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Half a million in Madrid sing Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" as peaceful protest


“Move Your Money” campaign urges transfer of money from big banks to local financial institutions by Nov. 5; “Solidarity” leader Lech Walesa joins forces with Occupy Wall Street


By Miriam Raftery


October 17, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement and similar demonstrations against financial institutions and corporate power in Spain and Germany, a “Global Day of Protest” on Saturday, October 15 brought millions of people into the streets in protests held in 950 cities worldwide.  The  largest occurred in Madrid, where an estimated half million Spaniards joined together to sing Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” and raise hands to show that theirs was a peaceful protest. (Click video to view).


The movement is attracting some strange bedfellows—drawing support this week from labor leaders, Solidarity's Lech Walesa, and even a co-founder of the conservative Tea Party movement. 


Protesters initially criticized for lacking focus have formulated at least one short-term goal.  Declaring November 5 “Move Your Money” day, organizers are urging people to support “Main Street not Wall Street” by moving money out of Wall Street banks and into local credit unions or other local financial institutions.


The website has a tool for people to enter their zip codes and get a list of local credit unions. 


In New York, Occupy Wall Street is getting reinforcement from a powerful ally.   Lech Walesa, who led the Solidarity movement which toppled Soviet communism across Eastern Europe, announced plans to fly to New York in support of the protest movement.  The thousands of people gathered near Wall Street are worried about the fate of their future, the fate of their country. This is something I understand,” said the former Polish shipyard worker who became his nation’s president. Walesa said that “capitalism is in crisis” both in America and worldwide.  Major U.S. labor unions have also come out in support of the occupations.


On the conservative side of the aisle, Tea Party co-founder Karl Denninger also voiced support for the movement—and offered occupiers this advice:  “Stay on message, which is that the corruption is not a singular event.  You can’t focus in one place. You have to get the money out of politics, which is very difficult to do, but at the same time you can’t silence people’s voice.”


Last year, Denninger accused the Republican Party of  hijacking the Tea Party by “stealing the anger of a population that was fed up with the Republican Party’s own theft of their tax money at gunpoint to bail out the robbers of Wall Street and fraudulently redirecting it back toward electing the very people who stole all the ****ing money!” Now he advises Occupy Wall Street, “Don’t let it happen.”


Nationally, a CNN poll asked viewers which movement they most support; 70 percent chose Occupy Wall Street, while 30 percent chose the Tea Party. 


Occupy Wall Street protesters marched to New York’s Times Square, gathering 10,000 or more supporters on Saturday.  Some protesters were arrested after entering a Citibank branch, though eyewitness reports conflict on whether protesters acted aggressively or whether the bank unreasonably locked them inside after they asked to withdraw money from their own accounts.


New Yorkers overwhelmingly support the movement and by large margins, would favor  tougher regulations on the financial industry, according to a new poll, Reuters reports today. A whopping 67% of those who responded to a Quinnipiac University survey said they agreed with the Occupy Wall Street protesters, who are upset that banks were allowed to earn huge profits after being bailed out during the recession, while average Americans remained under financial strain.An even wider margin, 87 percent, agreed with the protesters' right to camp out in Lower Manhattan, as long as they obeyed the law. The movement began staging rallies more than a month ago.


Around the world, over 30 financial protests drew over a thousand people each, and several in Europe attracted tens of thousands or more.  Nearly all of the global protests were peaceful, though media reports in the U..S. focused largely on a demonstration in Rome that drew 300,000 participants.  A small group of protesters incited a riot in Rome, burning a car and throwing objects at police, who responded with water cannons and tear gas, leading to 135 injuries and a dozen arrests.


Across the U.S., occupations and protests have continued despite police actions to break up encampments in numerous cities, including downtown San Diego.  Police arrested two men and pepper-sprayed several others, reportedly after some refused orders to move tents and other belongings.  Authorities ultimately allowed one tent to remain as a symbol and said protests may continue, but without campouts. 


Occupy San Diego organizers are now regrouping, with some staging in Balboa Park and a march Saturday that drew 1,000 participants – less than the 1,500 to 2,000 or more estimated a week earlier, but still a sizeable number.  The group’s website announces a new tactic: Occupy Higher Education.


College protest occupations are being planned on Thursday, October 20 at several local campuses –including Grossmont College and San Diego State University in San Diego’s eastern regions. Other campus protests slated include the University of California San Diego (UCSD), City College, Palomar College, California State University San Marcos, and the University of San Diego.  


“We will not accept our future being buried under a mountain of debt in order to get a degree. A degree that leaves you with a mortgage payment but no house to live in,” the group’s website reads. 


The Occupy movement has drawn core support among younger people including many college students, connecting via social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, inspired by the “Arab spring” revolutions in Egypt and across the Middle East.  However it has also attracted many middle age, middle class voters as well as senior citizens and even disabled activists. Protest signs bear a variety of messages and causes, though all are united in believing that corporate power and financial abuses are harming the “99 percent” of Americans.


President Obama, speaking today at a dedication for the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, suggested that the slain Civil Rights leader would likely have supported the Occupy Wall Street movement.  


If he were alive today, I believe he would remind us that the unemployed worker can rightly challenge the excesses of Wall Street without demonizing all who work there; that the businessman can enter tough negotiations with his company’s union without vilifying the right to collectively bargain. He would want us to know we can argue fiercely about the proper size and role of government without questioning each other’s love for this country “ he said.  “He would call on us to assume the best in each other rather than the worst, and challenge one another in ways that ultimately heal rather than wound.”





Occupy San Diego


Madrid – singing Beethoven Ode to Joy (9th Symphony)


Riots hit Rome


Occupy Wall Street protesters move to Times Square


Occupy protests on financial crisis go worldwide


Buoyed by Wall Street protests, rallies sweep the globe


Tea Party cofounder expresses support for Occupy Wall Street  


Lech Walesa, former Polish president, to visit New York in support of Occupy Wall Street


President Obama’s speech at the Martin Luther King memorial dedication


15 October 2011 global protests


New Yorkers support anti-Wall Street protests


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