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(Updated Oct. 19) Occupy Wall Street inspires global protests against the '1%' (activist reports, videos, pics)


Occupy Sydney, October 15, 2011. Photos by Kate Ausburn.

October 16 , 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- According to http://15october.net, protests and actions -- inspired by the Occupy Wall Street mass movement across the United States -- were to take place in more than 950 cities in more than 80 countries on October 15. Actions had already begun in some parts of the world before that.

Below are just a few reports from around the world. More will be added as they come to hand, so please check back. If you are a participant in any of the global Occupy actions, please leave a report in the Comments box at the end.

[Are you a participant in an Occupy action in your city or town? Please leave a report in the comments section below. For more on Occupy Wall Street, click HERE.]

Democracy Now! report on the global Occupy protests, broadcast on October 17, 2011.

Australia

Green Left Weekly, Australia's leading socialist newspaper, reports that several thousand people mobilised across the country in solidarity with the Wall Street protests and to demonstrate against the "Aussie" "1%". At 11 am about 750 people converged on City Square in Swanston Street in Melbourne’s CBD, which swelled to more than 2000 when it was joined by a previously organised demonstration in solidarity with Palestine. Tents and stalls have been set up for the indefinite occupation. Stalls have been set up by groups including: refugee support and campaign groups; equal marriage campaign groups; an Indigenous tent and a media tent for independent media groups. Trade unions, including the National Union of Workers, the Communications Workers Union Victoria and Unite with others likely to follow, have publicly supported the action.

Occupy Melbourne activist Phil Stallard addressed the assembly, explaining the significance of the movement: “We, the people, rallying in Occupy Together protests around the world are battling first and foremost for the right to life, in the face of elitist governments and corporations doing their best to depopulate this globe through machinations hardly known to the public. As one people, united, we the 99% acknowledge the reality. That the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members together with a system that protects our rights upon corruption of that system.

“A democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth. No true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come together at a time when corporations run our governments. They place profit over people, self-interest over justice and oppression over equality.

"Because our governments have failed in their responsibilities, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights and those of their neighbours.”

Socialist Alliance activist Sue Bolton told GLW: "Socialist Alliance is here because we think that it is really important that their be resistance against the control of society by the corporations. "We need to ensure that this movement continues indefinately and we need to braoden support from the trade unions."

The Occupy Melbourne movement is set to continue to expand, so grab yourself a sleeping bag and make your way to the City Square in the CBD as soon as you can.

In Sydney, more than 1000 people gathered in Martin Place, near the Reserve Bank,  Australia's central bank. Those assembled decided to camp indefinitely. Occupy Sydney activists have been buoyed by motions of endorsement by the NSW State Council of the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU)and the Canterbury-Bankstown Teachers Association, and support from a range of other progressive trade unionists, including the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA). The CFMEU and MUA have each donated $1000 to assist the Occupy Sydney protest with food and other logistics.


Police provoke conflict. Video from Occupy Sydney.

Occupy Sydney reports that after a successful first day of occupation police, without consultation, attempted to force the peaceful activists to take down any structures and forcibly remove any unattended item. At approximately 10.30 pm police moved into the crowd and began dismantling structures and confiscating property. While some occupiers were warned and given the opportunity to move their gear, others had it taken without warning. The situation became very tense, and one occupier was arrested after chaining himself to the van that held the confiscated property. At that stage the police were refusing to speak with the Occupy Sydney police liason, but individual police told occupiers that people were allowed to stay but no structures were permissable.

Occupiers gathered tents, mattresses and other property and linked arms to protect it; the police backed off. They were officially told that they could “stay”, but not “camp”, meaning no tents, mattresses, pillows. A vote was taken to remain in Martin Place and people were prepared to sleep on the concrete.

More than 250 occupiers held Martin Place overnight. While the “no camping” rule was not enforced and occupiers were allowed bedding, at around 6.45 am on October 16, police announced that if all gear wasn’t packed up promptly, they would forcibly remove it. The occupation briefly met and agreed that gear would be brought to a central spot until the situation is discussed at the general assembly.

Check Occupy Sydney for updates.


Occupy Sydney. Photos by Peter Boyle. Made with Slideshow Embed Tool.

In Brisbane, Green Left Weekly reports, at least 300 people attended the occupation of Post Office Square. People from a wide variety of beliefs and backgrounds joined the gathering during the day, with some prepared to stay the night. At a community assembly in the square, spokeswoman for the organising committee, Kate Haskett, led the crowd in chanting: "Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!" She said: "We thank the New York citizens who have inspired people in more than 1200 cities across the world to show their own power." The words of the declaration of the Occupation of New York City were then read out. Haskett said: "This declaration speaks for all of humanity. It's up to us, the people, to stand up against what we know is wrong.

"We acknowledge the original occupiers, the traditional owners, of this land, the Aboriginal people. And we open our arms to all people of different races, beliefs and nations. We are the 99 per cent!"

Further discussions were held to plan the future of the Brisbane occupation. For more information, visit the Occupy Brisbane Facebook page.

In Perth, at least 200 people gathered for Occupy Perth protest in Forrest Place. Those there have pledged to return to begin an indefinite occupation on October 28. See Perth Now article on Occupy Perth. In Adelaide, about 200 people turned out for the Occupy Adelaide action. In Canberra, more than 50 people came together and held a march to Garema Place. Thirty people also protested in Darwin, and decided to return every Wednesday evening as long as the Occupy movement continues around the world.


Photos from Perth Occupy action. Photos by Alex Bainbridge. Made with Slideshow Embed Tool.
 

Aotearoa/New Zealand

In Auckland on October 15, 2000 supporters of Occupy Auckland marched up Queen Street to Aotea Square. Eighty protesters set up a dozen tents for the night. Protests were also held today in New Plymouth, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill. The Aotearoa/New Zealand occupations were the first of events planned around the world that day, inspired by Occupy Wall Street. See http://www.occupyauckland.org/ for updates.

David Colyer, writing for UNITYAotearoa, provides a positive assessment of the day's action:

The policy of not having a list of demands has infuriated many critics and more that a few supporters of the movement. But it seems to have worked.

Importantly, it has allowed groups and individuals to bring their own concerns, and I’m sure it will encourage people to think about how these diverse issues are linked to corporate domination. Many would agree with the sentiments of the Aucklander whose placard said "I’m here for so many reasons".

Some of the reasons expressed in the placards and banners and Facebook comments:

  • The wealth gap between the rich and the rest, growing ever wider as real wages stagnate or fall, while productivity and profits soar.
  • The slow response and lack of preparation to the Rena oil spill, which was the long predicted consequence of the deregulation of the shipping industry.
  • Unemployment, scapegoating of beneficences and the lack of opportunity even for skilled and educated.
  • The expansion of coal mining and oil drilling, which threatens more oil spills, when accelerating climate change means we should be moving away from fossil fuel extraction and cutting CO2 emissions.
  • The failure of  to honour treaty commitment to tino rangatiratanga, leaving Maori dispossessed in their own land.
  • And, last but not least, capitalism, corporate control and the corruption of democracy by the rich elite.

Britain

In London, according the BBC, 3000 people gathered outside the London Stock Exchange on October 15 to add their voices to global movement. As night fell in London dozens of tents were pitched at the foot of the steps of St Paul Cathedral by protesters.

Anna Jones, from the Occupy London Stock Exchange group, criticised the police hostility to the demonstration. "We have already seen a disproportionate amount of force by the police against protesters who are occupying the area outside St Paul's", she said. "We have seen people, kettled, grabbed and thrown off the steps forcefully by the police. This was entirely unnecessary. None came here to have a fight with the police.

"The only crime that the police can pin on people is one of having a conversation about real democracy and the unfair and unequal economic system that favours the rich and powerful."

Scotland Yard said a "containment" had been in place at St Paul's Churchyard "to prevent breach of the peace". At one point police said they would not allow camping in front of the cathedral, because it was "illegal and disrespectful" but later a Scotland Yard spokesperson said a number of tents had been pitched and there were no plans to remove them before Sunday morning.

Earlier, demonstrators attempted to set up another camp outside the London Stock Exchange in privately owned Paternoster Square, but were prevented by the police.

After protesters returned to St Paul's Churchyard, the square in front of the cathedral, officers prevented more people trying to join the protest by cutting off access points. Several hundred protesters congregated behind the police lines and heckled officers for not allowing anyone through.

A section 60aa order -- which gives officers the power to force people to remove masks covering their faces -- is also currently in place in the City of London. Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, gave a speech to one group of protesters about anonymity after he was challenged by police for wearing a mask as he walked to the protest. "I ask that all of you demand that foreign bank accounts be opened up and made transparent, the same way that I today have been forced to be made transparent."

As night fell, things began to feel much more intense. Riot officers in bright yellow jackets moved on to the steps of St Paul's Cathedral, shouting at protesters to move away, saying they needed to protect the historic building. Police dogs have also been prowling the area and police tape and vans are blocking any more protesters from joining the main demonstration.

Smaller protests have taken place in Bristol, Birmingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Canada

John Riddell reports that demonstrations and occupations took place across Canada on October 15, in all large cities and many smaller centres. More than 2000 took part in Toronto (see video above), a reported 4000 in Vancouver and 1000 in Edmonton. Faced with broad public support for the protests, governments kept their cops at a respectful distance. Tents went up in many public squares, as determined participants settled in for a lengthy stay in the increasingly frigid conditions of a Canadian winter.

Trade unions across the country expressed strong support for the movement. Endorsations came, among others, from the auto, commmunications, and service workers, and the Ontario and British Columbia labour federations.

China

Even before the October 15 global protests, reports China Study Group, a group of several hundred individuals in Zhengzhou protested on October 6 in support of Occupy Wall Street. The event was related to a left-wing grouping, going by the signs and the rhetoric from a posting at Utopia. There was also an action in Hong Kong on October 5 led by the group Socialist Action, a Trotskyist organisation. Several dozen Hong Kong youth protested outside the stock exchange and US consulate. China Worker has an in-depth article on the event in English. Letters of solidarity, one signed over by 50 intellectuals and activists in China and another by hundreds of leftists, have also been issued.

October 15 has been slated as the day to Occupy Asia, including Taipei.

In Hong Kong, reported World of Labor, on October 15, more than 300 people took part in the Hong Kong city centre (pictured above) to protest against the failure of the system. A wide range of groups and parties joined the event, including Left 21, FM101, student organisations, the anti-nuclear coalition, Lehman Brothers victims, LSD (Link of Social Democrats), People's Power, the Neighbourhood and Workers Service Centre etc. A group of young men wearing "V" mask and black clothes were also present.

Throughout the afternoon it became forum, where groups and individuals took the floor in turn. Left 21 members attacked capitalism for bringing disparity of wealth because it only cares about profit.
In Hong Kong a handful of rich people monopolise the wealth of the people so the latter can only earn subsistence wages.

Anti-nuclear alliance activist Man Si Wei pointed out that the nuclear power industry was nurtured by the nuclear industry in order to make money. The nuclear industry colluded with the government and the United Nations in fooling the public over the issue of the so-called safe levels of radiation that can be absorbed by the body, which does not have real scientific basis. The Japanese government, after the disaster in Fukushima, raised the safety level arbitrarily.

Lam Chi Leung from the Pioneer socialist group pointed out that global capitalism has become a big casino. Huge amounts of social resources are concentrated in the hands of a few large financial groups, while public medical care, education and social welfare are denied the necessary funding. He called for the overthrow of the regime of the rich to make way for a government of the working people to fix the problem.

In the late afternoon, participants marched to the headquarter of the HSBC bank to continue the assembly and occupation. After the demonstrators arrived at the HSBC headquarters, the police warned demonstrators that their assembly was illegal, and the demonstrators responded with boos. Eventually they were left untouched by the police. Dozens of protesters camped at the site over night and are now still ongoing when this report was written.

Germany

According to a report on MarxMail, in Frankfurt, several thousand people marched from Rathenauplatz to the Willy-Brand-Platz, where the ECB (European Central Bank) is located, and a rally took place. It ended with an open mike for all. According to organisers 8000 took part (see video below). The demonstration and rally were officially organised by Attac.


Frankfurt, October 15, 2011.

Spain

From Colectivo Mujer reports that in Spain, more than 80 locations had protests: 60,000 in Barcelona, according to the police, 250,000 according to the organisers.

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