Archive for the ‘Democracy?’ Category

Jack Reports from DC

April 9, 2012

Here are reports of three actions from Jack who is in DC :

“Half a thousand people marching from ‘W street’ to Freedom Plaza.  Very strong marchers. The chanting was almost non stop. We were in 1/2 of the street. Car horns a presence. Good police support, unlike some places I know. Trayvon would be pleased to know the support in DC for his cause.”

Below, Jack is second from the right in the second row, protesting the wars in front of the White House on Friday, 6 April

And he sent a photograph of a  great “bat light” from the Occupation below:

Don’t Suppress OWS Rally and March on February 28

February 29, 2012

Yesterday, February 28th, people gathered at Union Square in New York to protest the brutal suppression of the Occupy Wall Street movement which spread all over the country.  Nationally coordinated police raids were carried out in the dark of night, injuring peaceful protestors and destroying their personal property, as well as the People’s Library at the New York occupation.  The only violence done was by the police.

A group of people in New York, both within the Occupy movement and from those like me in the community who have been inspired by it and supported it, formed an Ad Hoc Committee Against the Suppression of the Occupy Movement and planned the rally and march.

Unless otherwise noted, all the photographs below were made by Scoboco.

One of the people at Union Square for the rally expressing the view of many present

People listening intently to those on stage

At this event, a little different from many, there were in Acts 1 and 2 of this rally drama, occupiers on ladders in the crowd showing in words what it was like to experience the eviction  and something of the nature of what the occupation movement actually did.

Occupier Desiree above the heads of the crowd on a ladder telling her story about the eviction

Attorney Margaret Ratner Kunstler, who has been arrested for doing so, spoke about taking the movement to Black and Latino neighborhoods.  Signs from the stage said things like “They stole our shit!” and “They were violent, but we got arrested!”

In Act 3, about the effects of the Suppession of OWS, attorney Norman Siegel, who is bringing a lawsuit against the city for the destruction of the People’s Library in the eviction, was one of the  speakers. Professor Andrew Ross from NYU, part of Occupy Student Debt, addressed that issue, which affects many of our young people

Peter Yarrow of Peter Paul and Mary with his daughter Bethany sang a special version of The Great Mandala at the end of Act 3.  He had also performed  a set of songs including Have You Been to Jail for Justice as people gathered on the Square beginning at 4pm

Act 4 was where Voices of Conscience, several prominent people from different arenas, spoke about why Occupy is important and called us to act to resist the suppression of it.  Susan Sarandon, who has been arrested with the occupiers, was one who has herself acted courageously. Andy Zee spokesperson for Revolution Books also spoke in this section.

Noam Chomsky could not be present, but sent a video that was screened in Act 4, photograph unattributed

Rev. Steven Phelps, senior minister of the Riverside Church, concluded the spoken part of Act 4. Then, Outernational, the musical group that had also done a set before the rally began, played their rousing Fighting Song.  Part of the lyrics were Go! Go! Go! encouraging us to go on the march.

Outernational (photograph unattributed)

Travis Morales, who was one of the two Narrators  with Alice Woodward, then called us to march to Liberty Square behind the huge puppet of Lady Liberty.

 

 Lady Liberty

NYPD out in force.

What are the corporate masters afraid of from a group of peaceful, if noisy, protestors?  Why did the NYPD don riot gear and evict them from Liberty Plaza last year in a raid coordinated with similar ones across the country?  Why were they present in the hundreds  at this rally and march of completely peaceful people?  The only answer is that the ruling corporate elites of this country do not want change, do not care about the inequality, and are willing to pay for violent suppression of it.

Fortunately, persons like Peter Yarrow on stage and at the head of the march may have helped temper the response to this protest event.  We all arrived at Liberty Square, where we chanted “Whose park? Our park?”  We have made a beginning of a response to the suppression of OWS.  We need to keep moving forward to support this movement.

Averting your eyes?

February 29, 2012

“Then force entered in; might making right; power and its tool, violence, and its most devoted ally, the averted eye.”*

There is so much injustice in US society that to catalogue it all would take pages. Yesterday’s Don’t Suppress OWS event focused on that directed toward the peaceful protestors of the Occupy Movement, who had brought to national attention the staggering economic equality that exists in this country.

All the injustices are connected. The police state at home, the wars and brutality here and abroad, the devastation of the planet, the abrogation of rights, and on and on.

Are you averting your eyes? I know that some people are not. They act in some way to stop the madness that reigns in this society. Some give money to support things like yesterday’s action. If you didn’t, you still can here or go to the event website where on the right hand side there is an address where you can send a check . If you prefer other organizations or issues, there are lots of places to make a difference with your contribution. Find one and give what you can. Then you will know you are not averting your eyes and allying yourself with violence.

Some people go to the streets. If you haven’t ever done that, you are missing an experience not like any other. Do it now. Then you and others will know you are not averting your eyes and allying yourself with violence.

Some people organize protest at all levels. There is so much work to be done at computer terminals, in meetings, in courtrooms, on the streets. Find an organization and do something to help it. Then you will know that you are not averting your eyes and allying yourself with violence.

Failure to do something, to act, is averting your eyes and allying yourself with violence.

I am profoundly grateful for all the people on this planet who are working wherever they are to stop violence and injustice. I know that we are all connected in a vast web. I call on everyone who has not yet taken action to join us. We have right on our side. We will be able to answer our own consciences when we are asked how we could have lived in this time and allowed these horrors to happen with the true reply that we worked to stop them.

*From Ursula Le Quin’s The Dispossessed, Harper Voyager 2011,p.256 p.

No Tear Gas, No Rubber Bullets…

February 15, 2012

Women Maced in NYC

Peaceful activists in New York and across the country have been viciously and brutally attacked for assembling and  speaking out about the massive inequality in this country.  They have also been arrested and held on trumped up charges, as though they were at fault when they are only exercising their constitutionally guaranteed rights.

The night before and into the morning after the first threatened eviction of OWS from Liberty Square in October,  I remember remarking vividly that the only people I saw with guns (and also clubs and night sticks) were the police.  The occupiers were completely unarmed.  They had only their moral courage to defend themselves.

George Packard, a retired Episcopal bishop who was detained by the NYPD while bringing water to the occupiers at Liberty Square, and later arrested in an Occupy Wall Street action, said the action February 28 “is the absolute preface to any other actions. It’s a question of process even before we take to the streets–how is it that there is this coordinated effort to stifle our free speech?! Mayors on conference calls simultaneously rousting encampments? Renegade cops taking aggressive initiatives because it makes superiors smile? Tear gas and rubber bullets fired into the ranks of Occupy Oakland? Enough!”

With Bishop George Packard, I say Enough!.  I will join the Bishop and thousands of others to make it clear that this suppression of OWS and the Occupy Movement is an assault on the the rights of the people of this country and is not to be accepted.  Click here to join Bishop Packard, 700 others,  and me in signing the Call for Mass Action Against the Suppression of the Occupy Movement.  Then join us in the streets on February 28th.

In NYC:

Tues Feb 28 Union Square
No Rubber Bullets – No Beatings  
No Tear Gas – No Mass Arrests
Drop All the Charges Against Occupiers  
Don’t Suppress OWS!  Stand with Occupy!
4:00 pm Gather 5:00 pm Rally 6:00 pm March

 Contribute to the expenses of the rally

Join the Mass Action on February 28

February 15, 2012

The Occupy Movement is exposing the inequality that exists in the US.  The power elites are not answering that exposure with rational discourse.  There is no acceptable reason for such a system.  They respond through their paid officials and police with brute force.  It is so telling.

Scott Olsen, injured with police projectile at Occupy Oakland.  Scott is one of the signers of the Call for Mass Action against the Suppression of the Occupy Movement.  See other signers and sign here.

As a member of the ad hoc committee planning a mass action to resist the violent suppress of the peaceful Occupy protests, I encourage everyone to join in the mass action wherever you are.

Bishop George Packard, first over the fence.  He is also a member of the ad hoc committee and a signer of the call

For those

In NYC:

Tues Feb 28 Union Square
No Rubber Bullets – No Beatings  
No Tear Gas – No Mass Arrests
Drop All the Charges Against Occupiers  
Don’t Suppress OWS!  Stand with Occupy!
4:00 pm Gather 5:00 pm Rally 6:00 pm March

Contribute to the expenses of the New York rally

For people in other places, organize something and let us all know about it.

We Must Close Guantanamo and Stop Torture

February 15, 2012

We have always known at some level of consciousness from the opening of the prison at Guantanamo, but since the release of some of the prisoners we know for sure that the US tortures them.  Below are damning sections of a report by Marjorie Cohn, former president of the National Lawyers Guild and fierce advocate for human rights:

“Although the Convention Against Torture, a treaty the United States has ratified, forbids the use of coercion under any circumstances to obtain information, prisoners released from Guantánamo have detailed assaults, prolonged shackling in uncomfortable positions, sexual abuse, and threats with dogs.  Mustafa Ait Idr, an Algerian citizen who was living in Bosnia when he was sent to Guantánamo, charged that U.S. military guards jumped on his head, resulting in a stroke that paralyzed his face. They also broke several of his fingers and nearly drowned him in a toilet. Mohammed Sagheer, a Pakistani cleric, claimed the wardens at Guantánamo used drugs “that made us senseless.” French citizen Mourad Benchellali, released from Guantánamo in July 2004, said, “I cannot describe in just a few lines the suffering and the torture; but the worst aspect of being at the camp was the despair, the feeling that whatever you say, it will never make a difference.”  Benchellali added, “There is unlimited cruelty in a system that seems to be unable to free the innocent and unable to punish the guilty.”

Prisoners kneeling in the sun

“Australian lawyer Richard Bourke, who has represented many of the men incarcerated at Guantánamo, charged that prisoners have been subjected to “good old-fashioned torture, as people would have understood it in the Dark Ages.” According to Bourke, “One of the detainees had described being taken out and tied to a post and having rubber bullets fired at them. They were being made to kneel cruciform in the sun until they collapsed.” Abdul Rahim Muslimdost, an Afghan who was released from Guantánamo in April 2005, said he suffered “indescribable torture” there.

“U.S. and international bodies have verified reports of torture and abuse.  Physicians for Human Rights found that “the United States has been engaged in systematic psychological torture of Guantánamo detainees” at least since 2002. FBI agents saw female interrogators forcibly squeeze male prisoners’ genitals and witnessed detainees stripped and shackled low to the floor for many hours. In February 2006, the United Nations Human Rights Commission reported that the violent force-feeding of detainees by the U.S. military at Guantánamo amounts to torture.”

Read the entire article here.

Will you turn away from these horrors or take responsibility and work to stop them?  I hold citizenship in a country that tortures people.  I cannot act as though this does not concern me. I join with others to protest and demand the end to torture by the US.

Lena spoke with old friends in France recently when she was there.  She said that they had seen news reports on that country’s media about the protest in Washington, DC on the anniversary of the opening of the torture camp at Guantanamo in January.  The US media, handmaidens of the ruling elite here, did not cover that event.  It is up to us to make these crimes against humanity by the US known and to resist them.

Where to Sign the Call to Stop Suppression of OWS

February 2, 2012

Here is the website where you can sign the call to stop the suppression of OWS.  Join the action in NYC on February 25th.  More details forthcoming.

See the link on ReaderSupportedNews and Michael Moore’s website.

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

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

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.