NJ State IUC

Report from Freedom Plaza,
Washington, D.C.

by Carol Gay,
President, New Jersey State Industrial Union Council

Carol Gay at the Capitol“We are the 99%!” “How do we end the deficit? End the Wars, Tax the Rich!,” “Jobs Now!” “Banks Got Bailed Out, We Got Sold Out!” These are some of the favorite chants from Freedom Plaza Occupation in DC. I just returned after 6 days of occupation and resistance—six action packed days of marches, demonstrations, general assemblies and decision making by consensus, banner dropping, civil disobedience, committee discussions, and serious fun! You can check out some of the video at www.october2011.org That was me unfurling the long pink “Tax the Rich” banner in the Hart Senate Office Building. And if you go to www.codepink.org you will see the boxes where we slept. I was arrested and removed (as were 3 others) from the Senate Finance Hearing on Free Trade when I yelled “Trade deals kill jobs, Colombia kills trade unionists, US Jobs NOW”!

We heard words of inspiration from Chris Hedges, Margaret Flowers, Ray McGovern, Colonel Ann Wright, Medea Benjamin, Kevin Zeese, David Swanson, Ralph Nader, and Derrick Jensen, enjoyed entertainment from Emma's Revolution, Tom Neilson, Raging Grannies, DC Labor Chorus, Vivek/Lilli Haydn, Watermelon Slim, and many more. We danced in Malcolm X park to the beat of the drumming circle with Occupy DC (who are occupying McPherson Square). We enjoyed street theater and puppets as part of our demonstrations. We had a great dance party on Sunday night to keep the DC police from raiding and removing our illegal tents. And we had a great victory the next day when the Park police offered to extend our 4-day permit for 4 more months. (The tents, camping, sleeping bags, etc are still illegal, but people are doing it anyway.) Permit allows for electricity, sound, port-o-potties, etc.


We confronted the US Chamber of Commerce the first day for its shameless support of the 1% and the rule of the plutocracy. We attacked militarism and corporatism with marches and demonstrations against drones and war profiteers at General Atomics where we had our own rolling drone displays, at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Drone Exhibit where we chanted “Drones Fly, Children Die” and were pepper sprayed by security guards as we attempted to enter, and at the Army Expo at the DC convention center where we ran the Army brass and military contractors (BAE) out of the tent where they were dining. I kid you not—they literally ran out the back of the tent after first trying to hide in the back of one of the armored vehicles on display.

We shut down the Hart Senate office building with our chanting and banner dropping. And everyday there were marches and actions at various other locations around the city as groups took on different targets including the White House, Federal Reserve Bank, the Keystone Pipeline tar sands, the Columbus statue at Union station, the NSA in Maryland where I was arrested with 13 others for protesting torture, domestic spying, and the loss of our civil liberties. We marched to the Martin Luther Kings Monument to oppose the evils of war, militarism, and racism, to call for Jobs for All,  and the funding of human need, not corporate greed. The labor  march was scheduled for Wednesday in support of 32BJ janitors and CWA Verizon workers.

Hart Building Protesters

New Jerseyans at Occupy WashingtonThe NJ Industrial Union Council and NJ Labor Against War (including representation from CWA, BMWE Penn Fed, AFT, Teamsters) and Central Jersey Coalition Against Endless War, as well as NJ Peace Action and affiliates, participated by sending bus loads on the first day of the occupation, Thursday, Oct. 6. Others from NJ came by car and stayed thru the weekend. Thanks again to all those who made this possible, and it's not too late if you would like to send a donation. These are just some of the highlights as it is impossible to include all the events, actions, speakers, entertainers and participants. October 2011/Stop the Machine is going strong, so don't miss it. And as you know, the resistance is spreading across the country. The 99% are rising up and we will be heard. Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Main Street, Occupy Everywhere and Never Give it Back! Remember, Together we are powerful!