March 8, 2012 -- It's shaping up to be a busy spring for Occupy. The movement born last year in a New York City park has come roaring back to life this week after a period of hibernation. It promises to be even livelier in weeks and months to come.
On Monday, according to the Sacramento Bee, a crowd numbering in the thousands, including Occupy protesters, converged on California's capital to denounce soaring college tuition costs. Chanting "You'll hear us out, or we'll vote you out," they tried to occupy the capitol rotunda. Some succeeded. In what the Bee called "a massive show of force," 100 California Highway Patrol officers arrested 68.
Occupy is taking credit for the White House's recent decision to move a May meeting G-8 leaders from Chicago, where Occupy and other groups had threatened protests, to safer and more remote Camp David. "We scored a victory, forcing them to retreat to the back woods of Maryland," Andy Thayer, Occupier and spokesperson for the Coalition Against NATO/G-8, tells ABC News.
Protests still will be mounted, he says, against NATO, which has chosen not to flee Chicago and will meet there as planned. "There'll be a mass march on the NATO summit," says Thayer, "not only a march, but any number of other activities. It's unclear whether it will be on the 19th or 20th. We will decide in the next few days."
All around the U.S., other Occupy actions are in the works.
Next week Occupy St. Louis will host a Midwestern conference of regional Occupy groups, where Thayer will speak.
In Manhattan, veterans of the original Occupy Wall Street have just returned from a five-week bus tour of 12 Northeaster cities, where they met with counterparts to exchange ideas, network and offer seminars on such practicalities as how to organize a march. "It was pretty cool," says Occupier Pete Dutrow, who says he has been "pretty much a full-time activist" since the Occupy movement started. He was a member of the Finance Working Group in and has now moved on to other projects.
Regarding money, Occupiers should start to get support later this month from a new entity called the Resource Movement Group (RMG), bankrolled by wealthy supporters sympathetic to the movement. The backers include Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of ice cream maker Ben & Jerry's, as well as Danny Goldberg, former manager of Nirvana. Their goal is to raise $1.8 million, to be given out as grants of up to $25,000 each to protesters whose projects win RMG's approval.
A web posting by Occupy's General Assembly describes RMG as "a fund source that believes Occupy is ready to transit from being a series of spontaneous actions to a more strategic national movement."
On April 28, Occupy Cleveland will kick off a celebratory event called Occupy The HeartFest, which will serve as a kind of warm-up for the NATO protests in Chicago and for a nationwide General Strike planned for May 1st.
The May Day General Strike calls for workers and students around the country not to show up for work or school. The idea, say organizers, will be to show the "1 percent" what life without the "99 percent" would look like. In New York City, Occupy Wall Street has discussed a morning disruption of commerce, followed by a mid-day demonstration in support of immigrant rights, capped off by an evening march.
On May 9, Bank of America shareholders will hold their annual meeting in Charlotte, N.C. They'll have company. Occupy's protest plans for the meeting are in flux, but organizers view it as an opportunity to agitate against BofA's and other banks' home foreclosures.