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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Occupy the occupiers

Posted By on Thu, Dec 15, 2011 at 5:10 PM

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This is the first in a possibly-occasional series where we provide you with updates on Occupy movements across the country, courtesy of a weekly conference call that we somehow got invited to take part in.

About to enter its third month, the Occupy movement has spread from beyond its original home in lower Manhattan to, well, everywhere (there's even an Occupy Antarctica, where we're pretty sure scientists are exclusively the 100 percent). Our own Orlando occupiers recently decamped from Sen. Beth Johnson Park to City Hall, but what's going on with the rest of the movements?

Participants from the Occupy Chicago, Cleveland, Greensboro, N.C., New York/Wall Street and Oakland were on the line for this week's conference call, organized by the Media Consortium, an organization of progressive journalism organizations, to discuss their recent ambitions and long-term goals. Both Chicago and Cleveland occupiers are seeking out places to stay for the winter (because, y'know, it gets cold up there) and Greensboro just wrapped up a picket outside a Walmart this weekend and discussed plans to have more worker-owned, cooperative-driven businesses. Chicago is planning an event on April 7 that they're dubbing "Chicago Spring;" no word yet on what exactly that's meant to entail.

On the heels of Time naming "the protester" its person of the year, I asked the occupiers if they felt that lent credence to the Occupy movement. All who responded noted the extra attention that comes with such an announcement is always a good thing, but they seemed to lament the fact that the "award" went to a generic protester rather than "the 99 percent," the symbol of the movement. One occupier quipped that because Time once made everybody person of the year (which I totally use on my resume), the occupiers are the only two-time award winners.

Others asked whether or not the movement would support a proposed constitutional amendment (co-sponsored by a Floridian) that would ban corporate spending in federal elections. Unsurprisingly, all who responded agreed with the amendment's goal, and stated that events were planned to commemorate the two-year anniversary of the infamous Citizens United Supreme Court case.

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