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
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