FROM MAY DAY TO NOVEMBER With help from organized labor and other left-leaning groups, Occupy has big plans for the next few months.
With spring protests planned from Boston to the Bay Area, Occupy remains an unwieldy and unpredictable animal. Though there's more and more connectivity between organizers nationwide, activists in different cities are pursuing local actions that are only tied to the larger effort in spirit, while hoping that small wins add up to a big kick in the one-percent's pants.
And they're joined by a newly invigorated core of allies. A conglomerate of established labor groups and non-profits — banded together as the "99% Spring" — has converged in many places with Occupy.
The various factions don't always play well together. Some Occupy hands have been hostile to older-school progressive outfits, and suspicious of their ties to the Democratic party. Taken together, though, they have a whole lot of commotion on deck for the spring and summer:
• While Occupiers have been working regionally on everything from health care, to immigration, to public transportation, the movement and its allies still have their sights set on large banks and financial institutions. Specifically, they'll be targeting upcoming shareholder meetings, including one this week for Wells-Fargo in San Francisco.
• On the week leading up to and on July 4, a swarm of Occupy sympathizers will flood Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence was drafted. However, as of now the horde will be comprised of two rival groups — one organized by an Occupy spinoff outfit called the "99 Percent Declaration," and one made up of original-flavor Occupiers.
• In addition to pro-labor May Day marches organized by Occupy and labor activists on the first of next month — which are expected to take place in more than 130 locations across the nation — both groups are also planning major actions at the late-May NATO summit in Chicago, as well as the September conventions for both major political parties, and many events in between.
"We're going to see more people in the streets this summer than we've ever seen before," says Priscilla Grimm of the Occupied Wall Street Journal. "People say it takes so much time to make change, but things can happen quickly when we see millions of people in the street every day. We need to just keep going out there and saying that we're not going to take it anymore."
With its centrally located base camps and knack for scoring media coverage, Occupy attracted organized labor and community groups from early on, with mixed results in different cities. Union reps and mainstream lefty orgs like MoveOn showed up to back Occupy at rallies and meetings, despite animosity from some individual Occupiers who accused them of shilling for Democratic causes and worse.
In general, many Occupiers see the Democratic Party as a rotten bastion of insider evil. While their anti-regulatory cousins in the Tea Party have embraced — and to a significant extent, taken over — the Republican establishment, Occupiers by and large eschew party politics altogether. Why? Because they believe that their closest relatives in public office are corrupted by the same corporate pimps they're tilting against. While Tea Partiers backed their kind all the way to Congress, Occupiers reject the notion that they should join crooked money interests and Super PACs in helping Barack Obama win a second term as president.