I’ve said from the beginning that while the goals of the Occupy Wall Street crowd were not wrong, their tactics have been lacking. The denizens of “Wall Street” (at least not in its geographic form) didn’t cause the collapse of the American economy; they’re just trying to figure out how to profit from it. There’s been an entire legal structure erected to protect the banking industry; wagging your fingers at them isn’t going to do a whole hell of a lot.
And it’s not like “the banks” or whoever can’t fight back. Occupiers might be angry at Wall Street or corporate America or whoever, but it’s “the law” that will be in charge of actually crushing their little movement. The people in Oakland already saw what the police can do. And the police are just the storm troopers of the military-industrial complex. City ordinances, curfews, and unsympathetic judges: these are the people and things that can turn Occupy Wall Street into Alderaan.
But maybe the protesters are starting to understand the true power of the dark side. And maybe they’ll have some new hope if they get some fully trained lawyers on their side (as opposed to non-lawyer volunteers)….
That headband looked much better on the Childlike Empress in Neverending Story.
* Next week, people in Mississippi are going to vote on whether a clump of cells is a “person.” Are we really going to put this into the hands of people who can’t even spell the name of their own state? [New York Times]
* If you’re a trial lawyer, even imaginary friends will do. [Underdog]
* Finally, something entertaining and informative from a law professor that doesn’t cost $100,000: a series of rich shorts to give junior associates enough basics to avoid embarrassment when corporate assignments are handed out at the firm. [YouTube]
* I really wish that this comedian would actually sue Kim Kardashian over her sham marriage. Seriously. Next time, try to stay married until I finish watching your two-part wedding special. [VICE]
* Have you guys been wondering about Juggalo Law’s whereabouts? This might explain his absence. [Hit & Run / Reason]
* I am the 1%. And by that, I mean that I’m probably in the 1% of people who do not give one damn about this social movement. [Actually You're the 47%]
It’s been a bad few days for the Church of England. First, it gets slammed for siding with the bankers, rather than the protesters, after its flagship venue, St Paul’s Cathedral, finds itself at the heart of Occupy London. Second, a change to the U.K.’s ancient royal succession laws strikes a blow for its great rival, Rome, as a ban on royal family members who marry Catholics taking the throne is lifted.
Beginning with the Occupy London controversy: the protesters’ original plan was to occupy St Paul’s neighbour, the London Stock Exchange, which nestles alongside the U.K. branch of O’Melveny & Myers on an adjoining square. But they were blocked by the police, forcing them instead to set up camp on the forecourt of the great cathedral (built from the ashes of the Great Fire of London in 1666). At first this seemed like a defeat, as the Church of England played victim, shutting the doors of St Paul’s to visitors for the first time since the Second World War on what it claimed were health and safety grounds.
A wheelchair-bound Oaklander in the tear gas fog. That's hardcore.
It has been a strange couple of days. I woke up on Tuesday at 5:30 a.m. to finish some writing. It was still dark, but I heard several helicopters buzzing near my house. I checked Twitter and discovered several hundred police officers were clearing out the Occupy Oakland tent city a few miles away.
Well, I wasn’t expecting the morning’s eviction to turn into a national media s**t storm. By Tuesday evening, somewhere around 500 people were marching through downtown Oakland. Police told them to go home, but they didn’t. People started throwing things at police. Police launched tear gas. By the time things wound down at around 1 a.m. on Wednesday, police had fired several rounds of tear gas and beanbags at protesters, and there were various semi-confirmed reports of rubber bullets, flash grenades, and even a sound cannon.
Why do you care? Well, it turns out these protesters are not just deadbeats and drug addicts. There were several lawyers in the crowd, too. We spoke with a few of them, starting with Shahid Buttar. He is a Stanford Law School grad and the Executive Director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee. He spent Tuesday afternoon lecturing on privacy in a UC Berkeley journalism class, then spent the night getting tear gassed in downtown Oakland….
President Barack Obama really thinks recent graduates are stupid. Seriously, he thinks that graduates out there suffering under crushing debt obligations in an economy where there aren’t enough jobs to go around are so dumb that they don’t even know what they want.
Educational debt has been a big part of the Occupy Wall Street protests. Today, President Obama will announce “new” programs to help students in debt. At least, he wants the media to report these programs as “new.” Those who have been paying attention, such as debt-saddled law students, will recognize that there is very little “new” about these programs.
In fact, Obama seems to honestly think that students and recent graduates wouldn’t be so angry if they knew about all the programs already in place.
It’s all a bit patronizing. If the Obama administration had really been paying attention, they’d know that recent graduates want meaningful reform, not the piecemeal incremental efforts that we’ve seen so far….
* If you took the “over” on the cold day in Hell when BP is allowed to drill in the Gulf again, you’re gonna lose that bet. [New York Times]
* It’s a bit anticlimactic. And we’ve been pulled apart by political divisiveness. But we are just about done with the Iraq War! Yay? Ticker tape in Times Square, or is it going to be all, “Welcome home, while you were away we misplaced all the jobs and money”? [Politico]
When news emerged last week that the Wall Street protests were spreading to London, I dared to dream. Maybe I could inculcate myself among the protesters, I wondered, and persuade their leaders to target a Biglaw firm rather than a bank. Then, I fantasized, having obtained the relevant door-code from one of my disgruntled Biglaw contacts, perhaps I could lead the protesters inside to set up an encampment. At which point, I hallucinated, I’d be able to live-tweet my experiences and, as the only journalist on the scene, become a star.
Disappointingly, it didn’t work out that way. The protesters proved frustratingly unmoved by my suggestions that they target a law firm. Instead, they tried to occupy the square in front of the London Stock Exchange. Prevented from doing so by the police, they ended up milling around the adjoining forecourt of St. Paul’s Cathedral, where their hard-core was diluted by confused tourists. What the New York Times accurately described as “a picnic atmosphere” prevailed, with “people streaming in and out of a nearby Starbucks.”
Even an appearance by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange — who arrived mid-afternoon wearing a Guy Fawkes mask to deliver a sermon on the steps of St. Paul’s — wasn’t enough to kick-start some proper rebellion. Indeed, with his claim that the Occupy Wall Street/London Stock Exchange movement “is not about the destruction of law, but the construction of law,” Assange sounded less like a revolutionary, and more a regulatory expert in the U.K. on a business trip….
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