Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Another attempt to stifle protests in Congress

"The House passed bill H.R. 347. A bill that makes it illegal to protest at buildings or events where Secret Service are protecting someone. Rick Santorum was granted Secret Service protection today."

Why does Congress want to stifle free speech? I just don't get it.  Time to speak up before this bill gets signed by the President.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Journalists, the force-multiplier, now targeted

"The regime of Bashar al-Assad has learned the lessons of the Arab spring when it comes to dealing with the media – both citizen journalists and international outlets. As the Committee to Protect Journalists noted in a 2011 report, the regime quickly 'enforced an effective media blackout' as soon as the protests began last March.
It banned, arrested and expelled international journalists and detained local reporters who tried to cover the protests.
It disabled mobile phones, landlines, electricity, and the internet in cities where the protests broke out, and used violence to extract the passwords of social media sites from journalists, allowing the Syrian electronic army, a pro-government online group, to hack the sites and post pro-regime comments. 'In April,' the report continues, 'al-Jazeera suspended its Damascus bureau after several of its journalists were harassed and received threats.'"

Journalists are a protester's friend.  They help you get your message out to many more people, and give it more legitimacy.  The Powers That Be know this, and try to thwart any such journalistic coverage.  If journalism is killed off, only the regimes benefit.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Should OWS have a national Convention?

"This week, the Associated Press and other media outlets reported on Pollok's plans for the convention, unleashing a bitter debate among occupiers over the question of who has the right to represent the movement. (The Huffington Post posted the AP story.)
After Pollok reached out to Kleinman, critics within Occupy Philly said, people involved in his organization, the 99% Declaration Working Group, brought their plans to the General Assembly of Occupy Philly. Just as Kleinman had warned Pollok, those ideas met with disapproval."

Should a movement that works mainly locally, and runs by consensus, have a national convention?  Tricky question.  What would result from such a convention?  Would anything ratified there apply to local groups?  Is there something that could be done at a conference that can't be done via online forums, email, etc?

I'm sort of up in the air about the idea, but it seems like this is a way to more formalize what should remain an informal movement.

Friday, February 24, 2012

I'm so angry, I made this blog post

So I listened to the entire one hour and forty eight minutes.  It was supposed to be about Chris Hedge's argument about the Black Bloc in Occupy Wall Street events.  Instead it was nitpicking, sniping, and derailing.  And Chris Hedges, probably the world's expert on revolutionary movements in today's world?  He got about 8 minutes.  I learned nothing except that OWS is going to have a problem if they assume that all people are equal in education, experience, and ability.  This discussion shortchanged the expert in favor of arguments over nothing.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

pepper-spray cop to go to trial

The American Civil Liberties Union of North California is aiding in a just-filed lawsuit against employees of the University of California, Davis, where 19 students and alumni were sprayed by a campus cop during a protest last November.
Lieutenant John Pike achieved Internet infamy after he was photographed and videotaped delivering a heavy dose of pepper-spray to more than a dozen seated demonstrators outside a UC Davis building last year. Protesters had gathered at the school to demonstrate against rising tuition hikes and campaigned under the umbrella of the then-infant Occupy movement. As protesters sat peacefully, Pike attempted to disrupt their demonstration by debilitating participants with bursts of pepper-spray to the face. Unfortunately for Pike, the incident went viral online which, in turn, only strengthened the Occupy movement as more Americans became outraged by the establishment’s not-so-nice interpretation of the First Amendment."

One amazing thing that OWS has done is expose how militarized the police have become.  The over-the-top reaction to peaceful protests in many cities has shown the need for police departments to learn the difference between free speech rallies and riots.  The only personal experience I've had with OWS was in Denver, where I spent about 8 hours at their camp and marches.  The encampment was surrounded at all times by a minimum of 8 police cars, which generally had 2 cops in each car.  So that was maybe 14 cops there when NOTHING WAS GOING ON.  The Occupiers were standing around talking, napping, or eating.  At times no one even had a sign out.  This was also the city that had already destroyed the encampment once, and did it again not long after I left.  So if OWS accomplished nothing else, we should still be grateful that they shed light on the militarization of our police forces.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Internet HELPS social networking

"Neither living alone nor using social media is socially isolating. In 2011, I was lead author of an article in Information, Communication & Society that found, based on a representative survey of 2,500 Americans, that regardless of whether the participants were married or single, those who used social media had more close confidants."

Remember the fear when people started using the Internet that people would become addicted and stop socializing?  Well, didn't happen.

This article also reports that they "found that the average user of a social networking site had more close ties than and was half as likely to be socially isolated as the average American."

Yay!  We're doing ok!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

more on violence at OWS

"The Black Bloc’s thought-terminating cliché of 'diversity of tactics' in the end opens the way for hundreds or thousands of peaceful marchers to be discredited by a handful of hooligans. The state could not be happier. It is a safe bet that among Black Bloc groups in cities such as Oakland are agents provocateurs spurring them on to more mayhem. But with or without police infiltration the Black Bloc is serving the interests of the 1 percent. These anarchists represent no one but themselves. Those in Oakland, although most are white and many are not from the city, arrogantly dismiss Oakland’s African-American leaders, who, along with other local community organizers, should be determining the forms of resistance.
The explosive rise of the Occupy Wall Street movement came when a few women, trapped behind orange mesh netting, were pepper-sprayed by NYPD Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna. The violence and cruelty of the state were exposed. And the Occupy movement, through its steadfast refusal to respond to police provocation, resonated across the country. Losing this moral authority, this ability to show through nonviolent protest the corruption and decadence of the corporate state, would be crippling to the movement. It would reduce us to the moral degradation of our oppressors. And that is what our oppressors want.
The Black Bloc movement bears the rigidity and dogmatism of all absolutism sects. Its adherents alone possess the truth. They alone understand. They alone arrogate the right, because they are enlightened and we are not, to dismiss and ignore competing points of view as infantile and irrelevant. They hear only their own voices. They heed only their own thoughts. They believe only their own clichés. And this makes them not only deeply intolerant but stupid."

"Occupiers marched from a courthouse to Frank H. Ogawa Plaza for a noon rally only to find about 40 people protesting them.
The group, calling itself Stand for Oakland, was organized by several neighborhood leaders to show public opposition to Occupy Oakland's recent costly demonstrations and its focus on Oakland police, rather than the travails of the poor and middle class.
'I think this will make them see that the citizens are concerned and that the citizens are tired of the actions that they are taking,' said Angela Haller, a Neighborhood Watch leader who helped organize the rally."

   I completely agree that violence or destruction by protesters is counterproductive, not just unnecessary.  We are not just out for a fun day of "ultraviolence" but instead we want to point out problems in our society and bring others to our side.  This involves having a clear message and a method for expressing that message.  How does violence and property destruction help with the 1% ruling over the 99%?  You just give the powers that be an excuse to knock you down if you resort to violence and destruction.

   Any group or person involved with OWS that uses or promotes violence should be both pointed out and shunned by the movement.  It's as simple as that.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A call for OWS to renounce violence

"Here’s the key point: Occupy is not an armed conflict – it’s a PR war. Nonviolent struggle is a PR war. Gandhi had embedded journalists on his Salt March. He wasn’t a saint. That was a consciously cultivated media image. He used the press and its power to gain sympathy for his cause. What he didn’t do is say he was nonviolent “unless the cops are d*cks,” a sentiment voiced at Occupy. Nonviolent struggle has nothing to do with how the cops react. In actual nonviolent movements they welcome police overreaction because it helps the cause they’re fighting for.
At some General Assemblies this issue is referred to as 'diversity of tactics.' It means basically if you’re not okay with property damage, but if someone else is, you’re not going to stand in the way. To a liberal ear it sounds like affirmative action or tolerance. It sounds like diversity of opinion – it’s not. It’s 3,000 people peacefully marching and two *ssholes breaking windows; which becomes 3,000 people breaking some windows in news reports.
Violent tactics taint everyone involved evenly – consenting or not."

 Oh man. This is an important point that I would think would be easy to understand.   If  there is violence at a protest, then that's what the media and those in power will show and stress.  It won't matter what your point is. It won't matter if you're right. You will be painted as violent scum not worth listening to.

   Nonviolence has been historically proven to work.  Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Cory Aquino, on and on. Many leaders have successfully used nonviolence to change their society.  True, it doesn't always work. I disagree with Gandhi about whether it would have worked against Hitler, for example.  But good lord, in Oakland?  What did the violence get?  Just a black eye for OWS.

   I believe OWS should publicly and actively renounce violence.  If some bunch of protesters decides to start smashing things, try to stop them if you can, otherwise point at them and yell "shame" or something.  Make it clear that they are no longer a part of your movement since they have resorted to violence.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

OWS helps save a foreclosed home

"wo weeks ago the couple got formal notice of an eviction. On Monday, a contractor attempted to place a dumpster on the Garrett property, a step required before an eviction can take place, according to city code.
But also on Monday, members of Moratorium Now, Occupy Detroit and Homes Before Banks rallied at the Detroit office of the Bank of New York Mellon Trust Co., the trustee of the Garretts' mortgage. The family's supporters also blocked the contractor from placing the dumpster.
On Tuesday morning a representative of Statebridge Co., a servicer for their mortgage, called the family to say the company would accept their offer of $12,000 to buy back their home, said the Garretts' daughter, Michele Finley."

I think as OWS gets kicked out of parks, moving over to foreclosed properties is the next logical step.  It's occupation. And it helps people.