Occupied Websites

Without direct insider information, we can’t truly know if the Occupied movement is an astroturf operation, but the charge has been made in various places as the noise machine has increased the reach and presence of branches of the Occupy Wall Street movement. This means we’ll have to rely on our powers of observation and reason to determine where the movement came from and where it’s going, what it’s purpose is and who benefits.

When I’m trying to figure something out, I tend to look first for data that can be grouped. This can often flush out an otherwise obscured pattern. When I saw that Indianapolis was in the process of being organized for the Occupied movement and found the website, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities to the Obama 2012 campaign’s Attack Watch website. This led me to investigate other websites devoted to occupying other cities to see if there were further similarities. What follows is a brief but incomplete survey of various occupied websites directed at cities, related to the Occupy Wall Street movement.

I want to stress that this research does not de facto prove that the Occupied movement is an astroturf operation, but certain aspects and collective characteristics do allow for categorization, suggesting few hands are in the pot to create a branded movement. The reasons for the similarities could be as simple as e-mail directions going out to various dedicated activists, or could be the design of more coordinated group. Obviously Crawdad Hole readers can and will decide for themselves what conclusions are warranted. As reminder, here’s the definition and history of astroturfing.


There are two kinds of Occupy “Your City Here” Websites. One is a dot org, and with a few exceptions, they seem to related in aesthetic thematics. Dot orgs are not replicas of each other, but they almost all follow a similar aesthetic vein, using a black, white and red visual arrangement. Some sites are accented with grays and pinks as well. Art work tends to be thematic as well, often harkening back to the 1960s activist style of art (large words arranged on top of each other, fists, and peace signs, etc), with some suggestion of modernistic iconography related to the earlier labor movement (which the original 1960s artwork tended to emulate as well). Information is often arranged as a bar at the top of the page, allowing users to access events, blogs, donation services, maps, etc. Most had twitter and facebook links.

An example of Occupied Art from the Occupy Atlanta website.

The other kind of occupied website is a dot com website, and they are all perfect mirrors of each other, with white backgrounds, black and red text, and six video boxes that show the exact same media messages related to the Occupied movement. Dot com websites include a list of links to all the other replicated occupied movement sites. They also sponsor advertisements. The dot com websites might be the creation of this PR firm, which volunteered its services pro bono to Occupy Wall Street.

List of Dot Orgs

The dot orgs can be categorized a few different ways. Most of them use the tagline “We are the 99%.” Some use a website format very similar to President Obama’s Attack Watch Website, with a black background and red and white text. These websites fall into that category:

Occupy Indianapolis Black background with red and white text.

Occupy Louisville Black background with red and white text. Fleur-de-lis represented, which is the symbol of Louisville.

Others belong thematically to the inverse; a white background with red and black text. There may be a few design differences, but they generally follow a pattern of colors and information arrangement. The sites may be enhanced by iconography that favors the home city and/or is meaningful to its residents.  Most of these websites use the “We are the 99%” tagline.

Occupy Together A conglomerate site to allow smaller cities to organize and advertise. White background with red and black text.

Occupy NOLA White background with red-font header and black text. Icon of a fist used.

Occupy St. Louis White background with red-font header and black text. St. Louis Arch represented.

Occupy Austin White background with red and black text.

Occupy Dallas White background with red and black text.

Occupy Houston Tagline: dedicated to ending the corporate corruption of democracy.

Occupy Cincinnati this website is slightly different, using a white background, and shades of pink and gray, instead of the red and white text. Skyline of Cinti represented.

Occupy Ashville Similar white, red, and black visual thematics. An old-fashioned microphone graced with a peace sign and some suggestions of sea gulls complete the effect.

Occupy Salt Lake City This one has the same color thematics, but it also has “We the people” overlay on the photo graphic, giving it a tea party feel. Not sure what the beehive is about. Might be a SLC thing. Like several other sites, the hashtag symbol (#) is incorporated into the text.

Urban Occupation

A few of the websites I found have a little more diverse layout, all of which are unsurprisingly in progressive/urban hotbeds from which cultural trends tend to emanate.

Occupy Chicago Occupy Chicago uses a white background with a gray Chicago skyline graphic and red accents.

Occupy DC ODC uses a muted set of colors on a white background. Pastel pink, yellow, and blue set it apart from other dot org sites.

Occupy Seattle This website looks more like the old BarackObama.com site (since redesigned for 2012), with the blending of soft blues and the digital equivalent of watermarks on the page. A website going by Occupy Party (also a dot org) looks remarkably similar.

Occupy Atlanta is the occupied website that most strongly suggests unity with Obama. The color scheme is related to Occupy Seattle

Occupy Denver OD has the most unique layout of all, with a green header, white background with gray and black text, and dates in a kind of teal.

All of the dot org websites that have funding options (and not all do, but most do) transact through a company started in 2008 called WePay. Here’s some pertinent information on that company and its founders.

List of Dot Coms

This is just a short sample list of the dot coms. Any of the others can be accessed via any of these pages. Just scroll down to the end of any page for a comprehensive list of sites. As I said earlier, they are all exactly the same, which means they were all created together and are likely linked to be updated simultaneously. This is definitely an astroturf operation. I don’t have any information about who is organizing these sites, but they may be the product of the corporate PR firm Workhouse Publicity, which specializes in publicity and branding.

Occupy Alaska
Occupy Connecticut
Occupy Corpus Christi
Occupy Des Moines
Occupy Detroit
Occupy Kansas City
Occupy Knoxville
Occupy Lansing
Occupy Laredo
Occupy Las Vegas
Occupy Little Rock
Occupy Minnesota
Occupy Missouri
Occupy Modesto
Occupy Oklahoma City
Occupy St Paul
Occupy St Petersburg
Occupy Tacoma
Occupy Tampa
Occupy Virginia Beach
Occupy West Virginia
Occupy Yonkers

So that’s it. That’s the down-low on my small survey. We report; you decide. Does it look like astroturf to you?

About Woke Lola

Bitch, please.
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64 Responses to Occupied Websites

  1. votermom says:

    There’s also this:

    Bill Ayers posts “Occupy Wall Street! Collective statement of the protesters…”

    It doesn’t prove astroturf, but I consider it strong circumstantial evidence.

    (And so is the fact that the cheetos are shilling it now. Might just be opportunism.)

  2. Excellent investigative reporting! You lay it all out in one place- easily accessible. Thanks!
    Utah is “The Beehive State”- if that helps.

    • Lola-at-Large says:

      Oh, that does help with SLC! Thanks for the feedback! I don’t want people to take my word for it. I want them to look for themselves. And now they can do side-by-side comparisons. 🙂

    • Mary says:

      Agree! Well done, Lola! And thanks for posting.

  3. ralphb says:

    Excellent advice for avoiding astroturfing…

    “Astro-turfing the Occupy Wall Street Movement: Can it Happen?”


    With a link to the open letter from a former “tea party movement adherent to the Occupy Wall Street movement.” The author, Vas Littlecrow, offers some advice for the protesters.

    • WMCB says:

      I hope that some of these people can tell the Obot progressives to piss right off and make it their own.

      My gauge for whether or not that is happening is whether I start seeing actual criticism of and anger at Obama and the Democratic party. Not just “this isn’t about supporting Obama”, but real holding him accountable for his part in this mess.

      If that doesn’t happen, then they ARE being used, whether they know it or not.

      • ralphb says:

        One of the things I think they should do is stay out of politics on an individual or party support basis. It would be good for me to see Obama slammed by them but I think it would not be good for them if they want a movement.

        • WMCB says:

          That makes about as much sense as protesting rendition and the wars, but let’s stay apolitical and not mention Bush.

        • ralphb says:

          The occupy people don’t see this as a one person or one party or even only as a political problem. They see is as systemic to our current culture. I had my dreams and I’m willing to let them have theirs. Praise God, I am not my father.

      • Lola-at-Large says:

        I don’t know, this just seems a little too pat. The people being drawn to this are generally young, with some support from the traditional boomer-hippie faction. They are skeptical that the Democrats have their interests at heart, but they are very convinced that Republicans support Wall Street, and Wall Street is the enemy. A group like that, allowed to simmer for a few months, could easily be turned and unleashed against any traction conservatives and/or Republicans might be able to gain in an election year (not that I care). This is a pot of potent stuff in the making, and I don’t underestimate it anymore than I did the Tea Party. But because of it’s make up of inexperienced people, and with the sharks already circling, I suspect it will be easily cowed by cultural cues.

        The one thing that nags me is that it seems a bit overkill. Palin’s out. I suspect that means that Obama walks the bases to re-election. It doesn’t really matter who the opposition is now, because there is no person running who really cares about the country and how to set it right after years of mismanagement. They all want to buy into the same shell game Obama’s playing and Bush played before him. The interview is for Wall Street waiter, to put it in Longesque terms. They all suck. But overkill is part of the Obama playbook, I suppose. He needs something to excite certain segments of his base, and it wasn’t going to be him, so a proxy movement makes sense, where he can slip in at the last minute, just like some frat boy date-rape scenario…

        • WMCB says:

          He needs something to excite certain segments of his base, and it wasn’t going to be him, so a proxy movement makes sense, where he can slip in at the last minute, just like some frat boy date-rape scenario…

          Bingo. The only hope Obama has for reelection is a) the black vote, and b) the youth vote. Both of whom have been under-motivated, and he needs them in big angry numbers if he’s to have a prayer.

          Isn’t it odd that all of a sudden, just as election season is starting, we have a) lots of race baiting, and b) a shiny new youth movement to engage and fire up the children?

          I’m sure it’s just coincidence.

  4. 1539days says:

    Oh goody. We have a blog war with the Confluence now. Anyway, my definition of astroturf includes big labor sending people to the occupations. I understand unions represent solidarity and all that, but they are organizations with a lot of money who work almost exclusively with Democrats and contribute the most to Democratic campaigns.

  5. ralphb says:

    Where’s Denise? I just saw a couple of Gadsden flags at occupyaustin. There was a lady from the Tea Party speaking.

    Uh oh, there’s an “Obama Sux” sign with one of the people by the street.

    • WMCB says:

      Cool! Maybe the TX protestors at least are getting a clue.

      • ralphb says:

        Lots of this is a typical Austin protest. Young people playing music and dancing, just having a great time. While others are carrying signs about a ton of different things by the streets. Ron Paul people are out there. End corporate welfare, stop the political bribery, end the federal reserve, no more quantitative easing.

        My sympathies are with the bang the bongos, smoke weed camp.

  6. WMCB says:

    The usual tactics. I guess when people started noticing that the protests were awfully white, they decided to fix that with a little astroturf. Frantic phone calls went out – “Get us some brown people up in here!” Video at the link.

    A liberal organizer told the Daily Caller on Thursday afternoon that he paid some Hispanics to attend “Occupy DC” protests happening in the nation’s capital.

    TheDC attended the protest event, an expansion of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that began in New York City. Some aspects of the protest, it turned out, are more Astroturf than grassroots.

    One group of about ten Hispanic protesters marched behind a Caucasian individual from the DC Tenants Advocacy Coalition, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting rent control in Washington, D.C.

    Asked why they were there, some Hispanic protesters holding up English protest signs could not articulate what their signs said.

    Interviewed in Spanish, the protesters told conflicting stories about how their group was organized. Some said it was organized at their church, and that they were there as volunteers. Others, however, referred to the man from the DC Tenants Advocacy Coalition — the only Caucasian in the group — as their “boss.”

    TheDC asked that organizer whether he was paying the group to attend the protest, and he conceded that some protesters “aren’t” volunteers.

    “Some of them are volunteers. Some of them aren’t,” he explained. “I can’t identify them. I’m not going to get into an identification game.”

    Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2011/10/06/organizer-admits-to-paying-occupy-dc-protesters-video/#ixzz1a3AWFSyu

  7. WMCB says:

    Some kind of big fight going on in the Senate. R’s trying to force a vote on Obama’s jobs bill, Reid twisting in circles and getting pissy to try to avoid it.

    It’s all over twitter, dunno the details yet.

    amandacarpenter Amanda Carpenter
    You can’t make it up. President Obama: “Pass this bill now!” Harry Reid shuts down the Senate to avoid the vote.
    7 minutes ago

    amandacarpenter Amanda Carpenter
    This isn’t about saving time. This isn’t about “germaneness.” Reid is locking down the Senate to avoid tough votes.
    10 minutes ago

    amandacarpenter Amanda Carpenter
    Senate could have voted on all seven GOP amendments in less time than it took for Reid to nuke the Senate
    12 minutes ago

    amandacarpenter Amanda Carpenter
    The bill being considered is supposed to create jobs. DeMint amendment, which was blocked, was on right-to-work. Pretty germane to me!
    12 minutes ago

    amandacarpenter Amanda Carpenter
    Reid: “Waste of time” RT @StewSays: One of the amendments we will now not vote on is the President’s #stimulus bill.
    22 minutes ago

    JimDeMint Jim DeMint
    by amandacarpenter
    Dems rammed through Obamacare, stimulus and now rammed through rules to gag minority rights.
    33 minutes ago

    amandacarpenter Amanda Carpenter
    Telling that Reid is changing the rules of the Senate as GOP was trying to force an embarrassing vote on Obama’s jobs bill…
    32 minutes ago

    JimDeMint Jim DeMint
    by amandacarpenter
    World’s Greatest Deliberative Body now doesn’t allow minority amendments unless we get majority’s permission.
    34 minutes ago

    amandacarpenter Amanda Carpenter
    GOP needs amendments bc it is the minority’s only way to force votes–Reid’s taking away that right
    36 minutes ago

    amandacarpenter Amanda Carpenter
    For those wondering what happened, Reid changed Senate rules to block GOP amendments. This is a big deal.
    38 minutes ago

    amandacarpenter Amanda Carpenter
    The real question is, why is Reid going nuclear now? 2012 sure is coming quick!
    44 minutes ago

    SenLeeComs Brian Phillips
    by amandacarpenter
    Reid just nuked the Senate
    56 minutes ago

  8. WMCB says:

    Say goodbye to the filibuster rule:

    The surprise move stunned Republicans, who did not expect Reid to bring heavy artillery to what had been a humdrum knife fight over amendments to China currency legislation.

    Reid appealed a ruling from the chair that Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) does not need unanimous consent to force a vote on a motion to suspend the rules to consider amendments after cloture has already been approved.

    The chair, which was occupied by Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), ruled under the advice of the Senate parliamentarian that Republicans had the right to force a vote on a motion to suspend the rules and proceed to President Obama’s controversial jobs bill.

    Republicans planned to use this right of the minority to embarrass Obama by showing that many Democrats do not support his jobs package as originally drafted. But Reid moved to kill their plan by appealing the chair’s ruling, triggering a vote.

    The maneuver is arcane but momentous. If a simple majority of the Senate votes with Reid and strikes down the ruling, the chamber’s precedent will be changed through the unilateral action of one party.

    Republicans had considered using this maneuver, dubbed the “nuclear option,” in 2005 to change Senate rules to prohibit the filibuster of judicial nominees. Democrats decried the plan and the crisis was resolved by a bipartisan agreement forged by 14 rank-and-file senators known as the Gang of 14.

    Senate Republicans were furious at Reid’s actions.

    “Just wait until they get into the minority!” one GOP staffer growled.

  9. WMCB says:

    Ok, not the filibuster itself, but a precedent that could end it by simple majority vote. From Ace of Spades:

    Basically it seems the Democrats have stripped the GOP of the chance to offer amendments. This is going to bite the Democrats in the ass hard several ways once they find themselves in the minority.

    Just got an email from someone in the Senate. It’s not the filibuster but the ability to change the Senate rules by simple majority vote (instead of 2/3s vote). The rule they are trying to change has to do with the ability to close off the option of offering amendments.

    Reid’s maneuver works. The precedent has been set that Senate rules can be changed by majority vote.

    This means the Senate rules can be changed by majority vote and the minority can’t offer amendments without majority approval.

    What this is about: Reid didn’t want to let McConnell bring up Obama’s job plan and force Democrats to vote against it. Pass This Bill Now (unless it would be an embarrassing to Democrats).

    So, the GOP wins the Senate in ’12, nukes the filibuster and then repeals ObamaCare?


    This is pretty crazy and it’s going to take some time to sort out.

    • Karma says:

      Hmmmm….should be interesting.

      And is Reid actually sabotaging Obamacare? He has to understand the implications.

  10. Three Wickets says:

    Looks great Lola. Catching up on threads, here are some pics from the DC event via an Alternet link.

  11. yttik says:

    Good investigative work! I think you should be teaching some of our journalists how it’s done.

  12. WMCB says:

    Still trying to wrap my head around what just happened in the Senate.
    It’s an arcane rules thing, and I’m not sure I fully get it. But here’s my best shot:

    My understanding is that senate rules said that the minority party could add on amendments to a bill after cloture, but before final passage.

    The R’s tried to add on the boob’s jobs plan to another bill, and Reid panicked, because the Dems neither want to vote for O’s ludicrous plan, nor embarrass their president by voting against it. So they’ve been playing avoid-the-issue-and-blame-McConnell. (Some might call that a “political stunt” by the R’s, but I see it as making the D’s stand up and own their own shit, instead of whining that it’s the mean GOP who won’t pass the holy sacred bill.)

    Anyhoo – Reid, in his panic not to get Obama loser cooties on the Dem senators, changed the rules of the Senate on the fly, by basically abolishing the “minority party can offer amendments after cloture” rule. He called for a simple majority vote to change that rule RIGHT NOW, THIS MINUTE and the Dims backed him up. It was a real Dick move.

    The precedent is now set that a) the minority party can no longer force a vote on anything by offering amendments, effectively giving them ZERO voice anymore in the Senate, and b) there is some discussion as to whether this might mean that the filibuster rule can now be as handily done away with by simple majority vote whenever one pleases – but that part is still fuzzy to me.

    Either way, the Dems are going to regret this come 2012 when they lose their majority.

  13. Lola-at-Large says:

    Artwork found at Occupy Houston’s WePay page same as the artwork featured here from Atlanta.

  14. Three Wickets says:

    @elliottjustin: Down here at #ows general assembly. Current topic: requests for $$ for art project proposals

    Ooh, this will turn the economy around.

  15. Three Wickets says:

    Thankfully I missed BO’s speech this morning, so this seems like a decent summary.

    (Reuters) – President Barack Obama launched an onslaught against banks and Republicans on Thursday for working to block financial reform, using a populist tone amid public anger over Wall Street practices.

    Obama, a Democrat who is fighting for re-election in 2012 against a backdrop of high unemployment, said his Republican opponents’ primary plan to boost the economy involved rolling back Wall Street regulation his administration fought to pass.

  16. Three Wickets says:

    Article is Ezra summarizing someone named Rich Yeselson.

    Finally, the emergence of the Wall Street movement is a reminder that the liberal left has not in quite a few years actually driven anything like a mass social movement in this country. When Obama was elected, some people made the mistake of thinking that an election-bounded jolt of energy that conflated a charismatic candidate with a popular political vision was such a movement. Nobody thinks that anymore.

    The left does have something important however: a coterie of several thousand intellectuals, academics, writers, and engaged professionals who articulate liberal public policy, generate empirical and analytical expertise through the Internet, the media, and universities, and staff the offices of advocacy groups and progressive politicians on the local and national level.

    Yes, and it turns out most of these “progressives” are elitist, sexist, and patronizingly racist.

    • WMCB says:

      I love that second paragraph. Yes, Ezra, you have quite the “coterie” of impeccably credentialed persons, who can write and articulate and generate and analyze and advocate, and do it all so veddy veddy empirically. I am quite sure that, by all rights and in a sane society, persons such as yourselves should be ruling the whole goddamned world, no? For their own good, of course. You and all the rest of the High Priests of Let-Me-Tell-You-Cretins-What’s-Good-For-You.

      So bravo on the preening over what you have, Ezra. What you do not have, Ezra, is anyone who knows or understands fuck-all about the unruly, individualist, ordinary, embarrassingly bourgeois citizens of the country you seek to take charge of. I know it’s sad to be all dressed up in your shiniest credentials, groomed and prepped to lead the poor ignorant masses to the safety of your enlightened leadership, only to find that the ignorant rubes would prefer charting their own course to following their betters. But there it is. Le sigh.

      • WMCB says:

        You seem to have an enormous blind spot, Ezra. And that blind spot is the fallacious assumption that we out here see ourselves as you see us – as a collective who need only make the proper choice as to who best deserves to arrange our lives for us, vs. a bad choice of who is most deserving of that role. It never even enters your beautiful tiny mind that it could be otherwise.

        You have a blind spot, Ezra. Don’t look now, but a giant electoral baseball bat is whizzing right toward that blind spot. It’s being swung in the hands of a whole lot of infuriating, stubborn, self-determinate, chaotic, why practically ungovernable individual Americans. When you wake up that November morning with a pounding headache and utter confusion as to what just happened, that will be your empirical evidence that we think you are full of shit.

  17. Mary says:

    Article from Mother Jones (not a wingnut group) titled “Occupy Wall Street, POWERED BY BIG LABOR”

    Says Unions are sending food, busing members to protests, strategizing with OWS leaders.

    Also, making BIG BUCKS donations to support funds for more rallies all over the country.

    Groups include AFL-CIO, SEIU, Teamsters, NY State United Teachers, and more.

  18. Saudyssey says:

    Nice catch. Remember Unity08? Turned out to be astroturf for Bloomberg.

  19. J. Clifford says:

    Here’s what I see. I see some activists trading graphics, and using each other’s texts as inspiration for each other. It’s easy to take a basic graphic, and then change the text in a Photoshop program.

    These groups are definitely communicating and trading resources back and forth. Down in D.C., I was there in Freedom Plaza when a team from Occupy Wall Street came down to help set up a live stream. It wasn’t a central organization that made this happen. It was people communicating online to see where help was needed and how help could be given.

    There were very very few big organization signs in Freedom Plaza. Most were individually created, and a huge number of individuals and small groups were involved. I saw absolutely no signs of astroturf there.

    I think when we see web sites that look alike, there may be some web designers offering their help to several groups. What I see are signs of cultural diffusion, not astroturfing.

  20. Add OccupyMemphis.org – we are the 99% ! 🙂

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