Update: More than 700 people were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge during Wall Street demonstrations. Here's a report from Saturday's demonstrations before this happened. And a report from after.
"Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes!" as President Obama exhorted several audiences--and not just the Congressional Black Caucus. It seems that a lot of people are doing just that, and not just in support of the American Jobs Act or the Obama 2012 campaign.
There were relatively small demonstrations around Wall Street that encountered police brutality and have since grown and spread to other cities. These protests against Wall Street greed and tax policies that favor the superrich at the expense of the middle class (among other issues) are about to get bigger when several big labor unions join them in the coming week. Michael Moore was part of the protests this week, and together with Lawrence O'Donnell, articulated a lot of what it's about.
Along the same lines, there's a new Rebuild the Dream organization/movement, involving Van Jones, the editor of The Nation magazine and others. Their goal is to build the progressive analog to the Tea Party, and they're centered around a Contract for the American Dream, which calls for investing in American infrastructure and education, returning to fairer tax rates, end the wars and invest at home, etc. They will be organizing--and presumably marching--in Washington next week as well.
The 1963 March on Washington where Dr. King spoke was officially called the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Jobs and freedom will again be the goals with another March on October 15, involving Rev. Al Sharpton and others, as the dedication of the King memorial postponed by hurricane Irene is scheduled to happen.
Direct action is returning to the environmental movement as well, this time focused on influencing President Obama's decision on whether to permit the tar sands pipeline from Canada to be built on U.S. soil. Apart from environmental damage and dangers from the pipeline itself, the main objection is to the massive industry about to be created to extract oil from tar sands, which James Hansen, the foremost Climate Crisis expert says will add so much fossil fuel pollution to the atmosphere that the entire future is endangered.
Exxon has the megabucks to saturate the airwaves (including MSNBC, and all their online clips) with genial lies (like the lie that Climate Crisis pollution is the same with this process as other fossil fuels, while the EPA estimates "that GHG emissions from Canadian oil sands crude would be approximately 82% greater than the average crude refining the US, on a well-to-time basis.") Protests are beginning to make the other side visible, though not so far in a big media way --despite the fact that they included civil disobedience leading to the arrest of enviro author Bill McKibben and others from outside the White House. The next round (at the State Department) resumes this week, with organizing for a larger protest at the White House on November 6.
To all of which I say, it's about time. A Democratic President needs such visible activity and evidence, even if it advocates beyond what that President is prepared to do. The March on Washington worked for JFK--he invited its leaders to the White House--and it showed visible support for the Civil Rights legislation he was able then to introduce soon afterwards, which after his assassination became the law of the land.
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