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Occupy DC has unions and permits and a word on Occupy Austin

occupy dc

By Farrah Farley

Thanks to social media, and Democracy Now’s covereage of the NYC Occupy Wall Street and Occupy DC, I decided to take a “late lunch” from my federal job and walk on down to the Occupy DC rally on Wednesday to show my solidarity for the movement.

Here’s a rundown of what I learned:
Permits Occupy DC was just issued a permit for four months to stay in Freedom Plaza (on Pennsylvania Ave. and 14th St. ~ 2 blocks from the White House) as of Monday. About 100 campers’ tents are set up along with a First Aid tent, Media, and of course, “Food not Bombs” is there to provide nourishment for these dedicated citizens.

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Unions Via Facebook, my activist friend from Georgetown told me to meet up at Farragut Square at 4 p.m. (the standard rally time) to join forces with the Janitors Union and Transit Workers Union for their rally (mostly in Spanish) to show solidarity for their service… Apparently a bunch of workers are getting cuts and/or laid off on Oct. 15th. As a federal employee, I am also a member of a union, so I support this sort of organizing and demands for job security/respect, equity, etc.

Mini-march I followed my activist buddy’s lead and first went to Farragut at four, come to find their rally started a half hour later so I walked a couple blocks to Mcphereson square where about 50 folks are but camped out. They technically do not have a permit, like their buddies do in Freedom Plaza. At Mcphereson Square, there’s lots of donated food, ponchos, water, and tents. Apparently, the police are good, watching their backs, and helped block traffic while we marched as a small/modest group to Farragut Square to join with the Union rally. We shouted chants past the White house and traffic, such as “We are the 99%.”

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Rain or shine At around 4:30, we Occupy DC folks met up with the mainly Latino transit workers union and janitors union and rallied and marched with them from Farragut square in a loop. I actually had to go back to work after Chinese (CCTV) and Taiwanese News interviewed me about why I was there, how I felt about being in the government while coming out to the rally in solidarity, and my thoughts on the national movement at-large… so I didn’t stay for the whole rally. The general concenseus was that there were less people there due to the rain (but still a heavy presence, maybe a couple hundred of union workers combined with the Occupy DC campers). The past week has had more presence and larger numbers of participants with the nicer weather.

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Austin protests Austin also has an occupation of city hall, but for the first time, the police had to ask them to leave and arressted 4 folks at 3:30 a.m. since the city posted a notice to have a schduled “clean up” from 2-6 a.m. in the morning. Also, reportedly, facebook was blocking Occupy Austin posts, but who knows if that’s true or if it was just a slow operation due to server overload (tech nerd and conspiracy theorist opinions needed here.)

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