Good Morning from Occupy Boston!
Stories of the Day: Tell me they aren’t going to use these on protesters: American police officers may soon be able to use unmanned aircraft not only for surveillance, but also for offensive action. The drones may be equipped to fire rubber rounds and tear gas. The US military and CIA have used drones armed with lethal weapons to target militants overseas for years. The prospect of having “lite” versions of those remotely controlled killer-machines circling over America gave some second thoughts to rights groups. “It’s simply not appropriate to use any force, lethal or non-lethal, on a drone,” Catherine Crump, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told CBSDC. For more, see Drones Over U.S. to Get Weaponized. And the business of marketing drones to law enforcement is booming. Now that Congress has ordered the Federal Aviation Administration to open up U.S. airspace to unmanned vehicles, the aerial surveillance technology first developed in the battle space of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan is fueling a burgeoning market in North America. And even though they’re moving from war zones to American markets, the language of combat and conflict remains an important part of their sales pitch — a fact that ought to concern citizens worried about the privacy implications of domestic drones. For more, see Drones for Urban Warfare. And the TSA is expanding its powers and is now conducting random searches on highways. For the video news report, click here. For a good round-up of recent news about attacks on our civil liberties, including TSA mistreatment of children and adults in airports, see Occupy Albany’s Civil Liberties Review. And a Saudi inventor’s proposal to insert semiconductors subcutaneously in visitors and remotely kill them if they misbehave will not be patented in Germany. Reporters said the document proposed that tiny semiconductors be implanted or placed by injection under the skin of people so their whereabouts could be tracked by global-positioning satellites. This could be used to prevent immigrants overstaying. A model B of the system would contain a poison such as cyanide, which could be released by remote control to “eliminate” people if they became a security risk. The document said this could be used against terrorists or criminals. For more, see Patent for Killer Chip Denied. And a member of Occupy Boston was among the NATO protesters who was attacked by police. He has 10 stitches in his head, and a genuine concern for those who were brutalized even harder. Asked whether he plans to attend the next major action wherever it may be, he answers in the affirmative. For more, see Behind The Stiches: The Face Of Chicago Police Violence At NATO Protests. And Occupy Chicago reports a first-hand account from the NATO protester who was run over by a Chicago Police van: “Amico was hit in the chest and fell hard, slamming his head onto the pavement. ‘It stomped on the gas the second I stepped in front. It was intentional,”’he told OCT. ‘Mind you, they sped off after this. It was a hit and run.’ James “Jack” Amico was struck, thrown to ground, and treated for a concussion at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.” For the story, see CPD’s Hit And Run Victim Exists, And Tells His Story.
Other Occupies/Protests: More than 400 protesters were “kettled” and arrested last night (5/23) in Montreal and mass arrests were reported in other cities in Canada as the student-led demonstrations gained even more momentum. This came after at least 300 people were arrested and twenty were injured in Montreal during weekend clashes between police and protesters, according to CTV. The movement began after a proposed tuition hike of $1,625, which would be implemented over several years. Support rallies were held in some cities in the US. For more, see 400 Arrested in Montreal Last Night, and Protests Spread to Other Cities. And on May 19, at least 20,000 people held a major rally of the local Occupy movement in Frankfurt, Germany, to decry austerity measures affecting much of Europe, the dominance of banks, and what they call untamed capitalism. The protesters peacefully filled the city center of continental Europe’s biggest financial hub on a warm and pleasant afternoon, said Frankfurt police spokesman Ruediger Regis. He said 20,000 people were there, while organizers put the number at 25,000. The protest group, named Blockupy, has called for blocking access to the European Central Bank, which is located in Frankfurt’s business district. For more, see 20,000 March at Frankfurt Occupy Protest Rally and Frankfurt sees 20,000 Protest Austerity. And Germany’s changed social stuctures means there’s a section of voters no longer served by the main parties. They are the only German party that treats freedom not just as an idealistic utopia or an economic principle but as a very real tenet of organisation. They want to protect civil rights, to increase every individual’s range to take action, and to give citizens more power to take part in political decisions through electronic means. Their method of policy-making illustrates their unconventional approach to policy-making. They call it “Liquid Democracy” and it involves members making suggestions online which then get bounced around through chat rooms, which they call Pirate Pads, before emerging from cyberspace into the real world as policy. Polls suggest that the biggest support for the Pirates is among those aged under 34. For more, see The Pirate Party Fills the Political Gap and Germany’s Pirate Party Riding High.
Good Morning from Occupy Boston!
Stories of the Day: Nan Wigmore brought her walker and packed her sign, “Grateful Great Grandmas Circle The Wagons, Support Occupy,” and rode on a bus for some three days, sleeping in the same clothes, to make it to the NATO protests in Chicago.The 75-year-old from Portland, Ore., says she couldn’t imagine being anywhere else despite the discomfort of her journey. For her, there was nothing more important than being in Chicago protesting against NATO, calling for money to go to health care, for example, and not to war. She said she was “very serious” about her protesting and did not intend to stop. For more, see Great-Grandma: “Ready to Lose My Life” Protesting. On Sunday, veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, including Scott Olsen of Occupy Oakland who marched with a helmet after having had his skull fractured by police months ago at a protest, as well as members of Afghans For Peace, led a peace march of thousands of people. Iraq Veterans Against the War held a ceremony where nearly 50 veterans discarded their war medals by hurling them down the street in the direction of the NATO summit. “I am giving back my global war on terror service medal in solidarity with the people of Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Jason Heard, a former combat medic who spent 10 years in the U.S. Army. “I am deeply sorry for the destruction that we have caused in these countries and around the globe.” See the video here. And they gathered at the corner of Washington and Dearborn Streets armed with bulbous red clown noses and huge painted smiles on their faces. A few of them honked horns, others shouted “hooray, hooray, hooray” in squeaky clown voices. But these clowns were not performing at a child’s birthday party. Instead, they were protesting at the National Nurses United rally against NATO. “Think rodeo clown,” Vermin Supreme, a protesting clown from Baltimore, said. Supreme and his clownish cohorts are part of a movement affiliated with Occupy Wall Street known as ClownBloq. A rodeo clown’s main job is to protect bull riders in the ring. If the people of the world are the bull riders, then the world leaders gathering for the NATO summit are the raging bulls. For more, see Clown Bloq makes a statement at NATO protest event. And the National Lawyers Guild is demanding answers after police raided a home Wednesday looking for Molotov cocktails – a stash the group of protesters say was a home beer brewing operation. For the video, see “Beer Not Bombs” Activists Speak Out. And as Occupy activists from around the country begin heading home to their respective cities after a weekend of protests in Chicago, many say the massive gathering has helped revitalize a movement that has gone months without staging the kind of headline-grabbing spectacle that made “99 percent” a popular concept. For more, see Occupy Activists: Chicago NATO Summit Helped Revitalize Movement. And although there was a lot of police brutality documented by photograph, livestream, and eyewitness accounts at the NATO protests, perhaps one of the most shocking details was the actions, or inactions, of some of Chicago’s finest. In a surprising turn of events, reports have emerged that numerous Chicago Police officers openly refused to arrest non-violent protesters – some officers even refusing to show up for work. One blogger writes: “I had the honor of speaking with one of these brave men, and although he wishes to remain anonymous (for obvious reasons), he wasn’t shy about how he and many other officers feel in regards to the ever-increasing police state.” For more, see NATO Protests in Chicago: Some Officers Refuse to Arrest Non-violent Protesters. And Occupy Boston’s own Una Spenser writes: “I’m kinda sick of it. A fully-armed, military-style police force comes out to stop protesters from marching or assembling – because traffic and lawns are more important than human rights and social justice – and if, out of many thousands, a minute number of protesters physically resists the impediment of that force, people paint the entire movement as lacking credibility because it isn’t non-violent. We’re faced with guns, LRADs, tear gas, truncheons, horses and more, but if we push back; if we try to continue marching when they block us, if we fight to get out of their grip, gawd forbid use balsa sticks which break on impact, its then justifiable for protesters to be beaten bloody by the police. The movement is delegitimized because its not “non-violent”. The Gandhi purity from those on the sidelines is disturbing.How is it that with all that weaponry, including shields and body armor, we could ever see the protesters as the threat? As the aggressor? The very moment those police don those weapons, they are the aggressor. They are making it known that they will use whatever force they feel like it to achieve whatever compliance they - or their masters – want from us.” For more, see Why Don’t People Tell The Cops to be Non-Violent?
Other Occupies/Protests: Students in Québec are marked their 100th day of an unlimited general strike on Tuesday, May 22nd, the culmination of the most stunning mass protest movements of recent months and North America’s largest student movement in years. In fact, the mobilizations in Québec might just be Canada’s Arab Spring. Students have been organizing against tuition hikes for nearly one and a half years, when the Quebec government first proposed to raise tuition fees by 75% over five years (amended to 82% over seven years by the government at the end of April). But this struggle represents more than students. It represents an attack on the middle class and lower income families, their sense of social cohesion, and the social entitlement and equality of access to public services amid rising cost of living. For more, see “We Didn’t Know It Was Impossible, So We Did It!” For more information, see Ten Points Everyone Should Know About the Québec Student Movement. In response to the ongoing student strike, on Friday, May 18, the Québec legislature signed a special “emergency law” to “restore order” in the province following three months of student protests in a strike against the government’s proposed 80% increase in the cost of tuition. A legislative debate lasted all night and resulted in a vote of 68-48 in favor of the legislation. The legislation has three main focal points: it “suspends” the school semester for schools majorly affected by the strike, it establishes extremely high fines for anyone who attempts to picket or block access to schools, and it imposes massive restrictions on where and how people may demonstrate and protest in the streets. So this is where we’ve come to now: the government of Québec has decided that instead of compromising on its tuition hikes – something it has stated from the beginning that it was unwilling to even consider – and instead of negotiating in good faith with the students, as all the negotiations have been farces thus far, it will instead “crack down” on the students of Québec, implementing the “worst law” since the War Measures Act of 1970, which was a declaration of martial law. Bill 78 amounts to a pseudo-declaration of martial law against the students of Québec.For more, see Québec Inches Closer to Martial Law. And Spanish teachers went on strike on Tuesday to protest against cuts in education spending that unions say will put 100,000 substitute teachers out of work but that the government says are needed to tackle the euro zone debt crisis. Tuesday’s strike affected all levels of public education, from kindergarten to university. Teachers at some private schools that receive state subsidies were also on strike. For more, see Teachers strike across Spain, protesting cuts.
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” Upton Sinclair
Good Morning from Occupy Boston!
Stories of the Day: Wondering why people are protesting NATO? See NATO: Just why are people protesting? Livestreamers including Tim Pool of @Timcast were followed by Chicago Police who pulled them over at gunpoint, watch the video here. For the story, see Occupy Journalists Stopped, Searched, Handcuffed, and Interrogated at Gunpoint. And here is An Open Letter from three Anonymous protesters in Chicago: The Chicago Police’s actions today, May 19th, were a brutally violent attack on our bodies and on our rights. An absurdly large police force was deployed in order to intimidate and provoke a peaceable assembly, and resulted in unbridled, militaristic attacks on activists demonstrating against NATO, inflicting several serious injuries – including broken noses, bloodied eyes, and a particularly sickening incident in which a dedicated comrade was belligerently run down by a police van. For a brief video of some of the police brutality yesterday against NATO protesters, including a clear shot of a cop assaulting a protester with his bicycle, click here. Here is another brief video of Chicago Police beating kettled protesters in Chicago on May 19. And buses that were scheduled to take protesters to NATO were mysteriously cancelled at the last minute by the bus company. For more, see Buses Scheduled to Transport 99 Solidarity Riders to NATO Protest Cancelled. For a good collection of photos and videos, click here. And the old trope of the bomb-throwing anarchist is back in the news, with a round-up in Ohio on May 1 and the three would-be NATO protesters arrested on Wednesday who are now charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism. While the impression that appears in the media is one of remnants of the Occupy movement verging toward violence, the driving forces behind these plots are the very agencies claiming to have foiled them. For more, see Entrapment of Cleveland 5 and NATO 3 is Nothing New. And Occupy Boston, Occupy Wall Street and other Occupies held solidarity protests on Sunday to fight back against the police state – here is a good summary of recent concerns, from Occupy Wall Street. “We must not allow this type of intimidation to continue. We must rise up and nonviolently resist. We must take our justifiable rage and use it to grow our resistance and solidarity. We will not turn against one another, and nor will we sacrifice our values. We will not be terrorized; our numbers will only grow as we expose the brutality of the system we oppose. The attacks on activists in the U.S. are but a fraction of the seemingly endless warfare imposed by NATO and the G8 countries on the nations they occupy across the world. We have exposed a tiny fragment of the true terror that is NATO. We will resist.” For more, see #SolidaritySunday: Fight Back Against State Terrorism!
“The world is like a ride in an amusement park. And when you choose to go on it you think it’s real because that’s how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills and it’s very brightly colored and it’s very loud and it’s fun, for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time and they begin to question: “Is this real, or is this just a ride?” And other people have remembered, and they come back to us, they say, ‘Hey, don’t worry, don’t be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride.’ And we kill those people.” Bill Hicks
Good Morning from Occupy Boston!
Stories of the Day: Chicago Police van deliberately runs into and injures NATO protester. See video footage here. Prosecutors on Saturday accused three activists who travelled to Chicago for a NATO summit of manufacturing Molotov cocktails in a plot to attack President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home and other targets. But defense lawyers shot back that Chicago police had trumped up the charges to frighten peaceful protesters away, telling the judge it was undercover officers known by the activists as “Mo” and “Gloves,” not his clients, who brought the firebombs to a South Side apartment where the men were arrested. “This is just propaganda to create a climate of fear,” Michael Duetsch said. “My clients came to peacefully protest.” On the eve of the summit, the dramatic allegations were reminiscent of previous police actions ahead of major political events, when officials moved quickly to prevent suspected plots but sometimes quietly dropped the charges later. For more, see Detained Protesters Accused of Chicago Terror Plot. Darrin Annussek says he walked to Chicago from Philadelphia to participate in Occupy protests, only to be seized by police in a raid on an apartment at 32nd and Morgan. “For 18 hours, we were handcuffed to a bench and our legs were shackled together,” he said. “Some of our cries for the bathroom were either ignored or met with silence.” Annusek was released Friday morning along with four others reportedly suspected of preparing molotov cocktails. At least one other detainee was released several hours later Friday. Kris Hermes, of the National Lawyers Guild said: “There is absolutely no evidence of molotov cocktails or any other criminal activity going on at this building.” A tenant who agreed to host the out-of-town protesters says the police did seize his home-brew making equipment, including buckets, beer bottles and caps. For more, see Arrested Protester Charges Mistreatment After Police Raid Apartment. Three Occupy activists raided on May 16 and disappeared for a period of time by Chicago police were brought before a bond judge and officially charged with material support for terrorism, conspiracy to commit terrorism and possession of explosives or explosive or incendiary devices. The case marks the first time that state prosecutors have used the Illinois Terrorism law to prosecute individuals. Deutsch called the investigation, targeting and raid of these activists “worse than entrapment.” According to the NLG, two police informants infiltrated the group. The NLGE believes “they’re the ones who provoked this and they’re the ones,” who committed the “illegal activity” and had the “illegal materials.” For more, see CPD, FBI and Secret Service Claim NATO 3 Came to Chicago to Commit “Terrorist Acts of Violence.” One of the suspects, identified by police as Jared Chase, 24, is from Keene, N.H. and spent time in Boston, where he participated in the Occupy Boston protests last fall. A Facebook page bearing Chase’s name, picture, and other personal information, calls him a DJ and says he is studying 3D animation and game-programming at NHTI, a community college in Concord, N.H. For more, see NATO Suspect has New England Ties. This video shows Chicago police questioning occupiers about Occupy Chicago, the NATO protests, and threatening violence after arbitrarily pulling over their car in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago earlier this week. The video went viral after the activists posted it to social media. Now, three of them are being charged with terrorism in the wake of a warrantless preemptive raid on activists’ homes in Chicago. An attorney from the National Lawyers Guild describes the video: They were driving in a car and were pulled over without any kind of justification or reason by the Chicago police department. They were surrounded by police and they were questioned for a very long period of time about what they were doing in Chicago, why they were here to protest, what their political affiliations were, how they identified politically—All kinds of absolutely outrageous questions that certainly do not indicate any kind of illegal behavior because it is not constitutional simply to accuse them of a crime because of a political belief. For more, including the video, see Free the #NATO3! And a Los Angeles man was ordered held in lieu of $10,000 bail Wednesday for allegedly punching a Chicago Police sergeant off his bike during an anti-deportation protest in the Loop. The police report did not include any mention of the officer falling off his bicycle or suffering any injuries. Five of Johnson’s fellow demonstrators came to court to show support for their friend — which police said was one of two arrests for attacking a police officer in the run up so far to the NATO Summit. Johnson was the only NATO-related protester charged with a felony. The men who came from Dallas, New York and San Diego for the NATO weekend denied Johnson punched the officer. “He never pushed anyone off the bike. He’s a non-violent person,” said Chris McKay, who is with Occupy Walk USA. “The cop grabbed him by the collar and when he turned to see who he was, his arm brushed against the officer.” For more, see Danny Johnson, Occupy Walk USA team member, arrested in Chicago. And entrapment is illegal – but the question of whether law enforcement set up a legal sting or illegal entrapment is for a jury to decide. For more, see How FBI Entrapment is Inventing Terrorists and Letting Bad Guys Off the Hook. And as governments around the world, including our own, face more and more popular resistance, we’re witnessing a revival of the use of agent provocateurs. An agent provocateur is the well-used tactic of using undercover military or police to join a dissenting group or protest in order to provoke others in the group to carry out illegal actions and violence. The goal is to discredit the group from the inside. Sometimes the group gets discredited with those outside. Other times the group is enticed into internal divisions and collapses. For more, see How to Identify an Agent Provocateur. And in other news, a judge may have found unconstitutional the law that allows people to be held indefinitely without trial by the military, but the House of Representatives voted Friday to keep it anyway. On Wednesday, Federal Judge Katherine Forrest found that the law violates rights to free speech and due process. But House members defended it, ultimately voting 238 to 182 against an amendment to guarantee civilian trials for any terrorism suspect arrested in the United States. For more, see Bill to End Indefinite Detention Fails in House.
Other Occupies/Protests: The Twin Cities activists who had their homes raided by the FBI last September are starting to learn more about why they’re being investigated by a Chicago grand jury in relation to material support of terrorism. Lawyers for the activists have learned from prosecutors that the feds sent an undercover law enforcement agent to infiltrate the Twin Cities Anti-War Committee in April 2008, just as the group was planning its licensed protests at the Republican National Convention. Last fall the Justice Department’s Inspector General released a scathing report that criticized the FBI for invoking anti-terrorist laws to justify their investigations and harassment of groups including Greenpeace, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and the Catholic Worker. “This is exactly what the Inspector General’s report was talking about,” Sundin told City Pages this morning. “The FBI doesn’t have the right to spy on us. It’s an abuse of our democratic rights. We’re supposed to have freedom of association, not, ‘You can associate but we’re going to spy on you.’” For more, see Secret Government Informer Infiltrated Minnesota Activist Groups.
“I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.” John Cage