I Never Founded Occupy NOLA

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Dear Occupy Wall Street-New York city and OccupyWallSt.org,

We are writing to you from the GA approved #OccupyNOLA Facebook page, which tweets from @OccupyNOLA2013 (a Twitter account that @OccupyWallSt has never followed).

We empathize with your situation involving Justine Tunney, “an employee of Google, who announced she was ‘taking back’ not only the @occupywallst twitter handle, but apparently the movement itself.”

In the early days of Occupy NOLA, our original Facebook page and its connected Twitter account @OccupyNOLA were taken by the man who started the Facebook page and seemed to display a sense of entitlement because he’d started that Facebook page. After attending a few General Assemblies in the early days of the encampment, this individual gained access to other accounts including occupynola.org and the fundraising account and email. He then had all media equipment Global Revolution had donated to Occupy NOLA shipped to his personal address and refused to return to the general assemblies and share the accounts.

The Twitter account @OccupyNOLA is still accessible to him, but he rarely bothers using it.

We can’t help but note some similarities with Occupy Wall Street NYC’s current Twitter situation.

The article “In Depth: OWS Twitter Feed Hijacked by Google Exec Who Claims #IFoundedOccupyWallSt” explains that:

“The day after Adbusters issued its July 13, 2011, call to “#occupywallstreet,” Tunney registered the Storg (occupywallst.org) domain. She’d recently cashed out of a tech company she helped start and moved from Philadelphia to Washington. But on weekends, she began coming up to New York for the General Assembly’s early planning meetings. Almost from the outset, she found herself at odds with the tumultuous assembly, which had destroyed its own initial website and wanted control over hers. She refused and was labeled an authoritarian by many as a result.”

This reminds us so much of the situation Occupy NOLA experienced at the encampment in 2011.

When the man who hijacked all the accounts refused to return to the General Assembly or discuss the accounts with peaceful occupiers, those at the Occupy NOLA encampment and the General Assembly agreed to make new Facebook and Twitter accounts and a website.

Angry that the #OccupyNOLA GAs dared make new accounts after his theft, this man then started new Twitter accounts like @occupynolamedia https://twitter.com/occupynolamedia and @occupynola_504 https://twitter.com/occupynola_504.  This one individual then used them in an attempt to discredit any attempts the GA and occupiers at the encampment made to restore the OccupyNOLA networks.

Like Tunney, who “After taking over the account and apparently blocking access to any other administrators, Justine went on a twitter rampage” the man who hijacked Occupy NOLA’s accounts behaved similarly. He went so far as to claim “occupynola is my copyright as of sept 24 when i set up all the accounts so what did i steal???? ??” (see tweet here: https://twitter.com/occupynola_504/status/130143086562127872

For two years, Joe sat there in the suburbs, hoarding these accts & claiming they’re his children, not part of the movement. Joe seems to think he has some special power over a movement because he controls a Facebook page and Twitter account with lots of followers. However, the truth is, he has helped nobody, touched no hearts, has changed neither the world nor the city. He started the accounts but didn’t feed hungry people, didn’t research evictions, didn’t stand in front of a bank, didn’t try to teach people eager to learn how to use social media. Joe enjoyed the power he got when those participating in the movement were frustrated from the lack of reach the new networks had. But that’s all Joe enjoyed. He isolated himself, hoarding accounts, but  never hugged an occupier who’d been released from jail. He never stood at the front of a #MayDay march and heard his own voice echo when shouting “WHAT DO WE WANT??”

Joe, who could share access to @OccupyNOLA Twitter at any time, chose to promote Facebook events started by people from other cities who did not even come here and host the events. Nobody attended these events promoted on Joe’s Facebook page, possibly because Joe didn’t do anything but claim he founded a movement by making a Facebook page anyone could have created.

His claim that he has a right to those accounts he started before first tent went up in Duncan Plaza means nothing. He did nothing but change passwords.

Social networks are helpful, but they’re not the movement. They don’t sweat, cry, fall in love, go to jail, get evicted, get sick, get beaten by police, die.

That national trend of hijacking Occupy media accounts reeks of what’s described as “Infiltration to Disrupt, Divide and Misdirect Is Widespread in Occupy (Part I)” in Truthout, where writers explain that “Individuals who took over the website and/or social media and then removed them or hacked them and took control: As noted above, these networks have been used in personal attacks, as well as to send inaccurate messages to the media and other occupiers.” (link to source: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/6927:infiltration-to-disrupt-divide-and-misdirect-is-widespread-in-occupy-part-i )

Ray Pensador touches on controlling social networking access to systematically neutralize (or sabotage) the effectiveness of social justice movements and activists in his article “Stratfor Leaked Documents: Divide-And-Conquer Strategies Against Activists” (source http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/01/01/1266507/-Stratford-Leaked-Documents-Divide-And-Conquer-Strategies-Against-Activists#)

The research above is included not to attack individuals involved in certain accounts, but to demonstrate that social media hijacking and social engineering were and continue to be a national tactic used to disrupt and neutralize movements.

Occupy NOLA members (who attended General Assemblies, planned protests, peacefully demonstrated in the City of New Orleans and traveled to other Occupy groups around the nation, fought evictions, organized debt assemblies, volunteered with local organizations that help the homeless, won the First Amendment for the entire city of New Orleans during SuperBowl 2013 with an ACLU lawsuit, helped other activists, fed people without power during Hurricane Isaac, and much more) participated until the last General Assembly in March of 2013.They did this without the original accounts and continued to make their own media. These individuals invested a great deal of time, effort, and love into the movement. They were never joined or supported by the man who hijacked the original Occupy New Orleans Facebook page and Twitter.

Their efforts demonstrate that it doesn’t matter who made the original Facebook page for Occupy NOLA/Occupy New Orleans. It’s what the people who stayed through the hard times did. It’s the work, the love, the Mutual Aid, the learning and re-learning how to make this world better. Occupy, with all its failures and triumphs is too nuanced/complex to judge based on one person, one city, one Facebook or Twitter account. Anyone who claims to be the “founder” of a movement that evolved because of those who participated dismisses what a collective of people can do when they interact and try to change the world. The locals, the homeless, the college grads working 3 jobs with ever increasing rent don’t care about some guy who started a Facebook page. Each person who contributed by making PB&J sandwiches, hosting a community barbeque when there was no power, volunteering with a local charity, giving rides to GA or getting arrested for de-arresting comrade touched the lives of many.

The hashtag #IFoundedOccupyWallSt is being used to discuss the hijacking of the main @OccupyWallSt Twitter account.

Occupy NOLA can tell you from experience. It doesn’t matter who founded a local Occupy (if “founding is being defined by registering a domain). It matters not who created a Facebook page or registered a domain and then withdrew from any interaction with those participating in the Occupy Movement. What matters much more is who stayed and grew and shared and built something, and the spirit of #Occupy lives in the hearts of the latter.

We someday hope you will straighten out your accounts and rift, OccupyWallSt.

Sincerely,

A Member of The Occupy NOLA Digital Media Working Group

Link to article about OccupyWallSt Twitter: http://iacknowledge.net/in-depth-ows-twitter-feed-hijacked-by-google-exec-who-claims-ifoundedoccupywallst/

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