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Len Weinglass Remembrance
Leonard Weinglass TV Interview: Cuba 2004
We hear excerpts of an interview with attorney Leonard Weinglass and Miguel Alvarez, adviser on international and political affairs to Ricardo Alarcon, president of Cuba’s National Assembly. In this interview Len Weinglass discusses his early career representing the first African-American mayor of Newark, New Jersey, Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, plus crucial turning points that shaped his life story as a people’s lawyer.
A collective of writers for the 99 percent have created a very interesting new book for OR Books, distributed by Haymarket Books. They’ve employed a unique writing method to chronicle the many details within the movement of Occupying Wall Street. A team of nearly 60 writers with rotating membership collaborated on the describing the intricate structures and daily life of the movement such as running the general assembly, how the security and medical center operate and the stories of the activists involved.
We were supportive of what was going on down in Zuccotti and I thought we should do a book about this too.
Beginning of October, I went down to the trash cans outside my apartment and pulled an old Budweiser carton out of the trash and cut it into the shape of a book cover and wrote on it with a Sharpie, “Occupying Wall Street, by Writers for the 99%.”
I photographed it with my iPhone at home, and sent it out with a press release, and New York Magazine picked it up saying Occupy Wall Street has a book, and it then went everywhere.
The journalists were calling me up saying, who are the writers for the 99 percent?
So then I had to get some volunteers. We went down to Zuccotti and talked to some of the facilitators down there. They said you should just come to a General Assembly and we’ll put it on the agenda.
Tell the GA about the book, get some volunteers and you’ll be fine.
So we went down on a Wednesday night, in early October. I was not feeling comfortable about this.
I was a little nervous about speaking at the GA to try and get permission to publish the book.
They suggested to go to an Education and Empowerment Committee meeting at 60 Wall Street and take it up there and ask for volunteers there.
The following week we went to the meeting and the response at that point was not very encouraging.
People were suspicious of who we were. Whether this book was going to be seen as the official book of Occupy Wall Street, which we were saying it wasn’t but they thought it would be. And that it was going to develop an analysis that they didn’t agree with.
No, we were saying its going to be descriptive, it’s not analytical. A lot of the twinkling was out flat, some of it was down. In the end, some guy stood up in the back and said I don’t think we should support this.
We got blocked, he crossed his arms in front of chest. If this goes through, I’m walking out. We felt really wounded by it.
But afterward some people from the committee came up and said we feel bad about the way you were treated, we’ll volunteer to help. We started meeting weekly at 60 Wall Street and the meetings got bigger and bigger.
We came up with a structure, chapter by chapter. There were two themes in the book. One was a chronological account of the action. The day the occupation started on September 17.
The drilling down of the daily detail for what life is like in the square. We’ve got sections in the book of how the kitchen worked, how the library worked, how the general assembly worked.
I thought at first, what I would do would be to interview the people who are volunteering to write, pick the ones who could write well, and as kindly as possible tell the ones who couldn’t write they couldn’t be part of it.
I soon realized that was not is the spirit of Occupy Wall Street.
We were trying to reproduce the book in a way that reflected the values of Occupy Wall Street that meant it was produced in a very democratic, horizontal fashion. Anyone who wanted to participate could.
We came up with a chapter structure, we sent people out into the square and we did about 200 interviews in the square. We allocated the interviews to each chapter and we tried to find 3 or 4 people to write each chapter.
The whole book was written by 60 people in 2 weeks. This book absorbed the ethos of Occupy Wall Street.
If you repress a little bit of it, it’s going to spring up somewhere else.
Guest – Colin Robinson, co-founder of OR Books; former publisher, Verso Press and The New Press, and Scribner senior editor. He’s written for magazines and newspapers including the New York Times and The Guardian.