NY Times: OWS Sues Scam Artist-Leader Over Stolen Twitter Account

September 18th, 2014 12:53 PM

It appears that the folks in Occupy Wall Street would have done themselves a favor if they had followed NewsBusters. Why? Because over three years ago your humble correspondent wrote about how Justin Wedes, who was one of the OWS leaders, attempted to cheat taxpayers by forging documents in order to fraudulently obtain a government grant. Now the OWS people have learned the hard way that Wedes can't be trusted.

As reported by the New York Times, OWS activists are now suing Wedes for taking over their Twitter account. In addition they are asking for $500,000 in damages. So now that OWS is learning about the nature of their former leader, they are also wondering if he was engaged in financial improprieties while hogging their Twitter account. We shall get the the OWS entertaining denunciation of Wedes but first the Times report:

During the primacy of the Occupy movement in New York, people across the country followed @OccupyWallStNYC and other social media accounts to track the latest developments, from encampments to conflicts. Now one group of activists is accusing a former comrade of taking unilateral control of the shared account and locking out the organizers he had once collaborated with.

According to a lawsuit, which was filed on Wednesday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, the Twitter account was created in summer 2011 by Adbusters, the Canadian magazine that first called for an occupation of Wall Street. The resulting protests began on Sept. 17, 2011.

Adbusters turned the account over to Marisa Holmes, the lawsuit said, a filmmaker and activist who had helped to moderate Occupy meetings in August 2011 in Tompkins Square Park. Ms. Holmes, in turn, gave others access to the account, which now has 177,000 followers.

But in August, Justin Wedes, one of those with access, changed the passwords and locked out his fellow administrators, according to the lawsuit.

“Each and every day that goes by while Wedes remains in control of the Twitter account is another day of plaintiff’s lost opportunity to speak to the Twitter audience that they worked to cultivate and rightly should control,” the suit states.

...The suit is asking the court to order Mr. Wedes to turn over control of the Twitter account to OWS Media Group. The suit also seeks $500,000 in compensatory damages, and requests an injunction forbidding Mr. Wedes from turning over control of the account to anyone else or sending further messages from the account.

Mr. Wedes did not appear ready to comply. Not long after the lawsuit was filed on Wednesday, the account offered a new post: “Lawyers are the tools of the 1% and their children. We believe in class war.”

The message was deleted less than an hour after it had been posted.

And now the OWS denunciation of Justin Wedes as an Enemy of the People:

Throughout our brief history there have been opportunists who would use the name to build their personal careers and benefit financially from their association with Occupy Wall Street. Often, these people have taken advantage of their access to online resources that act as megaphones to spread our movement's message. Such abuse of power takes away from the solidarity and unity that needs to exist in order to do the necessary work at hand.

These people operate much like disaster capitalists, preying on the poor and disenfranchised who are deep in their struggles for self determination. A community's struggle becomes sheerly a platform to amplify their own voices and build their personal brands. Those of us on the inside have watched this play out over and over and have tried to maintain the integrity of our messaging and in some cases have failed. Addressing these abuses of power always takes away energy from the more important and urgent work at hand. The ensuing controversy sometimes spills out over the public domain (like right now) and appears to the outside world as petty infighting that does more damage to our reputation and therefore our ability to be effective activists. These abuses of power and the ensuing fallout ultimately damages the name of Occupy Wall Street, which many of us have worked very hard to create.

The OWS version of an APB was issued which includes the suspicion of financial misdeeds by the alleged perp:

It is our wish with this letter to send a warning to activists and organizers across the globe about a certain individual who is claiming to represent Occupy Wall Street: Justin Wedes.

Justin's mode of operation repeats, much as the aforementioned disaster capitalists. He aligns himself with communities in crisis and then dominates the messaging by procuring media space and crowd source funding sites with no accountability. He is doing damage to people already in crisis and channeling much needed resources away from those he claims to be representing. All the while relentlessly promoting himself as some kind of white savior. It is our wish that this person be stopped and not allowed to exploit any more people in his path.

Justin Wedes has taken advantage of his access to the 174,000 follower strong Twitter account, @OccupyWallStNYC to build support for various pet projects over the years and make a name for himself.

When Justin was called to account for abusing this movement megaphone, he chose to silence dissent by kicking everyone who disagreed with him off the account, which as it turned out was everyone else on the team. Late last Friday night, August 8th—without cause or warning—Justin bypassed various levels of security and changed a series of passwords to hijack this historic account, unceremoniously stealing access from 14 fellow team members.

OWS might inquire how the forger managed to travel all over the world the past few years. Since Wedes had no regular job, where did his funds come from? Perhaps OWS should obtain the services of a Wall Street financial expert to investigate how Wedes handled the money obtained by his fundraising.

Exit question: Will Justin Wedes call upon Ketchup as his character witness?