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Very early last Tuesday morning, teams of New York City Police in full riot gear descended upon the 2-acre park known by protesters as Liberty Square, home of Occupy Wall Street. Hundreds were arrested as police and bulldozers dismantled and tore down tents, confiscated gear, computers and clothes. Plainclothes construction workers assisted in filling large dump trucks with personal belongings and equipment from the encampment. The massive eviction is one of many reported across the country in past weeks.
Attorney Danny Alterman:
- There’s been a core group of 20 or 30 people working on issues that affect the occupiers down on Wall Street.
- We talked strategy, we created a document that would decide and get us into court in the morning.
- We are arranged to meet Judge Billings at 6AM
- We wanted to judge to issue a temporary restraining order which means that the police could not continue to evict people and order them back into the park with their belongings.
- We got a signed order from the judge to let our clients back in.
- We served Brookfield Properties which is the owner of the park, the city of New York through the corporation council, and the police department by fax with a copy of the order.
- What this reminded me of is was what had happened precisely in 1971 when the Attica Massacre happened. When we got a court order to go in because people were dying and getting shot inside, and the prison authorities refused to open up for medics and lawyers, causing the death of other people.
- Finally I said to one guy who was getting on me and getting on another lawyer that was there. I said listen, this reminds me of Attica, he said I’ve never been to Attica, I said we can make those arrangements.
- I said, you realize you’re violating a court order, and in contempt of court.
- Mayor Bloomberg in the course of us getting an order and finding out about it, had decided to close the park, which was the complete opposite of what the court said which was to re-open the park.
- Homeland Security was definitely there, you can tell by the crew cuts and the shoes.
- There was a temporary restraining order issued at 6:30 AM. We didn’t think Judge Billings would stay on the case. She didn’t. We went back at 11:30AM, and once a judge was assigned had about a two-hour argument.
- We received papers as we walked into court from the city which contained a affidavit which is a legal document swearing to issues of public safety, health issues, other kinds of issues, that was clearly prepared before they evicted the protesters 10 hours before.
- What this means is that the city knew in preparing these papers that there was going to be a legal challenge.
- Brookfield Properties: a descendant from US Steel. This is direct descendant from US Steel.
- We may be looking at 21st-century speech assembling petitioning.
- Its a privilege and an honor to represent these people and I think the people have the pulse of the country and it’s happening.
Guest – Civil rights attorney Danny Alterman. Danny is part of the Liberty Park Legal Working Group.
Thousands around the country continue to stand in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement. The movement claims to defend the 99 percent of Americans against the wealthiest 1 percent who control 50 percent of the wealth in the United States. Meanwhile, long-term US unemployment is taking a heavy toll. The social costs are high: the stress, tension and anxiety within families, the costs of counseling, and much more. We discuss these topics with returning guest, economics professor Rick Wolff, who says enormous wealth could be produced right now with the unused tools and raw materials put together with the nation’s unemployed people; we could rebuild our cities and infrastructure.
- Debt is always a sign of something else. You go into debt because you see a need or opportunity for which you don’t have the money and so you either forego the need or opportunity or borrow.
- If you see off the chart increases of debt like you do in the case of individuals in the last 30 years, or corporations and in the case of governments at a slow rate over the last 30 years, then you have to ask the question, why?
- The 1970s come along and the period of 150 years of rising wages is over. It’s over because the computer replaces large numbers of people they don’t need to be hired. Production is moving out of the United States.
- Immigrants are flowing into the United States because of the uneven development of the world economy makes them poorer and the United States look more attractive.
- Suddenly employers have the greatest of all possibilities–they don’t have to raise wages anymore.
- Employers: If you’re not happy here, there’s a lot of other people that will be.
- Meanwhile you’re drumming into the American people, you should live better, everybody should have more…
- You put the American people into an impossible situation. You might have been able to handle it by having a real political leadership in America. We didn’t have that conversation, no politician wanted to be the bearer of that bad news.
- What can the American people do? They did more work. You borrow money. Whenever there’s a debt, there’s a lender and a borrower. This is a strange game to blame the borrower.
- Greece: now you have a situation that invites all kinds of corporations to make a decision.
- When the Greek drachma, their old currency, disappears to be replaced by the Euro, all kinds of business decisions became different.
- There was no border, you couldn’t have a tariff as you could before. Once you have a uniform currency you can’t do that. It’s like Tennessee erecting a tariff against products from Kentucky.
- Who lent to the Greek government? Above all, the French and German banks.
- It’s the banks that are making money because of the concentration of production in their country, with which they came to the poor countries and said hey, we got a lot of money you’ve got a lot of need.
- A lot of money has been made off of Greek debt. It’s not some gift to the folks in Greece.
- As usual it’s a partnership and deciding that it’s all the fault of the Greeks as if the French and German banks didn’t make a fortune off of this is hypocritical.
- Italy is now where Greece was approximately six to eight months ago.
- The debt of Italy is four to five times the debt of Greece. Italy is the eight largest economy on this planet. They have over $2 trillion in debt outstanding. We sell a very important part of our output to the Europeans.
- I would demand now, an immediate government employment program. A commitment by the United States government.
Guest – Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst where he taught economics from 1973 to 2008. He is currently a visiting professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University, New York City. He also teaches classes regularly at the Brecht Forum in Manhattan.