Progressive blogs are organizing on unprecedented levels to rally support for the continuing “Occupy Wall Street” protests in New York City, using websites, photo-sharing, video-streaming and micro-blogging tools to spread the word about demonstrations.
The Occupy Wall Street protests led to the arrests of 700 people over the weekend on the Brooklyn Bridge, prompting a flurry of online support from ideological sympathizers to keep the movement going.
Now in its 17th day, the de facto leadership of the protests lies in a body that calls itself the “General Assembly,” which The Nation, a progressive magazine, describes as “a horizontal, autonomous, leaderless, modified-consensus-based system with roots in anarchist thought.”
This “horizontal” mind-set finds a companion in the un-hierarchical world of the Internet, where blogs have helped to organize and mobilize demonstrators in New York City and elsewhere. The online nature of the protests has inspired copycat events that have spread as far as New Mexico, Los Angeles and Toronto.
“We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants,” explains the OccupyWallStreet.org website.
Not in New York City? Find a live video streaming of the happenings on the anti-consumerist website Adbusters. Want the details for the next event? The Twitter hashtag for demonstrations is #occupywallstreet, which features several tweets a second. Motivated by the stories? One can find stories of frustrated, down-and-out Americans on the WeAreThe99Percent Tumblr website.
One FireDogLake writer blogged about the experience of being arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge. “In the end I’m glad I was arrested. This event has sparked something in me that’s been lacking since I came to university…The police may have tried to deter us, but instead they’ve impassioned us. I am one of the 99%, and I’m mad as hell,” wrote the blogger.
Blogs have also been providing material support for those camped out. The liberal blog Crooks and Liars raised $8,000 for “solidarity pizzas” that were distributed to protesters in New York, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
An organizational Facebook page for the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations has over 16,000 people listed as “attending” the protests. “Freedom is equality, Freedom is real democracy. We need to occupy and protest until we win our freedom,” wrote commenter Curt Day.
Liberal blogs have also criticized what they characterize as censorship – ThinkProgress on the apparent blocking of emails with the OccupyWallStreet.org website in them, and the Daily Kos questioning why the Twitter hashtag #OccupyWallStreet is not trending in the United States. Both were later determined to be explained by the mechanics of the websites – spam filters in Yahoo email, and the makeup of Twitter’s trending algorithms.
Meanwhile, conservative blogs have been slow to notice the Wall Street demonstations – or at least are declining to give the protests with much of a response. Indeed, the number of opinion pieces in the conservative blogosphere that have made this a prime issue are fewer in number than might be expected.
In fact, the National Review Online even featured a Sunday piece condemning as unprovoked an incident where female protesters were pepper-sprayed by a high-ranking NYPD officer. “Painful though it is to admit, it appears that MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell [who brought the incident to light] got something right the other day,” writes NRO’s Jack Dunphy.
This is not to say that there is no negative response whatsoever within the conservative blogosphere. A post at the BigGovernment blog dubbed the demonstrations “faux-tests,” while another noted that role of unions in the demonstrations; one writer at RightWingNews called them “dirty smelly hippies who want free money or something” and said that the demonstrators – not the tea party movement – were “violent and lawless.”
Conservatives like Human Events’ Jason Mattera have also questioned why the protesters aren’t directing more of their anger at President Barack Obama.
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