Archive for January, 2012

Responding in NYC to Oakland Police Brutality Against Occupy Oakland

January 29, 2012

Before I even arrived at 6:30pm at the arch on Washington Square Park, I could hear the drum circle in action, but the next thing I noticed was a huge NYPD presence. In response to the violent suppression of peaceful occupiers in Oakland yesterday, the OWS and others called for a march starting at Washington Square Park this evening, Sunday, Jan 29th, at 7pm. Once again, the inordinate police presence reminded me that I must join with others to resist the repression of dissent and the specific suppression of the Occupy movement, the most eloquent expression of dissent in recent memory.

I distributed copies of the Call for Mass Action Against the Suppression of the Occupy Movement with the names of some of those who have signed it and are organizing the event on February 25th until the mic check preceded the announcement that the march would being in a few minutes.

With the drums mostly in the lead (though a few straggled out along the long line to support the whole group), we headed north under the arch and up Fifth Avenue.

From Oakland to NYC, Stop police brutality,” was our cry

I did not have a camera, so I don’t have photographs of us–young and old, a wide cross section of people in this city. Below are images of the suppression on Saturday of  Occupy Oakland from Huffington Post:

Occupiers, numerous and probably noisy, but clearly unarmed and peaceful

Police in riot gun firing “less lethal” weapons

Am I the only person who finds this a totally inappropriate response, indeed an illegal and illegitimate one? These police appear to be facing an armed invasion, not a march to a vacant building by peaceful protesters.

The brutal response of the police of Oakland again and by other forces throughout the country, aided by US government officials in an unconstitutional use of federal forces in state and local policing, is more easily explained by a statement quoted by Chris Hedges today:

“‘I want to tell you that I was arrested because I am seen as a threat,’ Canadian activist Leah Henderson wrote to fellow dissidents before being sent to Vanier prison in Milton, Ontario, to serve a 10-month sentence.

“’My skills and experience—as a facilitator, as a trainer, as a legal professional and as someone linking different communities and movements—were all targeted in this case, with the state trying to depict me as a “brainwasher” and as a mastermind of mayhem, violence and destruction,’ she went on. ‘During the week of the G8 & G20 summits, the police targeted legal observers, street medics and independent media. It is clear that the skills that make us strong, the alternatives that reduce our reliance on their systems and prefigure a new world, are the very things that they are most afraid of.'” [Emphasis mine.]

The Occupy movement is a very great threat because it not only says another world is possible, it is modeling that possibility right now.  Note Henderson’s list of 1) independent media, which the Occupy movement has as well, that allow them to disseminate information outside the corporate propaganda organs, 2)the medics which work outside heavily tax subsidized corporate medicine in the US, and 3)the legal observers who call the government’s illegal actions out are mentioned–areas where the Occupy movement also is already working outside the corporate controlled realm.  This is indeed frightening to the corporatocracy and its minions in government, not only in the US but in Canada and around the world.  A New World Is Possible, and it is taking shape right in front  of their eyes, openly, in public spaces.  They cannot let that happen, so they send in the army, let us call it by its right name.

I must resist this.  I showed up for the protest on Sunday and work for the event on Feb 25th.

I had spoken before we left Washington Square with a teachers’ union organizer who remarked on the need to let people know in the face of media misinformation that there is broad support for the occupy movement, and that in fact all but a tiny few people in this country are in the process of losing their future as well as their rights. This is not a movement of some fringe group, but one that represents the vast majority of people in the US and the world.

We continued to hand out leaflets all along the route as we chanted, encouraging others to join us. In spite of the last minute nature of this march, a presentable number of us turned out.

I will not forget a brief encounter with a man to whom I offered a flyer. He asked me if the intent were against OWS. I said that it was not, but in support of it and of the rights of all of us. He replied that he worked for a bank. Clearly, this was a man who works at a bank, not one of the small group who control them. I suggested that his job is not very secure, as he walked off irate. In fact, there is a continuing huge lay off of workers in banks, as the situation those institutions created continues to deteriorate, a fact not widely revealed in US media, but reported in that of the developed countries. I wonder what he will do if he loses his job? Where will he get support? To whom will he turn? If he were ever really to want to know the truth and to work for the good of all, he would be welcomed by the those in OWS.

The financial sector has shed massive number of jobs through early 2011, before the huge losses of the end of the year.  European researchers predict a loss of 10% to 20% of bank employees in the year 2012

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Exhibit of Art, Poetry, Stories by Guantanamo Prisoners

January 29, 2012

DONT SUPPRESS OWS

January 26, 2012

We have seen the peaceful OWS protesters beaten viciously, sprayed with toxic chemicals, their possessions thrown into dumpsters and the occupiers throw into jail.  This violent, brutal suppression of persons exercising their constitutionally protected rights to assemble and to dissent cannot go unchallenged if we do not want to see our rights continue to disappear.

Here is a link to a site where you can sign a call for a massive protest and participate in the action being planned.  There is a meeting this evening and the next few Thursdays in NYC at Judson Church at 6:30.  Go if you can.  A date for this action will soon be announced, definitely plan to participate in the event.

For those of you in other cities, sign and pass on this call and begin to organize something where you are.  We cannot let this repression go without a strong response and hope that things will get better with the spring weather.  Unless we let the powers and the world know that we do not approve, things will only get worse.

Ed Reports on Washington Action

January 18, 2012

World Can’t Wait Contingent from NYC just off the bus, Ed is on the front row far left, camera in hand, ready to go!

So, I went down to our nation’s capital (second time, since High School field trip in ’84) to cover the 10th Anniversary of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, and it was a pretty eye-opening experience.  Didn’t know too much about it, as our press doesn’t cover it, for obvious reasons:  There are innocent (our government even admits they’re innocent) people being tortured and detained in GITMO – being held there with no habeas corpus rights, no evidence, no trial – nothing.  And to make matters worse, Obama just signed a law, stating that the Federal Govt. now has the right to do this to American Citizens!  Isn’t this supposed to be a free country?  Why does the press not cover this and why is every single attorney and citizen not up in arms about this?  Gotta wonder.  Well, all walks of American life were out there in the rain letting their voices be heard, and here’s the footage…

Click here for Guantanamo Bay Protest in DC, January 11, 2012

Still from the video of Street Theater Before the Big March

and here for GITMO Spoken Word and Dance Protest

CCR Advocate about to read a poem by one of the Prisoners

and here for Andy Worthington and Other Protesters at Supreme Court

Other film stills showing people of all ages who participated

Ed’s Film of Andy on the Steps of the Supreme Court

January 16, 2012

Since there is precious little coverage of the protest last Wednesday, the 10th anniversary of the opening of the torture camp at Guantanamo, it is especially important for me to share the film Ed Haas made of the event.  Here is a link to remarks by Andy Worthington foremost authority on the prisoners at Guantanamo, from the steps of the Supreme Court Building.

Andy Worthington

See Andy’s new website here.

Close Guantanamo Protest, Jan. 11, 2012

January 13, 2012

We gathered at Lafayette Park across from the White House, protesters from all over who were determined on the date of the beginning of the 11th year of the infamous torture camp at Guantanamo Bay to see it closed.  Our group had gotten on the bus in New York at 6:30am to get there.

Speakers, including Col. Morris Davis, ret. who was a prosecutor at the prison and has denounced it, reminded us briefly of the horrors there and of the blight on the US of establishing and continuing this and other torture centers throughout the world.  It was cold and raining, but we were not daunted.  Many of us donned the orange jumpsuits that the prisoners wear.  We wanted to be as brightly visible to the people in Washington, DC as the prisoners are to their guards.

After a stop in front of the White House …

… we began a  long march of over two miles through the city to the Supreme Court Building.

Crossing the street to head up to the Supreme Court

We were noisy and spirited in spite of the weather.  “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Guantanamo has got to go!”  “What do we want?  Human rights!  When do we want them? Now?”  were chanted all along the way.

Some of our youngest protesters leading the chants

The World Can’t Wait contingent had two big banners that proclaimed to passers by and motorists just exactly what we demand.

We stopped at the Department of Justice to chant, “What do we want? Justice.  When do we want it? Now!”  and “Shame! Shame!”  Then we continued on.

Marching to the Supreme Court

When we finally got to the Supreme Court building, 171 protesters, representing the remaining prisoners at the Guantanamo torture camp, stood on the steps.

On the Steps of the Supreme Court

A few people who have been instrumental in the movement to close the camp and lawyers who have fought for the rights of the prisoners made brief remarks.

Debra Sweet told us we were there because we are “not adjusted to injustice,” earning a big cheer.

Debra Sweet, Director of The World Can’t Wait

I silently made a vow never to get adjusted to it.

Lots of people made photographs with digital cameras and cell phones in addition to some alternative media sources and filmmakers like Ed Haas whose film produced the stills on this post.

Andy Worthington, world authority on and advocate for the prisoners

One of the lawyers read a poem by her client, a prisoner whom the US has declared never to have been engaged in any violence much less against this country and who has endured torture and indefinite imprisonment for ten long years with no end in sight.  It was a tragic cry of desperation: will he ever see his children, his wife, his parents again?  It was my very great privilege to have been asked to dance as she read.

Some of the lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights who are at Guantanamo right now had called to let their colleagues know that the prisoners were aware we were protesting and had taken heart from that.  They were protesting, too, with a hunger strike on January 10, 11, and 12 and a sit down strike for those allowed to move about.  Not all of them are in that category.  I hated thinking about both the conditions of those others and the possible retribution for all of them.  I can only admire their continuing courage and humanity.

Union  Station where we were to get back on the bus was only a few blocks from the Supreme Court.  When the proceedings were over, we walked down to board the bus for the long ride home, cold, wet, and tired, but very glad to have been at this historic protest.  We have done what we could to

CLOSE GUANTANAMO NOW.

See Ed Haas’s film footage here.

Go to Closeguantanamo.org to join with others to close down this heinous torture camp.

The Prisoners Know

January 13, 2012

Word came today from Andy Worthington that the prisoners at Guantanamo know that there will be protests in Washington and other cities in the US and around the world to close Guantanamo tomorrow, January 11, the beginning of the 11th year of that torture camp.  They are going to protest also.

If they, who risk very serious repercussions indeed, are willing to protest, let us all make an effort.  If you cannot be at one of the planned actions, you can make a sign on a sheet of paper saying CLOSE QUANTANAMO NOW! and pin it to your clothes or hang it around your neck.

These prisoners, only a few of whom may have used violence against the US, have endured enough and the prison is a great disgrace to the US.  We can demand it be shut down.

Will you do that now?

My next report will be when I get back from Washington.