From:   Doug Singsen <dougsingsen@gmail.com>
Sent time:   Tuesday, October 11, 2011 11:49:56 AM
To:   september17@googlegroups.com
Subject:   Re: [september17discuss] for those discussing OWS and antieviction movements: Fw: Victory! But Is Occupy Wall Street A Moment or a Movement?
 

This is also happening in NYC this Thursday at 2:30:

[o4o] People's Auction - Next Thursday!
Thursday, October 13, from 2:30pm until 5:00pm
Kings County Supreme Court (360 Adams Street, Brooklyn)
[As of last week, an organizer expected this might instead actually be on the Court St. side of the courthouse, near corner of Montague St., in Columbus Park.  TRANSIT:  #2, 3 train to Borough Hall (west exit, nearest Manhattan, to Court & Montague, then turn left after turnstile); R (never N) to Court St.-Borough Hall & use east stairs, furthest from Manhattan, to Court & Montague, instead of the elevator end); #4, 5 to Borough Hall (west exit to Joralemon & Court); A, C, F or R to Jay St.- Metrotech/Lawrence St. station complex; G to Hoyt-Schermerhorn (& turn right onto Schermerhorn); bus extravaganza <http://ow.ly/6IMHH > -t.]

(646) 222-6125 / o4o@o4onyc.org [1]

END FORECLOSURES! END EVICTIONS!

Banks are foreclosing with fraudulent loan documents - we demand a moratorium on all foreclosures!

City-run foreclosure auctions are making people homeless every week:

Brooklyn: Thursdays at 3pm
Queens: Fridays at 11am
Bronx: Mondays at 2pm

Join us on October 13th at 2:30pm for a People's Auction! We will bring our struggles directly to the courts and give a voice to the thousands of New Yorkers who have lost their homes to foreclosure. Meet outside Kings County Supreme Court (360 Adams Street, Brooklyn).

#o4onyc

To contact o4o, email us at o4o@o4onyc.org [1] or call (646) 222-6125

Visit us on the web at o4onyc.org
http://o4onyc.org [2]

On Tue, Oct 11, 2011 at 1:14 PM, acpollack2@juno.com <acpollack2@juno.com> wrote:
see attached re victory in LA
 
Please note: forwarded message attached

From: merithew@MAIL.H-NET.MSU.EDU
To: H-LABOR@H-NET.MSU.EDU
Subject: Victory! But Is Occupy Wall Street A Moment or a Movement?
Date: Tue, 11 Oct 2011 13:02:29 -0400



---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: merithew@MAIL.H-NET.MSU.EDU
To: H-LABOR@H-NET.MSU.EDU
Date: Tue, 11 Oct 2011 13:02:29 -0400
Subject: Victory! But Is Occupy Wall Street A Moment or a Movement?
From:    "Peter Dreier" <dreier@oxy.edu>
Date:    Fri, October 7, 2011 2:44 am
*Friends and Colleagues:*

*The protesters challenging the big banks and the super-rich won a dramatic
victory in Los Angeles today, as I describe below. OneWest Bank, the biggest
bank based in Southern California, and Fannie Mae,  stopped their
foreclosure and eviction against Rose Gudiel, a working class homeowner, in
response to a brilliantly executed protest movement by community and union
activists.*

*The question facing the activists is this:  Is the Occupy Wall Street
phenomenon a moment of protest or a movement for change? As a write in The
Nation this week, *

*“If the Occupy Wall Street activists join forces with the unions and
community groups, they could catalyze a massive nationwide movement to
resist foreclosures and block evictions. They could also put pressure on
local and state lawmakers to pass tougher legislation. And they could inject
the foreclosure crisis—and the banking industry’s culpability for the
recession—into the presidential and Congressional elections.”  *

*It appears that this convergence of Occupy Wall Street (which has now
spread to dozens of cities) and the unions and community organizing groups
-- that have been working for years to spark a movement like this – may be
happening. They now face the dilemma confronted by the American Left for
years: Can they bring together visionary calls for radical change with
specific demands for immediate reform?  *

*Today, participating in a rally and march in downtown LA, cosponsored by
Occupy LA and union/community/faith coalition led by ACCE and SEIU, that
attracted several thousand people, Gudiel announced the following:***

*“I’d like to announce that the bank called me today to arrange a meeting,
to discuss a modification proposal from Fannie Mae.  I have also learned
that my eviction has been canceled.  We are very happy that they have
finally come to the table, and I hope they are serious about negotiating a
reasonable modification, which is what I have been requesting for over two
years. And I hope that they will change their policies to stop taking the
homes the thousands of hardworking families facing preventable foreclosure.
Thank you.”***

·         *Imagine 25, 50, 100, 500, or 1000 homeowners like Rose Gudiel,
victims of banking abuses and economic downtown, following Gudiel’s example
in greater LA!  ***

·         *Imagine the Occupy Wall Street activists and their counterparts
in LA, Chicago, Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, and elsewhere linking arms
with members of community groups and union to block evictions all over the
country!  ***

·         *Imagine, as they join forces to stop banks and sheriffs from
evicting the victims of Wall Street-induced recession, that the combined
forces of the union/community groups and the Occupy Wall Street activists
showed up at the homes and offices of Republican Senators and House members,
demanding that they pass Obama’s jobs bill, confirm **Richard Cordray
(Obama’s nominee to head the Consumer Protection Finance Bureau, whom the
GOP is opposing), and toughen regulations on banks.  *

·         *Imagine if these same folks worked to push Congress to pass a
recent** proposal by the National Labor Relations Board that would make it
slightly easier for workers to organize unions, and which is being
ferociously opposed by the US Chamber of Commerce, the Koch brothers, and
the National Association of Manufacturers, as Gordon Lafer writes about in
the current (October 10) issue of The Nation.***

·         *Imagine if the Occupy Wall Street activists and their
counterparts got involved in the grunt work (voter registration, phone
banking, door-knocking) required to help elect Elizabeth Warren to the U.S.
Senate from Massachusetts as well as helped elect other liberal and
progressive Democrats, including President Obama, next November.***

*A scenario like the one described in the bullet points above is possible.*

*My Nation article, pasted below, is one of a series of articles in the
forthcoming October 24 issue of The Nation, some of which are available
on-line, that explore these possibilities (http://www.thenation.com).  So
does Harold Meyerson’s Washington Post column, “Rescuing America from Wall
Street,” linked here:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/rescuing-america-from-wall-street/2011/10/04/gIQAJGezLL_print.html
*

*In the past week alone, the Occupy Wall Street crusade has not only spread
to dozens of cities and (after being ignored for several weeks) generated
increasingly respectful media coverage, but won the support of the labor
movement, MoveOn, key members of Congress, the Los Angeles City Council, and
others. After being grilled by Sen. Bernie Sanders two days ago, Federal
Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke reluctantly expressed his agreement with the
grievances of the Occupy Wall Street folks.  Watch the Sanders-Bernanke
exchange here:** **http://www.presstv.ir/usdetail/202904.html**. **It is a
great example of why it is important to have strong allies like Sanders in
Congress.*

*Meyerson and many others are wondering how to keep the momentum going so
that the spark lit by the Occupy Wall Street activists doesn’t fizzle out.
 Eventually, the mainstream media will grow tired of covering daily
demonstrations and marches in the streets of major cities (and all but the
hard core of activists will grow tired of camping out and marching)
unless the Occupy Wall Street campaign begins to make specific demands
that can
help win specific victories.  *

* *

*Protest and civil disobedience – like the sit-down strikes at auto
factories in the 1930s and the lunch counter sit-ins in the 1960s – succeed
when its participants and its sympathizers are fighting for something
specific, and their victories become stepping-stones to more and more bold,
radical reforms.   The best thing that could happen to the Occupy Wall
Street activists in NYC and elsewhere is to join forces with homeowners
fighting foreclosures and evictions.  During the Depression,  radicals
organized rural farmers and urban tenants to resist foreclosures and
evictions by banks, sheriffs, judges, and landlords.  Progressives within
FDR’s inner circle – like Henry Wallace and Frances Perkins – along with
progressives and liberals in Congress used this upsurge of radical protest
to push for New Deal legislation that helped farmers, workers, and  the
unemployed.  *

*If this idea seems far-fetched in the current political climate, take a
look at what has happened in Los Angeles in the past week.  Today activists
there won an important, heartening victory by using protest and civil
disobedience to stop a bank from foreclosing and evicting on a working-class
family victimized by greedy banks and the economic crisis.*

*Rose Gudiel, who juggles two jobs and lives with her parents and brother in
a working-class suburb of Los Angeles, has become the public face of a
burgeoning crusade to defend homeowners from unfair evictions. The 35-year
old Gudiel belongs to the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment
(ACCE, a group formed after the collapse of ACORN in California) and the
Service Employees International Union (SEIU), organizations that have led
the fight for bank reform in California. Their protests are rooted in the
specific grievances of their mostly low-income and working-class members,
who have been laid off, ripped off and evicted by banks engaged in predatory
lending.  ACCE, SEIU and other California unions and community groups have
been mobilizing homeowners since the beginning of the economic crisis.
They’ve organized meetings with bank officials to try to get them to modify
loans rather than foreclose on homeowners. When negotiations break down, the
activists have resorted to protests and civil disobedience to draw attention
to abusive practices and the banks’ failure to deal with homeowners in good
faith.*

*Two years ago the Gudiel family missed one mortgage payment after her
brother was killed and the family lost his income and Rose, a state
government employee, lost some income because of state furloughs due to the
state’s fiscal crisis.  The family quickly recovered and wanted to resume
making its mortgage payments, but OneWest Bank quickly began foreclosure
proceedings rather than help modify the family’s mortgage.  Facing the
possibility of eviction. Gudiel, her neighbors, co-workers and supporters
from the ACCE and SEIU last week began a round-the-clock vigil at her house.
They pledged to risk arrest if the LA County sheriff tried to evict them
from her home after Fannie Mae and OneWest Bank issued a foreclosure notice.
 These videos document that courageous efforts of Gudiel and her supporters:
http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/local/los_angeles&id=8373326
http://www.sgvtribune.com/news/ci_19001602 *

*On Tuesday this week, ACCE, SEIU, and other supporters protested at the $26
million Bel Air mansion of Steve Mnuchin, the CEO of OneWest Bank, based in
Pasadena. (See video footage here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIWXeaWAHLI&feature=related  and here
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCcgHwMnntE&feature=email.  My article,
“Steve Mnuchin, Meet Rose Gudiel” in Huffington Post a few days ago, looks
at the disparity between multi-millionaire Mnuchin and working class
homeowners like Gudiel.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-dreier/steve-mnuchin-meet-rose-g_b_992940.html
.  On Wednesday, ACCE, SEIU and Gudiel and other supporters occupied the
Fannie Mae office in Pasadena. Gudiel and six others arrested. (See this
video of the protest http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNAfvqkogIk and this
article in the Pasadena Star-News (
http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/news/ci_19048431  LA County Sheriff Lee Baca
obviously did not want to have to evict Gudiel and her family, including her
disabled mother (who uses a wheelchair) and her father (a warehouse worker).
So he stalled for time, contacted OneWest and Fannie Mae, hoping these giant
institutions would do the right thing and modify Gudiel’s mortgage so  her
family could stay in their home.*

*Now it appears that the Gudiel family will get their house back – and they
owe their victory to the solidarity shown by their friends and neighbors,
the months of hard work of ACCE, SEIU and their allies (particularly ACCE
organizer Peter Kuhns), and the shifting political climate triggered by the
new Occupy Wall Street activists.   In between marches and protests, I
encourage the Occupy Wall Street folks to read Cohen’s book, Nothing to Fear.
Here’s what they’ll learn: *

* *

*When FDR was elected in November 1932, and even after he took office in
March 1933, his ideas about what to do were very unclear.  He promised
Americans a “new deal” but he had very few specifics. In fact, FDR was in
many ways a cautious, even conservative, politician. The one clear idea he
had in mind when he took office was to cut the federal budget, and the
person he hired to do that job was his budget director, a conservative
Congressman from Arizona named Lewis Douglas.  He was also, initially,
reluctant to use the power of government to regulate business practices, to
create jobs, to support union organizing, or to support struggling farmers.*

* *

*Cohen describes a ongoing battle that went on for FDR’s heart and mind.  It
was a battle that went on inside the White House and outside the White
House.*

* *

*Inside** the White House, it was a battle between FDR’s progressives
advisors and cabinet members like Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, Harry
Hopkins, Henry Wallace, and Rexford Tugwell and more moderate and even
conservative advisors.*

* *

*Outside** the White House, it was a battle between grassroots organizations
and business groups. The grassroots groups included labor unions, community
organizing groups, and organized small family farmers, including a radical
group called the National Farmers Union.  The business groups included
banks, manufacturers, the real estate industry, and corporate  farmers.
These business groups were split between right-wing reactionary business
leaders and more moderate groups – and even a handful of liberal business
leaders – who recognized the need for reform. *

* *

*FDR, as well as members of Congress, were influenced by the rising tide of
protest taking place all over America.  The nation was three years into the
Depression – 1932 – before there were large-scale protest. It had been
simmering under the surface. But at first, people were afraid, paralysed,
blamed themselves, felt ashamed, not sure what to do – or if there was
anything to do at all.   *

* *

*Workers, and farmers, and  community groups were organizing people, but it
didn’t surface publicly until those feelings of shame, fear and paralysis
were pushed aside. *

* *

*Cohen tells a story that is pretty scary, but which also reveals the depths
of desperation that many Americans felt at the time.*

* *

*Almost half of all Americans made their living directly or indirectly from
agriculture.**  Between 1929 and 1932, when FDR took office, farm income had
fallen by two- thirds.  Farm foreclosures were happening at a record pace.
Farming communities were emptying out, as family farmers and sharecroppers
abandoned the land looking for jobs elsewhere, like the situation portrayed
in Steinbeck’s novel, and the film, “Grapes of Wrath.”*

* *

*As Cohen recounts: *

* *

*“Farmers who stayed on the land were responding to their bleak
circumstances with extreme politics and lawlessness.  In January (1932), in
Pilger, Nebraska, a crowd of hundreds had shown up to disrupt a foreclosure
sale.  At a foreclosure sale the same month in Le Mars, Iowa, a crowd had
dragged a lawyer from New York Life Insurance Company down the courthouse
steps. His life in danger, the lawyer...telegraphed his employer and asked
for permission to bid the full amount the farmer was asking.”*

* *

*“In May 1932, 2000 farmers descended on the state fairgrounds in Des Moines
to form the Farmers’ Holiday Association.” The group urged farmers to
declare a “holiday” from farming, under the slogan, “Stay at Home - Buy
Nothing - Sell Nothing.” In effect, they were urging farmers to go on strike
– to withhold their corn, beef, pork, and milk, until the government
addressed their problems. They threatened to call a national farmers strike
if Congress did not provide farmers with “legislative justice.”*

* *

*In Sioux City Iowa, farmers put wooden planks with nails on the highways to
block agricultural deliveries.  In Nebraska, one group of farmers showed up
at a foreclosure sale and saw to it that every item that had been seized
from a farmer’s widow sold for 5 cents, leaving the bank with a total
settlement of just $5.35.  This tactics quickly spread throughout the farm
belt.*

* *

*Perhaps the most scary example of farmers’ anger boiling over took place on
April 27, 1932 in Le Mars, Iowa.  There, a group of farmers “pulled Judge
Charles Bradley off the bench while he was hearing foreclosure cases. They
carried him out of the courthouse and, when he refused to swear not to sign
any more foreclosures, threw him into a farm truck and drove him to the
outskirts of town. The mob pulled down his pants and put a noose around his
neck. The farmers stopped short of a lynching...and simply left him dazed by
the side of the road.”*

* *

*“Farmers were becoming more radicalized by the day. Edward O’Neal,
president of the Farm Bureau Federation, warned Congress that ‘unless
something is done for the American farmer we will have a revolution in this
country within less than twelve months.’”*

* *

*According to Cohen, these protests by farmers, “increased the sense of
urgency in Washington.”   Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace and
progressive Democrats in Congress kept FDR aware of these protests, which
helped them out-maneuver their more moderate colleagues. This combination of
outside protest and inside  maneuvering soon led to passage of the
Agricultural Adjustment Act and the Emergency Farm Mortgage Act that
“radically changed the economics of farming.”*

* *

*This same dynamic played out in the big cities, among veterans, tenants,
among the unemployed, and among workers.  In the spring and summer of 1932,
protest erupted among veterans of World War One, many of them out of work
and hungry. More than 20,000 of them from across the country joined a  Bonus
Army march on Washington. The  veterans were  holding government bonus
certificates for their military service, which were due more than a dozen
years in the future. They demanded that Congress pay off on them now, when
they desperately needed the money. Most of them camped across the Potomac
River from the Capitol on Anacostia Flats, in make-shift huts. *

* *

*The bill to pay off on the bonus passed the House, but was defeated in the
Senate, and some veterans, discouraged, left. Most stayed  – some encamped
in government buildings near the Capitol, the rest on Anacostia Flats.
President Hoover ordered the army to evict them. They used horses, tear gas,
and machine guns. This led to a bloody scene, and two veterans were killed.*

* *

*But the Bonus Army didn’t give up, especially after FDR was elected. They
returned to Washington  to lobby “for an immediate payment of their bonuses
and to protest the keep cuts” that FDR was making to their benefits as part
of his budget-cutting plan.  *

* *

*FDR wanted to avoid another bloody riot with veterans that had hurt
Hoover’s reputation.  In contrast to Hoover, FDR invited the Bonus Marchers
to camp at a nearby army fort and provided them with meals, medical care and
entertainment by the Navy band.  One of FDR’s progressive aides suggested
that Eleanor Roosevelt go visit the veterans, and she spent time with them,
listening to their complaints. One of the veterans said: “Hoover sent the
Army. Roosevelt sent his wife.”  *

* *

*More importantly, FDR acted to respond to their protests.  He didn’t
restore their army bonuses, but he did issue an executive order setting
aside 25,000 places for veterans in the Civilian Conservation Corps, the
first of the New Deal public works programs.*

* *

*In the 1930s, America was primarily a nation of renters, and during the
Depression, there were huge waves of evictions, because they didn’t have the
income to pay rent. Utility companies shut off electricity and heat.*

* *

*As Howard Zinn recounts in A People’s History of the United States, a
 renter in New York City wrote a letter  to  Congressman Fiorello La
Guardia, a progressive politician who represented a poor district in Harlem:
*

* *

*“You know my condition is bad... It is now nearly seven months I am out of
work. I hope you will try to do something for me.. .. I have four children
who are in need of clothes and food.. .. My daughter who is eight is very
ill and not recovering. My rent is due two months and I am afraid of being
put out.” *

* *

*Many tenants went beyond these pleas for help.  In many big cities, when
word spread that a family was being evicted, Often a crowd would gather -
sometimes 10 people, sometimes a few hundred people. The police would remove
the furniture from the house, put it out in the street, and the crowd would
bring the furniture back. This happened so often that some police officers
would refuse to evict or arrest people.  These actions were organized by
radicals – Communists and Socialists – but they attracted a large following
of people who weren’t radicals but were desperate, angry, and willing to
take action.*

* *

*These protests set the stage for the New Deal’s public housing programs,
the first time that the federal government provided subsidies to create
affordable housing.*

* *

*In January  1933, several hundred jobless surrounded a restaurant just off
Union Square in New York demanding they be fed without charge.            In
Seattle in, February 1933, about 5,000 unemployed people occupied the
County-City Building demanding jobs or relief. These and similar protests
around the country set the stage for the nation’s first cash assistance
program for struggling families.*

* *

*Through the 1930s, workers engaged in massive and illegal strikes and
sit-down protests in factories throughout the country. A million and a half
workers in different industries went on strike in 1934, including
longshoremen, teamsters, factory workers, and retail clerks. In San
Francisco,  130,000 workers joined a general strike.*

* *

*In Michigan - where workers had taken over a number of auto plants - a
sympathetic governor, Democrat Frank Murphy, refused to allow the National
Guard to eject the protestors even after they had defied an injunction to
evacuate the factories. His mediating role helped end the strike on terms
that provided a victory for the workers and their union. *

* *

*President Roosevelt soon recognized that his ability to push New Deal
legislation through Congress depended on the pressure generated by
protestors.  As the protests escalated throughout the country, Roosevelt
became more vocal, using his bully pulpit to lash out at big business for
their greed and selfishness.  He used his speeches,  and his “fireside
chats” on the radio, to explain his New Deal agenda and to encourage people
to contact their Congressmembers to promote workers' rights and to. Labor
organizers felt confident in proclaiming, "FDR wants you to join the union."
*

* *

*With Roosevelt setting the tone, with his progressive aides like Frances
Perkins and Henry Wallace maneuvering within the administration, and with
allies like Senator Robert Wagner maneuvering in Congress, labor protests
helped win legislation guaranteeing workers' right to organize, the minimum
wage, and the 40-hour week.*

* *

*The economic and political conditions in America right now aren’t the same
as in the Depression, but the protests of the past few weeks indicate that
Americans are angry and frustrated.  The Tea Party doesn’t have the answers
to address these deep-rooted problems.  Perhaps the Occupy Wall Street
moment will turn into a progressive movement like America witnessed in the
Depression. *





[image: The Nation]

Published on *The Nation* (http://www.thenation.com)
 ------------------------------
 Occupying Wall Street, Building a Movement

Peter Dreier | October 5, 2011

If you’re confused about the wave of protests sweeping the country, don’t be
alarmed. It *is* confusing. Who are the protesters? What and who are they
protesting? And what do they want?

It turns out that there are two different but overlapping movements taking
to the streets. Both are angry at the richest 1 percent of Americans, who
have made out like bandits while most of the rest of us have seen our
wealth, income and standard of living decline. Both blame Wall Street for
causing an economic crisis that has led to massive layoffs, foreclosures and
cuts in government services. And both oppose tax breaks for the superrich
and bailouts for banks.

The one getting the most media attention this fall calls itself Occupy Wall
Street, although it has recently spread from New York’s financial center to
Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and other cities [see “Occupy
America,” above].

Rose Gudiel is part of the other wing of the protest movement. Gudiel, who
juggles two jobs and lives with her parents and brother in a working-class
suburb of Los Angeles, has become the public face of a burgeoning crusade to
defend homeowners from unfair evictions. She, her family, neighbors and
other supporters have pledged to risk arrest when the LA County sheriff
tries to evict them from her home now that Fannie Mae and OneWest Bank have
issued a foreclosure notice.

Gudiel belongs to the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment and
the Service Employees International Union, organizations that have led the
fight for bank reform in California. Their protests are rooted in the
specific grievances of their mostly low-income and working-class members,
who have been laid off, ripped off and evicted by banks engaged in predatory
lending.

The ACCE, SEIU and other California unions and community groups have been
mobilizing homeowners since the beginning of the economic crisis. They’ve
organized meetings with bank officials to try to get them to modify loans
rather than foreclose on homeowners. When negotiations break down, the
activists have resorted to protests and civil disobedience to draw attention
to abusive practices and the banks’ failure to deal with homeowners in good
faith.

The goal is not simply to help a handful of homeowners stay in their houses
but to create a mounting sense of urgency, so that banks change their
practices and politicians change government policy. This year SEIU persuaded
the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to renegotiate its “interest rate
swap” with JPMorgan Chase, allowing the city to repay its loans at the
current lower rates, thus saving San Francisco $40 million. Similar
campaigns are under way in other cities. The coalition has pushed for local
laws that will fine banks up to $1,000 a day if they don’t maintain empty
foreclosed homes to avoid neighborhood blight. Earlier this year the
coalition urged the California legislature to make banks pay a
$10,000–$20,000 fee per foreclosure to help cities address the damage they
cause. According to conservative estimates, foreclosures have reduced
property values in California by $650 billion, resulting in a loss of up to
$4 billion in property taxes.

The activist groups are now putting the heat on banks to reduce mortgage
principal for struggling homeowners. Many economists say this is an
effective way to revitalize the housing sector and bring about a recovery.
Californians with underwater mortgages overpay banks $20 billion a
year—money that could instead be pumped into the state’s economy. The
activists also want the legislature to establish a mandatory foreclosure
mediation program to ensure that homeowners receive due process and a fair
chance at negotiating loan modifications.

Although activists in California—an epicenter of the foreclosure
epidemic—have taken the lead, they are part of a national coalition of
unions, community groups and faith-based organizations called the New Bottom
Line, which has been waging war on Wall Street for several years. It has
organized rallies and marches in New York, Kansas City, San Francisco,
Boston, Charlotte and other cities with major bank headquarters. It has been
a partial counterweight to the lobbying muscle used by the US Chamber of
Commerce and the financial industry to thwart President Obama’s financial
reform plan. But the coalition has not built the momentum needed to
strengthen Obama’s ineffective foreclosure-prevention program, and its
sporadic protests haven’t sparked a broader movement.

Until this fall, that is. Now the excitement and energy from Occupy Wall
Street, combined with the organizing savvy of the union/community coalition,
may be coalescing into something much bigger. Activists from both networks
have been meeting to discuss strategy, tactics, targets and message.

In October the New Bottom Line mounted a series of protests in Los
Angeles—including civil disobedience at a major bank and a rally at the home
of the CEO of a large lender—to keep the pressure on the banking industry to
help working-class families like the Gudiels avoid eviction. Over the coming
weeks organizers in Minneapolis, Chicago, New York and other cities will aim
protests at specific banks, CEOs and politicians who have collected big
campaign contributions from the financial sector and voted against tough
banking regulations.

If the Occupy Wall Street activists join forces with the unions and
community groups, they could catalyze a massive nationwide movement to
resist foreclosures and block evictions. They could also put pressure on
local and state lawmakers to pass tougher legislation. And they could inject
the foreclosure crisis—and the banking industry’s culpability for the
recession—into the presidential and Congressional elections.

The different strategies used by Occupy Wall Street and the
union/community/faith coalition reflect a longstanding dilemma for American
dissenters—how to link visionary calls for radical change with specific
demands for immediate reform? They also reflect the difference between what
organizers call “mobilizing” and “movement building.” The first involves
large protests that may generate media attention but don’t necessarily build
the organizations needed to follow up, train leaders and negotiate with
policy-makers. The second involves the slow, difficult work of building
unions, community organizations and other groups that can dig in for the
long haul and keep people engaged when the excitement dies down.

* * *

Ever since the Boston Tea Party, it has been the spirited, explosive and
messy protests and civil disobedience—sit-down strikes at auto factories and
sit-ins at segregated lunch counters, for example—that have transformed
day-to-day grievances into movements that make history. These actions
dramatize serious problems and encourage people to become part of a crusade
for social justice. The sense of crisis generated by such protests often
forces political and business leaders—mostly concerned about order and
stability—to respond by negotiating reforms.

Throughout American history, the soul of successful reform movements has
been people like Rose Gudiel. She has never been politically involved
before, but her recent experience as a victim of bank abuse changed her
views. “My parents instilled in me the idea that if you work hard and study,
you could live your American dream,” she says. “I was the first person in my
family to graduate from college, and I worked hard so that I can own a home.
And now these banks are taking my dream away.” And, she insists, “I’m not
leaving. I’m willing to go to jail.” In September, Gudiel, her neighbors,
co-workers and supporters from the ACCE and SEIU began a round-the-clock
vigil at her house to prevent her eviction, as Gudiel and her supporters
fight to rescind her foreclosure and renegotiate her loan.

If the Occupy Wall Street protesters and their counterparts around the
country link arms with people like Rose Gudiel, they could win stirring
victories and inspire a broader movement that challenges the wealth and
power of a tiny elite. That could do more than restore people’s homes to
them and rebuild the economy. It could restore our democracy, too.
 ------------------------------

*Source URL:*
http://www.thenation.com/article/163805/occupying-wall-street-building-movement



_____________________________________

Peter Dreier

Dr. E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics

Chair, Urban & Environmental Policy Department

Occidental College

1600 Campus Road

Los Angeles, CA 90041

Phone: (323) 259-2913

FAX: (323) 259-2734

Website: http://employees.oxy.edu/dreier



*"The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great
moral crises maintain their neutrality" - Dante*



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