Protests spread to New Haven

“#OccupyNewHaven” has arrived in the Elm City.

The pro-equality and anti-corporation campaign, which plans to occupy the New Haven Green indefinitely starting Oct. 15, turned out 150 New Haven residents for a boisterous three-hour rally in Pitkin Plaza on Orange Street Tuesday evening. Participants decried money and proclaimed their economics-inspired grievances, seeking to draw attention to the “rampant inequality” in the United States, explained participant and organizer Ben Aubin, who insisted the movement be called “#OccupyNewHaven.”

The group is inspired by the efforts of Occupy Wall Street, an on-going series of demonstrations in downtown New York City that began Sept. 17. The central demand of those protesters is that President Barack Obama “ordain a Presidential Commission tasked with ending the influence money has over our representatives in Washington,” according to non-profit anti-consumerist organization Adbusters, a primary organizer of the rallies. Other similar groups have popped up in Hartford and Boston in the past month.

“Everyone has a reason to be upset with the economy, governments, corporations,” said Branford resident Meghan McGaffin, who was identified by two other participants as #OccupyNewHaven’s de facto second-in-command.

“I feel there is a universal discontent among the people, and when we gather together to share our problems, we send a message to the people in power that they’re making the wrong decisions.”

The group has no leader, Aubin explained, because concentration of power can lead to corruption. Still, six members of the crowd interviewed pointed to Aubin, who founded the Free Store in New Haven, as the de facto organizer of the group. The Free Store opened during summer at 55 Church St. and relied on donations to give away goods for free, said Martina Crouch ’14, who volunteered there over summer. She was one of two Yalies identified in the group. The other student asked to remain anonymous because he does not wish to be identified with the group.

All ideas of the group must be decided by consensus, Aubin said. In a separate phone interview late Tuesday evening, he said the group decided it would meet again at 6 p.m. on Saturday on the New Haven Green to decide how it will support the nation’s Occupy Together effort, of which #OccupyNewHaven is a part. It also decided it would commence its nonviolent occupation of the Green Oct. 15. Crouch explained that the Occupy Together effort seeks to connect ‘occupations’ in a “silk road” so that each supports each other.

“Money! Money! Money! That isn’t what gets us through the night,” chanted one #OccupyNewHaven participant who later declined to be identified for fear of public reprisal. “It’s love and care for one another that gets us by.”

The #OccupyNewHaven movement will help draw attention to and potentially re-open the Free Store, Crouch said, adding that it shuttered in August because it did not have money to pay for rent. The Free Store would benefit from increased donations and in turn, would help provide goods required for the occupation.

Part of the campaign’s current aims include soliciting socks and other cold-weather gear in preparation for the occupation, Crouch said. While Aubin said the occupation would be indefinite, Crouch and three other participants said it would run into difficulty as winter sets into the Elm City.

Over 750 people have been arrested in Occupy movements nationwide, which have sprouted up in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago, among other cities.

Comments

  • MeghanMcGaffin

    I respectfully request being referred to as the “defacto second in command” be redacted as it is untrue, there is no on in a position to assign that function to me. I was the one of the first to get up and speak but I have no command in this group. We work on consensus only, there is no majority rule or command structure at this time.

  • jocelie

    Harvard students have gotten a tent and are joinnig in large numbers for OccupyBoston — certainly Yalies should be able to outdo them, right?

    • uncommons

      Nope. We have class, jobs, sports, friends, and other distractions.

  • Catherine08

    Good luck with that no-money thing.

  • lakia

    This is so 1965 i could vomit.

  • phantomllama

    Urgh, how vulgar.

  • Frashizzle

    I share the general view that basic human morality should be extended to economic transactions (that is, if you own production capital, you don’t have the right to steal from your employees or customers any more than you have the right to rob someone on the street). However, I am not sure that society has developed its moral backbone to such an extent that it is ready to make this extension.

    Additionally, I like the general concept of having no hierarchical leadership structure. However, I would be curious to know whether the perception within the organization is one of it having no practical leadership or one of it having no ‘formal’ leadership.

  • Frashizzle

    I would also be curious to know how this organization plans to remedy the free-rider problem that accompanies such a society (as long as it is populated with basically self-interested individuals… or as long as it faces other societies that contain self-interested individuals).

    • uncommons

      “Money! Money! Money! That isn’t what gets us through the night. It’s love and care for one another that gets us by.”

      Don’t worry. No free-riders here. Wait, how are they getting food again?

  • MeghanMcGaffin

    To the commenter referring to the 60’s. The 60’s brought women to Yale. Opened the door for more minorities, changed the relationship between students and professors and generally took the university model and tipped it on it’s head. The sixties reformed the entire concept of university conduct. It’s time the rest of society gets on board.
    The autonomy college students have today is a direct result of the upheaval of the system. Please keep that in mind as you continue to observe the evolution of the revolution on your doorstep.

    • RexMottram08

      The 1960s were a cultural and moral wasteland.

      • Yale12

        Yeah, screw equal rights for women and minorities. I know how much you hate those, Rex. Also true that no good music or literature came out of the ’60s – a cultural wasteland indeed.

  • MeghanMcGaffin

    It’s not money that’s the problem. That is far too simplistic to blame the ills of the world on something so abstract. No one has developed the answer yet but testing new models of commerce and behavior may teach us something new. We don’t know if it will work or in what capacity. But anyone who has an interest in observing the experiment or an idea to improve upon the methodology is welome to come and share their knowledge or learn something.

    • lakia

      Get yourself a dictionary. Money is the antithesis of abstract.

      ab·stract   [adj. ab-strakt, ab-strakt; n. ab-strakt; v. ab-strakt for 10–13, ab-strakt for 14] Show IPA
      adjective
      1.
      thought of apart from concrete realities, specific objects, or actual instances: an abstract idea.
      2.
      expressing a quality or characteristic apart from any specific object or instance, as justice, poverty, and speed.
      3.
      theoretical; not applied or practical: abstract science.
      4.
      difficult to understand; abstruse: abstract speculations.

      • MeghanMcGaffin

        Blaming money is abstract because money doesn’t have a conscious. The paper didn’t do anything to hurt me. I like money, it’s useful. One thing we are trying to accomplish by protesting is to come up with new ideas. Once again we invite everyone to participate. Identifying the flaws is hugely constructive to the effort, we can’t operate in a vacuum or presume to know all the answers. There’s a meeting on the Green tonight from 6-9. We have education, outreach and media groups and we are forming a think tank, we welcome all ideas for discussion. You should watch how we reach consensus, it’s pretty awesome.
        Thanks for the forum!

    • observer

      Wow… for someone who so vigorously protests her characterization as “second in command” in this group of budding totalitarians you sure have a lot of pronouncements to make on its behalf!

      • lakia

        Love it. Touche’.

  • JoshSmith

    This article has flaws. This is a purposely leaderless movement. There are no leaders or second-in-commands or anything like that at all. None whatsoever. We are organized into several “working groups” or “committees” to help facilitate the daily workings of the Occupation. We will also hold what is called a General Assembly, probably daily, to either try and come up with a mission statement, or refine the documents that Occupy Wall Street has already created to match our own situations. We do not yet have a “central demand”. That is bunk, as the New Haven General Assembly has not reached consensus on any demands at all as of yet. Reaching consensus is probably going to take a long time, if the other Occupy movements are any indication.

    Everything else looks pretty good. Thank you for reporting on Occupy New Haven, and I hope we can interface closely with the media so that our side of the story gets out in the future, in case we find ourselves in a controversial situation at any point. I am very displeased that there are some news outlets that paint the Occupy movement in a very unfair light.

    • observer

      It looks like the labor unions are trying to move in on the action to help “guide” the agenda. I love it! Folks whose following is melting away looking to adopt these leaderless orphan children!

  • River_Tam

    This is (excuse the vulgarity) retarded.

    • uncommons

      Spread the word to end the word

  • LouieLouie

    I suspect the commenter who is bashing 1965 wasn’t even born at that time and I can also suspect that her/his parents were barely out of diapers. We need the activism of the 1960s now, we need outraged citizens to stand up and be heard. The horrible mess in Washington is not going to solve itself; the same people looking to fix the problem are the exact same people who created the problems we face.

    • lakia

      There was no “bashing” of the 60’s. There was simply an observation that history has a tendency to repeat itself, in bile producing sort of way :)

  • JohnnyE

    Any student who accidentally read a page of Marx and decided head out to this aimless “protest” should be deeply ashamed. Hopefully, these uneducated, entitled herds won’t resort to recklessly flailing around town like their comrades in London.

  • JoshSmith

    Occupy New Haven is a nonviolent, nondestructive protest. Protesters will be urged to keep the peace. If anyone does anything that is harmful to others, it is not tied to our movement. Violence only begets more violence, and is not the answer, and so the general consensus of all of the Occupy Together locations is to block any proposals to take violent actions or destroy property.

    • River_Tam

      Piling into a McDonald’s bathroom to bathe isn’t really nondestructive to the employees that have to clean up after you.

      • penny_lane

        Job security!

        (Edit: I think I might need to add that I’m joking. Not sure it was apparent.)

  • RexMottram08

    Street theater, nothing more.

    There are precious few jobs available to unwashed hippies. But there would be more available if we didn’t have price controls on labor (minimum wage laws).

    • observer

      Right! Then all the Yale’s graduates who are social science or philosophy majors can easily get jobs for which they are qualified!

  • connman250

    Are we all going to Yale to be poor? If you’re going to business school, don’t you want to be the best. How else do we measure success? Usually in the house or car we drive, to name a few things. Only the foolish see inequality and say that it is not fair and must be fixed. You cannot fix the natural state of things by artificial means, by giving things to people to make them more equal.

  • connman250

    So it seems most of you voted for a black man so as not to be seen as a racist. White guilt made you vote for Obama, who has no clue about the economy. Who do you think is going to Obama’s $35,000 fundraiser dinners? It certainly is not most of the little people that voted for him, it’s the Wallstreet types, thats who. So those of you who take part in this charade, are just covering your behinds because you voted for a loser.

  • RexMottram08

    Tea Party > Occupy Wall Street

  • LouieLouie

    It certainly wasn’t “white guilt” that made me vote for Obama. I foolishly voted for him because I thought our president should be able to speak and spell simple words and phrases. Not like the imbecile before him who, by the way, is responsible for this our economy being in the toilet! Obama came into a no win situation but he can talk without a teleprompter and his aids don’t visibly cringe when he is asked to comment on something that hasn’t been scripted for him! The fact that he graduated from Yale is an embarrassment to no end but that’s a whole other topic and commentary.

  • RexMottram08

    Louie-

    Obama can talk without a teleprompter? If there is evidence, no one has seen it. Even his scripted speeches are stunningly mediocre. Only on Ivy campuses is Occidental, Columbia, Harvard, a minute community organizing, and a second in the legislature considered “accomplishment.”

    Obama’s failed presidency will go down with Carter, Buchanan, Hoover and Mckinley.

  • Aparent

    Rex and River are both trolls. Ignore them.

  • connman250

    The American voter is stupid! Most politicians are lawyers, Why? So they can influence you, like a lawyer can con a jury. You have to stop listening to speaches and look at what he has done in the past. Can any of you see behind the corporate media who push a popular candadite? What are their goals? American feels pity for a black man, so they vote for a black president, and didn’t look any further. So Bush was not a prolyfic speaker, but he did govern a state. What did Obama do before you voted for him. How does it feel to buy a crappy vacumn cleaner from a door to door salesman?

    When the market crashed during the Bush presidency, did any of you protest Wallstreet? No, because you voted for a fraud like Obama, and you took the line like a big-eyed fish! It is amazing that the higher educated can be duped so easily. So people are still blamming Bush??? Bush spent money like a democrat but also had to endure the sub-prime housing collapse and the downturn of the world economy ( Greece). Admit it, the second black President is a failure!!!!

  • yalieeleven

    I don’t harbor any sympathies for the protesters, but really, this article is just terribly written and very one-sided.

  • martinct

    There are many more than “unwashed hippies” supporting this movement. Im an College of the Holy Cross Grad “86” and I think if any of you go to Yale you need a course in economics. The concentration of wealthy in this country has surpassed pre-great depression levels. We have companies like Enron who manufacture fake electricity shortages (see” Smartest Guys in the Room” on CNBC. We have hedge fund guys paying 15% tax running up prices of oil and food when they should be dropping and supportive of the economy. Corporate America is flush with cash, as are the very wealthiest. We have reached the extremes of capitalism where greed and wealth are in the hands of so few that the working class cant survive. I see it first hand in my accounting practice.
    In our practice we know of many JOBLESS Yale grads. Free speech is a right we have, and no matter what the message and whether or not you agree with it, it is part of why our nation is great.

  • thegraduate

    I’m never surprised by how ignorant and intolerant Yale students can be. Meghan, thank you for being the rare exception to this rule. Thank goodness my four years are over!

    It is nothing short of remarkable to see how far-reaching this movement has become; who would have thought that the stereotypical “apathetic American” image could be overwritten in such a powerful way!