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Live Blog for #Occupy Movement: Martin Luther King Jr Day

10:15 PM Some photos I took earlier at the gates of Geddes Glen, where Gov. Rick Snyder and other “members” of the 1% hide from the reality, which their favored policies create.

9:54 PM Somewhere around 350 people show up to a General Assembly in Washington, DC, tonight at the Washington Monument. Tomorrow is “Occupy Congress.” It will be a big day. Check here throughout #J17 for updates.

9:50 PM City has measure in the works that would end Occupy Boise

9:49 PM From earlier: Occupy Portland serving food at the Portland City Hall on MLK Day.

9:47 PM Video of the “Amarillo 13,” who were on the road to Occupy Congress, being stranded/kicked off a Greyhound by a bus driver

9:45 PM Occupy the Courts action is denied a permit (via Brooke Jarvis)

8:13 PM That New York Post article smearing the Occupy Homes organizing by OWS was a smear.

8:12 PM Six from Occupy Baltimore are arrested during protest against a planned juvenile detention center.

8:00 PM Occupy Missoula refusing to leave courthouse lawn. They quoted King when talking about why they will not leave today…Occupy Tulsa holds an MLK ceremony…Black ministers on MLK Day urge their congregation (of mostly African-Americans) to join the Occupy movement

4:30 PM About 700-1000 people protest at the entrance of the gated community where Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder lives. The demonstration was held to celebrate MLK Day and to also protest the emergency manager law (here’s what looks like an excellent explainer on the law from Michigan Public Radio).

Here is video from the rally in the park just before people marched over to Snyder’s mansion (or as close as police would allow the protest to get).

1:09 PM Chase Bank wants to foreclose on a woman in Nashville named Helen Bailey. Occupy Nashville is helping her save her home.

1:07 PM Occupy Davos — in igloos

1:03 PM Legislators in Washington state consider the possibility of establishing a state bank.

12:20 PM Occupy Sacramento held a “March for a Dream” that began at 8 am this morning. They also planned a rally at Cesar Chavez Plaza, where they once had an Occupy encampment…St. Paul’s Baptist Church pastor Lance Watson led a demonstration in Richmond, Virginia

12:10 PM Occupy Wall Street will march from an African burial ground to a Federal Reserve branch location in NYC to mark MLK Day.

12:08 PM Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago is pushing ordinances for the upcoming NATO/G8 meetings in May that would remain on the books and significantly inhibit organization of demonstrations or marches in Chicago. Now, Progress Illinois reports Crain’s Chicago Business has published an editorial in opposition to the ordinances.

12:03 PM A win for Occupy Nigeria as Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan indicates he will cut fuel prices.

11:50 AM Martin Luther King Jr celebrations around the country — Reuters roundup of events in the country…Occupy Myrtle Beach has an MLK breakfast…Allison Kilkenny on the big event at Riverside Church last night for MLK and how it “transcended arbitrary nation boundaries.”

Original Post

The Occupy movement is marking the annual federal holiday to celebrate the birthday of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. by engaging in demonstrations and marches all over the country. The actions will honor a man who boldly advanced the cause of social justice and not only spoke out for civil rights for African-Americans but also against poverty and militarism as well.

A number of assemblies and gatherings happening across the United States are happening under the banner of a coalition called “Occupy the Dream.” In Washington, DC, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Richmond, San Francisco, St. Louis and Wilmington, DE, “Occupy the Dream” aims to focus attention on the gross injustice visited upon the 99% by the financial elite.” They have called for demonstrations at Federal Reserve locations.

Occupiers and religious groups also came together in events on Sunday. Occupy Wall Street held a rousing and inspiring celebration of MLK at Riverside Church in New York. Musicians like Patti Smith and Steve Earle played in the church to a packed house. Hip hop mogul Russell Simmons was in attendance. A statement from Yoko Ono was read. Community activists like Queen Mother Delois Blakely shared their thoughts on King. Reverend Al Sharpton led a march from Harlem to the church.

In Chicago, at The People’s Church of Chicago in Uptown, people got together and were joined by Rep. Jan Schakowsky and Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

Those who talked about King noted that he had planned to “occupy” Washington, DC. They said that Occupy was part of his legacy.


There are many events that will be happening throughout the day. But, first, I want to share some of my own thoughts on King. Last year, as an intern for The Nation magazine, I was tasked with copying all the articles King had written for the magazine into posts for people to read on the magazine’s website. The work I did gave me a remarkable chance to gain some insight into how an icon viewed politics and organizing in the United States.

I wrote two articles that examined the four essays — “Martin Luther King Jr. Understood US Politics and How to Win Change” and “Martin Luther King Jr. on ‘Consensus Presidents’ and the Power of Demonstrations.” I encourage you to read all four of the essays linked to in my article. And I want to highlight a few passages that should resonate with Americans, especially those following the Occupy movement.

On “tokenism”:

Tokenism was the inevitable outgrowth of the Administration’s design for dealing with discrimination. The Administration sought to demonstrate to Negroes that it has concern for them, while at the same time it has striven to avoid inflaming the opposition. The most cynical view holds that it wants the vote of both and is paralyzed by the conflicting needs of each. I am not ready to make a judgment condemning the motives of the Administration as hypocritical. I believe that it, sincerely wishes to achieve change, but that it has misunderstood the forces at play. Its motives may better be judged when and if it fails to correct mistakes as they are revealed by experience.

This comes from his essay, “A Bold Design for a New South” and directly addresses how President John F. Kennedy’s administration handled the issue of civil rights in America. I invite one to compare King’s assessment of Kennedy’s administration to many activists’ assessment of Obama’s administration today.

In King’s essay, “Let Justice Roll Down,” which was published in 1965, King reacts to a New York Times editorial published that implied President Lyndon B. Johnson needed to be more of a “fighter” and less of a “consensus president.”

The New York Times in a perceptive editorial on December 20 asked if Mr. Johnson really means to be a “consensus President.” It pointed out that such were Coolidge and Eisenhower, who “served the needs of the day but not of decades to come. They preside over periods of rest and consolidation. They lead no probes into the future and break no fresh ground.” The Times then added, “A President who wants to get things done has to be a fighter, has to spend the valuable coin of his own popularity, has to jar the existing consensus….No major program gets going unless someone is willing to wage an active and often fierce struggle in its behalf.”

The Times is undeniably correct. The fluidity and instability of American public opinion on questions of social change is very marked. There would have been no civil rights progress, nor a nuclear test-ban treaty, without resolute Presidential leadership. The issues which must be decided are momentous. The contest is not tranquil and relaxed. The search for a consensus will tend to become a quest for the least common denominator of change. In an atmosphere devoid of urgency the American people can easily be stupefied into accepting slow reform, which in practice would be inadequate reform. “Let Justice roll down like waters in a mighty stream,” said the Prophet Amos. He was seeking not consensus but the cleansing action of revolutionary change. America has made progress toward freedom, but measured against the goal the road ahead is still long and hard. This could be the worst possible moment for slowing down.

Again, consider President Barack Obama’s approach to bringing about “change” or “reform.” Has he been a transformative leader? Or has he been averse to conflict and done very little to confront powerful special interests? And has he been mostly unwilling to wage fierce struggles that are necessary to serve the “needs” not just “of the day” but also of “decades to come”?


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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."