EXIT POLL: RAY FROM OCCUPY WALL ST., OUTSIDE BANK OF AMERICA FOR “UNDERWATER” MARCH WITH FORECLOSURE VICTIMS, OCCUPY WALL ST. AND BOSTON PROTESTORS MON. 1.30.12. 1:08 PM
Ray and 15-or-so Occupiers from Occupy Wall St. came up to Boston this week and joined local foreclosure victims, Occupy Boston, Mass Uniting, and City Life/Vida Urbana for an “Underwater” march yesterday on JP Morgan, Fannie Mae, and Bank of America.
Nationally, 25% of mortgages are “underwater,” which means the amount people owe on their mortgage each month greatly exceeds the value of their homes. This leaves them paying thousands every month for long periods of time on homes they may never own.
A PO’d group of scuba divers and sea dragons, armed with life preservers with “Principal Reduction” written on them (“Principal reduction will save us from drowning!”) and bubble machines marched to demand that the banks take steps to reduce the principal owed on underwater homes.
Ray talks about the Occupy Wall St. organizers’ national bus tour to Occupied cities around the U.S., an effort to build a strong networking system for future nationally-organized actions within the Occupy movement.
Yeah we just wanted to know what you think about Occupy Boston, coming from the people who started the whole thing?
Well we’re on a bus tour right now. We’re hitting up for the next month about 15 cities, maybe? … this is a really awesome experience of coming to different cities, networking, skill-swapping … you know.
So how’s your experience been here with Occupy Boston?
It’s been great. It’s obviously different with the police. Like last night we took Newbury and we took Boylston, and we literally just SIT in the middle of the street in front of the Prudential Center and Mic Check and tell everybody why we had decided to do this march.
And the folks came out with all these incredibly large banners that said, “Occupy Together” and stuff and “Solidarity with Oakland.”
So how would you compare the NYPD with the BPD?
Oh my god, well first of all it’s like Bloomberg’s Army, right?
Like there’s 10,000 police officers? Probably more than that. And I mean, it’s super-militarized, too. They can like shoot an aircraft out of the sky last time I checked.
So any time we have a protest they come in very hard. They’re there before we are half the time. And they follow us,
whereas here, they might know what we’re doing, but they come in very lightly and they don’t interfere and…
I mean, that’s just a huge difference. And that’s just … that’s just Boston.
Which I guess is positive in some ways? But also NY gained a lot of attention because of the repression by the police, you know? And so we have to change our tactics. And it’s also way different in Oakland, like what happened there…
Oh my God, yeah…
They have like tear gas, and they’re police are totally different—
it’s so different in different cities, and that’s why we’re doing this [bus tour].
Are you gonna go to Oakland?
I was actually there a while ago for the Port Shutdown. And that was incredible, too, cause we marched for three miles to the ports and didn’t see a single cop! But also the people of Oakland and their relationship with the police is very complicated and long…
But yeah this [in Boston] has been really great. We went to a GA the other day, we went to City Life yesterday. I mean we’re not just checking out occupations, we’re checking out other rad activist organizations in these cities. Because, City Life’s been doing this for years and we’re interested in eviction blockades in New York, and there’s groups that do it there, too, but it’s all different.
And it’s cool to come to these events and be a part of this because this is very artful, celebratory…
Yeah this is the shit!
Yeah and those kinds of tactics need to be shared.
Do they not do this kind of stuff as much at Occupy Wall St.?
Well I mean there’s some stuff, like we did a “Squid March” against Goldman Sachs, but you know, it depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. Like, for the first month most of our actions were marches. We marched like, twice a day on Wall St.
So what do you see happening for the future, you guys are obviously going around the country doing your thing, but do you have any plans for the Spring? What do you think’s gonna happen?
Well this tour is a big deal because I think one of the next steps is regional and national coordination: coordinated actions.
Like the West Coast did the port shutdown, which was coordinated, and it had a really serious impact, and it showed connections and networking. And to actually come face to face with people organizing here and be like, hey May Day’s coming up, or hey re-occupation is an option, or we could all pick a target on one day and all go at ‘em.
So how do you guys communicate with Occupiers in other cities? Is it all online? I mean I know you’re physically going to other cities now, but besides that is it mostly online?
Well there is an inter-occupy kind of group, they have conference calls—and then people just know other people from other cities. Like for the solidarity march [last night], there was one person here from Oakland who was on the phone with her friend who was sitting in a Paddy Wagon—I mean “police wagon,” in Oakland, so we just got on the phone and started getting cities, and
we got 26 cities within a day, to say that they would do an action.
But I think definitely this [bus tour] is important, cause I’ve traveled a bit and I have phone numbers of people now from all these cities. I think it’s mostly online, but I think it’s important to have known those people maybe in the first place.
So what were you saying about Boston’s alt weekly coverage of Occupy?
The alt weeklies here in Boston have really great embedded media that is actually following it. Cause most of the folks are young, ya know? So they can like, hang out and actually be part of it, instead of “maybe a little bit older, maybe a little bit more crusty”—
Yeah! Like Corporate media
… that just report on it from afar, and a lot of times just get police reports, and what the city says.
We all know that’s bullshit.
So it’s cool that Boston has that scene of folks that have been following DIY, activist stuff … like oh, we already had these connections and we’re already here.