Occupy Wall Street’s Final Implosion

Infighting and backbiting that has crippled the movement plays out on Twitter, 140 characters at a time. Updated with comment from Justine Tunney

Updated 3:47 p.m., Feb. 8

Occupy Wall Street is dead — but its Twitter account is alive, and it’s become a fascinating hotbed of infighting between rival factions of the group that once slept out in New York’s Zuccotti Park.

Activist Justine Tunney, a Google engineer, has wrested control of the main @OccupyWallSt Twitter account away from other activists and is taking shots at important figures from the movement, including academic David Graeber, considered by some to be the intellectual father of Occupy. Though Tunney founded the account in 2011, other activists once had access to it. The big question: Who founded Occupy?

“I was the founding organizer of this movement,” Tunney tweeted from @OccupyWallSt on Thursday. “But prejudiced people have always tried to deny me a voice in this movement.”

Tunney noticed that Google names organizer Justin Wedes as the founder of Occupy, and asked followers to put a stop to it:

(White is a former editor at the magazine Adbusters, which put out the original call for people to organize in lower Manhattan in 2011. His personal website describes him as “the American creator of the Occupy Wall Street meme.”)

Tunney then went after David Graeber:

On Twitter, Wedes reacted with humor.

But the Twitter feed has become a serious issue among Occupy Wall Street’s participants, most of whom have moved on to other causes. It has reopened old wounds dating back from before the occupation of the park, and raised awkward questions about how the movement failed and what it meant in the first place. Tunney has even become the target of a Change.org petition asking her to relinquish management of OccupyWallSt.org’s blog.

The Twitter feed “devolved into irrelevance, like so many others. I haven’t tweeted on it in months since I was summarily excommunicated by Justine,” said Shawn Carrié (whose real last name is Schrader), a New York-based activist who was once heavily involved in the movement.

“We always knew she was trouble, I should’ve taken it away when I had the password,” Carrié said.

“It needs to implode,” Carrié said of Occupy. “It needs to die so something new can be born.”

There is some disagreement over whether the @OccupyWallSt hijacking is indicative of a larger problem, or just an issue with one person.

“This moment indicates with the highest clarity how absolutely dead the Occupy Movement is,” Carrié tweeted earlier on Friday to OWS organizer Tim Fitzgerald, who tweets as @DiceyTroop.

“Yes, but it’s justine’s actions that illustrate that. not the people being like ‘why are you taking our movement from us?’” Fitzgerald responded.

Tunney’s been active on her personal Twitter feed, as well, where she’s been directly interacting with some of her targets.

“How about a little solidarity,” she tweeted at Wedes, who called Tunney’s commandeering of the @OccupyWallSt account an “insurrection.”

“What’s your vision? If you want, send a statement & I’ll read it to #TweetBoat on conf call tonight. We’ll craft response,” Wedes said.

“Also what do you mean by ‘response’? Are we rival political factions now, or something?” Tunney said.

“It’s just radical activists doing what radical activists do: get indignant,” Tunney told BuzzFeed in an email when reached for comment. “Nothing has changed.”

Tunney continued:

Micah White founded the movement when he published a call to action in a Canadian magazine. I was the founding organizer and I ran all the behind the scenes logistics. These things are facts. There isn’t any fight going on. That’s just how it is. The truth is immutable.

I also never said anything about being a leader or wanting to be a leader. You assumed that. The whole reason why Occupy is leaderless is because I didn’t want to be the leader. And I didn’t want anyone else to be the leader either, because then they’d be asserting authority over me.

You might also want to consider talking to people who aren’t my political enemies when you write articles about me. Your reporting isn’t fair and balanced. You basically wrote a hit piece on me.

I recommend talking to someone like Nathan Schneider, who has written about me in the past in a nicer way than you did: http://www.thenation.com/article/176142/breaking-occupy?page=full

When I was organizing Occupy, I was a homeless trans woman with cancer. Many people like Dicey Troop and Shawn Carré have harassed me, stalked me on Twitter, and spread lies about me repeatedly. They do these things because they’re bigoted dudes.

Thanks for throwing me under the bus Rosie.

CORRECTION: Tim Fitzgerald is an Occupy Wall Street organizer. An earlier version of this post referred to him by the name of his Twitter account. (2/9/14)

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