BREAKING NEWS: New York City is under occupation and has been for a few days.
You’d think that would be breaking news, wouldn’t you? Even if it’s not the whole city, just the financial quarter. And even if it’s not an invading army, but people upset with the way their own country is running things (in this case, the economy). After all, domestic upheaval in Egypt and people occupying a public square in Bahrain was headline news all around the world just a few months ago, wasn’t it?
Come to think of it, the lack of media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street protest is just like the Arab Spring. State controlled media completely blocked the protesters’ side of the story in the Middle East and Africa just as corporate (pretty much the state in the West) controlled media is shutting up about what’s currently unfolding in Lower Manhattan.
In both cases, social media took the lead in getting the news out. In the case of the NYC action, it started on Twitter, or rather was started on Twitter by Adbusters Magazine. Now, before you say manufactured protest, I think Adbusters starting this one has a lot more credibility than, say, Fox News starting the Tea Party.
For #OccupyWallStreet, there is even a live video stream that’s been running since the beginning of the occupation. It was re-running footage when I checked it out last night, footage of a general meeting where a group of people called the People’s Microphone used their voices to amplify what speakers were saying.
It also re-ran footage of the NYPD arresting people seemingly at random, and on the flimsiest of grounds. They even cited an anti-mask law from the 1800s and arrested people for chalking on the street. While this is a peaceful protest and even speaker Roseanne Barr called for the crowd not to fight the cops and try to bring them onside, it looks like the cops have other plans, roughing up protesters to chants of “shame” and “the whole world is watching.”
And the whole world is watching, just not through American (or Canadian, for that matter) mainstream media. While things have started to change in the last couple of days with Keith Olberman and even Stephen Colbert making mention of the protest, the majority of the new found coverage has focused on downplaying the numbers and the significance of this event.
In Egypt, the government shut down the internet to stifle the usefulness of Twitter and Facebook to the protesters. While that hasn’t happened here, there were unconfirmed reports of posts mentioning Occupy Wall Street simply not showing up in people’s Facebook feeds as they should.
Whether or not the powers behind Wall Street who own our media, including social media, decide to exercise their authority and censor the web has yet to be seen. Whether or not this protest continues to grow has also yet to be seen.
Right now, it looks like it very well might. There are solidarity actions springing up around the world, including one in Montreal tomorrow (Friday) afternoon in front of the World Trade Centre (yes, we have one of those). Meanwhile, people from other American states and other countries (and continents) are headed to Manhattan to keep this action going.
It has almost all the elements that made up the Arab Spring: a tyrannical authority (the economic tyranny of Wall Street in this case), mainstream media censorship and people who have no plan on leaving getting their message out and communicating via social media, in a grassroots person-to-person fashion and any way they can. Whether or not those elements will lead to the sort of upheaval that is needed is yet to be seen.
For now, all I can say is that New York City is under occupation. Let’s hope it lasts. Viva la occupation!
Watch the live video stream: http://www.livestream.com/globalrevolution
Info on the Montreal sattelite protest is available on Facebook
Photos: adbusters.org, blogs.flickr.net