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Occupy Movement Finds Mission Combating Disaster – and Disaster Capitalism

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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

When the Hurricane hit, Occupy movement activists wanted to do good in the hood. However, their mission has inevitably become political as well as humanitarian. “Occupy Sandy illuminates how economic and political power shapes the geography of pain.”

 

Occupy Movement Finds Mission Combating Disaster – and Disaster Capitalism

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

After the natural disaster, comes disaster capitalism.”

The Occupy Wall Street movement has rediscovered a reason for existence: service to the people. Hurricane Sandy provided the remnants of Occupy with a social service mission, and they responded with remarkable speed and efficiency, bringing aid and a semblance of relief infrastructure to battered neighborhoods in New York and New Jersey. The purpose was humanitarian but, simply by virtue of focusing on those neighborhoods of greatest need, Occupy Sandy illuminates how economic and political power shapes the geography of pain, even in natural disasters.

The Occupy activists have been most vital to the minority residents of New York public housing and places like ocean-swept Far Rockaway, Queens. New York’s subway system may have made a miraculous recovery from the worst damage inflicted in its history, but public housing tenants were largely left to fend for themselves. In Coney Island, until recent days there was no sign of FEMA or the Red Cross or much of a local government presence at all in the waterless, powerless, lightless high rise public housing projects. Residents have been forced to defecate in buckets, and then to carry those buckets down many flights of stairs in the darkness. Many of the elderly have been trapped in their apartments.

The Occupy movement's rescue efforts have served to point up the political and economic nature of the disaster.”

Occupy Sandy’s hubs for distribution of supplies and services have been a “godsend” to afflicted neighborhoods – in sharp contrast to the calculated callousness of New York’s billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg. The city only launched its so-called “restoration centers” this Tuesday, two weeks after the superstorm hit. Four were opened in Far Rockaway, Staten Island, Coney Island and the Gravesend neighborhood. Three others, in Red Hook, Breezy Point and Throgs Neck-Pelham Bay, will not be operational until later in the week.

Even New York’s corporate media, which are notorious for their fawning treatment of the mayor, have noted the glaring absence of aid to the poor – a logical extension of Bloomberg’s relentless gentrification of the city. The Occupy movement's rescue efforts, which have been competent and efficient beyond even the activists’ own expectations, have served to point up the political and economic nature of the disaster.

On the New Jersey shore, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, quickly showed itself to be more concerned with people control, than service to the people. Hurricane victims found themselves treated like “prisoners” in a freezing tent city set up in Seaside Heights. The encampment is surrounded by armed guards who demand ID, even to use the showers. One displaced person said, “We honestly feel like we’re in a concentration camp” – an indication of what FEMA anticipates as its future national security mission.

Some Occupy movement activists believe their role in areas worst hit by Sandy has only just begun. After the natural disaster, comes disaster capitalism, as corporations and their servants in government transform afflicted neighborhoods into profit centers for new development – minus the poor people that used to live there. After Katrina, you don’t need a weatherman to read the warning signs, and know that a storm of human displacement is coming. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

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Comments

Bad Idea; not radical; maintains usury

The idea of raising money to buy off the banks show how stupid the American people are and how lame the Occupy movemen is.  All this does is rather than DEMAND an end to usury maintains the usuruious system.  The Banks got a TAXPAYER BAILOUT while these same taxpayers have to BUYOUT their debt.  The usuriors are just LAUGHING at the American people while the Left give cover -- as usual -- to usury which essentially enriches Jewry.

This "idea" exposes the Occupy movement as being more CONTROLLED OPPOSITION that only maintains the status quo.  What happened to "END THE FED".  It apparently was just a slogan by the "Liberal" Occupy.

Yes, Glen Ford. Was startled to hear real estate

being speculated about on the radio in two ways, in the business 5 minutes of the all news radio stations on AM: a.)getting rid of "insubstantial housing" for real estate development on various NY and NJ ocean shorelines and b.) how the housing market of resales of foreclosures will pick up as demand rises as a result of the Superstorm Sandy.  It was nauseating.  Naomi Klein was in NYC and DemNow quoted from her talk on the show this morning on your/her topic, "disaster capitalism". 

   On "OccupySandy" - I heard some descriptions of the organizing and process on WBAI (flooded out, finally back but much electrical equipment in basement was messed up and no phones) by Occupiers -  the horizontal organizing, rather than top down heirarchy worked very well, as did their whole practice of networking built up over time.  It's an organizing "handbook", of sorts.

  Also impressive is how they built on everything they've learned since the beginning of Occupy Wall Street.  Seem to have women, in good numbers, participating and not as patriarchal as so much of organizing has been in the past (all Left and Progressive movements, with perhaps the exception of the Green Party, which seems to have had a good number of women involved at all levels.) 

News roundup on national programming on Pacifica Network reminded me, by omission - journalist I really respect, left out disabled individuals trapped in high rise public housing when mentioning elderly stranded without elevators when electricity was off, that Occupy Sandy has regularly mentioned disabled people in NYCHA pubic housing, trapped without elevators and in the residential low buildings in the disaster areas, as well as ill and old people.  Disabled people are routinely made "invisible" in the media.  And when Dem.Now covers disability, it is "without us" in any rare story about disabiity -so rare as almost never, as real people in daily lives, I add. (DemNow did include a veteran, a woman, disabled by PTSD in recent show about the VA making errors keeping many disabled vets without benefits- and never making similar connection that disabled people are regularly denied, often thru error, Social Security disability at the state level - in both instances, errors save the government money; no incentive to be careful and accurate. Another recent, rare segment on disabiity,  but not anyone who is deaf on the show, child abuse by a priest in a school for the deaf and the coverup - only the director of the documentary on that subject.

And Thom Hartmann had the good sense to have Prof. Richard Wolff on his show - I only caught a few minutes, as I was rolling along the AM  dial.  Wolff gave praise and optimism in his last few minutes, summary, as segment was ending, yesterday, for Occupy Wall Street in re the Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy work.  Thom Hartmann archives his show on his website.



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