Tag: occupy baltimore

Ugly/Iconic Downtown Fountain Due for Demolition

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Photo by Casey McKeel, via Occupy Bmore
Photo by Casey McKeel, via Occupy Bmore

Two years ago, the fountain at the center of the Inner Harbor’s McKeldin Plaza was the rallying point for the Occupy Baltimore movement. But the developers in charge of revamping the Inner Harbor think that the fountain — a classic example of Brutalist architecture — doesn’t give off a “welcoming” vibe, and are moving forward with plans to tear it down.

Now Here’s an Idea: Occupy Wall Street Offshoot Wants to Buy Up Consumer Debt

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Occupy Wall Street activists have hit upon a novel way to provide people with debt relief: buy it up and cancel it. The initiative, a project of the non-profit Strike Debt called Rolling Jubilee, buys distressed debt from banks for pennies on the dollar, and then, instead of trying to collect on it, abolishes it.

Occupy Baltimore Not Quite a Year Later

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On Monday the natonwide Occupy movement celebrated its first anniversary, counting from day one of the original protest on Wall Street. And though Baltimore’s own satellite protest in McKeldin square didn’t kick off until October 4, local activists honored the milestone as well. The Occupy-related group Greenpants projected “99%” on the side of Baltimore’s World Trade Center and planned art installations (which have been postponed until next week due to inclement weather).

Baltimore Native Shines on "Occupy This Album"

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Matt Pless is the only Baltimorean who will be featured on Occupy This Album, the CD being produced to benefit the Occupy movement. It comes out this spring with over 50 artists including Joan Baez, Jackson Browne, Crosby and Nash, Debbie Harry and Willie Nelson.  Pless is also credited as the one who inspired the album, according to a report in Forbes which quoted the album’s producer, Jason Samel, as being “blown away by a singer-songwriter playing on some steps with a guitar and a harmonica” at Occupy Wall Street, last fall. The singer was Matt Pless of Catonsville.

“I’ve been making up songs and singing since I was in third grade,” said the Catonsville High grad.  “Each week, I’d go up to the front of the class, snap my fingers and sing a new song.”  Pless has released seven CDs — three of which he performs solo — with his original songs.

I first heard Pless sing five years ago at the open mike night at Ryan’s Daughter on Northern Parkway.  With a head full of curls bobbing, his converse sneakers tapping, Pless was — hands down — the voice to hear that night.  A song stayed with me, one of its lines resonating:
Pay attention when the helmets hit the ground.

“I’m really not a political songwriter,” Pless said.  “I just write songs about everything I can think of.”  His song on Occupy This Album is called “Something’s Got to Give.”  He added that he wrote it in Zuccotti Park about “what I felt when I saw all the energy around me.” Pless slept in the park on occasion during the Occupy event and crashed on the couches of friends in Brooklyn.

Pless works temporary jobs to earn enough to support his music, and another bus ticket to New York.

Occupy Baltimore Gets Evicted

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Early yesterday morning, Baltimore police in riot gear evicted Occupy Baltimore protesters who had been camping out at McKeldin Square for the last ten weeks.

Protester Mike Gibb said that with the eviction the movement enters into “Phase Two,” in which demonstrators begin squatting in empty buildings. It is not clear whether Gibb speaks for the larger Occupy Baltimore community.

Certainly Occupy’s tent cities and general assemblies are interesting (even inspiring), as are the issues it’s raised about the right of citizens to peaceably assemble in public spaces and on college campuses, but it wasn’t conceived as a movement about squatters’ rights or as a prototype for an alternative society, and I for one think it would be unfortunate if that’s what it becomes.

Over the past few months Occupy Wall Street has gained the support of many and caught the attention of almost everybody. Ending Wall Street’s inordinate influence on politics is becoming a goal with mainstream appeal. Let’s not be so fascinated with the trappings of agitation; let’s stay on message.

Whatever the movement decides to do from here, they’ve wasted no time regrouping. Last night’s general assembly was simply moved to War Memorial Plaza.

Setting the Record Straight on Karl Rove Protests at Hopkins

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Baltimore made national news earlier this week when Karl Rove’s talk at Johns Hopkins’ Shriver Hall was disrupted by protesters yelling about his role in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. (Rove’s response? “Who gave you the right to occupy America?”)

Most news outlets from the Huffington Post to the Washington Post to the Baltimore Sun reported that the protesters were not students, but rather Occupy Baltimore reps. That’s partly true, but these reports neglect to mention that there were actually two separate but coordinated protests challenging Rove that day. The people chanting inside Shriver were indeed from Occupy Baltimore, but there was an independently organized group made up of Hopkins students — the Johns Hopkins Human Rights Working Group, to be exact — who were staging a protest outside the hall.

Most media outlets have conflated the two groups, and Johns Hopkins spokesman Dennis O’Shea denied that the protesters were Hopkins students. Well, that guy with the bullhorn in the picture? A Hopkins grad student. Don’t believe everything you read.

Check out the video of the incident on our homepage.

Occupy Baltimore Evicted — By Tomorrow?!

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According to the stalwart protesters in Baltimore’s McKeldin Square, the city has refused their request for a permit and set a deadline to clear the square. And that deadline is tomorrow.

Well, it’s not a total eviction — two people can stay. Which doesn’t make for much of an occupation, according to organizers

The city suggests that the demonstrators agree in good faith to
maintain only one overnight tent with just two people. Occupy
Baltimore counters that anyone who wants to stay in their space is
allowed a safe place to stay, out of the elements and with enough food
to eat. Furthermore, Occupy Baltimore has a complex infrastructure
already, with media, food, direct action, outreach, security, and
other working groups, which couldn’t possibly be contained within two
people.

What will happen tomorrow? That remains to be seen.

Scenes from Occupy Baltimore

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We ventured downtown yesterday to ask Occupy Baltimore protestors how they’re faring three weeks in. At McKeldin Square, at Pratt and Light, we met plenty of nice, idealistic young people — camping temporarily on a concrete landscape dotted with colorful tents and food stations, the scene decked with makeshift signs. A band was setting up, too. It’s creative democracy at work.

Elise

Why have you come to Occupy Baltimore?

For our generation. For those of us who have graduated from college and can’t find a job. We can’t pay our student loans back. We live with our parents. My mom is living paycheck to paycheck. We just need a voice.

 Do you have a job?

I have been cut back to two days a week at an organic grocery store. So yes, sorta.

Do you sleep here? Is it safe at night?

You should come back tonight! That’s when all the people who make an honest living during the day show up. The teachers, coaches, bus drivers, taxi owners etc. who all work but can’t pay their bills. And it is safe. We have a buddy system.

Leo

Where do you work?

I write copy for websites.

What brings you to Occupy Baltimore?

A girl named Ashley and social injustice.

Are you accomplishing anything?

Well, this protest has brought people together who would otherwise be isolated. Together they are creating concrete forms of social change.

Such as?

The production and distribution of food. Food is being donated. People are learning how to cook here and feed people in an effective way. Basic needs are being met. Society induces people to compete and not cooperate with each other. We are trying to change that here. 

So it’s not all about finding jobs or making money but working together to make a difference in society?  Not the high unemployment rate or the imbalance of salaries in this country?

Wall Street is out of control. They are “gaming the system” of money and law to get more for themselves and corporations as opposed to using the system to benefit the needs of others and their community.

Will you go to New York?

Maybe on my way home to Massachusetts for Thanksgiving. I’d like to see it. But I really like it here in Baltimore.

In in email to BFB editors this morning, here’s what our talented photographer, Lee Kriel, had to add about Occupy Baltimore: “The people we met were inspiring and bright.  Elise was adorable and articulate.  Vulnerable and kind.  I worry about her.  She lives with her mom and her grandfather.  Her mom works full time for a company she has worked for for 20 years but she is in debt.  Her mother also cares for Elise’s grandfather.  Stuck in the middle.

And Leo…such a bright young man.  Beautiful words flowed from his mouth.  Seriously. (He asked if the Fishbowl was hiring!)   I smiled at the end when we told Leo we were there for the SartorialBaltimorial.  He quickly took a look down at what he was wearing and smiled and said, “Really?” He had a great story about his coat.  A teacher who comes in the evening, offered to take all of Leo’s clothes home to wash and dry after the rain.  But Leo declined because he thought it was too much of an imposition.  So the teacher gave him the coat off his back.”

 

 

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