People on local union, Democratic Party, progressive and other e-mail lists were invited to a rally at Bryant Park in Lake Worth. Hundreds showed up. It was exhilarating, but also chaotic. Speakers denounced the 1% and a variety of social ills, but it was nearly impossible to hold a productive meeting with all those people wandering around the park – many with loyalty to no common organization, and with expectations of a conventional political protest, with hierarchical leadership, a designated march route, and professional speakers.
Those expectations remained unmet in the determination of the initial organizing group against hierarchy and against the compromises and corruptions of the mainstream groups that had enabled the banksters to crash the economy and get away with it. There were more long weekly meetings as the crowds shrank and we struggled to focus our General Assemblies and working groups, and started to build a movement.
As in hundreds of cities big and small, that explosion of energy and anger was unsustainable, since most of the people attending those protests and meetings had family and job commitments and were coping with the consequences of the Great Recession. Florida has a weak safety net by elite design, and Palm Beach County has been a center of the foreclosure fraud crisis; young people, poor people, African-Americans and Hispanics were especially hard hit when layoffs and foreclosures multiplied after 2007.
Helped by sympathetic progressive Democrats with close ties to the Democratic mayor and city council of West Palm Beach, Occupy Palm Beach County moved to downtown West Palm Beach. Twenty to thirty Occupiers lived in tents on a grassy vacant lot, then outside the old city hall from October until March. They participated in direct actions against the 1% on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, at a hedge fund managers’ conference in Boca Raton, and against big banks and their allies. We formed active working groups that articulated our vision and goals, trained meeting facilitation teams, self-governed those living on-site, sponsored teach-ins and film screenings/discussions, created a community garden, and developed direct actions.
For about six months we created one of the longest and most consistently nonviolent Occupations in the U.S. In early March 2012, partly because of complaints by the city of West Palm Beach about alcohol and crime at the Occupation site, and partly because OPBC was increas- ingly unable to contain our own internal divisions, we were evicted by city police. Many of us were ready to stop occupying by then, convinced that the efforts to hold on to an urban site were diverting movement energy away from more important issues. A small group of Occupiers resisted eviction but were unsuccessful.
Now smaller but better focused and organized, OPBC returned to Lake Worth for General Assemblies, initiated projects like Foreclosure Court Watch and has, since March, been publicizing and participating in a variety of actions initiated by various progressive groups through- out south Florida: Awake the State, Stand Up Florida, the national Veterans for Peace convention in Miami, and Occupy Fort Lauderdale events, among others. In addition to keeping judges and lawyers more honest, our persistent court watchers are helping homeowners caught in the Orwellian web of foreclosure fraud and our overwhelmed legal system.
We’ve helped several save their homes, and as a result at least one has become an OPBC activist. OPBC is also building a record of small but significant successes in other areas, and is becoming a regular part of the progressive scene in Palm Beach County.
It’s been a long hot summer, and working for President Obama’s re-election campaign has absorbed progressive energies. Most Occupiers (and Progressive Democrats) have a keen sense of the serious limitations of electoral politics generally, and of the Democratic Party specifically. On inequalities of wealth, regulation of the financial sector, global climate change, drones, torture, indefinite detention and other issues, Obama and the Democrats have been way too close to Wall Street and big corporations. But given the right-wing insanities of the Republican Party, memories of the consequences of the 2000 election, and Florida’s status as a swing state, there is little interest among Occupiers here in working for third-party candidates who might swing the election to Romney and Ryan.
Hopefully President Obama will be re-elected, and with a Senate and possibly even a House majority. But that doesn’t mean we can all go home and leave things to a system rigged against the 99%. Like FDR before him, Obama has said to progressives demanding major progressive legislation, “Make me.” In other words, generate a groundswell, a social movement which will create the conditions for such action; as President I can’t or won’t do it by myself.
(And now, with the help of their political allies, they’re after Medicare and Social Security.) Since the emergence of Oc- cupy, President Obama and many Democrats have started talking more about inequalities of wealth and less about the mostly bogus issue of federal deficits. Democratic leaders had been influenced by a social movement acting mostly outside their party.
But Occupiers can’t sustain this movement, can’t fight back by our- selves. This is where PDA’s inside- outside strategy connects to the Occupy movement, in Palm Beach County and elsewhere. Nationally, PDA works both inside the Demo- cratic Party and outside, with independent progressive groups to the Democrats’ left, like Occupy. This works well where progressives both inside and outside are strong, in cities and towns with robust left movements building coalitions on issues the Democrats mostly ignore: community organizing, workers’ and im- migrants’ rights, bank and foreclosure fraud, global carbon emissions, U.S. militarism, and others. A strong progressive community at least partly indepen- dent of the Democrats helps move local Democrats to the left, creates political leverage both inside and outside the party to make change and get progressive candidates elect- ed. Paradoxically, the Occupy movement, which rejects affiliation with the Democratic Party, has given new energy and issues to Progressive Democrats in many places. PDA’s inside-outside strategy works best when progressives out- side as well as inside are strong. But PDA’s inside-outside strategy is more difficult to implement in Palm Beach County.
A majority of voters here regularly support Democrats, and the party dominates most of the county. But because of the region’s southern history and unusually transient population, progressive groups more or less independent of the Democratic Party have usually been quite small. Partly because of this imbalance between progressives inside and outside the party, Democratic bosses and elected officials, everywhere too responsive to donors over their base, have more than elsewhere been able to ignore the growing progressive community in Palm Beach County. But there is increasing discontent inside the Party, includ- ing in the county’s Democratic Executive Committee, as well as outside, as a result of Democrats’ complicity with the 1%. Occupy Palm Beach County is an important sign and builder of that discontent. OPBC is in one sense a symptom of the failings of the local Democratic Party and the need for reform. That is why the local Democratic Party was a divisive force within OPBC: despite -- or be- cause of -- powerful Democrats’ support for us, many of us saw that support as an attempt at co-optation.
By inviting us to Occupy downtown West Palm Beach, were Democratic leaders using OPBC as a tool to manage our organized anger at their betrayals of us and their collusions with the 1%? Was their participation in OPBC sincere or cynical? In participating, were they also trolling OPBC for new party activists who could be put to work in a two-party system designed to marginalize those activists’ progressive goals? Perhaps we’ll never know. But it’s clear that, in Palm Beach County, too many Democrats have an uncritical relation to our party, acting as though we can vote and forget about it. Progressive change can only be made when more of us are active – inside and outside the party. OPBC, and the Occupy movement generally, demonstrates disillusionment with party institutions and the intense need for more radical change. Occupy strengthens progressives inside the party, and heightens the case for grassroots reform.
The Progressive Democrats of America and the Occupy Movement are natural allies. Locally, OPBC gives Progressive Democrats opportunities to promote grassroots change that the Democratic Party too often ignores. After the election, we’ll need to push the Democrats to listen to us. An important way is to declare our partial independence of them so they don’t ignore us. We can vote for Democrats and still work outside the party.
At OPBC’s one-year anniversary meeting on October 6, there was new energy, and several activists returned. We expect more Occupiers to return after the election, and are planning new actions.
To get involved in OPBC, call Carol at 561-793-5868. Come to our General Assemblies, which are from 11 to 12:30 in Bryant Park in Lake Worth; if the park is booked, we’ll be at the covered bandstand in the Cultural Plaza in down- town Lake Worth, between Lake and Lucerne across from the library. (Free parking. Bring your own chair.) If it rains, we’ll meet at the Pegasus Restaurant in Lake Worth. You can also find us on Facebook at Occupy Palm Beach. Join us! The Occupy movement started such a groundswell a year ago with our focus on how the bloated and greedy financial industry crashed the world economy and threw millions of people out of work, out of their homes and retirement and security.
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The Florida teenager who was arrested two weeks ago for causing a small explosion on the campus of her high school will not be charged with a crime. Kiera Wilmot, 16, was arrested by police in Bartow, Florida, after conducting an unauthorized science experiment which lightly damaged an eight ounce plastic water bottle.
At the time, Wilmot faced possible charges for “possessing or discharging weapons or firearms at a school sponsored event or on school property.” If she had been convicted, she could have faced up to five years in prison.
Ned Resnikoff | MSNBC.com 16 May 2013 Hits:332 Florida
Two top Democratic fundraisers in Florida have committed to providing the money and know-how to get the question of legalizing medical marijuana on the state ballot in 2014.
"I'm prepared to keep raising money and writing checks until I get the signatures to put it on the ballot," attorney John Morgan said late on Tuesday.
Morgan, who routinely hosts presidents and national political figures at his Orlando-area home, recently signed on as chairman of People United for Medical Marijuana-Florida, a grassroots campaign that operated on a shoestring until now.
Morgan was recruited by...
Barbara Liston | Reuter's 22 Apr 2013 Hits:317 Florida
On September 17, 2011 Occupy Wall Street coalesced into sudden view, built from long work by many organizers, the promptings of Adbusters magazine, and the accumulated frustration, anger and desperation of decades of escalating class warfare by financial and corporate elites against ordinary people. A small group of young people near Lake Worth, Florida recognized themselves in the actions of the mostly young people in New York, and began to plan their own Occupation.
People on local union, Democratic Party, progressive and other e-mail lists were invited to a rally at...
Mike Budd | Palm Beach Progressive Post 22 Jan 2013 Hits:366 Florida
Internal email messages uncovered by Health News Florida reveal that Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) is knowingly citing inaccurate cost estimates to justify his refusal to expand Florida’s Medicaid program. Though the governor’s office is fully aware that the numbers are wrong, Scott continues to use them anyway, the documents show.
Florida, which has one of the highest rates of uninsurance in the nation, could extend health coverage to about one million low-income residents by accepting Obamacare’s optional Medicaid expansion. But the governor — an ardent Obamacare opponent — has...
Tara Culp-Ressler | Think Progress 08 Jan 2013 Hits:711 Florida
Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who was elected as the state's chief executive as a Republican and then ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate as an independent, announced on Twitter on Friday night that he's switching to the Democratic Party.
The announcement fanned speculation that Crist was gearing up to seek to regain his old job from Republican Gov. Rick Scott in 2014.
Crist sent out a Tweet that said, "Proud and honored to join the Democratic Party in the home of President (at)Barack Obama!"
The Tweet included a...
Gary Fineout | Associated Press 08 Dec 2012 Hits:666 Florida
As the St. John Progressive Missionary Baptist Church vans pulled up to the C. Blythe Andrews library polling place to let congregants out to vote, a line already snaked out the voting entrance. A table was set up on one end of the library’s parking lot where volunteers served fried fish and hush puppies. A DJ blared gospel music that could be heard blocks away. It was after-church Sunday, the first and only Sunday of “Souls to the Polls” in most of Florida, and the second...
Brentin Mock and Voting Rights Watch | the Nation 30 Oct 2012 Hits:630 Florida
On the last day to register for the 2012 election, new Democratic voters outnumber the GOP by six-to-one or more.
Don’t get depressed by the latest polls with Mitt Romney pulling ahead in Florida or by reports of the GOP’s plans to steal the election there by falsifying Democratic voter registration files. Tuesday is the final day to register to vote for the presidential election in Florida and Democrats have trounced the GOP’s efforts to register voters.
Consider these numbers from the Florida Secretary of State’s...
Steven Rosenfeld | AlterNet 09 Oct 2012 Hits:936 Florida
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Seeking to capitalize on his commanding debate performance last week, Mitt Romney tried to turn the enthusiasm of large crowds during a three-day visit to Florida into momentum to carry a state that, by all accounts, is crucial to his path to the White House.
His effort to capture a state that President Obama won in 2008 came on a day when the usual pattern of the race was reversed: while Mr. Romney has been criticized by some Republicans for spending too...
Trip Gabriel | The New York Times 08 Oct 2012 Hits:500 Florida
Despite the heat and threat of thunderstorms, about 500 African-Americans are gathered in Rowlett Park for an end-of-summer day of barbecuing, dancing and playing cards. It’s the fifth annual Old School Picnic, a community park jam that brings together two black neighborhoods that were torn apart when the College Hill and Ponce de Leon public housing projects were razed in 2000. Earlier that morning, President Barack Obama held a massive campaign rally in nearby St. Petersburg, trying to turn out every last...
Brentin Mock | The Nation 29 Sep 2012 Hits:686 Florida
Florida elections officials said Friday that at least 10 counties have identified suspicious and possibly fraudulent voter registration forms turned in by a firm working for the Republican Party of Florida, which has filed an election fraud complaint with the state Division of Elections against its one-time consultant.
The controversy in Florida -- which began with possibly fraudulent forms that first cropped up in Palm Beach County -- has engulfed the Republican National Committee, which admitted Thursday that it urged state parties in seven swing states...
By Matea Gold, Joseph Tanfani and Melanie Mason | LosAngeles Times Politics 29 Sep 2012 Hits:773 Florida
In a partial victory for voter rights and immigrant groups, Florida residents who were mistakenly removed from the voter rolls this year because the state classified them as noncitizens will be returned to the rolls and allowed to vote in November.
The Florida Department of State, which initiated the review of noncitizens on the voter rolls, also agreed Wednesday to inform the 2,625 people on the list who are eligible to vote that their voting rights had been fully restored. Still unresolved is whether Florida...
Lizette Alvarez | The New York Times 13 Sep 2012 Hits:659 Florida
Florida's Republican governor Rick Scott loathes Obamacare so much that he turned down $40 million in federal health care funds that would keep hundreds of disabled kids at home with their parents, rather than warehoused in nursing homes. So says the Department of Justice, whose civil rights division recently investigated the situation in Florida.
ABC News reported this weekend that, in a letter to Florida's attorney general, the Justice Department cited the case of a "5-year-old child, a quadriplegic after a car accident, who had been...
Stephanie Mencimer | Mother Jones 11 Sep 2012 Hits:3624 Florida
On September 12, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida and partner organizations will host a coalition of individuals impacted by restrictive voting regulations in Florida sharing their stories about combating disenfranchisement and informing voters about their rights at “Let Me Vote: The Faces of Voter Suppression Become the Voices of Voter Empowerment.” The event marks the launch of the ACLU of Florida’s “Let Me Vote” campaign, part of a nationwide ACLU program of the same name aiming to get accessible,...
ACLU Florida 10 Sep 2012 Hits:488 Florida
They were classic buttoned-up conservatives, but I couldn’t believe my ears. “Are you guys performance artists?” "No," Stevens snorted.
Just a few minutes earlier, two men who identified themselves as Robert Stevens and John Nelson had handed me a flyer. It explained that they wanted the state of Florida to pass a “Protect the Polls law” under which “anyone suspected of committing voter fraud can be fired upon – provided the weapon is registered and operated by its licensed owner.”
The two 28-year-olds, who said...
Arun Gupta | AlterNet 30 Aug 2012 Hits:817 Florida
Activist group Code Pink, protesting this week at the Republican National Convention, marched through the streets of Tampa on Monday dressed as a group of giant vaginas to speak out against the GOP's "war on women".
The group also congregated in a demonstration outside Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition rally, among several other events, holding signs with slogans such as "My body, my vagina, my decision," and "Can't say it, don't legislate it."
"Eve Ensler famously said: 'My vagina's furious and it needs to talk.' Our...
Common Dreams Staff 29 Aug 2012 Hits:749 Florida
Thousands of Republicans from around the country will descend upon Tampa, Florida next week for the Republican National Convention, and if recent history is any guide, so too will hundreds of protesters.
To prepare, Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee has ordered the Orient Road Jail, a 1,700 bed prison in Tampa, emptied, relocating some inmates to another nearby prison and releasing others on bond. The entire facility has been transformed into a one-stop booking, detention, and bond-issuance center capable of handling large numbers of arrests,...
Adam Peck | ThinkProgress 24 Aug 2012 Hits:897 Florida
Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday flatly rejected any talk of expanding the number of early-voting days in the state prior to this year's presidential election despite a federal court ruling that a new state law could hurt minority participation.
And the Republican governor went further, hinting that he may take action against the lone local election supervisor who is not going along with a plan to offer only eight days of early voting instead of at least 12 days.
State officials are scrambling to come...
Gary Fineout | The Miami Herald 21 Aug 2012 Hits:529 Florida
Florida's disgraced former GOP chairman says the party had meetings about "keeping blacks from voting"
Former Florida Republican Party chairman Jim Greer in 2008(Credit: AP/Reinhold Matay)
In the debate over new laws meant to curb voter fraud in places like Florida, Democrats always charge that Republicans are trying to suppress the vote of liberal voting blocs like blacks and young people, while Republicans just laugh at such ludicrous and offensive accusations. That is, every Republican except for Florida’s former Republican Party chairman Jim Greer, who, scorned by...
Alex Seitz-Wald | Salon 31 Jul 2012 Hits:1019 Florida
After evaluating answers to our initial, detailed questionnaire, our Steering Committee is pleased to recommend the following candidates for local, state, and national office. These candidates have demonstrated an understanding of the social, economic, and international issues confronting our nation.
Their responses are in accord with the liberal, progressive values of PDAPBC. We believe they are candidates in the best tradition of the Democratic Party. *Starred candidates are involved in Democratic primaries.
Congressional District 18: Patrick Murphy* Congressional District 20: Alcee L. Hastings State Senate District 27: Jeff Clemens* State Representative District...
Palm Beach Progressive Post 31 Jul 2012 Hits:843 Florida
Florida Governor Rick Scott has spoken a lot about cutting government spending, lowering taxes for corporations, and removing social safety nets that millions of people rely on. But while he is busy eliminating more than $3 billion from public classrooms, his administration is simultaneously racking up hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars in legal expenses to defend several of its own unconstitutional laws and fight frivolous battles in federal court over Obamacare.
To date, Rick Scott has authorized more than $888,000 for legal costs. Nearly...
Adam Peck | ThinkProgress Justice 31 Jul 2012 Hits:750 Florida
Despite a warning from the Centers for Disease Control, it's the latest move by the Florida governor to gut public services.
Welcome to Sunshine State: Republican-run since 1998, tea party-controlled since 2010, and fast becoming one of the lowest-service states in the nation. Which helps explain how lawmakers shut down its only tuberculosis clinic last month, just as the worst outbreak of the infectious disease in America's recent history flared up with a vengeance in Jacksonville, Miami, and who knows where...
Adam Weinstein 09 Jul 2012 Hits:1150 Florida
LaVon Bracy, 63, understands the stakes in Florida’s current voting rights battle all too well. Her father, the Rev. Thomas Wright, is a civil rights luminary and former…
The U.S. Justice Department is suing the state of Florida to force it to stop purging its voter rolls of what it alleges are up to 180,000 non-citizen…
Wednesday, Florida Governor Rick Scott announced he would defy the Department of Justice and push forward with his purge of thousands of registered voters. The process has targeted hundreds of…
Florida elections supervisors said Friday they will discontinue a state-directed effort to remove names from county voter rolls because they believe the state data is flawed and because…
Florida ought to know better. And must do better, particularly on the issue of voting and discrimination.
But, then again, we are talking about Florida, the state of Bush v. Gore…
On Wednesday, Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher (D) told ThinkProgress her office has rejected the error-ridden list of alleged non-citizen voters sent to county officials by Gov. Rick…
On May 20, 1865 United States General Edward M. McCook gave the first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation in the state of Florida. It was a moment that…
According to the Broward County Supervisor of Elections, eligible voters will be removed from the voting rolls as a result of the massive voter purge ordered by Governor…
Florida Congressman Ted Deutch (D) told ThinkProgress today that Gov. Rick Scott was engaging in a “blatant attempt to supress voter turnout.” Scott is currently involved in a…
PDA is organized around several core issues. These issues include:
Each team hosts a monthly conference call. Calls feature legislators, staffers and other policy experts. On these calls we determine PDA legislation to support as well as actions and future events.
For support in organizing within your state, contact:
State LeadershipMike Fox
Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Broward County - CD 17, 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23Daytona Beach - CD 07 and 24Hillsborough County - CD 09 and 11Martin County - CD 16 and 23Miami - CD 17 and 20Orange CountyPalm Beach County - CD 16, 19 22 and 23Pinellas County - CD 09, 10 and 11Polk County - CD 12Sarasota County - CD 17 and 20Tallahassee Want to bring progressive change to Florida? Start a PDA chapter; send us an email and we'll get you started.