Stephen Lerner, a controversial anti-capitalist SEIU organizer, is one of the forces behind the protests on Wall Street and nationwide, according to quotes obtained by a socialist activist who doubles as a Washington Post columnist.
WND was first to report Lerner was the brain behind some of the economic protest templates being used by the Occupy Wall Street campaign.
Lerner recently laid out a mass economic protest plan intended to bring down the stock market, and boasted his plan could be used to cause a new financial crisis. His ideology prompted some conservative critics to go so far as to label him an economic terrorist.
Writing in the Washington Post on Tuesday, columnist Harold Meyerson, the vice-chair of Democratic Socialists of America, quoted Lerner describing how a coalition is fomenting the current economic protests.
Lerner described himself as part of that coalition, referring to the organizations behind the demonstrations as “we.”
Lerner told Meyerson: “It’s a confluence of planned and unplanned demonstrations … . We build on each other. We go ping-ponging back and forth.”
The Occupy Wall Street unrest first started Sept. 17 with a protest called the “Day of Rage.”
Planners used their own website – USDayofRage.org – which told protesters to “bring your own tent.” That website is now a sister site for the Occupy Wall Street initiative.
The website is not specific about the purpose of the protests other than calling for “integrity” to be “restored to our elections.”
The site accuses corporations of using “money to act as the voices of millions, while individual citizens, the legitimate voters, are silenced and demoralized by the farce.”
In March, ACORN founder Wade Rathke announced what he called “days of rage in 10 cities around JP Morgan Chase.” Rathke was president of an SEIU local in New Orleans.
The planned Sept. 17 protest seems to have been the culmination of Rathke’s efforts.
WND reported how those efforts were organized by Lerner, an SEIU board member who reportedly visited the Obama White House at least four times.
Lerner is considered one of the most capable organizers of the radical left. He recently organized the SEIU’s so-called Justice for Janitors campaign.
As part of his planned protests, Lerner called for “a week of civil disobedience, direct action all over the city.”
His stated aim was to “destabilize the folks that are in power and start to rebuild a movement.”
In an interview about the Wall Street protests, Lerner outlined his goals: “How do we bring down the stock market? How do we bring down their bonuses? How do we interfere with their ability to, to be rich?”
Lerner came under fire in the conservative blogosphere and digital news in March after he laid out an economic plan some claimed amounts to economic terrorism.
In an oped titled “This can be our moment,” published in the radical In These Times magazine, Lerner calls on followers to “go on offense” and “make Wall Street pay for the trillions it stole from us.”
Lerner outlined his campaign to “stoke simmering discontent into concrete, concerted direct action to challenge corporate extremism.”
Lerner’s campaign was intended to sow “the seeds of a movement that turns the tables on them [Wall Street].”
The Blaze.com first posted a video of Lerner addressing a conference in which he stated the aim of such an economic campaign would be, among other things, to “bring down the stock market.”
Lerner continued, “There are actually extraordinary things we could do right now to start to destabilize the folks that are in power and start to rebuild a movement.”
During the presentation, Lerner called for a mass strike by mortgage payers that, he said, could cause a new financial crisis.
Stated Lerner: “And so the question would be, what would happen if we organized homeowners en masse to do a mortgage strike. Just say if we get, and, and, if we get half a million people to agree, we’ll all not, we’ll agree we won’t pay our mortgages, it would literally cause a new financial crisis.”
Lerner’s plan had him dubbed an “economic terrorist” in headlines by writers for American Thinker and a multitude of blogs. TheBlaze.com owner Glenn Beck used the “economic terrorist” label for Lerner, as well.
Forecast for American cities: Confrontation, intimidation?
There are other indications a coalition of radicals and unions is planning chaos using the current economic crisis.
WND reported that a slew of extremist organizations, some tied to Obama, are preparing protests to coincide with major NATO and G-8 summits in Chicago next May.
Foreshadowing possible violent confrontations, some of the same radical trainers behind the infamous 1999 Seattle riots against the World Trade Organization have been mobilizing new protest efforts geared toward world summits as well as the current economic crisis.
The NATO and G-8 summits are not the only focus of radical groups.
WND reported Heather Booth, director of a Saul Alinsky-style community organizing group, the Midwest Academy, was among the main speakers at the “2011 State Battles Summit” in June at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Booth’s husband, Paul, also was a speaker at the union summit. Paul Booth co-founded Midwest Academy in the 1970s.
The four-day summit was organized by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, with participation from the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest union.
An official schedule for the event, obtained by WND, declared: “Our union is under unprecedented attack in every state. Extremist politicians want to weaken us as we head into 2012. Their tactics include budget cuts, layoffs, privatization and the denial of our very collective bargaining rights.”
Continued the flyer: “New challenges require new energy and new thinking. We encourage union activists to attend this conference and bring their creative ideas on how to overcome the challenges ahead.”
Heather Booth participated in a panel entitled, “Our Message, Alliances and Best Practices.”
Paul Booth delivered the opening remarks for the union conference.
Another speaker at the union event was John Podesta, who co-chaired President Obama’s transition team.
Podesta is president of the Center for American Progress, which is heavily influential in advising the White House. The center is funded by philanthropist George Soros.
Mideast revolutions coming to U.S.?
Citizen Action of Wisconsin, an arm of Booth’s Midwest Academy, is part of the Moving Wisconsin Forward movement, one of the main organizers of the major Wisconsin protests in February, as WND first reported.
The protests were in opposition to Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal for most state workers to pay 12 percent of their health care premiums and 5.8 percent of their salary toward their own pensions.
WND reported at the time speakers at the rallies likened the Wisconsin protests to the ongoing revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa while calling for similar uprisings in the U.S.
‘Redistribution of wealth and power’
Obama himself once funded Midwest Academy. He has been closely tied to Heather Booth.
Booth has stated building a ”progressive majority” would help for ”a fair distribution of wealth and power and opportunity.”
Her husband Paul is a founder and the former national secretary of Students for a Democratic Society, the radical 1960s anti-war movement from which unrepentant radical Bill Ayers’ Weather Underground splintered.
In 1999, the Booths’ Midwest Academy received $75,000 from the Woods Fund with Obama on its board alongside Ayers, In 2002, with Obama still serving on the Woods Fund, Midwest received another $23,500 for its Young Organizers Development Program.
Midwest describes itself as “one of the nation’s oldest and best-known schools for community organizations, citizen organizations and individuals committed to progressive social change.”
It later morphed into a national organizing institute for an emerging network of organizations known as Citizen Action.
Discover the Networks describes Midwest as “teach[ing] tactics of direct action, confrontation and intimidation.”
WND first reported the executive director of an activist organization that taught Alinsky’s tactics of direct action, confrontation and intimidation was part of the team that developed volunteers for President Obama’s 2008 campaign.
Jackie Kendall, executive director of the Midwest Academy, was on the team that developed and delivered the first Camp Obama training for volunteers aiding Obama’s campaign through the 2008 Iowa Caucuses.
Camp Obama was a two-to-four day intensive course run in conjunction with Obama’s campaign aimed at training volunteers to become activists to help Obama win the presidential election.
Also, in 1998, Obama participated on a panel discussion praising Alinsky alongside Heather Booth, herself a dedicated disciple of Alinsky.
The panel discussion following the opening performance in Chicago of the play “The Love Song of Saul Alinsky,” a work described by the Chicago Sun-Times as “bringing to life one of America’s greatest community organizers.”
Obama participated in the discussion alongside other Alinskyites, including political analyst Aaron Freeman, Don Turner of the Chicago Federation of Labor and Northwestern University history professor Charles Paine.
“Alinsky had so much fire burning within,” stated local actor Gary Houston, who portrayed Alinsky in the play. “There was a lot of complexity to him. Yet he was a really cool character.”
With research by Brenda J. Elliott