By Sonya James
Posting in Cities
With little media coverage over the last year, the Occupy movement's immediate response to Hurricane Sandy came as a surprise to many. Is this the movement's defining moment?
Back in October of 2011, it was hard to predict that Occupy Wall Street would reappear, just over a year later, as a hurricane relief effort outshining the Red Cross and FEMA in the immediate aftermath of the storm.
Now Hurricane Sandy is out of the news cycle. Another event got journalists’ attention in the United States. You know, what do you call it… the presidential election?
But Michael Badger and Andrea Ciannavei of InterOccupy were not watching the elections last Tuesday. They were answering messages from organizations like FEMA interested in sharing their resources with Occupy Sandy Relief.
SmartPlanet spoke with InterOccupy to find out how a definitively leaderless movement appeared to be leading the charge.
One of your organizers, Joan Donovan, said Occupy Sandy Relief is "truly a 21st Century relief organization". This sentiment has been repeated by media outlets over the past week. What are the characteristics of Occupy Sandy Relief that separate it from larger organizations like FEMA and the Red Cross?
Andrea Ciannavei: FEMA and the Red Cross have to deal with a lot of bureaucracy. Occupy has a network of organizers who are already there and have access to local community groups. Someone can show up, get sensitivity training, and offer support an hour later.
Occupy Sandy also asks for in-kind donations first – supplies, generators, food, clothes – things that people can actually give and use right away. While FEMA and the Red Cross have substantial resources, they may not be able to deploy them in less than 24 hours.
Michael Badger: Over the past year Occupy has developed a community of trust. We had to work to develop that. But now we all know each other so we united around Occupy Sandy very quickly. We don’t need to spend time managing each other because of this level of trust.
It seems like a lot of Sandy Relief is happening without residents, press, or the city knowing who is in charge. Should we be re-imagining what leadership looks like?
Michael Badger: I absolutely think so. A leader in the traditional sense is somebody who figures things out and tells people what to do. One of the things we talk about is shared leadership. This means supporting each other to be leaders and to lead along side each other. We need to afford communities to be able to really stand on their own.
Occupy Sandy Relief set up a wedding registry on Amazon.com. It’s the first time I’ve seen a relief effort use Amazon.com strategically. Is it working?
Andrea Ciannavei: It’s gone viral. I’ve also never seen anything like this before.
Organizers on the ground add items to the registry. And they can be clear about what’s needed – instead of people blindly throwing stuff at them.
I think it’s another example of the community being creative about how to mutually support itself.
Where are you currently helping? Give me a run down of where Occupy Sandy relief efforts are working.
Andrea Ciannavei: We have multiple sites in Far Rockaway, Coney Island, Staten Island, Howard Beach, Brighton, Bell Harbor, Queens, and Red Hook. We just heard from someone in Long Island that they’re starting to get a relief hub going.
We have tons of drop-off locations in Manhattan. We have people in the Lower East Side and China Town. Occupy Sandy New Jersey just launched yesterday.
Michael Badger: One of the things that’s interesting about New Jersey is they weren’t doing Occupy Wallstreet. There may have been some smaller occupations – but they don’t have the robust local network of Occupy.
So last night InterOccupy put out a call for anybody in New Jersey who wanted to help. It actually felt very similar to the very first InterOccupy call for the wider movement last October. We thought, “Okay, we have this infrastructure. Now we need to build a response network in areas that don’t have the built-in community like New York.”
What’s really amazing is we have folks from Philly who are coming out to help. Folks from DC. Folks coming to give gas covertly. And people are helping online from all over – Amsterdam, California, even Kalamazoo.
How has the media responded? Is there anything you feel has been left out of the discussion?
Andrea Ciannavei: The media doesn’t talk enough about the areas that are truly suffering. The press and the government have a blind spot when it comes to poor people. The attention always goes to the middle class and the upper middle class. There is so much focus on Manhattan and meanwhile Staten Island is under water. Coney Island is messed up. Far Rockaway is a disaster.
“Oh, the power is out in Manhattan, what are we going to do about the trains?” Well, that is seriously inconvenient but there are more pressing issues.
Michael Badger: I have two things that I want to add. Established disaster relief organizations are now coming to us to see what help they can offer. And that’s really interesting. We’ve gotten emails from World Cares and other disaster relief organizations.
This is not official yet – but I did have a conversation with a group working to connect grass roots organizing to more traditional established organizations. People from FEMA are talking to them about how to get FEMA resources to Occupy Sandy.
The other thing is, we’re looking at this as a long-term recovery effort. We hope to establish the centers we’re setting up for the long term.
I think people are going to remember who was first on the scene when they needed help. And hopefully the community we have within Occupy will expand to these communities.
We’re going to be sticking around to help rebuild what’s been lost. That’s who we are. That’s what we do. We’re already calling this a marathon. It happened to start as a sprint, but we’re in it for the long term.
Nov 8, 2012
How many TEA party protesters have been arrested in the thousands of protests they have held? 0 How many Occupiers were arrested in the few dozen city encampments last year? Hundreds. How many robberies and rapes happened at TEA party protests in 2011? 0 How many robberies and rapes happened at Occupy camps last year? Dozens? Maybe more. Lets look at 2 cities, Boston (considered a very peaceful Occupy camp) and Oakland (considered the most violent) How much property damage was done to public and private property by TEA party protests in either city in 2011? $0.00 How much property damage was done to public and private property by the Occupy movement in Boston? They did over $100,000 worth of damage to the Rose Kennedy greenway with their camp. Oakland. The damage was in the millions with vehicles, stores, restaurants and so much more burned and looted. And people had the guts to call the TEA party radicals in this past election. I applaud these people for what they are doing, but sadly they are in the minority among the many haters in the Occupy movement.
Isn't Occupy the same group of people who recently bashed windows in Oakland? Try to destroy American businesses, costing jobs for regular folks and raising insurance rates for all. They are widely viewed as a bunch of unemployed trouble makers. It would not suprise anyone if they are found to be looting the very people they pretend to help.
No mention of "corporations" in the article at all. Stupid knee-jerk response about "corporations" in the Comments.
Well said ....... Another measure - how effective have the two groups been? How many people has the Tea Party elected to public office at Federal, State, and local levels ? Many Occupy ? not so much
I think that both groups have a lot in common but have different focus. On one side, there is concern that the constitution was being ignored and on the other side that the big banks and other financial institutions got a free bail out from the tax payers. The different approaches to protesting by the two groups is that one held ralleys for a few hours and another tried to make a sustained protest lasting for months. Comparing the crime done during either protest is not accurate because of the amount of time is different. The constant problem with the Occupy movement was keeping violent people out. As you noted, this did not work. Several kinds of people were attracted to the Occupy movement and that included people who were using the protest as cover for their own intentions. The people who committed the violence and vandalism were the same folks who used the same tactics for the past 15 or so years (before Occupy was started). The characteristics of the vandalism was the same, a provocation followed by window smashing and fires. I am sympathetic to the Tea Party and the Occupy movement but I disagree with forcing ideas onto people without giving respect to the "other "side. Our rights to privacy and protections from unreasonable search and siezure have been watered down since the middle of Clinton's administration. We also have allowed financial deregulation that let banks bet with customer's money and play games with LIBOR rates that hurt the smaller banks. TARP bailed out the major banks but failed to prevent the excesses that helped create the worst recession since the depression. There should not be any bank that is too big to fail and if the same banks create another crisis then the tax payers should not bail them out again.
Perhaps you should lay off the Faux News, Rush, Hannity, Coulter, etc... You know, detox from all the lies you have been feeding on for the past few years... The Occupy movement is about peaceful demonstration by the people to show dissatisfaction with corporate manipulation of government and laws that negatively impact the people (the people that government should be protecting from vulture capitalism and the failed Bush policies that led to the finacial meltdown).
so the same corporations that produced the goods you now claim to be giving away needs to be destroyed? Am I getting your point correct? Nice article but it only reinforces what has gone on in the US for a long time before people rioted and looted stores run by small business owners. Communities are best supported by people inside the community and not some do-gooder coming in for a few days of camping and then moving on their next target. I am sure there are a lot of good intentions by several of the people in this article, but it will be the products made by the evil corporations that will be needed to rebuild these peoples lives. So enough of the press grabbing slogan chants and try to actually help someone without having strings attached to it.
That was kinda clueless.. The Tea Party is a political party (that actually has candidates that run on the party platform), Occupy is a movement of the people... You might as well have tried to feebly argue that Pepsi has sold millions of beverages and General Motors has sold none...
"... on the other side that the big banks and other financial institutions got a free bail out from the tax payers. ", is the same talking points used by democrats to demonize banks and financial institutions. Which makes it quite evident that, the "occupy" movement is nothing more than a group of stooges and useful idiots who were created by the democrats and Obama. And, it's quite interesting that, they were created after the Tea Party movement took off, which also points to the fact that, they were created by democrats and Obama to try to counter the tea party. Think for a change.
...that if this is a sincere approach by "occupy" people, that they may have much more in common with Tea Party ideology than any other political party.
It should be noted that the Dodd/Frank act has institutionalized and put a definition to banks fitting the term "too big to fail". Banks can now be designated a head of time as "too big to fail". To the detriment of society. The sad part of the whole mess is much of what the banks did, was and still is legal. You will see very few people, if anyone at all, prosecuted for what happened.
of radicals bent on destroying that which the people of the country built. There is nothing peaceful about the "occupy" movement, and there is no real agenda to make the country a better place. It's just a "movement" that democrats initiated to counter the "tea party" movement, but, occupy is mostly composed of phonies and radicals and law-breakers, the same type that can be found looting after a disaster.
hand clearly showing up everywhere. The tea party might approve or even suggest candidates for elections, but, they don't exist as a political party. I could go out and suggest that a person be accepted as a candidate, but, that doesn't make me a political party.
I do not speak for either the Tea Party or Occupy movement. That is my point is that there are differences but there are many agreements between the two groups, the main difference is the focus of the groups.
So, you are going to take the word of a radical group at face value? How naive; and stupid. The occupy (bowel) movement, is nothing more than a fraud, set up by Obama and the democrats to try to counter the tea party movement. They have no other purpose than to be disruptive and violent if they don't get their way. That declaration has no more value than the toilet paper that is likely was originally written on. If you can take the word of those radicals at face value, then you will likely also fall for the speeches from Ahmadinejad and Castro and Chavez. Your heroes are probably the likes of Lenin and Stalin, and perhaps even Hitler, since, you are willing to believe anything that you read or hear.
Taken from the "Declaration of the Occupation" http://www.nycga.net/resources/documents/declaration/ "To the people of the world, We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power. Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone. To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal. Join us and make your voices heard!" Gee.. They sure sound like a violent bunch of "phonies and radicals and law-breakers" Oh My! "Phonies and radicals and law-breakers" Oh My! "Phonies and radicals and law-breakers" Oh My! I know adornoe, you can go with Dorthy to see the wizard!!! He might be able to give you a brain! *Gasp* Yes, you too need to lay off the Faux News (Far from Balanced)... If you can't make it cold turkey, you can slowly ween yourself off the lies... Dedicate yourself to one hour of truth a day and slowly increase it day by day... You can do it adornoe!!! We will all rally behind you!!! You go Girl!!!