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<nettime> Occupy Wall Street: Tahrir Over Here?
Frederick FN Noronha àààààààà àààààààà *ÙØÙØØÙÙ ÙÙØÙÙÙØ on Sat, 15 Oct 2011 13:43:39 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Occupy Wall Street: Tahrir Over Here?


Occupy Wall Street: Tahrir Over Here?

BY Neal UngerleiderWed Sep 21, 2011
Yahoo blocked emails related to the ongoing protests on Wall Street.
Meanwhile, attendees have been dealing with another problem: American
protest rallies rely on mass media, not social media.

Just a few blocks away from Fast Company's NYC offices, hundreds of
protestors have staged a demonstration under the banner Occupy Wall
Street, which is loosely affiliated with Anonymous and Adbusters
magazine. They're recreating the tactics used by Egyptian and Tunisian
revolutionaries and, in the organizers' words, “us[ing] the
revolutionary Arab Spring tactic of mass occupation to restore
democracy in America.” There's only one problem: If you sent an email
about Occupy Wall Street via Yahoo, the recipient probably didn't get
it.

Starting this previous weekend, emails sent by Yahoo users that
contained a link to www.occupywallst.org were immediately blocked and
the following error message appeared:

Your message was not sent

Suspicious activity has been detected on your account. To protect your
account and our users, your message has not been sent.

If this error continues, please contact Yahoo! Customer Care for
further help. We apologize for the inconvenience.

According to Lee Fang of ThinkProgress, emails containing links to
other activist websites such as the right-leaning
americansforprosperity.org and teapartypatriots.org were not blocked.
Yahoo themselves admitted that emails containing links to Occupy Wall
Street's site were blocked. In a Twitter update, they said it was “not
intentional” and that the issue may be resolved. Users, however, might
have “residual delays” in sending Occupy Wall Street-related emails.

 Yahoo's email blocks may have been unintentional, but they looked
remarkably similar to Egyptian censorship methods. Occupy Wall
Street's non-organizers (the protest stresses its non-hierarchial
nature) should be proud. In this one respect, Yahoo recreated Tahrir
perfectly. Fast Company previously reported on the Mubarak
government's efforts to censor discussion of Tahrir via social media.

Other email and social media services do not appear to be censoring
conversation related to Occupy Wall Street. An unfounded rumor that
Twitter was censoring content turned out to be false, both Gmail and
Google+ are being used and Facebook contains a wealth of Occupy Wall
Street-related content.

The non-organizers of Occupy Wall Street face a much more serious
problem: A combination of low turnout and allegations of police
brutality. While New York police officers took a lassiez-faire
approach over the weekend to the protesters, new video has surfaced
showing the NYPD seemingly violently assaulting protesters who were
required to move a tent.

Meanwhile, despite the universal appeal of a protest for Wall Street
to change its ways, attendees at Occupy Wall Street appear to mainly
consist of professional left-wing activists and Anonymous-affiliated
young people. The United States is not Egypt or Tunisia, and what the
sociologists call “structural factors” are, in the U.S.A., totally
different. America has one of the most vibrant civil societies in the
world, with NGOs and interest groups for every conceivable cause.
Politically engaged activists face surveillance at worst instead of
the jail and police torture of the Maghreb. The unemployed are offered
extensive government assistance that dulls anger at a sky-high
unemployment rate. Easy access for nearly all economic classes to the
Internet, video games, satellite television, and a million other
distractions helps distract from discontent.

Most importantly, nearly all successful mass demonstrations and
gatherings of recent years in the United States relied on a top-bottom
organizational structure in which participants were either bused in or
convinced to travel on their own dime by the mass media. Across the
ideological and seriousness spectrum, the Million Man March, Glenn
Beck's Restoring Honor Rally, the Tea Party's Taxpayer March on
Washington and the pro-immigration reform March for America all used
variations on these two tactics.

Also In This Series

1// The Inside Story Of Occupy Wall Street (Oct. 7)
A look back on a series of moments that have made the movement feel
different than any other.

2// The Signs Of Occupy Wall Street (Oct. 7)
Signs, banners, and costumes have extra importance in a protest
without a unified slogan [Slideshow].

3// The Stealth Leaders Of Occupy Wall Street (Oct. 7)
The movement prides itself on its lack of central authority, but here
are the people keeping it humming.

4// Protest On Wall Street Is Louder Online Than Off (Sept. 19)
Is the future of activism more digital than physical?

Occupy Wall Street's non-hierarhical nature ultimately doomed the
event's inclusiveness. Unfortunately, Americans are a notoriously
apathetic people. Effectively organizing large demonstrations in the
United States requires a strong top-to-bottom organizational
structure. There are tens of thousands upon tens of thousands of
churches in the United States whose worshippers have been suddenly
made economically irrelevant by the recession. Travel a few miles from
Wall Street and there are whole neighborhoods where more than 15% of
the population receives public assistance. Lobbying groups in
Washington represent millions of Americans whose old jobs are
disappearing and whose skill sets are not transferable--leaving them
working low paying, part-time service sector jobs that cannot support
their family.

This is the right time in the United States for an economic justice
rally representing everyone--not just tech-savvy young people or
activists already plugged into a whole host of causes. There are
justified reasons for every American, not just radicals, to be angry
at Wall Street right now. Even computer legend Tim O'Reilly is riled
up.

Anonymous has also announced a DDoS attack on American financial
institutions to take place today via the anonpad.org website.
According to writers on anonpad.org, the Federal Reserve, Goldman
Sachs, Wells Fargo, the Federal Reserve Financial Research Library,
CitiGroup, Banca d'Italia, and the website of the City of New York
will all be targeted.

[Top Image: Flickr user andrewshiue, Bottom Image: Flickr user david_shankbone]

For more stories like this, follow  {AT} fastcompany on Twitter. Email Neal
Ungerleider, the author of this article, here or find him on Twitter
and Google+.


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