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    PRESS RELEASE: MBTA Refuses to Challenge Banks as Occupation Enters Second Day

    At ‘Camp Charlie,’ Occupy the MBTA’s occupation of the State House steps enters its second day. Meanwhile, the board of the MBTA still refuses to challenge the dominion of Wall Street banks over public finances.

    Last night, dozens of activists slept on the steps of the Massachusetts State House to protest the proposed service cuts, fare hikes, and layoffs. Occupiers also demanded that the T cancel its interest rate swaps with JPMorgan Chase, Deustche Bank, and UBS. Combined, these three cartels enjoyed more than $200 billion dollars in taxpayer bailouts. Their CEOs took home nearly $32 million in 2010 alone. Now, despite owing their existence to the goodwill of taxpayers, they will extract $26 million a year from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority every year for the foreseeable future. So far, the MBTA has resisted demands to cancel these toxic swaps and instead is attempting to balance its books through massive fare increases that will devastate seniors, students, the disabled, and low-income riders.

    JPMorgan Chase

    The MBTA loses $8.9 million a year to JPMC and is on the hook for another $115 million in the future to JPMC; it can only get out of these deals if it pays JPMC $40 million in penalties. The CEO of JPMC made $20.8 million in 2010 after the company received a $100 billion taxpayer bailout. JPMC is currently foreclosing on homes all around Boston.

    Deutsche Bank

    The MBTA loses $8.3 million a year to Deutsche Bank and is on the hook for another $75 million in the future to Deutsche; it can only get out of these deals if it pays Deutsche Bank $23 million in penalties. The CEO of Deutsche made $8.3 million in 2010 after the company got a $66 billion taxpayer bailout. Deutsche Bank is foreclosing on homes all around Boston.

    UBS

    The MBTA loses $9 million a year to UBS and is on the hook for another $97 million in the future to UBS; it can only get out of these deals if it pays UBS $39 million in penalties. UBS received a $77 billion taxpayer bailout. It does not foreclose on homes.

    As a result, the MBTA is ready to cut service on nearly two dozen bus routes and increase fares more than twenty percent. This must be seen for what it is: a new chapter in the officially sanctioned robbery of the public trust by consolidated, private interests. Interests, it will be repeated, with a demonstrated inability to survive the open market in the absence of obscene taxpayer subsidy. These criminal, rent-seeking organizations are the products of government corruption and monopoly control, not free enterprise or competitive advantage.

    For thousands of the 99% who rely on the T to get to work, the proposed changes amount to a massive tax increase, all of which will go directly to the banks. This should be compared to the four billion dollars in federal subsidies lavished on oil companies like ExxonMobil, who in turn spend nearly fifty-million dollars a year lobbying to continue their historically profitable destruction of the earth’s atmosphere.

    Despite these obstacles, many other cities have forced bankers to the negotiating table by passing resolutions forbidding further business if they refuse. In this manner, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland and many others have succeeded in reducing interest rate payments, not only preserving their public goods and services, but reminding the multinational trusts that it is they who are in debt to us, and not the other way around. Occupy the MBTA remains mystified as to why the Board of Mass Dot and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are not willing to pursue a similar tactic.

    We need a comprehensive, accessible, and sustainable public transportation plan for the 99% across the entire Commonwealth, not a short-sighted, short-term austerity band-aid.

    April 4th: Occupy Boston & Occupy MBTA Host People’s Assembly at State House

    metro ad round5 970x1024 April 4th: Occupy Boston & Occupy MBTA Host Peoples Assembly at State HouseOn April 4th at 3:00 PM, Occupy Boston, Occupy MBTA, and other advocates for public transportation, environmental justice, and labor will converge on the State House for a People’s Assembly to demand “No Hikes! No Cuts! No Layoffs!” The Day of Action will include a People’s Hearing inside the State House at 3:00 PM, a rally outside at 5:00 PM, and at 8:00 PM a remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the 44th anniversary of his assassination.

    “A good public transportation system works to reduce the effects of economic inequality by providing affordable access to work, school, and medical care,” said Ariel Oshinsky, an organizer for Occupy Boston.  “But the MBTA is attempting to do the opposite by balancing its books on the backs of those who can afford it the least. In the MBTA’s current proposal, four of the five biggest fare increases will fall on seniors and riders with disabilities, and communities that are already marginalized will be further isolated by the fare hikes and service cuts.”

    Occupy MBTA’s People’s Assembly will be a direct response to the 31 public hearings hosted by the MBTA on its proposals to slash service and raise fairs. The MBTA claims to incorporated feedback from those hearings into its most recent proposal, but the evidence suggests otherwise. For example, MBTA officials claim there is public support for raising fares, but only 2.5% of public meeting comments supported fare hikes.  In addition, MBTA officials have refused to explore many of the solutions that would have allowed the agency to balance its books without fare hikes or service cuts — including, but not limited to, canceling its interest rate swaps with Deutsche Bank, U.S. Bancorp (UBS), and JPMorgan Chase.

    “The MBTA’s austerity measures should be aimed at Wall Street banks, not the T-riding 99%,” said Tyson Hawk of Occupy Boston.  “We’re coming to the State House to make sure our voices are heard – to present our own solutions and to exercise a “people’s veto” over the MBTA’s disastrous plan.”

    With public transit under attack across the nation, the Occupy Boston General Assembly passed a Call to Action on March 3, 2012, which called on “occupations, general assemblies and people’s movements across the country and around the globe to mobilize on April 4th, 2012 to demand public transportation for the 99%.”  Events are planned on April 4th in more than twenty-five cities, including Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Portland, Denver, Los Angeles and Seattle. The Amalgamated Transit Union, the largest labor organization representing transit workers in the US and Canada, has pledged its support for the April 4th National Day of Action for Public Transportation.

    “People across the country are participating in this Day of Action because our priorities are not reflected in the politicians’ budgets,” said Noah McKenna of Occupy JP. “We say ‘no’ to endless wars of choice and propping up Wall Street against the weight of its own fraud.  And ‘yes’ to comprehensive, affordable and sustainable transportation plans that work for the 99%.”

    At 8:00 PM on the steps of the State House, Occupy Boston’s People of Color Working Group will lead a vigil for Dr. King.  April 4this the anniversary of Dr. King’s historic 1967 speech linking poverty and war and then his assassination exactly one year later.  Dr. King was a staunch advocate of public transportation, who stood for prioritizing social needs ahead of corporate profit margins and militarism and once wrote:

    Urban transit systems in most American cities, for example, have become a genuine civil rights issue—and a valid one—because the layout of rapid-transit systems determines the accessibility of jobs to the Black community. If transportation systems in American cities could be laid out so as to provide an opportunity for poor people to get to meaningful employment, then they could begin to move into the mainstream of American life.

    Occupy Boston will be observing this day and remembering a great visionary by continuing Dr. King’s fight against economic inequality.

    National Day of Action for Public Transportation
    People’s Assembly – State House

    3pm: People’s Hearing
    5pm: Rally to Save the T
    8pm: MLK Remembrance

    For more information, visit http://occupymbta.org/a4/

    Twitter hashtag: #A4bos

    The 99% Rejects the MBTA’s Austerity Measures

    The following is Occupy MBTA’s response to the MBTA’s latest  proposal for service cuts and fare hikes:

    Today’s proposal by MBTA does not go nearly far enough in addressing the concerns of the T-riding 99%. The MBTA claims to have listened to the thousands of riders who have flooded their meetings and demonstrated these past few months, but they seem to have missed our key message: “No Hikes! No cuts! No Layoffs!” Significant fare increases and service reductions will devastate students, seniors, low-income communities, people of color, workers, and everyone who must rely on the T. Any plan that will lead to more driving, more congestion, and more CO2 emissions is simply unacceptable. And, to make matters worse, the MBTA freely admits this is only a one-year stop-gap measure, and that we’ll be facing further austerity measures next year.

    The MBTA has been presented with many solutions that would have allowed the agency to balance its books without placing the financial burden on those who can afford it the least. The MBTA’s refusal to explore those solutions – including, but not limited to, the possibility of canceling its interest rate swaps with Deutsche Bank, U.S. Bancorp (USB), and JPMorgan Chase – speaks volumes about its priorities.

    We are neither placated nor discouraged by the MBTA’s latest proposal; the fight to save the T is only just beginning. On April 4, this fight will move to the State House when Occupy MBTA and our allies hold a People’s Assembly to demand a comprehensive state-wide plan for affordable and sustainable transportation that works for the 99%.  Join us!

    April 4 at the State House
    Hearing: 3-5pm
    Rally & Speak Out: 5pm until we’re done

    Join us as part of the National Day of Action on Transportation to demand:

    • No service cuts
    • No fare hikes
    • No layoffs
    • No privatization of our treasured public transit system.
    • A comprehensive state-wide plan for affordable and sustainable transportation that works for the 99%.

    For more information on #A4 or to get involved in Occupy MBTA, please visit http://occupymbta.org/.

    The power of the 99%: MBTA scraps initial draconian proposals; activists vow to escalate fight for public transit!

    After an uprising from the 99%, MBTA General Manager Jonathan Davis announced last night that neither of the agency’s proposals to slash service, raise fare hikes, and layoff hundreds of workers will be adopted.  No details for the new proposal have been released. On January 3, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) released two proposals – both a toxic mixture of draconian service cuts and unacceptable fare hikes – to close the MBTA’s $161 million deficit for the coming fiscal year.  But thousands of members of the 99% – including members of Occupy the MBTA and other advocates for seniors, the disabled, students, workers, low-income communities, and the environment – flooded public hearings and rallied to tell the MBTA, “No Hikes! No Cuts! No Layoffs!”

    The MBTA’s retreat demonstrates the growing power of the 99% movement, but our work is far from done.  We will not accept any plan that attempts that attempt to balance the MBTA’s books on the backs of those who can afford it the least. We will continue to demonstrate, speak-out, and Occupy to ensure that the MBTA’s final proposal does not include any cuts to service, layoffs or fare increases and to demand that the legislature develop a comprehensive, affordable, and sustainable transportation plan that works for the 99%.  Public transportation is a right and must be accessible to all.Since January 31, over 6,000 people have attended 31 public hearings about the MBTA’s proposals, according to the Boston Globe.  In addition, a coalition of organizations including OccupyMBTA, Mass Senior Action, the T Riders Union, Students Against T Cuts, the Save the T coalition, MassUniting, Occupy Boston, Occupy Somerville, Occupy JP and many more have taken to the streets over the last two months to raise awareness and organize opposition to the proposed fare hikes, service cuts and layoffs. Members of these organizations and the broader 99% organized several major marches and rallies, mic-checked on trains, and spread the message through flyering and social media.
    Let’s keep the pressure on! Join us today  at 12:30 as we rally inside and outside of the MassDot board meeting.  And on April 4, we’ll bring our message to the State House (think Wisconsin!) for a people’s hearing and rally as part of our national call to action on public transportation.

    This Monday’s Community Gathering: “Decolonize our Minds, our Movement & our Food Supply”

    On Monday, February 27th from 6pm – 9pm, at Christ Church in Cambridge (map), members of the Decolonize to Liberate Working Group will host an Occupy Boston Community Gathering.  The Working Group invites the rest of Occupy Boston and members of the public to join in an ongoing discussion of how the goals and roots of the Occupy movement are related to the history of ongoing indigenous resistance to colonialism and corporate exploitation.  Please join us to learn what it means to “Decolonize Occupy” and how we can better create a global movement that works for everyone.

    “Unless we each decolonize our minds, and together decolonize this movement, unless we dismantle the deeply-ingrained systems of oppression that we inherited with colonialism, we risk merely creating a new version of an unjust society,” said Martin Dagoberto, a member of the working group.  The Decolonize to Liberate Working Group has been hosting weekly discussion meetings since it formed and introduced one of the first proposals passed by the Occupy Boston General Assembly, the “Statement of Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples.”

    Working group member Laurie Leyshon emphasized that the Community Gathering will not only provide a movement-building experience, but also present “a renewed call to action for the benefit of all people and all Life.”  The gathering coincides with “#F27 Occupy the Food Supply and attendees will also have an opportunity to join in on this international day of action.  Added Leyshon, “The privatization, control and manipulation of our food supply is the ultimate form of conquest.  What Monsanto and the like are doing is a continuation of a long history of colonialism – the commodification of life.

    To learn more about the meaning of “decolonization,” people are encouraged to listen to a recent radio broadcast produced by Decolonize to Liberate working group member Ukumbwa Sauti:  “Ancestral Continuum – Decolonization.  The working group has also assembled a collection of articles and materials at decolonizeboston.org.

    If you are a dedicated catalyst at Occupy Boston, a supporter, or just curious or completely new to the movement, we invite you to please join us for a unique community learning experience.  This will be a great opportunity to connect, share food, words, and build.  If you would like to take advantage of free child care during the event, please email decolonizeboston@gmail.com.

    Occupy Boston’s Community Gatherings are held every Monday evening and are free and open to the public. The Gatherings are designed to build and strengthen the Occupy Boston community through ongoing dialogues, presentations, workshops, and facilitated conversations, in order to build a resilient, widespread and inclusive social movement.

    Contact us

    Occupy Boston Media <Media@occupyboston.org> • <Info@occupyboston.org> • @Occupy_Boston