protest

We occupy the streets
We occupy the courts
We occupy the offices of you
Till you do
The bidding of the many, not the few

You can't divide us into sides
And from our gaze, you cannot hide
Denial serves to amplify
And our allegiance you can't buy

Our government is not for sale
The banks do not deserve a bail
We will not reward those who fail
We will not move till we prevail

We'll occupy the streets
We'll occupy the courts
We'll occupy the offices of you
Till you do
The bidding of the many, not the few

We'll occupy the streets
We'll occupy the courts
We'll occupy the offices of you
Till you do
The bidding of the many, not the few

We are the many
You are the few

 

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Nov 9 2011 - 8:21am Tagged: Project: Occupy Wall Street actions

CLOWNS ARRESTED IN NEAR-SUCCESSFUL ATTACK ON WALL STREET BULL
Matador, bull both survive to fight another day

Photos: www.yeslab.org/bull#photos
Video: www.yeslab.org/bull#video
Contact: bull@yeslab.org

Earlier today, a small group of Occupy Wall Street activists engaged in a near-successful corrida against the Wall Street Bull.

The incident began when two clowns, Hannah Morgan and Louis Jargow, scaled the steel barricades protecting the landmark. The clowns began spanking and climbing the beast, traditional ways of coaxing a bull into anger in preparation for a Castilian corrida, or bullfight.

Within seconds, police officers grabbed both clowns by their colorful shirts and wrestled one of them (Jargow) to the ground. The other (Morgan) continued to play the harmonica until an officer removed it from her mouth.

With the officers thus occupied, a matador in full traje de luces leapt onto the hood of the patrol vehicle parked in front of the bull and boldly presented his blood-red cape to the beast.

"I wondered whether I, neophyte matador, could bring down this behemoth, world-famous for charging towards profit while trampling underfoot the average worker," said the OWS activist/torero whose first fight this was. "Come what may, I knew I must try."

Police officers took no notice of the matador, occupied as they were with the clowns.

"This bull has ruined millions of lives!" wailed clown Jargow as he lay on the ground face-down. "Yet he and his accomplices have been rewarded with billions of our tax dollars—and we, here to put a stop to it all, are thrown to the ground. ¡Un escándalo!"

Both clowns were charged with disorderly conduct and released an hour later; they returned to Zuccotti Park to great fanfare. The Wall Street bull continues to rage.

 

Click photos for high-resolution versions. Photo credit: Bess Adler.

 

 

Below photos by Jason Nicholas.

 

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Nov 1 2011 - 10:51pm Tagged:

This week for Revolutionaries Live!, we're joined by UK climate campaign campaigners John Stewart and Dan Glass. These guys are celebrated environmentalists, recognized by the Independent and the Guardian as the "most effective and innovative green activists in the UK." They won support from direct action activists and even Conservatives in Parliament, waging a successful (and cheeky!) campaign to reduce carbon emissions and stop the expansion of Heathrow airport.

For some reason, our own government isn't keen on them coming here. But we're bringing them to you anyway, via Skype (no transcontinental air emissions involved!).

Thursday, November 3, 7pm
Department of Performance Studies
721 Broadway, 6th Floor
NY, NY 10003
(photo ID required)

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Oct 23 2011 - 12:00am Tagged: Project: Occupy Wall Street actions

This morning, two members of the Yes Lab brought a dozen thrift-store suits to Zuccotti Park and asked for volunteers. Then, within earshot of the police, the group made a human microphone announcement about a "highly risky, very arrestable" action. Then, together with a brand-new police escort, the group headed towards the Wall Street Bull chanting "Castrate the bull!" and other angry slogans. More police joined.

Finally, the "brokers" reversed the empty pizza boxes they were holding and held them up to reveal their message for the two dozen photographers present: "POLICE AND BROKERS FOR THE OCCUPATION." At least a few of the photos were shared on Facebook thousands of times, and one appeared in a Long Island tabloid, without any comment, to illustrate an article about police overtime. (Click for high-resolution.)

 

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Oct 17 2011 - 9:35am Tagged: Project: Occupy Wall Street actions

A couple of the results from the BFF tumblr:

If you like the Yes Men’s corporate crime-fighting mischief, it’s now time to spring into action yourself—by becoming Best Friends Forever (BFFs) with the 1% who have wrecked the economy and left us with the bill.

Visit www.occupytheboardroom.org to find hundreds of available 1%ers today; then figure out how to reach them. The idea is to reveal, through hilarious action (like that phone call to Gov. Walker, for instance), something about your new 1% BFF and their nasty, people-destructive practices.

There are many ways to do this. There’s the telephone, of course, and there's email. Or how about giving them an award, or paying them a visit in costume? For more suggestions, go pick your new BFF now! Whatever you do, make it revealing, nonviolent, and funny; document it well, and email images, video, audio or text to bff@occupytheboardroom.org. The funniest interactions, that reveal the most about the 1% (or just your particular BFF), will win prizes.

This isn’t easy to do—but then neither is sleeping out in the rain, let alone digging ourselves out of the mess that the 1% have created.

This is a big project by a whole bunch of people who can’t wait to see what you come up with!

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Oct 12 2011 - 1:40pm Tagged:

(From the Yes Men's acceptance speech for the Art of Activism award given them at RAN's annual fundraising dinner.)

It's nice to be here among the 1%. And it's really nice to know that even the 1% has a 99%.

One year ago, Ginger Cassady from RAN contacted us with some amazing news: RAN had been leaked the files for Chevron's upcoming multimillion-dollar rebranding campaign, which featured slogans like "Oil companies should get real... We agree!"

Ginger thought RAN could do better; we agreed. And shortly afterwards, we all started working on a much-improved version of Chevron's campaign. Ours would have slogans like "Oil companies should clean up their messes" and "Oil companies should stop endangering life," and would feature images of Chevron's massive destruction in Ecuador.

Two days later, we suddenly found out that Chevron's campaign was going to launch in just 12 hours. Thanks to the incredible team from RAN and AmazonWatch, we finished our version in just under 8. We launched it just ahead of Chevron's-—and totally ruined their launch. (To see just how much we ruined it, do a google image search today on "Chevron we agree.")

There are three lessons we've learned from this experience.

Lesson: Humor works

The first lesson is that we can laugh, and that funny actions have a real role in activist struggles today.

We knew this, of course, in part from talking with Serbian revolutionaries who told us that funny actions were critical in their struggle to overthrow Milosevic, and that the Egyptian activists' primary tool in bringing Mubarak down wasn't Twitter, but rather humor.

Here in the US, our own sudden revolution is a bit more complicated than Serbia's or Egypt's—it's not just a single tyrant we're bringing down, but, as with segregation, a whole unjust system we're changing. At the very least, our "we agree" campaign meant that millions of people learned of one more grisly symptom of this system, the same one greed run amok, and of the system the folks in the Occupy movement have set out to change forever.

Lesson: Victory happens

The second lesson we learned, much more important than that one, was that victory is possible.

Today, the perseverance of Chevron's victims, together with the longstanding assistance of RAN and AmazonWatch, is paying off. Chevron was recently ordered to pay $18 billion to clean up their mess in Ecuador, and all their appeals are failing. Chevron's assets will be seized, and there's not much Chevron can do to stop it.

Even getting this far is a really huge victory, and it shows—concretely, clearly, unambiguously—that a different world is possible, and that when the 99% decide something, the 1% can't do squat about it. We can vanquish Chevron, and we can vanquish the whole system of corruption that's holding democracy captive.

Lesson: Kick 'em in the balls

But the most important lesson we've learned from RAN's Chevron campaign is how corporations are vulnerable, and what actually works against them.

What works isn't trying to change corporations. What works isn't trying to appeal to their shareholders, or trying to inflict "brand damage." What works certainly isn't trying to appeal to the decency of people within corporations.

What works is what RAN and AmazonWatch, together with Chevron's victims, have done: kicking them in the proverbial balls. (And corporations are male, I'm afraid.)

Chevron hasn't agreed to anything, and they never will. Nor will the companies involved in the Tar Sands. Nor will the banks or any other part of the democracy-kidnapping system called Wall Street.

The only thing that can work to make corporations serve us, instead of the other way around, is real action—legal, legislative, and political.

Street action also works. Is it a coincidence that Obama is finally starting, now that America is being occupied, to act in some small ways as we elected him to? I don't think it is, any more than it's a coincidence that Chevron is now going to have to pony up billions.

That's an incredibly important lesson, and we'll always be grateful for it.

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Oct 4 2011 - 1:33pm Tagged:

This Wednesday's Revolutionaries Live! lecture with UK climate campaign activists John Stewart and Dan Glass has been postponed.

A few days ago, Stewart landed in JFK Airport for a month-long US speaking tour, only to be escorted off the plane by 6 police officers; interrogated for six hours by the FBI, Secret Service, NY police, and Immigration; and put on a plane back to the UK. The other tour member, environmental activist Dan Glass, was stopped by the CIA on the UK side.

Stewart and Glass are celebrated environmentalists who have won support from direct action activists and even Conservatives in the UK Parliament for successful efforts to reduce carbon emissions and stop the expansion of Heathrow airport. For some reason, however, our own government isn't keen on them coming here.

We're going to bring them to you anyway. Join us on Thursday, November 3rd for a special Skype session with these revered (and reviled?) climate revolutionaries. The best part: no transcontinental air emissions involved!

Thursday, November 3, 7pm
Department of Performance Studies
721 Broadway, 6th Floor
NY, NY 10003
(photo ID required)

And now that your Wednesday is freed up, consider joining us at OccupyWallStreet! Wednesday is the biggest action yet, with the Steelworkers, Transit Workers Union, United Federation of Teachers, Working Families Party, MoveOn.org, Rebuild the Dream, and countless economic justice and community organizations taking part in a massive march to the Liberty Plaza encampment. Starts at 4:30pm at City Hall, 250 Broadway Ave

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Sep 29 2011 - 2:21pm Tagged:

Quick alert about two really important projects that badly need funding:

1. The Occupy Wall Street Journal. The title speaks for itself. This newspaper will be printed in 50,000 copies and will spread all over New York City the news of what's happening right now in the heart of the world's financial capital. Help the movement grow! And if you're anywhere near New York and haven't been to Liberty Plaza, the experience is highly recommended as a treatment for most personal and societal ills.

2. Beautiful Trouble will be a collectively-written book and website that makes the best of creative activism available to all. It's already largely written, but needs a boost to finish and to develop the website. Read more here about what we think of this project, and click here to support it.

Also, a funny thing that happened accidentally yesterday: "Twitter was abuzz" with "evidence" that we'd created a fake evil trader. Not. He's not fake, doesn't even look like us, and—at least by comparison with the real deal—is hardly evil at all. Here's what we wrote about the whole surreal episode.

And if you're in New York, stop by tonight to hear two members of Otpor describe how they brought down Milosevic, and to offer suggestions on bringing down other forms of tyranny.

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