October 13, 2011

Occupy Providence Releases Mission Statement

Marc Comtois

As Patrick alluded to, the nascent Occupy Providence movement has released its manifesto mission statement (via WPRO's Bob Plain). Here's the full text:

Dear People of Rhode Island,

We the people of the Occupy Providence movement respectfully convey our intent to gather in Burnside Park on Saturday, October 15th at 5:00 pm and remain there for howsoever long it takes to build a society by, for, and of the people. Occupy Providence is a completely non-violent movement that seeks to give voice to the 99% of Rhode Islanders who have been disenfranchised as the economy and governance of our country has been increasingly ceded to powerful corporate interests.

The “occupation” of Burnside Park is an act of free speech which we feel compelled to resort to in order to have our voices heard. Occupy Providence will act with all due respect for the people and the property of the City of Providence and the State of Rhode Island, and we intend to leave Burnside Park in better condition than we found it. Occupy Providence is inclusive for all people and families of all ages: drugs, alcohol, discrimination, harassment, and violent behavior are NOT WELCOME.

We welcome your support in our efforts to come to a consensus on how best to challenge corporate greed, which places profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality.

Occupy Providence
{emphasis added-ed.}

I've tried not to be cynical about this, really. (Yes, even if I poked a little fun). In fact, I've been impressed at how the Occupy Providence movement as been able to leverage a (purposeful?) vagueness about their ultimate goals into news coverage as everyone asked, "So what's it about?"

Well, now they're finally telling us (and I've taken the liberty of highlighting what I take to be their core points, above). As many of us have suspected all along, this really seems like nothing more than a new marketing campaign for the same class-warfare, anti-business screed that has been characteristic of the liberal/progressive left since...forever. They're just hoping to tap into the current economic frustration and--by being a little vague about what they're after--maybe catch a few new people up in their nets. That's why some have insisted that the protest is "the thing" more than any goals. It's an actual exercise in frustration. It's all meta, man!

Perhaps they'll come out with a few workable ideas--after they string everyone along for a while anyway--but I'm guessing most of their "new" ideas will involve the old progressive standby's of taxation, redistribution and more regulation. Though it's nice to think that, as both Patrick and Don Roach have suggested, the Occupy and Tea Party movement will find some common ground to join together on--after all, both groups have a distaste for the nexus where Big business and Big government meet--the plain fact is that each group blames an opposite half of the "Big" duo more than the other for our current problems. That fundamental difference is a big hurdle to jump before landing on common ground.

ADDENDUM: Ian Donnis calls attention to the "introductory request" made by Occupy Providence in their press release announcing the above Mission Statement (I got it from WPRO, so I didn't get the actual press release nor was I aware of the request). Here it is:

This is the first version of this document. As a document drafted by consensus, it is obviously less polished than many would like, but as a group we are enthusiastic and proud to have reached this point in our communion together as members of the movement. Please DO NOT quote in part from this document. We ask respectfully that this document either be posted in full, or merely referenced by your media. We humbly ask this out of respect for those who have met for days helping us consolidate our message.
Good thing I posted in full or else....anyway, this is interesting and illustrative. It has come from days of meetings whereby they have produced something that "consolidate[s]" their message. If that is the case, it looks like they've turned away from potential "common ground" sharing.

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These Lucky Sperm morons don't get that Providence has been "occupied" since 1934 by exactly the same sort of neo-Marxist politics that they and their professors desire for the other 49 states.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at October 13, 2011 9:41 AM

Greetings from Chicago folks... perhaps the one city in the U.S., other than DC, which is possibly more corrupt than Providence and RI in general ;)

Back to the topic at hand: I can't believe this is supposed to be a "progressive" movement.

Here's something from their mission statement and event proclamation. I posted comments about it on the "other" blog, but I'd like to hear your reactions as well.

From the "Occupy" Park Event Flier:
"This event will start at 5p, and will last, I believe, for as many days, nights, weeks, and months (?) as it takes to come to consensus on how best to challenge corporations"

I'm sorry, but that won't happen. Not in your lifetime, and not without lobotomizing half of the people there. There will be no "consensus" on an issue like this, because there can't and shouldn't be. A protest movement of the scale you're proposing requires multiple tactics, strategies, and thinkers. By trying to form consensus, you're just going to get bogged down in peoples' petty distinctions.

From their Mission Statement:
"We are a drug and alcohol free assembly and occupation."

Oh really? So you are comfortable with the idea that your edict actually forces those of us who take marijuana for medical reasons to stay away?

That right there is some serious BS, and Corporate America would even laugh at you for it.


My point being: "Occupy" exists in a bubble. They think they are going to change the very forces of Capitalism by what... sitting in a park and arguing with each other *quietly*?

The Tea Party at least understands that to be heard in this world of 24/7 news and jaded hearts, that you must be loud and be proud of it.

I think "Occupy" is a bad joke at best, and at worst is an actual attempt to undermine what legitimate progressive thinking there is in this nation.

Posted by: jparis at October 13, 2011 11:00 AM

The underlying principles which guide the Tea Party vs. Occupy are vastly different. Occupy must recognize that it is the collusion of government w corporations ie crony capitalism, as well as regulations imposed on businesses by BIG government that is a big part of the problem, along with out of control spending, regulations, and taxes. Tea Party believes in individualism, free markets, self reliance, and limited government. Occupy, with their new friends from Working Families (ACORN revived), unions, progressive politicians and actors, want NONE of that. Occupy has aligned itself with politicians and groups which helped to create the very mess against which they protest. Their desire is for redistribution of income, along with social and economic justice. While they may look similar on the surface (sort of), the two movements share absolutely no DNA, and no guiding principles.

Posted by: MadMom at October 13, 2011 1:27 PM

It's highly unlikely that the Occupy & Tea Party movements will leverage their common angst to take on a common enemy.

I definitely believe it's the right thing to do and the only way to exact the change they are seeking.

The problem will be that the adherents to both groups come from such differing ideological perspectives they'll ignore their common plight.

That's too bad, because the conversation will turn with media groups backing the two movements, respectively, all the while the power of each will be muted.

I'm starting to believe that the 'rise of Cain' in the GOP race is highly attributable to people being fed up with the same and wanting a new approach. Heck, that's how Obama became president on such rhetoric. At the end of the day, while people try to put the Tea Party and Occupy movements in political boxes, people are still out of work and homes are still in foreclosure. For me, I just tire of focusing on what separates us and would like to talk about what unites us, even for a few minutes.

Posted by: don roach at October 13, 2011 2:16 PM

Don, I agree that we all want something new. But the something is largely undefined--on purpose, I think--by the Occupy movement. I think the occupiers are holding out on specifics because they know that once they reveal their true hearts desire, they'll lose some folks. As to your desire for us all to discuss what unites us, right now it's basically only a belief that our economy stinks. The next step--determining why that is so--brings us to a fundamental disagreement between Tea and Occupy. And there goes the consensus.

Posted by: Marcc at October 13, 2011 2:49 PM

There is some common ground, but it's on esoteric issues that aren't very exciting. I'll bet the vast majority of Americans would accept the idea that 'free speech' doesn't mean that companies should be able to spend indiscriminately on election-bending, that democracy is the realm of 'actual people'. I'll also bet they could agree on some market-distorting tax-breaks and subsidies that would trade cheaper housing (get rid of the mortgage interest deduction) for more expensive food (phase-out farm subsidies), or replacing student loans with a merit-based scholarship system.

Unfortunately, the only way to get people from either side angry enough to pick up a sign is to have them focus on untruths... For Tea Partiers the untruth is that we pay too much in taxes (we don't: www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/taxes/2010-05-10-taxes_N.htm), for Occupiers it's that if we evened the income distribution, we'd all be well-off (we wouldn't, household income would only go up moderately if you went after the top 1%).

I don't know what's happened, but this country is totally deficient when it comes to critical thinking about public policy. One side is saying 'get the government out and let the market fix it' while the other clamors 'get the market out and bring in the government to fix it', leaving nobody passionate left to figure out how to properly run the government we DO have.

Posted by: mangeek at October 13, 2011 3:49 PM


I'm sorry to say it, but your comment is a good example of your own complaint about critical thinking.

Reread the USA Today link that you provide. The notion that income taxes haven't been so low since the 50s leaves out Social Security. Quite a methodology, that. It also ignores that the same percentage of "total income" is collected from about half of all workers.

Throw in the decline in property values, house sales, and employment, and that metric is pretty well useless as evidence that taxes aren't too high, especially if you limit the statement to people who actually pay taxes.

Posted by: Justin Katz at October 13, 2011 6:39 PM

This may not add much to the conversation. I was listening to an Occupier being interviewed today. He came up with the old saw about "how many schools could be built for the money spent on the military.

I was reminded of a book from the 60's, or 70's. "The Report from Iron Mountain on the Possibility and Desirability of Peace". It pointed out that the government favors military and "space program" spending over schools and hospitals. The reasoning is simple, military and space spending injects money into the economy, but it can be ratcheted up and down without disturbing many. Imagine the political effect if a few schools and hospitals were put on hold for administrative convenience.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at October 13, 2011 6:40 PM

While they may look similar on the surface (sort of), the two movements share absolutely no DNA, and no guiding principles.
Posted by MadMom at October 13, 2011 1:27 PM

Madmom has encouraged people to come to tea party rallies in the past with no preconditions. Now Madmom indicates that people's DNA separates us into different political groups. What's changed?

Posted by: Phil at October 13, 2011 6:56 PM

The Tea Party 'movement' is nothing but a facade of a 'grass roots movement' funded by the corupt Koch Brothers and other wealthy people who laugh at Teabaggers like the White House "Office of Faith Based Initiatives' did at the gullible evangelicals

Evangelicals found out they were mocked by the "Office of Faith Based Initiatives" so the GOP shifted gears from social issues and needed different patsies to help them do the bidding of the small slice of the American public whose interests they actually represent to the detriment of the other 99%.

The Tea Party? This too shall pass like any phony movement eventually does.

Posted by: Sammy at October 13, 2011 7:28 PM

Sorry if the DNA reference threw you off, Phil. Phenotypically, Occupy and the Tea Party bear some similarities. Genotypically, they could not be more different. Does that metaphor work better for you?

Posted by: MadMom at October 13, 2011 10:48 PM

Here's a big difference between the Tea Party (me) and the phonies in Occupy Twilight Zone:

"NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/10-14-11) – Just a short while after protesters learned they’d be able to stay in Zuccotti Park indefinitely, violence broke out as a group marched away from it."

The Tea Party "members" are too busy working for a living and respect law and order. The professional Twilight Zone Fleabaggers can't wait to be violent. They want the 60's back and their Brown Univ. professors (see ProJo) are egging them on. Yeah man lets smoke a doobie and occupy a building just for old times sake. Hussein Obama,SEIU and the Lamestream media will be glad to roll those joints for you Fleabaggers.

Posted by: ANTHONY at October 14, 2011 10:22 AM

Hehe, good point, Phil.

Posted by: Russ at October 14, 2011 10:33 AM

Russs-put your money where your mouth is and pack up your tent,port-a-potty,granola bars,and Coleman stove and sit in and channel the 60's.

Posted by: joe bernstein at October 14, 2011 10:48 AM

Considering it, but I'd have to leave my Coleman stove at home (propane is apparently a no no).

Posted by: Russ at October 14, 2011 12:32 PM

Remember Woodstock?...well this movement is Laughingstock.
Trying to get a coherent message out of these occupiers is like trying to herd a thousand cats.
What is truly amazing is their inability (more like unwillingness) to focus on the true source of their angst - Washington and Obama. Of course, that's the source of a big conflict with these types...how can they go against the failed multi-culti liberal experiment that Obama represents when they are so closely aligned with him and his band of idiots. Oh, and the unions just kill me, being involved here. What a bunch of whores. Another special interest screwing these occupiers, yet they are too f'n stupid to figure it out.
These clowns lay it out in plain sight, for all to see, just what a bunch of delusional morons the left in this country is made up of.
Thanks for that. We'll be thanking them again, in spades, come November 2012.

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at October 14, 2011 7:52 PM

Russ-my Coleman stove uses "white gas",which I believe is kerosene.

Posted by: joe bernstein at October 14, 2011 8:09 PM


Thanks, but your metaphor is a little over my head. You may want to change your name to Madscientistmom. I intend to go to the place where these people are camping and talk with them. Even though I have not attended any tea party rallies for fear that I would be counted as a supporter, I have had the opportunity to converse with some who say that they are in sympathy with the tea party. They have left me with the impression that while their individual circumstances justifies their feelings towards those who they perceive as responsible, that they are content with accepting the low hanging fruit which is so abundant. Possibly this Occupy movement is taking on a more difficult target, a target higher up, better situated and comfortably insulated from those who take their money and do their bidding.

Posted by: Phil at October 14, 2011 9:43 PM

Sorry Phil... what's Occupy's target again?

Is it "Wall Street"?
Is it "Money in Politics"?
Is it "Corruption"?
Is it "Class Warfare"?

I still have yet to get a cohesive answer on this one, even from the Occupy Providence people over on RIFuture... because apparently they will be deciding their agenda once they get to the park later today.

So yeah. Data driven and all that, I'll wait for the message before I choose to support them or not.

My gut feeling though is that while the Tea Party has maybe 2-3 targets if you break them down (gov't spending, taxes, immigration), Occupy has so many targets that you can't "attack" them all at the same time.

We'll see ;)

Posted by: jparis at October 15, 2011 1:41 AM

Be wary of these lefties and their naive followers. I thought progrssive lefties were all for equal distribution of the wealth?

How can they justify their expensive Brown educations when other,equally capable Americans can't afford it?

If any of those Occupier Brown students gave up the amount of educational expenses it costs per year for Brown,went to RIC or CCRI and gave all the rest of the money to the less monied for tuition to URI,RIC or CCRI,then I might believe they are sincere.

Or if these Occupiers take those homeless they are exploiting and for whom their backers provide a soup kitchen, home to their condos,apts.,or dorms with them to live until they get on their feet,they might have a little more credibility.

Hypocrites all.

Apparently many from foreign countries,too.

Does Brown have a percentage of Rhode Islanders it must admit per yer,regardless of race also? In other words no affirmative action,just RI citizens?

Posted by: helen at October 15, 2011 3:59 AM

Phil-these people have not even made plans to have toilet facilities available.Very bright and thoughtful.
Maybe you can step in something.

Posted by: joe bernstein at October 15, 2011 4:07 AM

Line from the rock opera "Jesus christ Superstar":

"We are occupied. Have you forgotten how put down we are?"

Posted by: helen at October 15, 2011 4:23 AM

*typo: Christ

God forgive me.

Posted by: helen at October 15, 2011 4:25 AM

@Helen: You'd be extremely uninformed if you thought that all Progressives are for uniform distribution of wealth. That's Communism, eh?

Speaking for myself and other Progressives I know, we don't want that. We want a *more equitable* taxation system, and a continued commitment to the nation's social safety nets (unemployment, social security, medicare).

Be wary of highly uninformed conservatives who think Progressive = Communist.

As for kids who go to Brown, you'll have to ask them on RIFuture. They generally don't come here because they only like hearing the echo of their own voice for the most part. For my part, I did go to URI... which BTW, is about 600% more expensive now than it was when I was a Freshmen, ~15 years ago. Inflation has gone up 600% in that time? No, I think not. My point being, even URI, a state school, is becoming unaffordable for low-income individuals.

The Occupiers are "exploiting" the homeless? WHAT? What are you smoking Helen? They aren't exploiting the homeless any more than you and I are.

And the comment about foreign countries is precious, and proves my point about the poorly informed far-Right painting legal and illegal immigrants with the same broad brush.

Brown does have some serious problems, as do all private schools who get tax breaks (ZERO property taxes) when they continue to make actual profits on education.

That's the one thing we agree on.

Posted by: jparis at October 15, 2011 11:40 AM

PS: If God reads political blogs, I truly feel sorry for Him ;)

Omniscience and all, I'd skip this particular part of the planet if I were Him.

Posted by: jparis at October 15, 2011 12:02 PM

Alcohol is not welcome? Leave me out of it then.

Posted by: Chuck at October 16, 2011 9:24 PM

God reads political blogs?LOL-LOL
Remember when Oral Roberts,that Elmer Gantry clone was whining that God was shaking him down for a million dollars?
Some people have no shame or reverence when pretending to.
WHY would God need a million dollars?

Posted by: joe bernstein at October 17, 2011 1:34 PM

jparis,no I don't believe that in general "Progressives" (lol at the attempt to hide the true philosophy with a name change)are for equal distribution of wealth.

The elite of what the Communist or Socialist Party call themselves are far better off than the average person in such a system,as conditions in the Soviet Union proved and the average person has no hope of a better situation in life. Ever read anything by Alexander Solzenitsyn?

Yet you would take bread from the mouths of children whose families work very hard to support them while supporting programs that deliberately disadvantage those who support their own children. You think it's good to set up a grossly unjust system and perpetuate it.

Is that your idea of an equitable tax system? Use government force to extract the hard won earnings of workers and small businesses to fund your social programs? There are people who truly need help. I don't deny that,however,using government force against working people to fund your favorite social programs is wrong. In fact all such funding forced from the taxpayers might be wrong.

As for tuition,at those prices college is vastly overated.

I want to say something about Communists now. Communists think that we don't have a spiritual component as human beings and they hate religion.
Progressives support Communism as far as I can ascertain. In fact they might be Communists or Socialists and Socialism as we are well aware is the gateway to Communism.

When I was a child I read the books of Dr. Tom Dooley,who was a Navy doctor who ministered to the people in Southeast Asia. In one of his books he described the injuries Communists inflicted on a Catholic priest in one of the villages. Amongst other torture they pounded nails into the priest's skull in mockery of Christ's crown of thorns.

Yes,I think the occupiers are exploiting the homeless. You don't know what it's really like unless you've been homeless,and I have been. They say,oh,we are feeding and giving the homeless someplace to stay but the occupiers can go home. The homeless can't. Then,the homeless,desperate,will swell the numbers for them,when they are offered food and some creature comforts. I call that exploitation. By the way,I certainly don't exploit them,sorry you do.

They could put pressure on Brown to establish humane,non-governmental housing for the homeless,they could do lots more without trying to use the force of government to force taxpayers to pays for such relief.

I'm a grandmother and I don't smoke anything. I guess that's your default postion,to try to portray anyone with whom you disagree as addled.

Posted by: helen at October 19, 2011 12:57 AM
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