La Teatrista

guerillera de la cultura

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Voices of the 99%: Dear Mayor Bloomberg

Dear Mayor Bloomberg,


As you have created new regulations to protect the interests of your political alliances and not your citizens, we urge you to seriously consider the aftermath of what is going to be your own undoing.   It is clear and evident you are part of the nation’s percentage that is pinning Americans under their knees like the NYPD on peaceful demonstrators.   The government which you serve has economically exploited, unlawfully criminalized, and unjustly marginalized Americans for too long. Whether you like it or not, this Occupying Movement is the true democracy of our time.   

From reporters, lawyers, elderly, minors , legal immigrants, homeless, students, workers, labor unions, educators, nurses and more are all the contributing citizens in this demonstration. Your baton bashing, dishonest enforcements  have pushed the frustration with your unethical politics beyond a breaking point into a solidified resolve among your New Yorkers.  Cities across the nation are organizing and uniting in efforts to bring awareness and call for reform peacefully, transparently with collaborative consensus, community, and consciousness.   These citizens are a mirror of the first American Revolution,  now emerging in this new century.  

We urge you to listen. We urge you to have dialog with your citizens to discuss the reform that this country is urgently due.  Your dismissal of the message with patronizing actions and words only highlight the true interests of your ambitions.  Your interests are not with the majority of tax-paying citizens living in the city which you serve.  These peaceful demonstrators from all walks of life have joined to make a stronger voice to change a nation in the interest of all, to reclaim pride and no longer assume the role of victims to violent and salient profit-mongering, social injustice, policing of our rights.  
Criminalizing this movement will not be in your best interest, Mr. Bloomberg.  Do not attempt to sweep away a national outcry.  The founders of this nation instituted the right for free assembly.  Do not infringe on our rights.  Like a child abuser trying to snuff the noise of the abused, you are choosing to muzzle the abused Americans of your city. The noise you are trying to prevent will only get louder.  The world is watching. 

Claudia Acosta

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Voices of the 99%: Echoes from Brooklyn Bridge

For all those who were suspended on that concrete slab over a river, The of Battle of Brooklyn Bridge left an imprint in our memory.  The media that evening had difficulty assessing who the specific group was that took the movement to the bridge and unsurprisingly held up the Police statement before anyone else’s on that bridge. There are seven-hundred stories. Seven-hundred accounts of that day, seven hundred voices that all were there for a reason and were arrested. Seven-hundred New Yorkers took a stand, here is one of them.

“My name is Dion Mucciaccito and I am an Actor, Director, a teaching artist, and activist for at risk youth / inner city youth. I have worked as a teaching artist, teaching self empowerment through the arts, in New York, New Orleans, South Africa, San Diego, and South Florida.   I was part of the Battle of Brooklyn Bridge on Oct 1st.  This is my witnessing of the events. 

We were marching towards the Brooklyn Bridge. I started walking on the pedestrian lane somewhere in the middle of the march.  I looked over to my right and saw white collared police officers in a line walking in the direction of Brooklyn on the street portion of the bridge in front of the arm of the march that started going down that way.  From my perception, it seemed that the police were going to escort us across the bridge. So, I joined them. 

As we marched across, we noticed Police were also marching behind us.  Then the march stopped as we were barricaded from the front, and the back.  A panic then surged through the crowd and people started to climb the fifteen foot wall to the pedestrian walk way.  A girl next to me started to cry.  Two women in their fifties were next to me and were very worried about what was going to happen next.  We linked up arms and exchanged names as we were complete strangers.  It then seemed that the police were letting people leave in a bottle neck that they created in the back of the march where I was.  I asked the two women I was linked up with if they wanted to leave, and they said "yes." We tried to make our way to the choke point, but made no progress.

I later found out from my arresting officer that there were individuals in the choke point that refused to move, when given the choice to leave, which gave the police the ok to start arresting people for disorderly conduct.  There was a monk in his sixties who sat down to meditate in peaceful protest, and was dragged off.  I would later share a jail cell with this man.  Many people sat and had to be carried out. I was singled out and ordered to come out to be arrested. I was cuffed and put in a police paddy wagon along with nine others. My arresting officer was an extreme gentle man and very courteous and communicated with me in a very civil way. There was no excessive force by this man, and I found him to be quite compassionate and had a good sense of humor about things. I wish there were more like him. 

I was one of the first fifteen or so people to be arrested in the back of the protest.  There were ten of us in the back of the paddy wagon, all cuffed with hands behind our back, sweating it out as we waited in the dark.  The guy next to me had to urinate and was not allowed to do so until forty-five minutes later after we had arrived at the station and the first van had been processed.  The guy across from me had a previous rotator cuff injury and was in a good deal of pain with the cuffs behind his back. 

After an hour of waiting in the rain with the police officers, I was finally brought inside to be processed. I was put into a big holding cell with about twenty others.  Within two hours we had one-hundred men in the cell.  As each new man came in, they were greeted with a standing ovation and cheers.  The women being brought to their cells were also applauded as we could see them through the window of our cell.  Immediately strangers became friends and this motley crew of mixed races, classes, sexual orientations, and ages started engaging each other in dialog about democracy and solidarity with each other. 

There was an African American Pastor from a Brooklyn church there, and was the first one arrested, because he "couldn't, as a man of faith, stand by and watch people be hurt."  The Monk in his sixties who was earlier arrested while meditating had no ID on him, and was told that he might be kept for three days.  The group then voted to see if they wanted to go on a hunger strike to get him out. Those that agreed did not eat the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and milk that was provided. Those that did not, ate the food. 

I found myself serving as the guy who pours the water for people.  They brought in two big five gallon jugs of water with cups. These are heavy so we needed to have one person pour while the other person holds the cup.  This became my service for the next five hours, which I gladly did.  
I was released at 12:45 out of 1 police plaza, and then proceeded to call all of my family and friends that were worried about me.  I made it home by 2:30 am.”

How did this community become criminals? A teaching artist, a Pastor, a monk where processed as criminals.  This response from the NYPD to the prior march on Police Plaza, proved to be ineffectual.  It only created deeper bonds within the protesters.  It only made the reason for resistance stronger.

The day following the event, Dion friended me on Facebook after seeing my videos and posts. I was still reeling from it all. I had to share my experience with someone since I had gone alone. In an effort to piece together this event, I asked for stories and I discovered I must have been only a few feet from Dion.  The monk he spoke of was right in front of me. We were connected.
Another protester, Danny Valdez, described the most vivid part of the memory,
"I remember during the intense moments on the bridge when we all knew arrest was imminent someone yelled out and we repeated: “Mic check! It is an honor and a privilege to be arrested with you all today. Fifty years from now, when you tell your grandkids about this, you can say that you were a soldier in the Battle of the Brooklyn Bridge!” And there among the tears and the worries and the panic, we found a place to cheer and stand together."
When I read this in the account he wrote for Indypendant, I posted it on my wall. Edward Pages, I had previously quoted in my last letter, also a new Facebook addition as a result of this event, replied, “That was me!”.  He is forever remembered. Though we are all still strangers, we have an unforgettable bond.  Unfortunately, this spirited arrest was not the same experience for everybody.
I marched this past October 5th for the Community Labor March. The day New York broke open and swelled into a true picture of democracy that hasn’t been seen in decades.  Again, I fly solo trying to maybe meet up with friends but in the sea of people I found myself floating with them. There was an indescribable joy and fervor.  As the spirit and mass movement encouraged, I started conversations with fellow protesters and began talking with a man behind me. He was older, large, heavyset and Polish. He was also there at the Bridge. John was held for thirty hours only given milk and no water.  As we marched on, I got his information.
The Voices of the 99% will be documented. These stories will offer truthful accounts and perspectives of a new movement to inspire dialog in a now rapidly changing America for observers abroad. There is power. Change is possible.  For more information and access to the declaration go to:

Friday, October 07, 2011

Voices of the 99%: Battle at Brooklyn Bridge

“As I was getting walked into the police bus, I told a cop that he too is in the ninety-nine percent and they rich don’t care about him either. His exact response to me was, ‘I know but it’s the NYPD, common sense is not a common virtue’ ” -Edward Pages Age 30 Cinematographer.

What started as a wondrous and promising event on Saturday afternoon that reverberated through the financial district from Liberty Park to Brooklyn Bridge, ended with an even louder cause for the reprimand of the one percent currently in control of the United States economy and law. Thousands of protesters marched up Broadway demonstrating peacefully with energy and spirit, a unified voice to demand attention from the nation as the ninety-nine percent. Together, these Americans painted a vibrant portrait of the ninety-nine percent from all colors, ages, cultures, backgrounds, occupations and walks of life including children, students, and the elderly. By the time the sun went down, reports of seven-hundred Americans were arrested for allegedly disrupting the peace and obstructing traffic.

After two weeks of building awareness and organized sustainability, the Occupy Wall Street movement reached another peak in its momentum to demand accountability for the corporate rape of America. The Declaration of the Occupation approved by the consensus on September 29th was drafted twelve days after the first demonstrations which resulted in arrests and evidence of excessive force used by New York Police. 

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known. ”

Twenty facts where addressed in the new Declaration mirroring the same structure and effort of the original Declaration of Independence. This is a powerful symbol, clearly suggesting a new era after two-hundred and thirty-five years since the country’s first revolution. The Declaration identified corporate impunities, discrimination, worker’s rights, environmental crimes, profit-mongering, torture, murder, brutality and healthcare issues among others.
I witnessed the announcement of the Declaration in the General Assembly broadcast via the people’s microphone. A powerful call and response method for amplification of speeches through people’s voices not only used to comply with NYPD regulations, but to embody the message of the protest with the collective use of voices. Participating as a voice, gave me pride as an American like I never felt before.

The event that preceded Saturday’s chaos was momentous, the largest gathering in support of Occupy Wall St. With tremendous clamor, the assembly before the march warmly received the presence and public support from New York’s Transit Workers Union Local, the SEIU (Service Employees International Union). The March Against Police Brutality was an invigorating message to the NYPD that their tactics were unlawful and their actions needed to be held accountable. Almost three thousand demonstrators sat down on One Police Plaza in front of armed and riot geared wall of officers with waves of speeches filling the plaza. The assembly met their agenda and dispersed peacefully. Based on the following day’s event, the NYPD actions were a clear and planned response.

This is my account.

At three pm the large assembly gathered and made their way to Brooklyn Bridge. I was at the back of the march. I attended alone, but felt peaceful and safe among my unfamiliar marchers. The police were watchful and respectful of the protesters making sure we were staying on the sidewalks. When the end of the train finally arrived at the base of the bridge, there seemed to be a split. A trail of our train went onto the pedestrian walkway, we continued on the road. As the road descended, some scaled the fence to join others on the walkway. The majority continued onto the road. We walked by police and they said nothing. The wall of police behind us kept distance and followed us. They said nothing. The march stopped. There was an uproar to keep marching, but the frontline communicated chants that echoed and reached us in a wave. It was clear the police had blocked the frontline. The crowd spread and filled the entire road from one side to another. No cars were able to pass, we were stalled.

Officers were advancing when next to me, a man in orange quietly sat down crossed his legs with his sign in his lap, closed his eyes and exhaled. In an instant, this powerful and peaceful gesture charged me with emotion. I moved forward, my legs drawn to join him, but before I could make a solid decision, police officers descended on him. I backed away and began recording the arrest with my phone. Six officers surrounded him and we cried “Let him go!” We chanted, “He did nothing!”. A high ranking officer waved over the other officers in his command. With that, I stopped my camera, knowing what was coming. 

Trucks drove up. The fast approaching officers were clearly prepared with dozens of zip-cuffs on their belts. The orange nets were being carried in and I kept close to the side of the bridge. A few others began to leave and I slowly walked away. Once I felt that they were not going to stop me, I gained speed. I made eye contact with one Officer, who only replied with shaking his head. Officers yelled at us to keep moving. I was lucky, but I have this residue of mixed emotions of relief and guilt with anger and frustration having watched my fellow protesters trapped on the bridge.

People who made it back to the Manhattan entrance were told to disperse by police. It was comforting to be able to approach complete strangers I marched with to debrief, consult and share. In our shared eye contact, moments of true solidarity and support was felt in ripples. A group re-convened at the base of the bridge and confronted police with calling out names they captured of the arrested. Finally, I found friends that were on the pedestrian level. They noted that police had threatened them to disperse or face arrest. They were witnesses with cameras recording all what had unfolded below. What was certain by the majority who where there: police led the group onto the bridge, giving the impression they were offering protection when indeed they planned to kettle the protesters.

These unlawful arrests and the entrapment ordered only fueled a stronger solidarity. Media attention from major networks clearly supported the NYPD statements. New York Times changed their reports. This story is intended as a beginning.

The Voices of the 99% will be documented. These stories will offer truthful accounts and perspectives of a new movement to inspire dialog in a now rapidly changing America for observers abroad. There is power. Change is possible.

For more information and access to the declaration go to: