Occupy Wall Street

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Template:TOCnestleft Occupy Wall Street which started on Sept. 17, 2011, was the first demonstration of the Occupy Movement. The demonstration is centered in Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District. Template:TOCnestleft

The Alliance for Global Justice is accepting donations made out to Occupy Wall Street.[1]

Occupy to Sunrise

Sara Blazevic, 26, draws a direct line between Occupy Wall Street and the Sunrise Movement, the youth-led environmental organization she cofounded and now helps lead as managing director. Last year the group put the Green New Deal (GND) on the political map by embracing bold and visionary tactics. Sunrise engages in civil disobedience to push Democrats to promote solutions that actually match the scale of the climate crisis (it didn’t hurt when AOC dropped by their sit-in at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office to offer her support) and backs political candidates who are already onboard with the cause. They call this dual approach building “people power” and “political power.”

Blazevic grew up in Manhattan, and had just left for her first semester at Swarthmore College when Occupy erupted. She recalled sitting glued to the livestream, and visited Occupy Wall Street during her October break. Blazevic eventually became involved in Occupy Philadelphia and the Occupy group on her campus.

“Occupy gave me this sense of limitless possibility around scale and decentralization, and this sense that it is really possible for social movements to go viral in this way and to penetrate everyone’s lives and consciousness,” Blazevic told Teen Vogue. It also showed her that people want to be part of a cause and feel that they are part of something meaningful.

Blazevic had her criticisms of Occupy too. The movement’s lack of concrete demands and radical openness (which wasn’t always effective, and could be downright chaotic) made her crave a more disciplined, strategic form of organizing. But now that Sunrise has gone through its own viral moment and is strategizing for the year ahead, she and her collaborators find themselves thinking about Occupy more and more. No matter who wins the White House in 2020, Sunrise knows there will need to be a nationwide popular revolt. The masses will need to take to the streets demanding a GND or it will never happen. Blazevic, for one, thinks there’s something still to be learned from Occupy’s simplicity and how it galvanized all kinds of people to take action.[2]

Debt Collective debt

In June 2019, Bernie Sanders and representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Pramila Jayapal held a press conference outside the Senate and announced the College for All Act of 2019, which, if passed and signed into law, would cancel all student debt and make public college free.

They shared the podium with members of the he Debt Collective, an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street Astra Taylor cofounded.

Our group put student debt cancellation on the national radar when we launched a groundbreaking student debt strike. The strike began with 15 former students who had attended for-profit colleges and bravely refused to pay their federal loans. That led to a larger campaign that has helped secure over a billion dollars in debt relief for tens of thousands of people, and has been said to rankle Donald Trump’s billionaire secretary of education, Betsy DeVos.
The Debt Collective has also made progress on the issue of medical debt abolition. In 2012, we launched something called the Rolling Jubilee, which involved buying portfolios of medical debt on the secondary debt market (where it is sold for pennies on the dollar), just like debt collectors do. But instead of collecting on the debts, we erased them. Ultimately, we wiped out over $15 million in predatory medical debt this way. In September, we were overjoyed when Sanders proposed eliminating all $81 billion of medical debt currently in collections using a mechanism similar to the one we devised.
When we first raised the idea of debt resistance and debt cancellation at Occupy, we were mocked. We’ve come a long way: Thousands of people have had their loans erased; our efforts have influenced the 2020 Democratic primary; and we’re planning an even bigger campaign to ensure full student debt relief and free college become not just proposals but realities. Remember this: If the federal government ends up canceling your student loans, you’ll have Occupy to thank for it.[3]

Democratic Socialists of America support

Organizing OWS

Amber Frost and Ryan Briles, left, lead a march on day one of Occupy Wall Street
Andrew Porter, Ryan Briles, and Amber Frost prepare to march on October 5

Amber Frost and Ryan Briles, members of Young Democratic Socialists (youth wing of Democratic Socialists of America) stated that they arrived at 4pm on Sept. 17 (day 1) of the Occupy Wall Street protest. In a report published on the DSA website, the pair explained their involvement in helping establish & coordinate the early days of Occupy Wall Street:

"...The cops had already blocked off Wall St. by the time we had arrived. Protesters gathered in a nearby park. They had no one directing people to this park. A very helpful cop actually told us where they were. We arrived at the park to a disorganized, confused looking bunch of kids arguing about assemblies and theory.
This being the absolute worst use of resources, we formed coalitions with some friends with Working Families Party (particularly my co-worker Dave Handy) and Kristen Lee from Socialist Party USA and we started marching just around the park (at this point the Penn State Chapter of Young Democratic Socialists and some Jersey kids were also with us). After a few passes around the park, we started to pick up some people and momentum, despite the fact that one of the organizers of the demonstration tried to pull us all aside to have a dialogue-based assembly, much to the distaste of all the marchers. So we decided to march to Wall St. anyway. The majority of the people in the park ended up following.
We got loud, we got big, the cops started to mobilize very quickly—lots of them. Dave, Kristin, Ryan, and I tried to keep to communication going from the front of the march to the back, but there were just too many people."
When we got to the actual Wall St. barricade, the cops placed additional barricades behind us and ordered us to disperse, despite the fact that we were corralled in and paddy wagons were lining up. At this point, order began to break down. We tried to organize a sit down, but the cops successfully blocked communication with those in the back, so many (who could not see us) marched off when the barricade was lifted. At this point, the demonstration descended back into arguments and assemblies in the park (think drum circles, hula hoops, and grand pronouncements on megaphones)."

"The Battle of Brooklyn Bridge"

Democratic Socialists of America member Nichole Shippen participated in and reported on "The Battle of Brooklyn Bridge" which took place on October 1:[4]

"The solidarity march planned for Saturday, October 1, 2011 at 3 p.m. did not go according to plan. Although Occupy Wall Street claims to be a “leaderless resistance movement”, the march was in fact lead by a core group of organizers (or working groups) who presumably have been camped out the longest. According to the debriefing session following the police kettling on the bridge, the original plan had been for all the protesters to stay on the pedestrian walkway as we crossed over the Brooklyn Bridge to the Brooklyn Bridge Park where the march was to end in a rally...
About half way across the bridge, there was a big push back. We had no idea what was happening, but as people were being pushed back enough space cleared to see that the police had stopped us and were beginning to arrest people in an unnecessarily violent manner. Collectively we decided to lock arms and sit down. Then we could really see what was happening, which was that the police were picking out random individuals and dragging them out of the arms of the fellow protesters...
Toward the end there were about 50 or so of us left when the police began to divide the men from the women, and proceeded to escort the women away. We did not know if we were being let go or led to the buses at the end of the bridge. They let us go at the last minute, but it remains unclear why they did so unless it was for the sake of redeeming their image after macing young women earlier this week.
The ideological confusion of the protest remains unnerving. Someone was carrying a Ron Paul sign. At one point, the group spontaneously broke into song singing the “Star-spangled Banner.” Still others shouted, “USA, USA, USA!” In short, the ideological message was inconsistent beyond perhaps “end war and tax the rich,” but perhaps it is simply too soon to expect consistency... Among the first arrested was a veteran of color who said, “This is how they treat a veteran. God Bless America? I say goddamn America!”

Fellow DSA member Michael Hirsch also participated in the march. Of his experience he wrote,[4]

"I was there, on the Brooklyn Bridge's roadway, amid the crush, blocking traffic and proud of it. When the NYPD corralled us—what looked to me about 1,000 people, though that estimate could be high—and started picking us off—the senior cop took one look at me and told me to leave. I didn't know whether to be pleased or insulted. Maybe it was the union jacket and Alliance for Union Democracy tee-shirt I wore that got a sympathetic reading, or maybe I looked like a benign or befuddled or feckless geezer and not the fierce revolutionary I clearly am, but it reminded me of Brecht's poem, The Burning of the Books..."

Cornel West and co.

Occupy Wall Street has been heating up in New York and around the country. DSA honorary chair Cornel West was arrested on the steps of the Supreme Court as part of an Occupy DC protest against the Supreme Court's "complicity in unfettered corporate financing of politicians".

The New York Times quoted DSA vice-chair and National Political Committee member Joseph Schwartz and Young Democratic Socialists (YDS) Northeast Regional Organizer Cecily McMillan about Occupy Philadelphia and #Occupy Wall Street respectively.[5]

Pressuring the Super Committee

DSA and YDSers have been building the protests but also constructively critiquing them as they evolve. And "we haven’t lost sight of the concrete political demands we have been pushing since before OWS sprang up: protecting anti-poverty programs from the Congressional Super Committee, demanding a full-employment jobs program funded by taxing the rich and corporations, and ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and wasteful military hardware spending. In fact, the popular slogan that “we are the 99%” is powerful evidence of the simmering anger so many people feel, and we’re working to make sure this energy is strategically directed toward those in power, instead of dissipating. "

DSA members pressured Super Committee members to adopt the Congressional Progressive Caucus deficit reduction proposal, released October 14th, which identifies more than $4 trillion in savings while protecting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. The "savings would increase to more than $7 trillion if the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire on schedule".[6]

Equality and Jobs for the 99%

A public event sponsored by Democratic Socialists of America, "Equality and Jobs for the 99%:Economic Justice for All", was held November 11, 2011; 7:00 p.m. at St. Stephen and Incarnation Church, 1525 Newton NW, Washington, D.C.

Speakers were;

DSA, the principal U.S. affiliate of the Socialist International, is the largest socialist political organization in the country, with more than 6,000 members and active locals in more 40 U.S. cities and college campuses. DSA Locals in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Wichita, among others, have taken an active role in the Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Freedom Plaza, and other Occupy protests in support of jobs and economic justice.

This meeting was organized in conjunction with the 15th National Convention of Democratic Socialists of America, which is being held at the Sheraton Premiere at Tysons Corner November 11-13, 2011.[7]

Participating DSA Members

from left: David Klausa and Dan Michniewicz of Fort Collins DSA at Zuccotti Park in NYC

The following DSAers (& members of DSA's youth branch, Young Democratic Socialists) have participated in the Occupy Wall Street protest:

Communist Party

Communist Party USA support

Lisa Bergmann gave a report, on behalf of the Young Communist League USA to a gathering of the communist front World Federation of Democratic Youth, Lisbon, Portugal, 2011. She dealt with the Occupy Wall Street movement and the campaign to re-elect President Barack Obama.[8]

My name is Lisa Bergmann from the Young Communist League USA. On behalf of our organization I would like to thank WFDY and the JCP for hosting this inspiring, well-organized event and for ensuring that the YCLUSA could be here with all of you today. The Young Communist League USA stands firmly, as it always has, united with all of you against U.S. imperialism, greed, and war...

Inspired by the “Arab Spring” and other youth movements in Europe and Latin America, the Occupy Wall Street Movement began in the heart of the U.S. capitalist system, and has now spread to more than 300 cities in the United States. Occupy is predominantly a youth movement, calling attention to the unprecedented wealth inequalities that exist in our country. Indeed, in the U.S. right now, the wealthiest 1% of the country’s population owns 35% of the nation’s wealth. While the participants in the Occupy movement are members of a wide variety of groups, they all identify as part of the “99” percent of people who do not have access to the country’s wealth. The labor movement in the U.S. has been one of the strongest allies to the Occupy movement. Other participants in the Occupy movement include peace activist groups, veterans, elected officials, immigrant rights groups, and of course the Communist Party and the Young Communist League! The Young Communist League, even though we are in a re-building phase, has participated in Occupy in every city where we exist, and has even initiated the Occupy chapters in some cities. Leaders of the Young Communist League and leaders of the Communist party have been arrested in Chicago on two separate occasions during police raids on the Occupy movement.
Finally, I will speak briefly about the 2012 elections in the U.S. The election of Obama in 2008 was a tremendous victory for the people of the United States and indeed for people all over the world. The election of our first African American President has been a huge blow to the entrenched racism in our country. Young people are the reason that Obama won the presidency, as he earned 66 percent of the youth vote. Obama continues to push policies that benefit working-class people in the United States. And Republicans continually block these policies to make Obama look ineffective.

That said, the fight for jobs and for real solutions MUST include re-electing Obama in 2012. It is the role of the YCL to emphasize this wherever we go, and to try to push youth in the Occupy movement and elsewhere who do not want to work with any politicians to understand that being absent from the political process is only allowing the ultra-right wing to build power. This is also so that working people can continue to focus on building a viable movement for themselves in the United States, that will be in a position to stand in solidarity with working people throughout the world. Angela Davis, when visiting Occupy Wall Street on October 31st, said that “It is up to US to build a movement. And it is up to Obama to respond to that movement. But he cannot do it on his own.”

Conrad Cukla

Konrad Cukla, a 23-year-old graduate student. and Young Communist League USA member who has been helping with Occupy May Day planning, said that since the park shut, occupiers have been engaging in key coalition building work, such as with immigrant rights groups in the city.

“All the labor unions have come together and for the first time are going to have a unified march with immigrant rights groups and Occupy,” he said as he walked with a musical band of occupiers -- the Rude Mechanical Orchestra -- dressed in green and black on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. “I think the movement is evolving, it's taking on more concrete allies and issues, engaging more with labor struggles -- also just expanding its horizons and bringing more people into the movement."[9]

8th U.S./Cuba/Mexico/Latin America Labor Conference

Conference participants

The 8th U.S./Cuba/Mexico Latin American Labor Conference concluded Dec. 4 in Tijuana, Mexico. This meeting, and the three days of classes that preceded it, amplified an Encuentro Sindical Nuestra América initiative to unify the union and working-class social movements throughout the Americas. ESNA coordinators Juan Castillo from Uruguay, João Batista from Brazil, Oliverio Reyes from Mexico and Raymundo Navarro from Cuba guided the discussion throughout the week in Tijuana.[10]

Some 80 participants attended from the U.S., Mexico, Cuba, Brazil and Uruguay.

It was preceded by a three-day Worker's School for some 26 intercontinental labor activists, taught by Heriberto González del Valle, a youthful professor at the Lázaro Peña National School for Union Cadres in Havana, Cuba.

The opening panel featured Dr. Raymundo Navarro Fernández, member of the Secretariat of the Central de Trabajadores de Cuba, who spoke on the effect of the global economic crisis in his country.

With some 8 million affiliated members, the Central dos Trabalhadores e Trabalhadoras do Brasil is but one of six trade union councils in South America's economic powerhouse, Brazil. The Tijuana conference also heard from João Batista, an officer of the CTB and of the Encuentro Sindical Nuestra América.

According to participant Eric Gordon, a Communist Party USA affiliate from of Los Angeles;

For those of us in the U.S., it was gratifying to hear Batista confirm that the Occupy movement has brilliantly shown the world that "U.S. imperialism" also affects the 99 percent at home. Latin American growth rates in the last decade are directly tied to greater autonomy from U.S. banks and financial institutions.

A UAW member from Detroit, Martha Grevatt, spoke movingly about the U.S. domestic crisis, citing her hometown as "the poster child for a sick capitalist society that puts profit before human needs."

Other presenters, including the Cananea miners' strike in Mexico and the Mexican electricians union, both now under heavy attack, filled out the program. .[11]

Mexican Electrical Workers International Secretary Humberto Montes de Oca and Sergio Tolano, president of the Cananea, Mexico, miners union, participated. International Longshore and Warehouse Union member Clarence Thomas addressed the positive interaction of the Occupy Wall Street movement with port workers. World Federation of Trade Unions-Americas representative, Gilda Chacon Bravo, outlined the organization’s history, revitalization and relation to today’s struggles. Cristina Vasquez, Western representative of Workers United, and Alicia Jrapko, U.S. coordinator of the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five, urged a greater union voice to free the Cuban Five, who have been unjustly held in U.S. prisons for more than 13 years. The final panel debated views of the migrant/immigrant struggle.[12]

LeBlanc at 32nd Annual Conference for Peace

Prasannan Parthasarathi, Judith LeBlanc, and the Rev. Robert Moore address audience questions during a speakers' panel.

The Coalition for Peace Action 's 32nd Annual Conference for Peace was held on November 13, 2011 at Princeton University. The Conference was entitled "Smart Security: Reducing Military Spending to Fund Urgent Needs at Home." The event featured talks from Dr. Gordon Adams, Jo Comferford, Dr. Prasannan Parthasarathi, Swami Tattvavidananda Saraswait, and Judith LeBlanc of the Communist Party USA, who encouraged the audience to be hopeful about our political progress, and to be involved with the current Occupy movements around the country.[13]

CCDS support

NCC resolution

A resolution of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, NCC Meeting, Sept 30, 2011, stated;[14]

In discussing the urgency of the political moment and the economic crisis facing the working class and its allies, the NCC urges CCDS members to undertake all possible ways to help build broad coalition efforts in the fight for jobs, peace and against austerity and war. Particularly, we urge CCDS to:
1. Become fully engaged with the 'Occupy Wall Street' direct actions and mass mobilizations expanding through hundreds of cities across the country. In addition to working directly with the young people initiating these events, we should work to bring wider allies, such as trade unions and grassroots organizations from communities of color, to add their voices and their strength to this common front aimed at finance capital.

CCDS Labor outreach

The Occupy Wall Street protest began September 17th. Trade unions, labor and community groups, environmental and civil rights organizations joined in support.

Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism leader Pat Fry served on the OWS labor outreach list and responded to the call October 3 to insure OWS participation in a Teamster rally in front of Southeby’s.[15]

International Socialist Organization support

ISO rganizers

The avowedly marxist/Trotskyite magazine, "International Socialist Review" (ISR), in its Nov.-Dec. 2011 issue featured "Occupy! The Birth of a Movement" as its covers story, reprinting it from the International Socialist Organization website SocialistWorker.org. A number of leftist writers and activists were interviewed for the article "The meaning of Occupy Wall Street" or had interviewed reprinted from other publications, as will be cited below. Several of the interviewees were planners of Occupy Wall Street, and give further evidence that hardcore marxists were involved from the very beginning.

  • Chris Hedges - Veteran journalist and author of numerous books, including, most recently, "Death of the Liberal Class." This contribution first appeared in "The Occupied Wall Street Journal." He wrote that:
  • "Even now, three weeks later, the elites and their mouthpieces in the press continue to puzzle over what we want. Where is the list of demands? Why don't they present us with specific goals? Why can't they articulate what they need?"
  • "the goal to us is very, very clear. It can be articulated in one word - REBELLION. We are not pleading with the Congress for electoral reform. We know electoral politics is a farce. We have no faith in the political system or the two major political parties. And we know the corporate press will not amplify our voices, which is why we have a press of our own. We know the economy serves the oligarchs. We knoe that to survive this protest, we will have to build non-hierarchical communal systems that care for everyone...."
  • "What the elites fails to realize is that the rebellion will not stop until the corporate state is extinguished."

"I have been involved with OWS since the very beginning." "Beyond the occupation itselfl, the self-organiztion of various social struggles in their relation to OWS has been truly inspiring to see. The support and participation of various struggles and identities in OWS opens the possiblity for a broader movement, which united particular social struggle for a more universal movement for emancipation. And the chorus is beginning to form." "At least three websites--OccupyTogether.org, OccupyColleges.org and TakeTheSquare.net -- are a beginning of building hubs or networks of resistance. The process of developing circuits of (inter)national communication, coordination and inspiration needs to continue in order to build a (inter)national strategy for challenging the given socio-economic order."

"The biggest impact of OWS is its role in initiating a mass movement against corporate power and economic inequality. OWS has fundamentally shifted the political landscape in the United States, creating the greatest potential for a working-class fightback in decades. It's a truly historic, once-in-a-generation event. But we need to recognize that OWS on its own is not likely to win victories. That will require a whole series of interlocked campaigns and struggles over the course of the coming months and years."

"The fatal flaw of the ruling class is underestimation of the people, as seen from Egypt to Dubuque. My own hope is that the occupation movement will suport various progressive struggles against the 1 percent, without narrowing its agenda to just achieving particular legislation. Reforms and even electoral successes are likely to result anyway, as the rules fall all over themselves with concessions, as they try to limit the appeal of the movement. This, after all, is a struggle for restructuring of power; it is a class war. And if we are far from ready to win that battle, we have a least begun to fight it."

  • Will Russell - Graduate Student at Hunter College, member of the International Socialist Organization and participant in Occupy Wall Street from its planning stages. He said the following:

"As one of the hundred or so organizers of September 11 and OWS, I can only speak for myself when I say that OWS has reached my expectations and far surpassed them." "People have been incensed by the greed of the banks, which sparked and fueled the global financial crisis, and the complicity of the government in bailing out those who put us in the situation we're in, while the working class and the poor pay the costs of it. Normal people are outraged by the perpetual wars, the inability to deal with the climate and environmental crises, and the racist criminal injustice system that carried through the legal lynching of Troy Davis (KW: a convicted murderer in Georgia). All of this rage has been focused and channeled onto the symbolic center of the capitalist state where all this injustice emanates from: Wall Street."

  • Sherry Wolf - Long-time activist, member of the ISR editorial board, and author of "Sexuality and Socialism: History, Politics and Theory of LGBT Liberation." She said:

"There's not question that the October 5 mass labor march to OWS was a political turning point, since the collective, multiracial power of New York's unionized workers was on display. It was electric." "We all feel that we are now part of a global rebellion, and we really are. The square has transformed the experience of isolation and fear so many unemployed workers and students feel. In a society that has so crassly destroyed most town squares, radical young people have recreated a giant one at the foot of the Empire's economic hub. It has collectivized many debates and created a temporary antidote to the alienation we all feel in this society." "The United States has just joined the global rebellion after years of relative dormancy. This is just a small taste of where we need to go. But it tastes so good."

Veterans for Peace support

VFP statement

From the Veterans for Peace website;[16]

Now with the recent police violence directed toward the Occupy movement, the country at large is waking up to the unpleasant reality that the violence of the system can and will target anyone who stands up for justice and opposes the exploitation of the 99 percent by the 1 percent.

The Veterans for Peace mission statement states that we pledge to work for peaceful conflict resolution and the elimination of war-the ultimate violence. As veterans of conscience, we are compelled to take a stand against police violence toward the national Occupy movement.

Veterans for Peace will establish Veterans Peace Teams to be made available as we can, to those Occupy sites where the local general assemblies feel our participation would be helpful. We propose that these nonviolent Veterans Peace Teams act as a buffer between Occupy protesters and police violence and ask any and all military/law enforcement veterans to join us in this endeavor.

As veterans, we stand with the Occupy movement as members of the 99 percent and oppose any and all use of force by police against peaceful protesters exercising their right to peaceably assemble to seek redress of grievances as guaranteed by the First Amendment.
We also stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Tahrir Square and worldwide, standing up courageously, leading and often dying in the struggle for equality and justice as they are exposed to massive state-run police and military violence. We recognize that our common enemy is the wealthy power elite, those who control, ravage and exploit.

Labor support

Unions that are organizing contingents for an October 5, OWS rally were : UAW Region 9A, Teachers' Federation of Puerto Rico, TWU Local 100, 1199 SEIU, NNU, Laborers International Union of America, United Federation of College Teachers - Pratt Institute, National Writers Guild , United Steel Workers of America, 32BJ SEIU, Committee of Interns and Residents/SEIU, Professional Staff Congress CUNY , UFT United Federation of Teachers, CWA 1109 Communication Workers of America, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, NYC Labor Against the War.[17]

“Can the Labor Movement and Occupy Wall Street March down the Same Road?”

New York City – Jan. 27 Murphy Institute, CUNY, 25 W. 43 rd St. 18th Floor, New York Friday, January 27, 2012 — 8:30am until 10:30am

Occupy Wall Street’s singular achievement has been to inject issues of concentrated wealth, inequality, and the threat to democracy into the heart of national debate, something the labor movement has tried but largely failed to do for many years. Occupy Wall Street continues to generate attention across the country. While unions were one of its earliest supporters, and share some of its ideals, the two movements are also markedly different.
Unlike unions, Occupy Wall Street is inherently anti-capitalist. It also makes a point of not having a set of demands or a defined leadership, while trade unions are highly structured representative bodies that pay meticulous attention to formulating specific programs and demands. How do the two movements view each other? What has been their working relationship so far? How do OWS and unions see organizing? Are their strategies and tactics compatible? What can OWS gain from the involvement of organized labor, and vice versa?

Discussing these questions were John Samuelsen, president of Transport Workers Union, Local 100; Tammy Kim, staff attorney at the Urban Justice Center and an active member of the Occupy Wall Street Immigrant Worker Justice Working Group; Mario Dartayet-Rodriguez, Organizing Director, AFSCME DC 37 and member of the Labor Outreach Committee of OWS; and Amy Muldoon, member of CWA, Local 1106, and CWA District 1 liaison to OWS.

The forum was moderated by Steve Fraser, labor historian, author of numerous books including Labor Will Rule: Sidney Hillman & the Rise of American Labor, and Wall Street: America’s Dream Palace, and a member of the Labor Outreach Committee of OWS. RSVP to Eloiza Morales at 212-642-2029 or eloiza.morales@mail.cuny.edu.[18]

Socialist Party USA

Socialist party arrestees

Members of the Socialist Party of New York City were arrested October 2, 2011, during a march over the Brooklyn Bridge as part of the ongoing Occupy Wall Street demonstration. Arrestees included Billy Wharton, co-chair of the Socialist Party USA, Lawrence Rockwood, chair of the Socialist Party of New York State, Kristin Schall, chair of the Socialist Party of New York City and SP-NYC members Nick Pelman and Nick Daka. The group faces misdemeanor charges for disorderly conduct and one felony charge for criminal riot. Court dates are set for mid-November.

The march and action on the Brooklyn Bridge were a part of the ongoing occupation of Downtown Manhattan by the activist group Occupy Wall Street. Socialist Party USA members have actively supported this occupation since its inception and will continue to collaborate with all those interested in challenging the power of the richest 1% and Wall Street.

“The media has claimed that the protesters have no demands”, said Billy Wharton, co-chair Socialist Party USA. “Socialists have demands. We want a democratic society – we demand healthcare for all, the right to a good job and to live in a peaceful, non-militaristic world. That’s what we were marching over the Brooklyn Bridge for.”

The five arrested socialists join dozens of other Socialist Party USA members who have participated in direct actions since the economic crisis began in 2008. These actions have challenged anti-union legislation, have opposed budget cuts and have called for an end to war and occupation.[19]

Congressional Support

In a joint statement, reps. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., and Keith Ellison, D-Minn stated, "We share the anger and frustration of so many Americans who have seen the enormous toll that an unchecked Wall Street has taken on the overwhelming majority of Americans while benefiting the super-wealthy."

On Oct. 5, 2011, John Larson, D-Conn., released a statement saying, "The silent masses aren't so silent anymore. They are fighting to give voice to the struggles that everyday Americans are going through."[20]o

Democratic Campaign Committee

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched a petition with the goal of "100,000 strong standing with Occupy Wall Street." The petition reads in part,[21]

"Out-of-touch Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor said he is “increasingly concerned by the growing mobs” protesting on Wall Street and across the country. Mobs? That must be what Republicans refer to as the middle class, or maybe the millions of unemployed Americans across the country."

Celebrity Support

Other Supporters

The following have supported the demonstration:


Statements of Solidarity

The following is a list of statements of solidarity with the demonstration from around the U.S. and the World:

Legal Support

The following lawyers are representing various protestors:


News articles have listed a number of demonstrators as key leaders or members of Occupy Wall Street committees, working groups, etc. KeyWiki will try to list as many of such individuals as can be found in the printed press and other sources. However, there is no way of knowing whether they are the "professional" organizers who have come in from outside leftist groups, or whether they are individuals who have offered their services and have end up in specialty positions, unless they are specifically identified as such. The following hold leadership positions within the demonstration:

The following are all mentioned in the same article[31]

  • Lorenzo Serna - "a 31-year old from North Dakota in the camp since the occupation begain Sept. 17."
  • Derek Brown - "44, mentioned rumors circulating about both sides (of the contendors at the "General Assembly" that runs OWS)when he got up to address the crowd about finances" and the need for both "accountability" and "transparency"
  • Cody Thies - 19 year old from Los Angeles, on the protestors who felt that they were underrepresented and "how we aren't being represented on the other half of the park."
  • Nicole Carty - "a member of the group that runs the general assemblies"
  • Rabbi Chaim Gruber - 42, a member of the solidarity working group, who addressed the assembly about a grievances committee he had just started.
  • Bill Dobbs - "of the protest's public relations working group"
  • Gavrielle Gemma, Jobless Working Group of OWS[32]
  • Sam Calzero[32]
  • Mark Bray, Industrial Workers of the World - press liason for OWS[33]


The following have participated in the demonstration.

Names grouped by source; the reference for the first name in a group is the reference for the below names also.


The following have addressed the protestors:



On Nov. 16, following the eviction of protestors from Liberty Park, participants of Occupy Wall Street gathered outside the park as police arrested a few individuals attempting to enter the former camp. The protesters were awaiting the New York state Supreme Court's decision on Bloomberg's forced eviction. The court later ruled in Bloomberg's favor. Gabe Falsetta who writes for the CPUSA's newspaper People's World attended and spoke with protestors:[54]

"Retired police captain Ray Lewis, who came from Philadelphia, said, "I have tremendous sympathy for those that suffer. These people are suffering while the bankers and Wall Streeters are drinking champagne while looking down on us." Leina Bocar, 25, who hopes to return to school for her Masters degree in social work, said, "I'm here because I've been here for eight weeks and I'm protesting the raid last night. Specifically, I'm here for social and economic justice, but I'm protesting Bloomberg and NYPD for use of force and illegal seizure of property." ...Jonny Cerbo of Fresno, Calif., said, "I came here to be a big part of this, and they're not going to get rid of me, especially after what happened last night. I'm sticking around for good. I plan on staying well into next year if I have to. Getting financial aid has been one setback after another. That's one of the reasons I'm here. I've been unemployed since I graduated high school. It's been impossible to find a job. Both my parents have lost their jobs recently, but the state still thinks they are making too much money." Laura Schleifer, whose entire family supports OWS, said, "I'm here protesting the downright fascist - there is no other word for it - eviction of a peaceful group of protesters who were sleeping in Zuccotti Park and have the legal right to be here. They have the legal right by court order as of this morning." Robin Mahonen, a licensed social worker from Wheeling, W. Va., said, "I'm here to support our brothers and sisters in this brave struggle against corporate greed and government corruption which has sold out the 99 percent in favor of the 1 percent. In the last years of my practice, the HMOs made it so difficult for me to collect the money owed to me by their clients - who paid their premiums. They found every reason in the world to deny payment."

Nov. 17 Day of Action

November 17, 2011 (dubbed "N17" by protestors) was a "day of action", marking the two month anniversary of the occupation. Thomas Good, writing for Next Left Notes wrote on the events of the day,[33]

"The day started with a thousand-strong effort to shut down Wall Street. Police responded with clubs and plastic handcuffs. At lunchtime, protesters performed signature “mic checks” in subway stations throughout New York — without disrupting subway service. The final N17 action came as night fell. OWS protesters, labor activists and members of various community groups gathered at lower Manhattan’s Foley Square at 5 p.m. An hour and a half later tens of thousands of protesters crossed the Brooklyn Bridge — 99 of their number sat down on the roadway and were arrested. Other than the one act of civil disobedience, there were no incidents or arrests."

Dec. 6 March to Brooklyn

In a Dec. 11, 2011 article published in Liberation, the newspaper of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Cassie Regan wrote of the Dec. 6, 2011 march in East New York to demand an end to evictions and foreclosures:[55]

"Stopping periodically at empty homes along the way, at each location, a victim of predatory lending told their story of how they lost their home through no fault of their own. Some had lived in their homes for 10 and even 20 years."

On Dec. 6, Alfredo Carrasquillo and Tasha Glasgow were moved into a previously foreclosed--now "re-occupied"--home in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn. Regan continued,

"Carrasquillo and Glasgow had been relying on the help of friends and neighbors after being evicted from their home several years ago. Glasgow had been awarded a Section 8 voucher so she and her children could move out of the shelter system and into a home. In the latest round of budget cuts, however, her voucher was taken away and she no longer had an option for her family. The home that they are now occupying was foreclosed on by Bank of America over three years ago. The community had been maintaining the property and allowing other homeless people to stay there. Protesters brought housewarming gifts with them to welcome the Carrasquillo and Glasgow family into their new home.
The foreclosure crisis disproportionately affects nationally oppressed communities. According to a report released by ACORN, African American homebuyers were 2.7 times more likely to be issued a high-cost loan than white buyers. Latino buyers were 2.3 times more likely than white buyers. These trends, and the high overall foreclosure rate, are not likely to change unless a major struggle is waged against the banks and titans of the capitalist housing industry. Organizers made it clear that this was just the beginning of occupations in homes across the cities. Protester Mike Vaughn said, “It is obviously unfair that the banks got bailed out, they have money for all these wars, yet the people that lost their homes get no help.”

New York City Protest of Obama Fundraiser November 30, 2011

Protesters gathered across from the Sheraton Hotel to protest a political fundraiser being held for him Wednesday night, Nov. 30, 2011. Demonstrators held signs that said the following:

  • "Obama is a corporate puppet"
  • "War crimes must be stopped, no matter who does them" (with pictures of Pres. George. W. Bush and Barack Obama)
  • "I sold out"
  • Ben Campbell - 28, one of the march's organizaers, sadi he hoped to prove to skeptics of the protest that the demonstrators were political critics of equal opportunity. "President Obam is coming to town soley to raise money from the richest of the rich".[56]

Organizations Represented

The following organizations were responsible for initiating and establishing the demonstration:[57]

The following organizations have subsequently officially participated in the demonstration:

Members from the following organizations have participated in the demonstration:[20]

New York City Protest of Obama Fundraiser November 30, 2011

Protesters gathered across from the Sheraton Hotel to protest a political fundraiser being held for him Wednesday night, Nov. 30, 2011. Demonstrators held signs that said the following:

  • "Obama is a corporate puppet"
  • "War crimes must be stopped, no matter who does them" (with pictures of Pres. George. W. Bush and Barack Obama)
  • "I sold out"
  • Ben Campbell - 28, one of the march's organizaers, sadi he hoped to prove to skeptics of the protest that the demonstrators were political critics of equal opportunity. "President Obam is coming to town soley to raise money from the richest of the rich".[58]

New York City General Assembly

The NYC General Assembly is composed of dozens of groups working together to organize and set the vision for the Occupy Wall Street movement, and was first convened by folks who had been involved in New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts.[57] The assembly states that it is an "open, participatory and horizontally organized process through which we are building the capacity to constitute ourselves in public as autonomous collective forces within and against the constant crises of our times."[59]

Declaration of the Occupation

The following declaration was "approved by consensus on Sept. 29, 2011 at the New York City General Assembly in occupied Liberty Square:[60]

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.
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.
They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices.
They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.
They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
They have donated large sums of money to politicians supposed to be regulating them. They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantive profit.
They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad. They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts. *
To the people of the world,
We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.
Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.
To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.
Join us and make your voices heard!
*These grievances are not all-inclusive.

The People's Library

Protestors at the demonstration have established a lending library containing books by Howard Zinn, Dominick Dunne, Tom Wolfe, Barbara Ehrenreich, Nicholas Evans, Noam Chomsky and many others.

Authors including Naomi Klein, Eve Ensler and Katrina vanden Heuvel have donated signed editions of their books and vanden Heuvel has pledged hundreds of copies of The Nation, past and present.[37]



"Homeless Paid to join Protestors"

An Oct. 26, 2011 Fox News article reported,[28]

"Sources said New York Communities for Change has hired about 100 former ACORN-affiliated staff members from other cities – paying some of them $100 a day - to attend and support Occupy Wall Street. Dozens of New York homeless people recruited from shelters are also being paid to support the protests, at the rate of $10 an hour, the sources said...
Sources said cash donations collected by NYCC on behalf of some unions and various causes are being pooled and spent on Occupy Wall Street. The money is used to buy supplies, pay staff and cover travel expenses for the ex-ACORN members brought to New York for the protests. In one such case, sources said, NYCC staff members collected cash donations for what they were told was a United Federation of Teachers fundraising drive, but the money was diverted to the protests.
Another source, who said she was hired from a homeless shelter, said she was first sent to the protests before being deployed to Central Islip, Long Island, to canvass for a campaign against home foreclosures. “I went to the protests every day for two weeks and made $10 an hour. They made me carry NYCC signs and big orange banners that say NYCC in white letters. About 50 others were hired around my time to go to the protests. We went to protests in and around Zuccotti Park, then to the big Times Square protest,” she said. “But now they have me canvassing on Long Island for money, so I get the money and then the money is being used for Occupy Wall Street—to pay for all of it, for supplies, food, transportation, salaries, for everything ... all that money is going to pay for the protests downtown and that’s just messed up. It’s just wrong.”

A Nov. 3, 2011 Fox News article subsequently reported that two NYCC staffers were fired after NYCC officials suspected them as the source of the leaks. A source told Fox, “One was fired the day the story came out, the other was fired on Friday. (NYCC senior staff) told everyone that they were fired because they talked to you." However NYCC spokesman Scott Levenson denied that anyone was fired for talking to the press.[61]

Religious Leaders/Groups & CAIR Join In

An article from The Blaze, an online news site associated with former Fox TV Glenn Beck at his new satellite TV operation, appeared on October 20, 2011, entitled "Faith CAIR Joins Occupy Wall Street, Will Hold Friday Prayers in Zuccotti Park" (www.theblaze.com/stories/cair-joins-occupy-wall-street-will-hold-friday-prayers-in-Zuccotti-Park).

The story told about "An official invitation issued by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)", an American/Moslem organization in the US that covers up for radical Islamists and poses as not only a voice of moderation, but at an almost exclusive voice for the Moslems in the US, despite a reported membership of less than 2,000 nationally). It was issued by their New York chapter "which tells members to show 'solidarity' with the '99%' by attending Friday prayes in Zuccotti Park at 1:00 PM. CAIR's stated goal in hosting the prayer service at OWS is to 'expand the role of New York Muslims in the Occupy movement."

"A 'sermon on social justice in Islam' is slated to be delivered by Imam Aiyub Abdul Baki - a supporter of the [[Ground Zero mosque."

The full text of this invitation is as follows:

"Dear friends, CAIR-NY is proud to support and invite you to Friday Prayer at Occupy Wall Street this Friday, October 21st, where we will join in solidarity with the '99%.' Jummah, (i.e. prayer), hosted by Majlis Ash-Shura (Islamic Leadership Council of New York) is scheduled for 1pm at Zuccotti Park. A sermon on social justice in Islam will be delivered by Imam Aiyub Abdul Baki.

CAIR-NY's endorsement of Friday Prayer at Occupy Wall Street stems from a conviction that many of the issues brought into the international spotlight by Occupy Wall Street affect Muslim communities disportionately, and it is up to us to stand up for our rights and show the world what democracy and peaceful protest look like. Look for our table at Zuccotti Park to obtain information about our current projects and to expand the role of New York Muslims in the Occupy WallS Street movement.

WHAT: Friday Prayer at Occupy Wall Street WHEN: Friday, October 21st, 1 1:00-3:00pm WHERE: Zuccotti Park on Broadway between Liberty and Cedar

A picture was included in this news article which did not identify those Muslim, Christian and Jewish "clergy" shown in it. One of those individuals seen in the picture, second from the left, is long-time marxist radical Arthur Waskow, a "Reconstructist Rabbi" from Philadelphia. His record of activism in marxist and far-left causes goes back to the 1960's when he helped to found the communist-funded and often led Institute for Policy Studies (IPS)[62].

Waskow was deeply involved in the Hanoi Lobby, including the various Mobes, the 1971 Mayday protests, and then radical leftwing Jewish fronts and causes from Breira to the New Jewish Agenda, among others.

OWS Protester Featured on Colbert Report Outed as Scam Artist Forger

The conservative "Newsbusters" organization published an article on Dec. 14, 2011, entitled "OWS Protester Featured on Colbert Report Outed as Scam Artist Forger", P. J.Gladnick which reported that the New York Post mewspaper had exposed a OWS leader as both a scam artist and a forger, who falsified his timesheets at the school where he worked.

The teacher was identified as Justin Wedes, who "abruptly quite his job as a city public school teacher after getting caught red-handed falsifying time sheets", the Post has learned. Former South Brooklyn Community HS science teacher Justin Wedes, who often rails against corporate greed and corruption, "cut and pasted" the signature of a supervisor onto his time sheets while applying for a national education grant, Special Schools Commissioner of Investigation Richard Condon found."

It concerned a $4,724 AmeriCorps grant that Wedes sought through the City University of New York. When the forgery was discovered, Wedes was forced to resign before being fired.[63].

The Newsbuster piece mentioned that Wedes's family lived in "the plush Michigan neighborhood of Huntington Woods" (and) "could easily afford to just give him that money." They also mentioned that the New York Times "article from November had given Wedes favorable coverage before they found out that he was a scam artist.

==Scissors-wielding OWS protester charged with felony assault on cop" An Occupy Wall Street protester was arrested for assaulting a police officer with a scissors as they tried to arrest him for pushing "a police barrier into a marked NYPD van" at Zuccotti Park "on New years Eve", according to a story in the New York Post, Jan. 2, 2012, "Scissors-wielding OWS protester charge with felony assault on cop", by Laura Italiano and Doug Auer.

The protester was identified as Zachary Miller, 28, of Berkeley, California. According to the article, "Miller already has Zuccotti-related disorderly conduct arrests from October and November, plus a record of narcotics, parole violation and burglary arrests in California, sources said."

"For the New Years arrest,Miller was additionaly charged with weapons possession, obstruction of governmental administration and resisting arrest. He was released on $500 bail."

The injured police officer, Christopher Vega reportedly suffered a cut to his right hand, bruised knees, and a back injury.

[Source: http://m.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/scissors_wielding_ows_protester_clcSNMjMk...]

"General Strike" comeback

Occupy Wall Street, aimed to make a comeback from this winter’s hibernation with an ambitious plan: a crippling May Day 2012 “general strike” in the tradition of 1930s radicalism.

The grand promise is what one occupier, Brendan Burke, described as “a day without the 99%.” But, even the most progressive New York labor leaders said their members will not participate in the May 1 strike.

“It won’t happen,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union and one of the first labor leaders to embrace the Occupy movement. “They are not working with the unions in a serious way yet; nor are the unions working with them in a serious way. And it is the wrong strategy.”

“I think the concept is a great one but the reality is very tough,” said Arthur Cheliotes, the President of Local 1180, Communications Workers of America and a stalwart of the New York left.

“We’re public sector workers—we take a day off for a general strike and we’re fined two days’ pay,” said Cheliotes. “I don’t think my members are inclined to engage in that process.”

Even Transit Workers Union Local 100, the New York City subway union with a tradition of being one of the most radical mainstream unions in the country, wouldn’t take a side.

“I don’t think we’d take a position on that,” said Cheska Tolentino, a TWU Local 100 organizer in New York.

Occupiers began describing the action as a “general strike” only after some internal debate, with some participants warning that the planned action won’t in fact live up to that disruptive expectation. The strike, referred to as “May Day,” is expected to be the movement’s largest action since the large-scale protests that caused such a stir in New York last fall.

Indeed, some Occupy organizers are starting to change the language in order to avoid the kind of anti-climax they’ve experienced in the past during multiple protests that didn’t turn out the way they’d hoped (they couldn’t, for example, prevent the closing bell from being sounded on Wall Street last November).

Even the occupiers themselves weren’t totally clear on what the general strike will consist of without labor support, though organizers admit that the strike can only go so far without the unions striking.

“We do expect people to not work,” said organizer Max Berger. “Just in terms of participation by labor organizations and mass people not working, we're realistic about where we're at and what 's possible.”

Burke, who led security operations for OWS during the Zuccotti Park occupation, said that “I don’t know if we have broad-based union support. We have a few unions that are with us. But I don’t know about a national literal strike.”

“Like everything else OWS, it’s symbolic but it’s also practical,” Burke said.

Some occupiers downplay the importance of unions to their plans.

“Frankly there's not enough union people in this country anyway, so even if you made every union person strike, you still couldn’t have everyone not working,” said Jeff Smith, an organizer since the beginning of Occupy.

“It’s about getting enough people to opt out of what their normal equation is,” Smith said. “Even if you just stay home and watch TV, in some ways you'll have participated in this.”

Occupiers are holding weekly marches on Fridays on Wall Street in the weeks leading up to May Day followed by meetings on Saturdays. According to organizers, the day itself would include direct actions – the details of which haven’t entirely been ironed out – plus teach-ins and “pop-up occupations,” said Burke. Protesters are being trained in direct action techniques culminating in a week of training in April that organizers are calling “99% Spring Training,” an initiative whose online manifesto has been signed by a number of union heads as well as Van Jones and representatives of institutional progressive groups like Greenpeace and MoveOn.org.

And Occupiers in New York are already beginning to manage expectations.

“We want to change people's notion of what it means to strike,” Berger said. “There are all different ways for people to not participate in capitalist system.”

The model is, in part, the dramatic Occupy demonstrations in Oakland last November, which shut down one of the nation’s largest ports amid violence between Occupiers and police. Occupiers there called for a general strike and didn’t get one, but the nature of the shipping industry allowed them to wreak as much havoc as any Occupy branch has over the course of the movement’s brief six-month lifespan so far.

But as in Oakland, the promised New York general strike appears likely to highlight the troubled relationship between Occupy and organized labor, whose unions have at times provided an organizational backbone and manpower to occupy demonstrations.

The difference isn’t just one of tactics: Despite public expressions of solidarity, labor leaders say privately that they’ve been frustrated by their inability to build a long-term relationship with the leaderless movement. Instead, they’re beginning to plan a day of protest later this year in support of the right to organize.

None of the union leaders BuzzFeed spoke with said they’d been contacted by occupiers about plans for a strike, a silence that has made the grand talk of a general strike even more puzzling to people whose members are familiar with picket lines.

“A general strike is a very specific thing,” said Bob Master, co-chairman of the Working Families Party and the legislative and political director of Communication Workers of America District 1. “It’s when all the workers in a city decide that they’re not working. It’s not when an outside group says, ‘How about we stop working for a day because we’ve got a set of demands that you weren’t part of formulating.’”

External Links


Template:Reflist Template:Ows

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