Wednesday, September 12, 2012

An Occupy protest coming in response to Jay-Z's comments, but will it be just before his Sept. 28 concert?

An Occupy Wall Street affiliate is planning a protest of Barclays Center/Nets part-owner Jay-Z regarding his comments on Occupy, though I suspect that the announced time, 6 pm on Sept. 28, will be adjusted once planners recognize how difficult it will be to get near the arena in the hours before the first event.

(Note that those Brooklyn organizations behind the Atlantic Yards Crime Scene protest are planning other events, including a 9/27, 7PM candlelight vigil at the Barclays Center and a 9/28, 11AM press conference there, but nothing after 4 pm that day other than tweets and a movie screening nearby. I suspect they recognize that the combination of event-goers and massive security would make any gathering impossible.)

I got a message from Stephen Carl Baldwin:
I just wanted to give you a heads-up about an upcoming protest at the Barclay's Center. Occupy Guitarmy will be confronting part-owner Jay-Z on September 28th with the musical question: "Which Side Are You On?"

This action is a result of past and recent behavior by Jay-Z, who last year launched a profitable clothing line based on Occupy messaging and subsequently refusing to donate anything back to the needy. Adding insult to injury, he's been bashing Occupy lately, calling us "Un-American" because (I suppose) we have issues with oligarchs. There is as well the issue of Barclay's itself (a notorious tax dodger and participant in the LIBOR scandal).

We intend our protest to be respectful to Jay-Z's fans but we're going to call him out for behaving like another predatory corporation. We are aware that there will be other protest actions happening in this time-frame and would like to coordinate our actions with those of the other community activists.
The response to Jay-Z

Baldwin's message pointed to this Tumblr post from the Occupy Guitarmy:
The Occupy Guitarmy, a subset of the OWS Music Working group, offers a response to Jay-Z, who today said in the NY Times that OWS’s actions are “un-American.”
“I think all those things need to really declare themselves a bit more clearly because when you just say that ‘the 1 percent is that,’ that’s not true,” he said.
“Yeah, the 1 percent that’s robbing people, and deceiving people, these fixed mortgages and all these things, and then taking their home away from them, that’s criminal, that’s bad.
“Not being an entrepreneur. This is free enterprise. This is what America is built on.”
Jay-Z “supported” Occupy earlier in its first, highly media-friendly moments through his entrepreneurial selling of “Occupy All Streets” t-shirts, although he refused to donate any of the profits of his sales to support the activists and received wide-spread negative publicity for his crass appropriation of the movement’s language.
Now Jay is rolling with even more powerful and popular friends, namely the LIBOR-scandal leading bankers at Barclays, who put their name on the controversial Brooklyn arena where Jay’s basketball team will play and where he will play eight nights to inaugurate the venue.
Jay asked in the article: ““I don’t know what the fight is about. What do we want? Do you know?”
We have spent one year on the streets organizing for exactly the things Jay rapped about in his early days, ending urban poverty, ending Stop & Frisk and police use of lethal force, of returning dignity and hope to the everyday people of New York City. These are simple civil rights issues we know Jay-Z must support, and we would love to help open his heart and mind to the work Occupy has helped do in his own former communities.
On SEPTEMBER 28th we will arrive at his sold-out Barclays concert to lovingly show Jay-Z what we want and how he can help: by encouraging his fans to take action for social justice in their communities, schools, workplaces, and homes.
Join us September 28 at Barclays at 6pm for an Occupy Wall Street teach-in and musical performance. Let’s be a sincere answer to Jay’s question. In turn we will ask on of him, one Florence Reece wrote in the 1930s and still matters now, “Which Side Are You On?”
If your community organization / musical group / education group would like to join us, please email music at nycga dot net.
Russell Simmons responds

Also responding to Jay-Z was Russell Simmons, one of the relatively few hip-hop figures (producer, entrepreneur) who has the wealth and stature of Jay-Z (though, obviously, not the same adoring fans). Simmons wrote on Global Grind, in part:
As a person who cares deeply about Occupy Wall Street, I have to honor their year-long effort and educate my long-time friend, Jay-Z. This weekend, he was interviewed by the New York Times where he discusses OWS, where he was quoted as saying “I’m not going to a park and picnic, I have no idea what to do, I don’t know what the fight is about. What do we want, do you know?” If he understood it and endorsed the movement, it would make a big difference to poor people. As the same man that said he would pay more taxes if it helped educate more children and create affordable healthcare, Jay-Z's words matter. He was honest enough to say that he didn’t understand it. A lot of Americans don’t. He was also honest enough to recognize that there are some in the 1 percent who "deceiving" and "robbing," so I know in his heart he gets it. I know he is a compassionate person who cares about the poor, so I'm certain if I had two more minutes with him, I could change his mind.
I had other concerns about that New York Times interview.

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