The University of California, Davis, campus police chief has been placed on administrative leave after a video showing campus police pepper spraying seated protestors has gone viral. Protestors have called for the resignation of U.C., Davis chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, according to The New York Times. The video has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times. Speaking at a rally Monday, Katehi apologized to the protestors. “I feel horrible for what happened on Friday,” she said.
Woodruff Park in downtown Atlanta was once again the scene of protests and arrests Saturday night as Occupy Atlanta demonstrators clashed with police. Nineteen protestors were arrested, many for refusing to stay on sidewalks and blocking city streets, after demonstrators began an impromptu march down Peachtree Street. Occupy Atlanta demonstrators vowed to once again camp out in Woodruff Park despite a warning from Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed that anyone remaining in the park after it closed at 11 p.m. would be arrested. However, protestors began exiting the park shortly after the deadline as dozens of police officers on motorcycles and horses—some in riot gear, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution—encircled the park preparing to make arrests. A handful of protestors remained in the park and were arrested, a symbolic move by the protestors one Occupy Atlanta spokesperson told Atlanta’s WSB-TV.
Earlier this week, members of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement in New York put forth a call to convene a non-partisan National General Assembly in early 2012 and released a draft of demands. Now in it’s fifth week, the nature of the movement itself has been the biggest obstacle to the formation of a cohesive list of demands. While Occupy demonstrations have expanded around the globe, many protestors have come out against the idea of presenting demands at all. “Demands are disempowering since they require someone else to respond,” Gabriel Willow, a protester, told the New York Times. “It’s not like we couldn’t come up with any, but I don’t think people would vote for them.”
The push to bring together a National General Assembly sprang from the Demands Working Group (DWG), a committee of protestors designated at one of the regular General Assembly meetings held in Zuccotti Park in Manhattan.
Demonstrations that began in the financial district of Lower Manhattan are spreading to cities across the United States, and now Ireland, fueled in large part by social media and the Internet. Collectively known as Occupy Wall Street, the protests are a response to what protestors view as income inequality and “greed and corruption” among the nation’s richest one percent, according to a website loosely affiliated with the movement. Protestors call themselves the “99 percent.”
Initially ignored by major news outlets (NPR, for example, declined to cover the protests their first week), the protests have grown through word-of-mouth on the Internet and through social media such as Twitter. Media have criticized the protests for lacking clear goals.
“We went from media ignoring us to controlling the news cycle. It’s important to celebrate victories 4 morale & this change is a Victory,” wrote OpWallStreet on Twitter.
In a nationally televised press conference on October 6, President Barack Obama said the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations are a product of “broad-based frustration about how our financial system works.”
Largely viewed as a reaction by the left, prominent conservative activists have responded to the protests with their own “We are the 53 percent” website, referring to the number of Americans they claim pay income taxes. The assumption is that the protestors on Wall Street are part of the 46 percent who do not pay income taxes and that the protestors have failed to take personal responsibility for their economic plight.
But as The Washington Post points out, this is a strange position for conservatives to take as it flies in the face of decades of conservative tax policy aimed at reducing or eliminating Americans’ tax responsibility. In fact, The Post says, tax cuts put in place by both Republican presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan lowered the tax liability for income levels across the board, not just for the wealthy.
Despite the criticism from the right, the protests have spread to cities across the country. Demonstrations have popped up in Atlanta, San Francisco and other cities. English language Al Jazeera features a map of all the demonstrations. Protests in Boston lead to the largest mass arrest in that city since the Vietnam War. Police arrested veterans and others after the protestors refused to move from a series of parks known as the Rose Kennedy Greenway, according to The Boston Globe.