* CITIES’ OCCUPY ENCAMPMENT EVICTIONS A ‘SET-UP’?
By Ritt Goldstein
With the ‘homeless and troubled’ having come to Occupy, bringing the kinds of issues they sadly too often mean, an ‘excuse’ for police action to evict Occupy developed, one that’s been readily pounced upon. Of course, reports that ‘the troubled’ were sent to Occupy by police and other authorities have appeared, raising questions if Occupy was ‘set-up’ for both the ongoing evictions and the derailing of their original objective – the Banks and Wall Street.
As news reports of the moment widely tell of broad efforts by many cities to eliminate Occupy’s encampments, some things are vital to recall, especially those suggesting that these eviction actions are being pursued under a ‘manufactured pretext’.
Underpinning many of the cities’ efforts are alleged public safety concerns about those within Occupy’s camps, but the media has also reported upon how ‘troubled’ individuals have been urged by police to join Occupy. As a matter of fact, I wrote of this myself, ” Occupy Facing ‘Cloaked’ Counterattacks “, and see such urgings of ‘the troubled’ by authorities as a mechanism to attempt to smear, disrupt and discredit Occupy, as well as provide the pretext for the kinds of eviction actions we’re seeing.
Notably, Salt Lake City is one of those cities that has just moved against an Occupy encampment, the reason being a suspected drug overdose death there. While 19 SLC Occupiers were arrested, local KSL.com news reported that the deceased was a “homeless man identified only as ‘Mike'”.
There is a difference between the ‘troubled and homeless’ and those which have left their homes to struggle for justice.
What is of paramount importance to recall is that at first it was ‘sanitation’ issues that led the cities’ efforts, though now that the ‘troubled’ have been ‘seeded’ within Occupy’s camps, we have a new rationale supposedly demanding action. But as the Acting Legal Director of the Utah ACLU, Joe Cohn, told KSL, “We must ask, if someone died of an overdose at the homeless shelter, would they be closing the homeless shelter?”
Are the latest actions against Occupy, actions in at least Oakland, Portland, Denver, Salt Lake City, and further, motivated by a sincere desire to ensure public safety, or rather to strike another blow against Occupy, against ‘we, the people’, while using ‘public safety’ as a manufactured pretext? Dirty tricks against popular social justice movements are an old story, but what’s relatively new are the dimensions of the wrongdoing that spawned the Occupy movement, the fact that we have the ‘best politicians that money can buy’, and the courageous determination of so many everyday people in their struggle to reclaim what is ours. …
* MILITARIZING THE POLICE FROM OAKLAND TO NYC
By Heather Digby Parton, Aljazeera
… All over the country, police switched out their traditional uniforms for Battle Dress Uniforms, dubbed by one retired policeman in the Washington Post as “commando-chic” regalia. It wouldn’t be surprising to find that swaggering around armed to the teeth and dressed like RoboCop might lead some cops to adopt a more militaristic attitude.
Former San Jose chief of police Joseph McNamara raised these alarms as early as 2006 in the wake of the Sean Bell shooting in New York. He pointed out that the effects of the drug war and 9/11 had led to “an emphasis on ‘officer safety’ [where] paramilitary training pervades today’s policing, in contrast to the older culture, which held that cops didn’t shoot until they were about to be shot or stabbed”.
Likewise, in the name of “officer safety”, the Taser became a common tool in everyday policing, deployed with little knowledge of the effects, and a tendency to Taser first and ask questions later. But over the course of the past decade, the body count grew as it became more and more obvious that tasers were sometimes as deadly as the guns they purported to replace.
|‘Pain compliance’And that’s the most prosaic of the new policing toys that are becoming available. Reporter Ando Arick analysed the new generation of weaponry in an article in Harper’s called “The Soft-Kill Solution – New Frontiers In Pain Compliance“. He recounts a 60 Minutes investigation into a new weapon to be used for what the military said was “crowd control in Iraq”.
Yet in military exercises in Georgia, soldiers were dressed as protesters, carrying signs that say “world peace”, “love for all” and “peace not war” for some reason. In what was presented as a choice between backing off and shooting into the crowd, the audience was then shown that a “ray gun” was on top of the Humvee.
Except for the repeated “invisible punches”, of course. But like the Taser, the whole point of this “pain compliance” is to inflict short-term physical agony on human beings to “induce behavioural modification”.
They have developed plans for a flying drone that fires stun darts at suspects, a “Shockwave Area-Denial System”, which blankets the area in question with electrified darts, and a wireless Taser projectile with a 100-metre range, helpful for picking off “ringleaders” in unruly crowds.
Would the public balk? Probably not. After all, they’ve accepted the Taser to such an extent that it’s now a staple of movie comedies and viral YouTube videos. The ground has been well-prepared. And after all, just as the government has expanded its police powers and built up its arsenal of “pain compliance” weaponry, the broader culture was lifting the centuries-old taboo against torture.
It was an abstract and obscure debate that took on a surreal cast when it was revealed that early government brainstorming meetings about interrogation tactics at Guantanamo relied heavily on the question, “What would Jack Bauer do?”
Jack Bauer, of course, was a fictional character in the then-popular television show “24”, a secret agent who was known for his willingness to break any law and social norm in the pursuit of a ticking time bomb. He was specifically admired for his innovative torture techniques.
This character was a great favourite of high-ranking members of the government – notorious torture memo author John Yoo cited him in his memoir, and even Justice Antonin Scalia once publicly exclaimed: “Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles … He saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Are you going to convict Jack Bauer?”
The idea that sometimes the threat was so great that authorities had no choice but to set aside even deep cultural taboos was promulgated by the most powerful people in the nation.
The lesson from that debate was that there are times when the government has to, as Vice-President Dick Cheney famously described it, “take off the gloves”. What wasn’t decided was the criteria the nation would use to decide when that “time” was.
Today we are in a different world. …
* AMERICA’S MERITOCRATIC, WATCHDOG NEWS MEDIA
By Glenn Greenwald
I really don’t understand what those angry, lazy losers in the Occupy movement are so upset about. America is a meritocracy; if you work hard and prove your skills, you get ahead. The winners deserve what they have because they have earned it. And when all else fails, we have a media filled with insurgent outsiders who will be relentless watchdogs over those in power because that’s what our media outlets are: true outsiders there to check the most powerful factions.
Even more encouragingly, we have a media that ensures that diverse views are heard; Chelsea Clinton previously worked at a $12 billion hedge fund and her former-Goldman-Sachs-banker husband earlier this year launched his own hedge fund with “two guys from Goldman,” so she brings a depth and diversity of perspetive that is sorely lacking in our news (true, CNN boldly features Erin Burnett — the former Goldman, Sachs employee and current fiancé of a top Citigroup executive — but nothing can compete with Chelsea Clinton’s rich, impressive journalism background).
Thankfully, the American Founders waged a revolution to free us from the shackles of monarchy so that we’re no longer captive to the inanities of royalty (like those silly Brits). In The Rights of Man, Thomas Paine mocked and scorned aristocracies as producing “counterfeit nobles” — those bestowed with prerogatives not because of what they’ve achieved but because of the accidental fortune of their birth — and we are thankfully free of those: …
* AT LEAST 6 OCCUPY ENCAMPMENTS ATTACKED ACROSS AMERICA, BUT PROTESTERS WILLING TO FIGHT
By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, AlterNet
Over the weekend, police evicted and/or attacked several Occupy encampments across America, sending a clear message: the cops, and the corporate banks, have apparently imposed a time limit on citizens’ first amendment rights. There was, of course, the cop raid in Oakland last night, which had protesters kettled until the wee hours in the morning (stay tuned for a full report from AlterNet’s Joshua Holland). And protesters in Chapel Hill, NC, who were occupying an abandoned building before they were removed by rifle. Here are six more cities where local governments are trying to suppress the protests:
Portland. Fifty were arrested in city parks yesterday and two separate encampments were surrounded by chainlink fence after 37 days of being occupied. KPIC:
“It’s not that I want to be standing in front of a bunch of armed police officers,” one protester told KATU News. “I just feel that it’s a need to change the economic and political discussions in this country.”
“We don’t feel like we have our voices anymore. This is our voice,” he added.
Portland Police Chief Mike Reese told KATU News he was pleased with how his officers handled themselves overnight and through the day.
“It went very well,” said Reese. “We reclaimed the park for the parks bureau.” …
* OCCUPY WALL STREET IS NOT A SPECTATOR SPORT: 5 WAYS THE 99 PERCENT CAN CONTRIBUTE TO THE MOVEMENT RIGHT NOW
By Les Leopold, AlterNet
… Here are five things we can do, without parking a tent somewhere:
|1. Get Your Non-Profits into GearIf you work for a non-profit of any kind (like a labor union, an environmental group, a church organization, etc.) then insist that your organization devote at least 10 percent of its resources to protesting against Wall Street. There are probably 500,000 full-time staff working for unions, community organizations and environmental groups all across the country. Imagine if each week, each of those staffers put in two hours protesting at an Occupy Wall Street site. Combine that with a little organizing to bring out the rank-and-file, and we’re talking about a quantum leap in the size of the anti-Wall Street presence.
Of course, you might get stiff opposition from progressive non-profit leaders. After all, their organizations are set up to press important issues that might not seem to have any direct connection to the Wall Street mess. But it shouldn’t take much to show that the Wall Street crash is a game-changer. It should be clear by now that we can’t make progress on our individual issues unless we join together to reclaim our country from the Wall Street elites.
2. Organize Teach-ins about Wall Street’s Casino Economy
If you are affiliated with any academic institution or high school, this is the perfect time to organize teach-ins that target financial elites. We need large forums where information can be shared about our dismal distribution of income, how Wall Street took down the economy, how money is influencing politics, and how jobs can be created. And be sure to invite the community. Americans are just waking up to how much they’ve been ripped off. The educational task is just beginning and teach-ins can push it along in a hurry.
3. Terminate Your Bank Accounts in Public
If you’re going to withdraw your accounts from the major banks, then do it with gusto. At the very least we should try to use our new social media to pick a common time and location to close out our accounts together. We could even have a card-burning event in plain view. (Unlike burning your draft card in the old days, it’s perfectly legal to burn your credit card…outdoors, that is.)
4. Start a “99 Percent Club”
Americans lead the world in setting up new civic organizations. How about launching “99 Percent clubs” in your neighborhood and town? For starters, your club could brainstorm public actions to demonstrate anger at Wall Street. A silent vigil every Friday afternoon at one of the local banks would be a good start. (“Honk if you feel ripped off by Wall Street!”)
Each group could develop imaginative actions that could grow in size, and that could gain the attention of the local media. Our social media could easily spread the best actions to other groups. And once you do get the ball rolling, build up your events by talking with your neighbors. I don’t think many doors will slam in your face. Instead, you’ll probably find a lot of angry people looking for ways to contribute.
5. Convince Yourself That You Can Make a Difference
Perhaps the most important act of defiance starts in our heads. We need to believe that real change is possible and that each of us can contribute. We’ve got to get over the idea that someone else – a political knight in shining armor — is going to do it for us. We have to face up to the fact that very few politicians have the guts to challenge Wall Street. So it’s on us. This doesn’t mean that each of us has to be a superhero and lock ourselves to the gates of Goldman Sachs or JPMorgan Chase. But each of us needs to do something concrete. At the very least we need to show up from time to time at our local Occupy Wall Street site.
Why would that matter? Because the currency of a populist movement is feet on the street. We need to publicly display our support in any way we can. As long as there is something called free will, each of us has the opportunity to go somewhere and publicly show that we are part of the irate 99 percent. We need to publicly display our anger at rule by a faction of the 1 percent. …
* OCCUPY PORTLAND PROTESTER “WAS LYING ON THE GROUND IN COMPLIANCE, PORTLAND POLICE CONTINUOUSLY BEAT HIM IN THE BACK WITH CLUBS UNTIL HIS EYES ROLLED BACK IN HIS HEAD” … LOSES USE OF RIGHT ARM
By Washington’s Blog
Police Brutality Against Occupy Portland
In an unconfirmed report, Occupy Oregon tweets:
ALERT! A man named Justin James Bridges, musician & ASL translator for Occupy Portland General Assembly, was assaulted by @PortlandPolice today during camp clean out.
He was beaten repeatedly in the back and has now lost use of his right arm. Though Justin was lying on the ground in compliance, Portland Police continuously beat him in the back with clubs until his eyes rolled back in his head. Fellow protesters thought he was dead. He is now in critical care.
IF YOU HAVE ANY INFORMATION, ESPECIALLY PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE, DO NOT HESITATE TO COME FORWARD.
National Lawyers’ Guild # 503-902-5340. Protect rights, protect the truth.
Occupy Portland notes:
After a conversation with Justin, over the phone, one occupier reports that our ASL [American sign language] interpreter (and groovy guitarist) has no feeling in his right leg and cannot use his arm, which allows Occupy Portland interpret for those in our community who communicate by signing. …
READ AND VIDEOS @ http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2011/11/occupy-portland-protester-was-lying-on-the-ground-in-compliance-portland-police-continuously-beat-him-in-the-back-with-clubs-until-his-eyes-rolled-back-in-his-head-loses-use-of-right-arm.html