After St Paul's eviction, is it over for Occupy movement?

Feb 28, 2012

Despite the razing of Occupy camps across the world, action against corporate greed is still spreading

THE REMOVAL early this morning of Occupy London Stock Exchange's protest camp outside St Paul's Cathedral is the latest in a series of evictions around the world targeting offshoots of the anti-corporate greed movement.

Occupy camps in cities around the US have been razed to the ground in sometimes violent operations. Those that remain are poorly attended: winter is not a pleasant time for sleeping in tents.

Many are now asking whether the Occupy movement is finished. To which the answer must be a resounding 'No'.

Elizabeth Rose of the Washington-based think tank Campaign For America's Future told The National that the Occupy movement will benefit from the evictions and that activists had succeeded in changing the terms of the political debate in America.

"The fact that these battles over 'could they sleep here or there' are not in the press right now is a good thing, because the story became about a bunch of hippies wanting to sleep outside," says Rose. "The Occupy Movement has changed the public discourse."

As examples, she observes that Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has promoted a tax plan that would "make sure the top one per cent pay their fair share or more" while his rival Newt Gingrich has called Romney a "vulture capitalist".

So what can we expect from the Occupy movement in the coming months?

May surprise
Occupy LSX has already promised to return with "aplomb" in the spring. A spokesman said: "Be assured that plans are already afoot: plans of some ambition, employing a diversity of tactics and delivered with the aplomb you would expect from us. All will be revealed in time. May is one of our favourite months." Besides, it is not as if the City of London is without a protest camp: the Occupy Finsbury Square encampment remains.

Occupy the Vote
In the US, the Occupy movement has joined forces with shadowy hacktivist collective Anonymous to target this November's elections in a campaign dubbed 'Our Polls' or 'Occupy the Vote'. The groups released a statement yesterday saying: "Last year, many of our elected officials let us down by giving in to deep-pocketed lobbyists and passing laws meant to boost corporate profits at the expense of individual liberty." They call on voters to unseat Senators and Representatives who supported a range of illiberal Bills.

Sponsored by Ben & Jerry's
The US Occupy movement is about to receive millions of dollars in funding from a group of business leaders, including Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry's ice cream and former Nirvana manager Danny Goldberg, the Wall Street Journal reports. The Movement Resource Group has so far raised about $300,000 - a total they hope will rise to $1.8 million - which
will be handed out in grants to protesters in an effort to help them organise. Much of the money will be spent on establishing offices in New York for a permanent HQ.

Occupy the food supply
Last week, country music singer Willie Nelson put his name to a call for reform of the global food supply system. "Corporate control of our food system has led to the loss of millions of family farmers, the destruction of soil fertility, the pollution of our water, and health epidemics including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even certain forms of cancer," he wrote. Yesterday was a global day of action, which included "seed exchanges in front of stock exchanges", supporting local grocery stores and labelling products on supermarket shelves that contain genetically engineered ingredients.

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