occupy austin

The Lead
8:55 am
Fri October 5, 2012

The Lead: Occupy Austin’s Tent City, SXSW Impact, Austin's November Elections

Good morning and a happy Friday. A cold front should blow in around midnight, meaning weekend lows plummeting into the 40s. Here’s some recent stories from KUT News.  

Here’s some more Austin and Texas stories folks are talking about:

  • As Voters Weigh Austin District Plans, a Question Lingers: Who Should Draw the Boundaries? (Statesman)

One of the two plans voters will consider Nov. 6 — switching the council from seven citywide members to 10 district representatives and a citywide mayor — calls for a commission of citizens with no paid ties to city politics to draw the district lines. Critics say that approach, added to the ballot by a citizens’ petition effort, has several possible pitfalls, including strict criteria that could disqualify too many people from serving.

The other plan — eight district representatives and three citywide seats, including a mayor — doesn’t say who would draw the lines, but the City Council would likely be involved. Detractors worry that would lead to the council manipulating the lines for political gain.

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Austin
2:29 pm
Thu September 27, 2012

Judge Says City Hall Bans Unconstitutional

Some protesters were banned from City Hall Plaza for up to two years during last year's Occupy Austin protests.
KUT News

A federal judge says the City of Austin can no longer ban people from City Hall's plaza.

The case revolves around a practice that came to light last year, amid the Occupy Austin protest at City Hall. Some Occupy members were issued criminal trespass notices and told they were banned from the plaza, sometimes for up to two years.

Two Occupiers - Rodolfo Sanchez and Kristopher Sleeman - took the city to court.

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AM Update: 9/17/12
8:50 am
Mon September 17, 2012

AM Update: Occupy AISD, Cap Metro Budget, Foster Care Redesign

Austin education advocates plan to show solidarity with Chicago teachers today. There, classrooms remain empty as the teachers strike continues.
flickr.com/evmaiden

After a weekend of rain, your Monday should be mostly dry. On Sunday, most parts of Central Texas saw an inch to two inches of rain. Here's a roundup of some of today's happenings:

Education Activists Occupy Austin

Austin education activists plan to gather at Austin City Hall this evening to rally for the Chicago teachers strike.

Occupy AISD will rally from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in an event that organizers say will connect the disputes in Chicago to issues facing Austin schools.

The education rally will be part of a day-long celebration of Occupy Austin by protesters to mark the one-year anniversary of the start of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

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Austin
4:55 pm
Fri August 31, 2012

Did APD Go Too Far in Occupy Austin Operation?

The Occupy Austin encampment at City Hall last year. New revelations of APD undercover involvement have emerged in one Occupier's trial.
KUT News

Amidst the tarps, sleeping bags, and food wrappers at City Hall during the Occupy Austin protests last fall, three people were not who they appeared to be.  Not occupiers, but infiltrators.

Known as "Butch," "Dirk," and "Rick," all three were undercover officers with the Austin Police Department.

Occupiers say that "Butch," aka APD detective Shannon Dowell, went beyond infiltration and actively encouraged members of the movement to create and deploy a homemade device called a "lockbox."  The device enables protestors to anchor themselves to each other, or an object, in a way that is almost police-proof.  Several protestors used the devices in a protest at the Houston port, and were arrested on felony obstruction charges.

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Austin
4:51 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

Arrested for Chalking? Occupy Austin Members Face Misdemeanor Charges

One of the "chalkers" arrested yesterday. Similar chalking events were held by Occupy organizations across the county.
facebook.com/OccupyAustinTx

Update: KUT News has received a statement from the Texas Department of Public Safety. Here's DPS Media and Communications Press Secretary Tom Vinger: 

On 08/09, at approximately 6p.m., Corey Williams and Audrey Steiner were arrested for Criminal Mischief, class C misdemeanor.  Williams and Steiner were observed chalking the sidewalks at 11th Street and Congress Avenue across from the Capitol. 

The charges might be enhanced to a class B misdemeanor if the cost to the city of Austin is $50 or more but less than $500.  This is based on the cost to clean the chalk off of the sidewalks. 

According to the Criminal Mischief law (28.03), “a person commits an offense if, without the effective consent of the owner, intentionally or knowingly makes markings, including inscriptions, slogans, drawings, or paintings on the tangible property of the owner.”

Original post: Two supporters of Occupy Austin were arrested downtown yesterday, charged with criminal mischief for what appears to be drawing on the sidewalk with chalk.

Several photos were posted to the Occupy Austin Facebook page, showing the arrest of two individuals.

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Business
5:18 pm
Fri May 18, 2012

Protesters Attempt to 'Occupy' Chase Bank

Jillian Schantz Patrick for KUT News

Members of Occupy Austin staged a protest at a local Chase Bank branch this afternoon, resulting in protesters’ ejection from the building.

Occupy Austin had pushed for the City of Austin to move their funds from Bank of America. In February, the Austin City Council passed a resolution looking at that possibility. But instead of shifting those funds to smaller banks or credit unions, as Occupy Austin had hoped for, the city transferred its money to JP Morgan Chase.   

On the heels of JP Morgan’s disclosure of billions in losses from risky financial trades, Occupy Austin members protested at a Chase branch on 19th and Guadalupe Street.

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City Council Elections
11:47 am
Tue April 24, 2012

Video: Place 5 Candidate John Duffy

Early voting for city elections begins Monday, April 30. There are 14 candidates running for four positions on the Austin City Council. Over the next week or so, we’re airing extended cuts from KUT's interviews with each of them.

In Place 5, self-described anarchist and Occupy Austin member John Duffy is running to unseat incumbent Bill Spelman. You can listen to the interview with Duffy that aired on KUT 90.5 FM; above, we present an extended version of that conversation.

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AM Update
8:04 am
Thu April 19, 2012

AM Update: Student Occupiers Arrested at UT, Honoring Walter Cronkite, Discussing Wildfire Response

Protesters were arrested for occupying UT President Bill Powers' office yesterday.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

UT Students Protest for Workers Rights

The Daily Texan reports a total of 19 protesters, not all of them students, were arrested yesterday for occupying UT President Bill Powers’ office. They were there in protest against alleged sweatshop-like conditions where UT apparel is produced.

The protesters are members of the Make UT Sweatshop-Free Coalition and included 17 students and two members who are not students.

According to the Texan, the demands of the protestors was a request for the University to switch to the Workers Rights Consortium, an independent monitoring organization that conducts investigations of working conditions in factories. A statement on the WRC homepage specifically mentions their goal to protect the rights of workers who make clothes.

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Austin
9:56 am
Thu March 22, 2012

City Council Preview: Changing Banks, Patio Pilot Program, Taxi Talk, and the Apple of Council’s Eye

Taxis, patios, Apples and more: City Council has a heady agenda today.
Callie Hernandez, KUT News

Spring break is definitely over.

The Austin City Council convenes to an 89 item-long meeting this morning. Some heavy lifting was accomplished earlier this week, with a general work session and a specific one delving into Austin Energy rate changes, but there’s still plenty happening today:

How Ya Like Them Apples?: A proposed incentives deal with tech-giant Apple is the meeting’s main event. The city would rebate the company 10 years’ worth of real and personal property taxes, estimated at $8.6 million, in exchange for meeting investment and job-creation benchmarks. The state is throwing in even more – $21 million.

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SXSW
2:01 pm
Tue March 13, 2012

From Rick Rolling to Revolution: The Story of Anonymous

The iconic Guy Fawkes mask associated with Anonymous.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/gato-gato-gato

How did a group of Internet enthusiasts evolve from online trolling to altering the course of world politics?

That was the focus of a South by Southwest Film and Interactive panel today delving into Anonymous, the loosely-organized collective of “hacktivists” that have brought attention to the Stop Internet Piracy Act (SOPA) and claimed credit for compromising the servers of Austin-based global intelligence firm Stratfor, releasing the company’s emails to Wikileaks.

In contrast to many of the sensational stories Anonymous generates, “I don’t think anything had been done where you’re trying to figure out where it came from and what it is,” said Brian Knappenberger. He’s at SXSW with his documentary, “WE ARE LEGION: The Story of the Hacktivists.” Although this today's panel was ostensibly about the film, it ended up being largely about Anonymous in general, which continues to generate headlines.

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City Council Elections
2:55 pm
Mon March 12, 2012

City Council Candidate: With Run, My ‘Street Cred’s Right Out the Door’

Candidate Duffy in 2011, on Occupy Austin's first day at City Hall.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/visodd

It’s one of the eternal questions in politics – whether to work within the system, or outside of it.

A local political activist is attempting a run within the confines of the existing power structure, even if it may have cost him his anarchist street cred.

Filing for this May’s City Council election recently closed, and we noted the large amount of contenders vying for Place 5: six candidates, not including incumbent Bill Spelman who is running for reelection.

One of those candidates is John Duffy. His website touts his anarchist credentials and involvement with Occupy Austin. Our curiosity was further piqued by a press release stating “As a self identified anarchist, my candidacy is a contradiction of terms, and has cost me a lot of ‘street cred’ with other anarchists.”

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Education
7:41 pm
Thu March 8, 2012

Protesters ‘Occupy’ Arne Duncan’s Austin Speech

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is in Austin, where he was a keynote speaker at South by Southwest’s second annual SXSWedu conference. But Duncan also took time today to speak to a crowd at Austin Community College’s Eastview campus for a “town hall” discussion on education issues.  

But once applause greeting Ducan settled, he received  a more abrupt welcome: Three Occupy Austin members stood and shouted out a prepared statement attacking the privatization of public schools and other educational grievances.

The "mic check" can be read on Occupy Austin Twitter magnet Kit O'Connell's website. It reads in part (emphasis in original): "As Secretary of Education, Your job is to discover a way to provide schools & teachers PUBLIC resources & funding, NOT from private charters & corporations."

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Politics
12:18 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

With ‘Occupy’ Inspired Item, City May Shift Banking to Credit Unions, Local Banks

Occupy Austin marches on Chase Bank in a demonstration from last year.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/carolinehomerphotography

The City of Austin’s banking practices may soon get a thorough scrubbing with a resolution inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement.

An item before the Austin City Council this Thursday would examine the city’s banking practices, assess the impact of dissolving arrangements with large financial institutions and examine contracting with local credit unions and banks instead.

It would also direct the City Manager “to review the city’s current banking policies and make recommendations on changes to give preference to banks that support community reinvestment goals, such as the stabilization of the housing market, provision of loans to local homeowners and businesses, establishment of local branches in low-income communities, and opportunities for local employment.”

The item is sponsored by council member Laura Morrison. She tells KUT News a large part of the resolution is simply fact-finding.

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Politics
9:35 am
Mon February 27, 2012

WikiLeaks Publishes Stratfor Emails

Wikileaks has partnered with international news agencies in the publication of Stratfor emails.
Image courtesy wikileaks.org

Today WikiLeaks began releasing "The Global Intelligence Files" – more than five million emails from Austin-based global security think tank Stratfor Global Intelligence.

In a statement on its website, WikiLeaks says the files, which date from July 2004 to late December 2011, contain details of the inner workings of the private intelligence agency, links between government and private intelligence, and commentary on WikiLeaks itself. Wikileaks says it partnered with 25 media organizations and activists in publicizing the files.

WickiLeaks has not disclosed the source of the emails, but the publication follows the hacking of Stratfor's servers last December by individuals aligned with cyber-activists Anonymous.

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Austin
1:18 pm
Tue February 14, 2012

Occupy Austin’s First-Hand Accounts of City Hall Eviction

Occupy Austin has experimented with several tactics following a prohibition on camping that drove it from City Hall: speaking to the Austin school board on behalf of teachers opposed to a proposed charter school that wish to remain anonymous; “occupying” the inside of City Hall to voice grievances with their removal; and even launching a “guerilla gardening” initiative.  

But, like other "Occupy" groups across the country, the physical occupation of a place – and the manner in which the group was removed – remains a concern as well.

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