Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Occupy to learn from Sundance

Tim Pool attacked
sal·vo 1 (slv)
n. pl. sal·vos or sal·voes
a. A simultaneous discharge of firearms.
b. The simultaneous release of a rack of bombs from an aircraft.
c. The projectiles or bombs thus released.
2. Something resembling a release or discharge of bombs or firearms, as:
a. A sudden outburst, as of cheers or praise.
b. A forceful verbal or written assault.
n pl -vos Rare
1. an excuse or evasion
2. an expedient to save a reputation or soothe hurt feelings
3. (Law) (in legal documents) a saving clause; reservation
[from such Medieval Latin phrases as salvô iurç the right of keeping safe, from
Latin salvus safe] (Tim is mentioned in following article)
Timothy Pool is an American journalist from Chicago, Illinois.[1] His unique
21-hour marathon reporting earned him fame during the Occupy Wall Street
protests.[2] Utilizing a unique style of first-hand reporting and insightful
commentary, Pool's reputation spread quickly across social and mainstream media.
Pool broadcasts using a smartphone and an external battery.[3]

Tim Pool traveled to NYC to report on the Occupy Wall Street movement in
mid-September during the first week of the protest. He founded TimcastTV to
report live news and showcase new technologies e is currently developing.[4]

Pool's coverage of the Occupy Movement has been carried and syndicated by
multiple mainstream outlets such as NBC, Reuters, Al Jazeera, RT, and
TIME.[5][6] He has also been featured in Fast Company, Wired, and Time\
Occupy Must Learn From SundanceBy Naomi Wolf, Guardian UK
01 February 12
So, late last year, I said - to some controversy here - that the violent
crackdown against the Occupy movement in the United States represented the first
salvos of a civil war initiated by political and allied economic elites against
protesters in a nascent movement whose still-not-fully articulated agenda would
represent a threat to their unmediated and untransparent hold on profits. And a
civil war it has indeed turned out to be.

Over the weekend, 2,000 citizens marched in support of Occupy Oakland - and were
met by flash grenades and, some witnesses assert, rubber bullets. The Los
Angeles Police Department is engaging in training exercises with the US
military. At a parallel march in support, in New York City, a new apparition -
large groups of masked men - joined the protesters, which is, globally, a sign
that provocateurs intent on violence have joined the scene; and journalist Tim
Pool was assaulted.

And reports continue to surface around the nation, most recently from Atlanta,
of heightened local law enforcement investment in military-style hardware to use
against domestic dissent. Predictably enough, after the NDAA created a clause
allowing for the indefinite detention of domestic terrorists, Oakland council
member referred to the Occupy protesters as "domestic terrorists".

In the midst of this escalation, some important lessons have emerged -from, of
all places, the glittery and snowy Sundance film festival in Park City, Utah. I
was there to appear on a panel titled "Loving the Masses", and in the course of
my visit, had the chance to see some of the riveting and important documentaries
about grassroots protest movements that distinguished this year's offerings:
these included the powerful Never Sorry, about the Chinese artist and dissident
Ai Weiwei, directed by novice 27-year-old filmmaker Alison Klayman; Half
Revolution, presenting edge-of-your-seat reportage from the front lines of
Cairo's revolution, by young Palestinian-Danish director Omar Shargawi and
Egyptian-American director Karim el-Hakim; David France's compelling How to
Survive a Plague, about Act Up's rise and fall; the historically significant A
Fierce Green Fire, detailing 30 years of the environmental movement, by Mark
Kitchell; and the truly infuriating doc about how US corporations cycle their
profits out of the country, hiding them routinely in offshore accounts or in
their Irish subsidiaries, so as to avoid paying any US taxes whatsoever - and
doing so in collusion with their hired hands in Congress - We're Not Broke, by
Karin Hayes and Victoria Bruce. The news is bittersweet and the lessons are

One thing that emerges from watching these documentaries, in aggregate, is that
this narrative is global. As the power of global corporations transcends the
political power of nation states, global corporations are simply rewriting
legislation in advanced democracies behind closed doors, and leaving the people
- of Greece or the UK, America or Italy - out of the decision-making process
altogether; then presenting the need for cutbacks as a fait accompli. It is this
lack of financial transparency and accountability that Occupy's movement
threatens, and there are truly billions of dollars - in untaxed US profits alone
- at stake if they become successful.

Also apparent from these films is that the crackdowns against dissent are now
globally coordinated: Acta, which allows corporations to block access to certain
sites online, was signed recently by a series of governments. In Half a
Revolution, Cairenes hold up bullets and tear gas canisters marked "Made in
America". As Twitter and Facebook became global routes for "revolutionary"
sentiment used by dissidents such as Ai Weiwei - who documented, via Twitter,
footage of his being beaten by secret police in a hotel room, as well as
tweeting his brain scan images that showed proof of the damage done by the
beating - and as Facebook drove the protests in Tahrir Square, both social media
have both recently announced policies that limit their usefulness as tools for
organizing, that weaken privacy protections, and that can help to put in
jeopardy dissidents who run afoul of local censors.

On the organizing side, the lessons are profound from these documentaries, as
well. It was heartbreaking to sit on the panel watching clips from A Fierce
Green Fire and How to Survive a Plague and see that most of the forms of
effective peaceful protest used by these successful movements are now illegal,
or else extremely dangerous. Lois Gibbs, a citizen leader in the Love Canal
pollution scandal, spoke of holding government officials hostage until the
groups' demands were met. Well, these days, that would get you ID'ed as a
"domestic terrorist" and shipped to abusive detention.

Act Up successfully put a condom around Senator Jesse Helms' house, blocked
access to the FDA, and showed up to disrupt meetings about drug trials that had
been held in secret. Especially affecting to me was how long they were given to
make their points before being silenced - and how they faced brief arrest
processes, at most, but no violence. Act up was, of course, successful and their
activism on fast-tracking Aids drugs has saved millions of lives.

Important lessons also emerged, especially from Act Up. Occupy - a movement I
love and respect, and which represents our last best hope -also fills me with
distress because of how difficult it is for a movement committed to "no
spokespeople" to get their message out. Act Up, which was founded by a group
that included people who worked in the media and in advertising, were not so
self-hobbled: they created a memorable "brand" (the pink triangle) and coined a
powerful soundbite ("silence equals death"); and activists accepted media
training from a member who was also a news anchor. They were "on message" -
labeling the Catholic Church, for instance, "murderers" when it opposed condom
use. And it was effective, so the word "murderer" was repeated in dozens of
voices and entered the news stream. The Church lost that round; the soundbite
won the day.

Also clear was that Act Up did not get bogged down in consensus decision-making
- which has derailed every single group I have ever studied that has committed
to it - and went with a clear agenda voted on by majority rule. (They also
appeared, from footage of meetings, to have been following Robert's Rules of
Order.) Most importantly, they worked what every successful grassroots movement
needs to create: an outside, disruptive pressure strategy, and a
talk-to-and-negotiate-with-the-decision-makers-under-pressure "inside" arm,
creating a pincer movement. So Act Up protesters would disrupt drug trials
outside the FDA or a private drug company building, or occupy St Vincent's
Hospital. Then, after the disruption had smoked out the leadership of the
institution under fire, a few designated Act Up representatives would make
themselves available to present their clear demands to those in power in those
institutions and negotiate outcomes, with more protest and disruption implied if
demands were not met.

Again and again, How to Survive a Plague shows that this tactic is effective.
Right now, though, the Occupy movement has an ideological reluctance to creating
both arms of the pincer. Many see it as "contaminating", in the words of one
young activist, to even talk to the decision-makers they are protesting against,
or to deal with the mainstream media. I would argue - as I did at Sundance -
that the house is burning and we do not have time for this preciousness. The
evidence from the French documentary, as well as from the Tahrir Square footage,
is that the images in the news media let the world be a witness and, to some
extent, protect protesters. But without journalists present, Syria is free to
mow down citizens without intereference. That shows that disorganization and a
policy of shunning media communication equals political death

Media exposure, a clear message, smart soundbites, clearly stated demands, and,
most importantly, tasked, empowered negotiators working on the inside in concert
with mass disrupters applying pressure from without - this equals political

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