Mass arrests, chemical weapons, and nationwide solidarity – the Occupy Wall Street movement was the big story over the weekend – and so too was how hundreds of Americans were screwed out of their constitutional rights to free speech and assembly. More than 400 members of the Occupy movement were arrested Saturday in downtown Oakland as riot police using flash-bang grenades, chemical weapons, and less-lethal rubber-coated steel bullets cracked down on an attempt to occupy a long-abandoned city building. An unknown number of patriots were hospitalized with injuries after the assault by Oakland Police, and at least four journalists were arrested – the most since Mayor Bloomberg‘s midnight raid on Zuccotti Park last November. All-in-all it was an ugly day in Oakland Saturday.
As Freddie Mac comes under scrutiny for betting billions on investments that profit if homeowners they issued loans to are locked into high interest mortgages, we speak with Arturo de los Santos, a U.S. Marine veteran who was evicted last year in Riverside, California, after Freddie Mac and JP Morgan Chase foreclosed on his house last June. “We were trying to get the bank’s attention to review our case again. We could not believe that after they had evicted us, they modified our loan,” de los Santos says. “I called them and I told them, ‘I thought we were doing the loan modification.’ And they go, ‘Well, we have a Loan Modificationdepartment and a Foreclosure department, and the Foreclosure department decided to sell the house.’ So they sold the house.” De los Santos and his family re-occupied their home in December with help from the Occupy movement, but face eviction again this week.
As the noon deadline from the U.S. Park Police drew near, McPherson Square filled with Occupiers, supporters, reporters and bystanders for what was supposed to be a near final confrontation between police and occupiers over the enforcement of the no camping in the park regulation. But the police never showed, instead the demonstrators draped the statue of GeneralJames Birdseye McPherson, the only commander of a Union army to die in the field, with a huge blue tarp from the neck down, like a giant skirt attached at the bottom to the wrought Ironperimeter fence. Inside there was enough space to hold scores of smaller tents and open space where Occupiers celebrated. Bystanders, mostly from the surrounding downtown Washingtonoffice buildings, strolled through on their lunch break, and most expressing some degree of support.
On Monday the US Park Police in DC have decided to start implementing a ban on overnight camping. Since its genesis, the Occupy DC encampment hasn’t fallen victim to harsh crackdowns by law enforcement, making it one of the longest standing occupy movements. The tents in McPherson Square have been pitched for approximately four months, but now protesters are not allowed to sleep while occupying. As of Monday evening there have been no arrests. But will that change?